How to Deal with Madrid’s Awful Weather

Spain is famous around the world for its wonderful weather, but wonderful weather, as it turns out, is a wholly relative concept.

Wonderful weather, you say?

Maybe compared to Inner Mongolia!

In Madrid, we have a couple of old proverbs dealing with our shitty weather. One is: Madrid, la ciudad con 3 meses de infierno y 9 meses de invierno.

Did you catch the wordplay there? It would be a lot of fun if it weren’t so true.

The other one is Hasta el cuarenta de mayo, no te quites el sayo.

A sayo is some kind of coat (nobody actually uses the word these days, at least in my neighborhood). And the 40th of May isn’t a real day. But the wisdom it contains is true every year: prepare yourself for miserable weather till mid-June, basically.

how to deal with madrid's awful weather
Ok, ok, it’s not always awful weather here in Madrid. It’s actually pretty good a lot of the time.

Cold and rain, all the way up till June 10th.

It never fails.

Madrid’s awful weather – it happens every year

It happens almost every January.

We have a week of sun and reasonably warm weather, and everyone says, “Oh, finally, winter is over!”

Ha. Next thing that hits us is a solid month of rain.

Umbrellas come back out, people walk around with a perma-scowl on their faces, mushrooms sprout from your shoes and (possibly) your underwear, and everybody resigns themselves to another five months of winter.

It happens again in March or April.

The weather turns lovely for a few days, with those big clouds scudding across a blue sky. Leaves sprout on the trees, and life appears beautiful again, despite the awful economic situation, 27% unemployment, etc, etc, etc.

Girls start wearing miniskirts, ESL teachers start going to class in flip-flops and board shorts.

For about two months, it’s so hot we all hate our lives in pools of sweat.

Then: Bam! Crash! Kablammo!

Another divine punishment, because the gods don’t want us to get too satisfied with ourselves living here in a city that’s 5 kinds of awesome.

Temperatures plummet back down to near-freezing. It snows in Madrid center in the first week of May. Perma-scowl. Umbrellas. Mushrooms.

So buckle up, kids… It’s only April. We’ve got at least 5 more weeks of winter!

Cheerily yours,


P.S. Apparently, according to WordReference, there’s an English version of “Hasta el cuarenta de mayo…” Yes indeed. It’s “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.” Whatever the hell that means, you can be sure I won’t be casting any clouts this week.

P.P.S. Want some more proverbs? I got 4 sexy fun proverbs and 4 more fun Spanish proverbs. And if you want a bit of Spanish vocabulary about the seasons, check out my video from the Learn Spanish with Daniel channel…

P.P.P.S. Updated: Ok, I was just being a baby when I wrote this. The weather isn’t bad at all. And I don’t know what I was thinking. It was probably just cold, and the middle of an awful economic crisis, and I couldn’t afford to use the heater in my shitty shared flat. Also, for the other side of the story, check my article about beating the heat. Have fun!


How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments