Visiting Spain and wondering what to wear in Madrid? Read on.
If you’ve been to Europe before you probably know the feeling. Somehow the chic Europeans know instantly that you’re a foreigner by the way you dress and talk. When I travel, I always like to look put together and like I belong there. Packing and dressing like a local in Spain will not only help you experience the real Madrid, it will also help you stick out less in a crowd. Walking around a European city dressed like an obvious tourist can make you a target for pickpockets. If you want to avoid having to cancel all of your credit cards, we’ll tell you what to wear in Madrid to help you look like a real Spaniard.
Spain is a diverse country. There are vibrant cities, ancient castles, amazing food, gorgeous beaches and coastal towns. If you’re planning a trip to Spain, Madrid should definitely be on your list of cities that you visit. At She Packs Lite, we’re all about helping you keep your vacation as stress-free as possible. Part of that is packing efficiently, and you don’t have to sacrifice style in order to do so.
10 Tips: What to Wear in Madrid
1. Dress based on the region you’re visiting
When you think of Spain, you probably imagine sunny days strolling around the streets. In actuality, Spain, and even Madrid’s weather is pretty variable depending on the season. Depending on the time of year you’re planning to visit, your packing list may change drastically. Summer months will require lighter dresses, while colder weather will have you packing heavier jackets. In Madrid’s colder months, it’s not uncommon to see locals dressed in winter coats even if the weather doesn’t reflect it. Locals tend to dress for the season and not the weather.
In the South of Spain, your packing list will probably consist of more summery clothing. In Northern Spain, rainy days are much more likely, especially after the warm weather has passed. You’ll have a great time in Spain no matter where you go. It’s important to check the weather forecast and the average temperatures in the region you’re going to visit. That way you’ve dressed appropriately when you get there.
2. Prepare for changing weather conditions
Unlike the coastal destinations of Spain, Madrid actually has four distinct seasons. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you should be prepared for a variety of different weather conditions. In the summer, you’ll most likely have hot days with daytime highs around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. For these days, you should pack lighter clothing if you’re going to be out and about in the city. However, it’s still a good idea to pack a light sweater just in case the weather does change and you need something light to warm yourself up.
PRO TIP: Check the weather as you pack and before you go to make sure you know what to expect for your trip: Madrid Weather
When planning your trip to Spain, colder months can be a nice time to visit because there are fewer crowds and the weather isn’t quite as hot. You’ll also be able to avoid some of the extra cost that’s associated with traveling to Spain during peak times. In the winter months, daytime temperatures will probably be around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll most likely experience more rainy days than you will in the summer. If your trip is in the fall when the weather isn’t quite into the winter yet, you can probably get away with a light jacket or leather jacket. Because there is a higher chance of rain, a packable rain jacket will always serve you well.
Visiting during rainy season? These are our favorite rain jackets with hoods that pack well.
3. Keep fashion in mind
Spanish people, much like the rest of Europe, take care to look their best. Fashion plays a big role in the clothing choices that Spainards make every day. If you want to dress like a local, you should keep fashion in mind when you’re packing. If you have an adventurous clothing style, Madrid is the perfect place to showcase your sense of fashion.
In the summer, opt for light cotton blends that are lightweight and breathable for the sunny days that you’ll be spending outside. The summer months are the most popular time to visit Spain and it can get quite hot during the day. A wicking fabric that does not trap sweat makes a huge difference. Breathable tank tops are a good option. Make sure that you have something to put over it in case you need to dress up your outfit or cover up to tour a church.
4. Make your shoes work for you
At She Packs Lite, we’re all about packing three pairs of shoes maximum. Shoes take up a lot of space! Luckily, Spanish locals know how to dress up and dress down different pairs of shoes, so you can take some tips from them. When you’re packing, a nice comfortable pair of sandals and a dressy pair of sneakers is a must. You’ll often see Spanish women pairing street sneakers with dresses, and you can do the same!
At night when you go out to dinner, it’s totally acceptable to wear a more stylish dress with a chic pair of sneakers. That way if you don’t want to go back to your hotel to change before dinner, you can have your daytime outfit convert to a stylish late-night look. They’ll also work with your daytime outfits so you can pack fewer shoes and have a little more room for souvenirs in your suitcase.
5. When in doubt, choose a slimmer fit
When you’re walking around in Madrid, your chances of seeing a Spanish local dressed in baggy clothes are slim to none. Whether it’s pants or shirts, Spaniards are much more likely to choose a slimmer fit. If you want to blend in with the locals, you should too. In the colder months, you can’t go wrong with a pair of slim-cut jeans and long-sleeved tops. Packing a few different quality, but simple items in your travel capsule wardrobe will allow you to switch up your outfits while you’re in Madrid and still be able to dress fashionably.
If you want to pack a travel capsule wardrobe but don’t know how, my Ultimate Guide to Pack a Travel Capsule Wardrobe can help!
It can get pretty hot in the summer in Madrid, so it can be tempting to wear loose-fitting clothes. Even then, you’ll still find locals wearing slim cotton pants or shorts and fitted tops. Not comfortable with tighter-fitting clothes? , Tucking in your shirt either fully or partially will give the illusion that your clothes are more fitted and make your outfit look more put together. You can also make dresses as casual or fancy as you want with your accessories and shoes. When it’s warmer, dresses can be a great way to stay cool and look your best at the same time.
6. Don’t wear activewear
One of the general rules you’ll want to follow if you’re trying to dress like a local in Madrid is to leave the activewear at home. If you’re doing a lot of walking in Madrid, activewear can seem like a comfortable option, but wearing leggings in Spain is a surefire way to make you stick out like a sore thumb. Spanish women do not wear gym clothes outside of the house; instead, they opt for something comfortable but fashionable.
This also usually applies to footwear as well. Flip flops and running shoes are not often worn by Spanish people but that doesn’t mean sneakers are off-limits. You’ll often see Europeans, and especially Spaniards, wearing nicer, stylish sneakers. Bringing a pair of sneakers that can be dressed up is a good way to be comfortable and make sure your feet have a good time while you’re walking around the city. Instead of flip-flops, which will make you stand out, Spanish women prefer to wear a more stylish sandal. If you have a cute pair of comfortable sandals that you can bring, great! Otherwise, you can always stop in a local shoe store to find something authentic and stylish.
7. If you’re unsure about the dress code, wear something nicer
Spanish style doesn’t dictate that you need to wear a dress and heels to every activity you participate in. That said, if you’re unsure about how casual you should dress, it’s better to dress up a little bit. Spanish women tend to look very put together, even if they’re just going out to run errands so if you want to look more like a local, you stand a better chance if you put your best foot forward.
One thing you’ll notice about Spanish locals is that they tend to blend casual and dressed-up clothing into one outfit. Spanish women either wear dresses with street sneakers or dress up a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with a nicer pair of sandals. This is a great way to dress perfectly for any occasion; no matter where you go during the day, you’ll look like a local. However, at night you should definitely plan on dressing up no matter what you do. Nighttime is when Madrid really comes alive, especially when the weather is warm.
8. Pack for the activities you’re planning
Packing comfortable shoes if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking is a no-brainer. Another thing that you should keep in mind is that even though Spain is a fashionable country, they’re also quite conservative. The population of Spain is largely Catholic, so people tend to dress more moderately. Because of this, you’ll also find tons of different religious sites to visit while you’re touring Madrid. In certain churches, you may be required to adhere to these conservative dress codes. If you plan on visiting churches in Spain, which you should because they’re beautiful, bring something to cover your shoulders or plan to dress more moderately on days that religious sites are on your itinerary.
Since Madrid is located in the interior of the country, if you plan on having beach days while you’re in Spain, you’ll have to travel to the coast to do so. Costa del Sol and Costa Brava are popular coastal destinations located in different parts of the country. If you do make it to the beach, you should keep in mind that beach and swimwear should only be worn while you’re actually at the beach. Wearing a swimsuit or coverup while walking around town is frowned upon. In some towns, you could even receive a fine for improper attire.
9. Bring a crossbody bag with you during the day
A popular accessory that you’ll see everywhere in Europe these days is the crossbody bag. Similar to a fanny pack, a crossbody bag is small enough that it limits you to only bring the essentials with you while you’re out for the day but large enough to fit everything comfortably. These bags are also a great way to keep your hands free and your belongings close to you so you can avoid pickpockets, which you’ll find in any large city in Europe.
In Spain, you’ll find both women and men wearing crossbody bags around the city. Spanish men tend to be a little more daring in their fashion choices than men in America. So if you know someone who has been wanting to reinvent their style a little bit, Madrid is a great place to try it out.
10. Pack some dressier clothes for the evening
In addition to dressing fashionably during the day, Spanish style also dictates that you dress up for evening activities. If you have a fancy restaurant or dancing on your itinerary, be sure to include items in your travel capsule that can be combined into a dressier outfit.
The warmer months are the best time to visit Madrid because the city will feel more alive and there will be a lot more activities that you can enjoy outside. In order to save space and still look nice, pack a few lightweight, wrinkle-resistant dresses that you can dress up with a few accessories. Men will most likely be wearing polo shirts or button-up shirts, so you can match your style to those kinds of outfits if you’d like.
FAQ: What to Wear in Madrid
Have more questions about what you should and shouldn’t wear while you’re touring one of Europe’s most beautiful cities? Keep reading to have all of your questions about dressing like a Spanish local answered.
How do locals dress in Spain?
In the warmer months, which is the most popular time to visit Spain, locals dress in light cotton blends. Whether it’s pants and a t-shirt or a flowy dress, you can count on locals in Madrid to be comfortable and fashionable at the same time. Footwear choices for Spainards are always fashion-forward and comfortable as well.
What should you not wear in Spain?
We’ve talked a lot about how Spaniards like to put their best foot forward when they leave the house in the morning. Their outfits are always put together, even if they’re casual. That being said, wearing baggy clothes like cargo shorts and old, oversized t-shirts are a sure way to make you stand out in a crowd. When Spanish people choose their clothes, it’s all about fit, so slimmer outfits will make you look more like a local when you’re traveling to Madrid.
Do Spanish people dress well?
Like many other European countries, Spanish locals put a lot of effort into how they look every day. This means that they pay a lot of attention to fashion trends and consider wearing athletic clothes outside of the house or gym to be too casual or sloppy. Because Spain is a more culturally conservative country, their fashion choices are also more conservative, so many locals opt for lightweight clothing that provides more coverage.
Can you wear flip-flops in Spain?
Flip-flops and other beach sandals are usually reserved for the actual beach in Spain. Since Madrid is farther inland and there aren’t any beaches nearby, it’s probably a good idea to leave the flip-flops in your hotel room if you’re out during the day. Spanish women do wear a lot of sandals during the warmer months, but they tend to be a little more dressy than flip-flops. Packing a pair of sandals that you can wear during the day and out to a nicer restaurant will help you pack less too.