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by Santorini Dave • Updated: December 16, 2018
When is the best time to visit Barcelona?
- Best Time to Go to Barcelona for Sightseeing: The lines to enter the city’s most popular sights and attractions, like the Basilica de la Sagrada Família in central Barcelona, are at their longest in the summer and on Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. As the weather is fairly comfortable year round, it’s best to avoid the summer months and any period around a major holiday. The first half of March, the month of May and mid-September through October, are arguably the best times of the year for sightseeing, with thinner crowds, shorter lines and warmer, but not too hot, weather. Visiting on a Tuesday or Wednesday can also help lessen the chance you’ll have to battle countless other tourists. Try to plan your sightseeing early in the day, starting with the most popular sight, for the best experience.
- Best Time for Shopping: There are two periods each year that offer big sales, with the chance to find huge bargains that include discounts of as much as 70 percent off. The winter sales begin the week after the Festival of the Kings, or the second week of January, and typically run until the end of February, although there are no official sale dates. It kicks off with the first rebajas, or discounts, followed by bigger mark downs for the second rebajas, and finally remate, which marks the final clearance sales. The summer sales, which follows the same pattern, start during the first week of July and run through the end of August. In either period, the first rebajas is known for being quite frantic, particularly at El Corte Ingles (a major department store), which means you’ll need to be prepared to elbow your way through the crowds in order to get to the best bargains. If that doesn’t sound like something you want to endure, go either late in the first week or wait until the second week when you’ll still find a wide variety of items, but the crowds won’t be nearly as bad. Toward the end of the sales, there will be a noticeable reduction in what’s left.
- Best Time for Beaches: Barcelona summers tend to be hot and humid, making it a perfect time for the beach, though not the best time to be wandering around the city. Of course, this also means practically everyone else is handing to the beaches too, so they can be very crowded – and, while the water is clear and the sand is clean in the morning, by the end of the day, both can get a bit littered. As the water temperature is most comfortable from swimming from around the end of May through mid- to late-September, your best bet for fewer crowds and optimal conditions can usually be found by going early or late in the season, in May or September.
- Best Time for Festivals: If you’re hoping to attend one of the city’s big festivals, you’ll need to arrive sometime between late spring and early autumn, with the majority of Barcelona’s larger festivals taking place then, including the world’s biggest indie and alternative music festival, Primavera Sound, held in late May or early June. The nine-day Festa Mayor de Gracia is hosted in August, while the grandest fiesta of the year is the four-day Festes de la Merce in September, which honors the city’s patron with a run, harbor swimming race and all sorts of concerts, parades, Catalan dances and feasts. Of course, when major festivals are held, expect the crowds to be thick, though many feel that just makes it even more fun and exciting.
- Best Time for an FC Barcelona Game: Barcelona hosts one of the best football teams in the world, FC Barcelona, and many feel a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting the team’s famous stadium. While tours are available, the best way to experience it is by catching a game. The schedule is set every year around mid-July, and matches usually start in late August and end in late May, with a winter break around the Christmas and New Year holidays. The best time to go, for those who also want to enjoy pleasant sightseeing and the beaches, is arguably in September or May, though you’ll have a good time during any month in between as well. Most matches are played around the weekends, so plan accordingly.
Barcelona Travel Seasons
- High Season (May to Early September): High season in Barcelona brings the hottest weather, the biggest crowds and the highest accommodation rates. July, and especially August, tend to be sweltering, and tourists spill out of every hotel, restaurant and attraction, with long lines just about everywhere. The advantages of traveling during this period are wonderfully long days, with the sun sticking around until around 9:30pm, and all of the attractions are sure to be open with the tourists out in full force. This is also the perfect time to head to Barcelona’s beautiful beaches and you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy major festivals like Musica als Parcs, which features free concerts between June and August in various open-air venues throughout the city. Book the Best Hotels in Barcelona and the Best Family Hotels in Barcelona well in advance.
- Shoulder Season (Late March to April and Late September to October): The shoulder season can bring the best of both worlds, with a number of festivals held in the spring as well as the late summer/early autumn months, and crowds tend to be a bit thinner during this time as well, while the weather is often idyllic. Prices haven’t yet hit their peak in early spring, and they begin to drop again in September when kids are back in school and the crowds abate.
- Low Season (November to Early March): During the low season, prices not only drop exponentially, especially for accommodation, but it’s a great time to enjoy Barcelona without having to wait in long lines or fight for personal space. The chillier temperatures and frequent drizzle means you won’t be spending much, if any, time on the beach, but you will find a more romantic atmosphere with the opportunity to share an umbrella and cozy up to the one you love. It’s also the perfect excuse for taking things at a slower pace, occasionally stopping into a charming café for café con leche or churros with hot chocolate, rather than rushing from sight to sight.
Barcelona Weather by Month
- Barcelona Weather in January: January is Barcelona’s coldest month, but if you live in a place that tends to get a lot of snow and frigid temperatures, it’s likely to feel rather mild. While temperatures can dip as low as 5°C, it rarely gets below freezing and there’s a good chance you’ll experience some relatively warm weather as the temperature this time of year can still exceed 16°C. The rainfall is also relatively low, with just 40mm falling over eight days, and when it does arrive it’s often light or in the form of drizzle. If you’re afraid you’ll miss the sun, consider that it still shines 50% of the time this month. Bring a winter coat and portable umbrella along with a light jacket or sweater for warmer days and you’ll be well-prepared no matter what the weather brings. While days are shorter than during the summer months, the sun is up for approximately 10 hours each day this month, setting around 5:30pm on New Year’s Day, and a little after 6pm by January 31, providing plenty of time to enjoy outdoor attractions. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Precipitation: 40mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in February: The weather in February varies greatly, from beautiful, sunny days to overcast and rainfall. Some mornings start out with sunshine, with rain arriving in the afternoon. With such variance, planning to dress in layers and bring a variety of clothing for cold weather as well as relatively comfortable sunny days. The average high temperature this month remains 14°C, though it can get warmer than that in the afternoon. Lows increase a degree too, to 6°C, while the rainfall lessens a bit to 41mm that comes down over five days in the form of mostly light rain, drizzle or thunderstorms. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Precipitation: 41mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in March: While March is the coolest of the spring months, the average high creeps up to 16°C and overnight lows generally don’t dip below 8°C, making it a pleasant time to be in Barcelona. The days are longer too, with the sun sticking around until 7pm by mid-month, and after 8pm by the end of March as clocks move forward an hour. There isn’t much in the way of rainfall either, with just 33mm falling over four days, and you’ll enjoy more sunny and clear days as compared to the two previous months. You’re unlikely to need an umbrella, but it’s a good idea to bring a warm coat in case it gets chilly. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 33mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in April: April is unofficially the start of summer, with high temperatures gradually rising throughout the month. While the average high is 18°C, temperatures occasionally exceed 21°C in the afternoon this month. Rainfall is an average of 37mm in April, commonly arriving in the form of drizzle, light rain or a short-lived thunderstorm. Visitors often start to enjoy the beaches this month, though with sea temperatures at an average of 14°C., it’s usually a bit too cold for a swim. You will likely need some summer gear like shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and sandals for warm afternoons, but you’ll probably also want some long pants and perhaps a sweater or two for cooler evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 37mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in May: May is a beautiful time to be in Barcelona, with average temperatures around 20°C, though highs reach 22°C, and occasionally even 25°C. The days are lengthening too, with sunset at just before 9pm early in the month, and by May 31, the sun stays up until 9:18pm. Precipitation increases a bit in May, with 54mm of rainfall over nine days, though it’s most likely to occur earlier in the month, and when it falls it’s in the form of light or moderate rain, drizzle or thunderstorms. If you visit this month, you may need the full gamut of clothing, other than a winter coat. Bring a light jacket and long pants to wear in the evening, along with shorts or dresses, sandals and a bathing suit to enjoy the mostly warm weather during the day. An umbrella is probably a good idea too, just in case. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Precipitation: 54mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in June: In June, the warm weather has officially arrived, though the month isn’t as hot as it will be in July, and especially August. The average high temperature rises significantly from May, four degrees to 26°C, and occasionally it gets as hot as 28°C. Rain is minimal, if existent at all, and most likely early in the month. If you plan to visit in June, bring lightweight, summery clothing and beachwear, along with sun protection like a wide-brimmed hat and high SPF sunscreen. With overnight lows of 18°C, the evenings are pleasant, but if you chill easily you may want to bring a sweater and long pants. This month also brings the longest day of the year, with the sun setting at 9:30pm on June 30. (Average Max Temperature: 26°C. Average Precipitation: 11mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in July: If you’re seeking sunshine and heat, July is a good time to come to Barcelona, bringing perfect weather for sunbathing and activities in the water, with sea temperatures at an average of 23°C. Sometimes the afternoons can exceed sizzling temperatures of 30°C, though the average high is 28°C. Rainfall is quite low, with just 25mm falling over two days in July, which means you may need to find relief from the intense sunshine in the shade, in addition to slathering on the sunscreen as the intense rays of the sun can be quite strong and cause a sunburn if you aren’t adequately protected. Plan to bring your light, summer clothing, including beachwear and look forward to spending time in the water, which is an average of 24°C this month. (Average Max Temperature: 28°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in August: August is Barcelona’s hottest month, with the average high rising to 29°C. Combined with high humidity, that temperature often feels much hotter than it is, and you’ll see many locals using fans to try and keep cool, while the beaches, parks and pools are packed with both locals and tourists alike. With the sun rising just before 7am and setting just after 9pm early in the month, you’ll have 14 hours of full sun, which means sunscreen is again an absolute must. As the month progresses, the days gradually become shorter, with the sun going down about 8:30pm on August 31. No matter when you arrive, plan to leave your umbrella behind as just 64mm of rain falls, and when it does, it brings a bit of cooling relief. Instead, as you would for July, pack lots of light summer wear, including a bathing suit. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Precipitation: 64mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in September: The cool down begins in September, making it a lot more pleasant to enjoy everything Barcelona has to offer. The average high temperature decreases three degrees to 26°C, with the warmest weather coming during the first half of the month. The weather can be a bit unpredictable now, with gorgeous beach weather one weekend and clouds or rain the next. Most of the time, you’ll be able to wear your typical summer gear, though you made need a couple of layers for when it cools off in the evening. Thunderstorms are more common in September, and the average amount of precipitation increases to about 75mm, falling over nine days, which means that bringing your portable umbrella is once again a good idea. (Average Max Temperature: 26°C. Average Precipitation: 75mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in October: Fall is now in full swing, and October is an especially good time to visit Barcelona for those who like the sunshine but don’t want to experience summer’s intense heat or thick crowds. The days are typically still sunny and warm, though temperatures dip down to an average of around 21°C and rainfall increases slightly to 81mm falling over six days this month. As you’ll have a fair chance for rain and clouds, along with plenty of sunny days, you’ll need to bring sunscreen and short-sleeved shirts as well as a light coat and umbrella. The days get significantly shorter as the month progresses; while the sun goes down around 7:30pm on October 1, it sets just before 6pm by month’s end, due to the clocks changing backward an hour. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 81mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in November: The city not only quiets down significantly in November, there is a noticeable chill in the air, with average low temperatures dropping to 8°C, and average highs decreasing from around 19°C to 15°C from the start to the end of the month. You’ll no longer need your beachwear, though you will need a good balance of lighter clothes for during the day along with evening layers. The amount of rainfall decreases slightly to 34mm coming down over four days, with your odds of experiencing wet weather highest earlier in the month. If you plan to come in early November, you may want to bring a raincoat along too. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 34mm.)
- Barcelona Weather in December: December tends to bring sunny but chilly days, with average temperatures of 11°C, though it may get as warm as 14°C on some afternoons. Although people from northern countries with a cold winter climate may regard Barcelona’s winter temperatures as quite mild, the sea air can add to the chill factor, which means a warm coat and a few sweaters are essential, though you may want a light jacket and short-sleeved shirts for those warmer, sunny days. With average precipitation at 35mm, you’re unlikely to need an umbrella, but you might bring one just in case. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Precipitation: 35mm.)
