For convenience, watch a bullfight in Madrid. For tradition, go to Sevilla. And If you are really in it for old school feeling, head to Ronda or Malaga.
Madrid and Seville - April and May are the best times.
Ronda and Malaga - August and September are the best times.
(and the best bullfight museum is in Las Ventas Madrid).
Interestingly the best places to watch a bullfight are similar to the best places for Flamenco.
Seville, Ronda, Malaga, and Madrid, are the best cities to watch a bullfight in Spain. Bullfight season in Spain starts in the spring (April) and runs through the summer till early fall (October). Being an outdoor event, warm weather months are best suited for bullfights.
Andalusia has the strongest bullfighting tradition, with over 70 bullrings. Seville and Ronda have the best bullrings in Spain. If you have a choice where to watch a bullfight or visit the bullring or bullfight museum, choose Seville or Ronda for your visit.
Madrid also has a vibrant bullfighting season.
Bullfighting is banned in all of Catalonia since 1st January 2012; so you will not be able to watch a bullfight in Barcelona anymore.
Seville’s bullring is called Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería. It is the oldest bullring in Spain, opened in 1761. Situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, you can watch bullfights in this oval shaped bullring easily during the summer.
The Easter Sunday Corrida at the end of Holy Week Semana Santa is the kick off for the bullfighting season in Seville. Apart from showcasing the best fighters and bulls, the Easter Sunday Corrida is the place to be seen at a bullfight with the who’s who of Seville and Spain.
The Seville bullfighting season is in full steam with Feria de Abril, the April fair, which is so much more than bullfights. Seville also hosts Sunday bullfights for beginners or novilladas. Feria de San Miguel in late September signifies the end of the Seville bullfight season with a few high-ticket corridas.
The 2017 Seville bullfights season opens on Easter Sunday (April 16, 2017). Daily bullfights will take place during Feria de Abril (April 23 to May 17, 2017). From then, every Sunday bullfights will happen until late June, including the Corpus Christi bullfight (June 15, 2017).
Seville has no bullfights in July and August. The Seville bullfight season closes at the end of September with the San Miguel festival weekend corridas.
Ronda is considered by aficionados to be the birthplace of bullfighting. The bullring at Ronda is arguably the most beautiful in Spain, despite its small capacity of less than 5000.
The Bullfighting season in Ronda runs from April to October but fights are not very frequent anymore. If you must watch a bullfight in Ronda, time your visit in September during the costumed Corridas Goyescas.
A big bullfighting related attraction in Ronda is a visit to the stunning bullfighting museum with memorabilia like the blood-spattered cloaks of matadors.
Malaga’s bullring La Malagueta, near Gibralfaro castle hosts bullfights starting during Semana Santa and running through till the end of September.
The bullfighting festival Taurina Fiesta or Feria de Agosto runs through July and August, featuring daily bullfights.
You should prioritize Seville or Ronda over Malaga, for bullfights or even if you just plan to see the bullring.
Las Ventas bullring near the upscale Salamanca neighborhood is the home of bullfighting in Madrid. Built with red brick and ceramic in mudejar style, it has a capacity of over 20,000. It keeps the bullfighting tradition alive outside Andalusia.
The bullfighting season at Las Ventas starts Mid May and runs till early October. The best time to watch a Madrid bullfight is during the 20 day San Isidro festival during May and June. Bullfights are held every day, starting any 7pm during the San Isidro festival. Outside of San Isidro, corridas are held every Sunday.
Plaza de Toros Palacio Vistalegre is the second bullring in Madrid. It is a covered venue and hosts irregular bullfights, showcasing the rising-star matadors and bulls from Madrid and the surrounding region.
The bullfighting calendar for Spain is roughly kicked off as below:
MarchValencia - during the Fallas Festival
starting - on Easter Sunday
MayMadrid/Cordoba - San Isidro festival, daily fights
JuneAlicante - Last week of June, daily fights
JulyPamplona- Evenings after San Fermin bull run
JulyValencia- During Feria de Julio
AugustMalaga - Feria de Agosto
AugustBilbao - Corridas Generales, 2 weeks daily fights
SeptemberRonda - Corridas Goyescas
The bullfight frequency is lower in most cities outside of Madrid and Seville, and the fights are less high profile.
Bullfighting is part of the Spanish identity and culture. You can see bullfights in Spain, Portugal and some Latin American countries (Mexico and Colombia). However, it is Spain that can truly claim to be the home of bullfights. There has been serious debate whether bullfights is a traditional spectacle or is it a public display of animal cruelty.
Within Spain, Catalonia had outlawed the practice of bullfighting in 2011. However, the decision was overruled by the Spain’s constitutional court stating that regional government of Catalonia had exceeded its authority in banning Bullfight as it was part of the common cultural heritage of Spain.
It is unlikely that bullfight will return back to Barcelona [Catalonia] as popular sentiment is against bullfights.
Tourists wanting to witness bullfights should visit Madrid’s Las Ventas. At Las Ventas, bullfights are held every Sunday, from 7 PM during the months of March to October. For tourists wanting to catch a live bullfight, Madrid is easily the best place to watch a bullfight in Spain. The reasons are practicality - ease of buying tickets and fixed schedule.
Of course, Madrid is historically not associated with bullfights. That honor goes to Andalusian region. The origin of bullfights as a spectator event became prominent during Moorish rule of Andalusia. You will find bullrings in all important towns of Andalusia. Historically significant ones are in Seville and Ronda. Bullfight as we know today, called Rondeño style of bullfighting, was first started in Ronda. If you are visiting Ronda, make a trip to the bullfight museum in Ronda’s Plaza de Toros. It contains bullfighting regalia across two centuries. You will also be regaled with stories of Pedro Romero Martínez, Ronda’s legendary bullfighter.
Pamplona's annual fiesta of San Fermin attracts million tourists a year and most tourists associate Pamplona with Spanish bullfights. The Pamplona event is known more for its bull run than bull fight.