I am planning on going to Spain (4 days in Barcelona and 4 days in Madrid) from Christmas to New Years. I am wondering if attractions will be open during this time. Also, what is the weather like? Coming from south Florida I am accustomed to 80F, and am wondering if I need to purchase warm clothing...
Madrid, and the surrounding area, is likely to be cold then. It can get really cold in Spain, especially in the northern mountains during the winter. Barcelona won't be as bad but will be cold for someone from Florida.
Remember, Spain celebrates Three Kings Day/The Epiphany/The Twelfth Day of Christmas, Jan. 6th, as their big holiday. Don't expect a lot going on on December 25th. If you are looking for religious ceremony related to Christmas, you will probably need to be outside Barcelona. Barcelona is the least religious, of the least religious region, of Spain (read George Orwell's "Ode to Catalonia" if you want a taste of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War).
Spain can be quite cold and damp during that period. Madrid sits on a high plain so it tends to be colder than surround areas. You certainly would several layers of appropriate clothing to keep adjusted to the temperature. Gloves, hat, scarf, sweater, fleece vest, long underwear, mid-weight parka, especially a waterproof parka, should be considered. Keep in mind that the days will be shorter than what you are used to in Florida at that time. It is a pretty time to be there but take appropriate clothing.
I disagree with Frank in making a generalization about weather in Spain. The Iberian peninsula is located between two big masses of water (Atlantic and Mediterranean) which behave very differently and also the warm winds from North Africa as well as the humid ones from the Bay of Biscay clashing against the numerous mountain ranges spread across the peninsula provoke a multitude of micro-climates which makes it quite impossible to say 'the weather in Spain is...' Winters in Madrid are cold but dry, in Barcelona (east) are mild and humid, while in Lisbon (west) are both cold and humid. On the other hand, winters in Seville (south) are perhaps slightly milder than in Barcelona but equally humid. Lastly, winters in the central plateau (north-west of Madrid that is) can be quite harsh. In short, the answer totally depends on the destinations within Spain.
For Barcelona, this last winter has been quite mild -milder than normal- with temperatures around 60F but on a normal winter you'd have temps around 50F. The problem so to speak relays on humidity, when it's high (>75%), the feeling of "cold" increases, even if the temperature in itself it's not that low. Average humidity in the city is 50-65% with a few days going past 75%.
Summarizing: don't come in shorts and flip-flops! :)
PS: Having said all this, note that due to the above mentioned circumstances seasons can vary quite a bit, we have also had snow in Barcelona some winters (rare though) -which means temps were in their 30s.
Thank you for your replies... I will need to visit Land's End website before embarking on this vacation! LOL