The Mediterranean climate takes its name from, and is influenced by, the proximity of the sea. The outstanding features of the climate are hot, dry summers, mild winters with variable rainfall, almost constant sunshine and an absence of frost. The short spring and lengthy autumn are transitional seasons which tend to merge imperceptibly into one another with no winter season. Other areas around the world with a similar sunshine and rainfall pattern are also said to have a Mediterranean, or winter rainfall, climate. These include south-western South Africa, the central and southern coast of California, central Chile and south-western Australia. Mediterranean climatic areas lie between 30-45 degrees latitude whether to the north or south of the equator.
There is a notable difference in climate between the coastal and inland areas of Andalucia. On the coast temperatures are temperate in winter and less hot than inland during summer, so the Malaga climate is idyllic. Inland areas have cooler temperatures in winter from November to February and very high temperatures during summer.
Depending on tolerance to heat, the best time to visit Andalucia might be during April to June and September to the first half of October. At these times temperatures are warm but not too hot and any winter rain is avoided. It is common to see people swimming in the sea and sunbathing on the beaches from February onwards during spells that can reach higher than 25C/77F.
In July and August daytime temperatures reach 36C/97F in Sevilla and slightly less in Granada, whilst along the coast the average temperature is about 30C/86F. Sea temperatures remain at about 20C/68F from July to October and at 15C/55F for the remainder of the year. Unheated private swimming pools of an average 10 x 8 metres reach a temperature of 30C/86F during June to October, fall to 10C/50F during winter and rise to 20+C/68F from March onwards.
Rain falls mainly from October to March with little rain anywhere from June to September. The prevailing winds come from the Atlantic Ocean and cause western Andalucia to be wetter than the east. The Sierra de Grazalema, west of Ronda, is the wettest area of Spain with over 88 inches of rain a year. The Cabo de Gata promontory in Almeria province is the driest place in Europe with just 4 inches of rain a year. Tarifa, at Andalucia’s southernmost point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea has strong winds and is a Mecca for windsurfers.
The mountain ranges are cooler than the plains and have a higher rainfall with some snow in winter. The Sierra Nevada, above 3000 metres, is snow covered for most of the year with thriving winter ski resorts.