When packing for your gap year in Spain you're probably focusing on shorts, sunglasses, and anything that shows off your finely toned stomach. And you're right, there is a lot of sunshine, but Spain is a big country and the weather can vary depending on when and where you travel. In fact, it's arguably the most diverse in Europe, boasting both beaches and skiing. Here's a quick guide to inform what goes into your backpack.
This takes in most of the east coast of Spain and the Balearic islands. You can expect very hot, dry summers and pleasantly mild winters, with some rain. If you're looking to lounge on a beach and work on your tan, come here during the summer. It gets hotter the further south you go. Don't forget your sun cream!
The southeast coast of Spain, encompassing the region of Murcia, Gibraltar, and the southeast corner of Andalusia, is where Europe comes closest to Africa, and it shows. It's incredibly hot and dry, temperatures often reaching the low 40s in summer. Rainfall is low throughout the year, and arrives mainly in spring or autumn, when you can expect sudden torrential downpours.
The north and northwest of Spain is subject to the whims of the Atlantic Ocean, which makes it more familiar to residents of elsewhere in Europe. The summers are the coolest in Spain, with Bilbao getting temperatures in the mid 20s, and you might see some rain. Winters are cool but not too cold, often breaking double figures during the day. In autumn and winter the coast can be battered by Atlantic storms.
The Canary Islands are closer to Africa than they are to Spain, which means their weather is quite unique (and gloriously sunny!). They're almost always sunny, with temperatures varying throughout the year but always warm, with the more northerly islands like Tenerife typically being a few degrees cooler. Rainfall here is very low indeed.
The centre of Spain has a continental climate, which means greater differences between the seasons. Summers are hotter and winters are colder than you'll experience on the coasts, and rainfall is fairly low. In the summer temperatures in Madrid can touch 40 degrees, with average lows of 2 degrees in winter.
Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe, and the mountains are home to a lot of popular ski resorts. The most prominent of these is the Pyrenean region in northern Aragon, which borders France, and is the coldest region of Spain, making winters perfect for skiing.