Barcelona Special Events and Festivals
Barcelona in January
- New Year’s Day – New Year’s Day is a national holiday, and most residents throughout the country will enjoy a day of rest and relaxation. While the majority of the shops and sights will be closed, and many of the bars and restaurants, you won’t have a difficult time finding a place that’s open to enjoy a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.
- Three King’s Day – On January 5, parades are held throughout Spain for Three King’s Day, or Dia de los Reyes Magos, including in Barcelona. That evening, three “kings” arrive by boat. After a few words of welcome, they parade through the city streets on regal floats, throwing gifts and candy to the children.
- Festa dels Tres Tombs – This traditional Catalan festival that takes place in mid- to late January, honors St. Anthony, the Patron Saint of animals, the poor and the sick. The name of the parade, “tres tombs,” is Catalan and translates to “three turns” in English. In Barcelona, the parade is in the Sant Antoni area, and you’ll see many people bring pets to the procession to be blessed.
Barcelona in February
- Carnival – Carnival in Barcelona, like it is everywhere else in the world, marks the start of Lent, 40 days before Easter, which in Spain is known as Semana Santa. This is a relatively low-key event in Barcelona, though you may see groups of children or stall owners in local markets dressing up for the occasion and sometimes participating in “best costume” contests. There are parades throughout the city, with each neighborhood hosting its own special events.
- Festival of Santa Eulalia – This annual children’s festival usually takes place over four days around February 12, which is Santa Eulalia’s Day. It’s the city’s biggest festival for kids and features parades, human castles, puppets, family workshops, concerts and more.
- Valentine’s Day – Catalans celebrate their romantic day of love on April 23, known as Sant Jordi; however, as an increasing number of restaurants and other businesses are realizing the commercial possibilities for February 14, if you’re looking for a romantic place to dine, you’ll have no problem finding an eatery serving up special offerings for Valentines.
Barcelona in March
- Festival de Sant Medir de Gracia – This annual festival in the Vila de Gracia area of the Gracia district takes place during the first week of March. A long and colorful procession of pack animals and riders on magnificent horses meet at the square, Plaza Ruis i Taulet, before riding to a picnic on the Arrabassada to the hermitage of Saint Sant Medir. When the procession returns, riders throw sweets into the crowd. The event is capped off with an evening of fireworks.
- Barcelona Marathon – This well-organized race held annually in mid-March attracts nearly 20,000 runners from across the globe; athletes follow a route that runs past many of Barcelona’s most impressive sights.
Barcelona in April
- Holy Week (Semana Santa) – Holy Week is celebrated throughout Spain (and many other countries) from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, which typically falls in early to mid-April, April 9 – April 15 in 2017. In this region of the country, there are some unique Easter traditions which include the “Mona,” a whimsical chocolate and pastry treat that’s given in the same way Easter eggs are given out elsewhere. On Palm Sunday, palm leaves are blessed in the Basilica Sagrada Familia, and in the famous Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona, the celebration includes a hollowed-out egg shell known as l’ou com balla, which is placed on top of a fountain to bob around and “dance.” During the Easter procession, you’ll see hundreds of people carrying statues of Maria and Jesus under the accompanied drum rolls and trumpet statues through Barcelona’s old town.
- Festival of St. Jordi – This day is akin to Catalonia’s version of Valentine’s Day. Saint George, or St. Jordi in Catalan, is the patron saint of Catalonia. A day of roses and books, men give a single red rose to the significant women in their lives – but not just their girlfriends and wives, it includes mothers and sisters too. In return, women give the men books. On this very colorful day in Catalonia, there are thousands of rose-sellers in the streets and bookshops set up in open-air stalls along major thoroughfares.
- Feast of Virgin of Montserrat – On April 27 each year, hundreds of people take a trip into the nearby mountains to the Santa Maria abbey in order to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat. One of the only black images of the Virgin Mary in Europe, the Virgin of Montserrat is the patron saint of all dioceses in Catalonia and along with Sant Jordi is considered the patron saint of the territory. The abbey, located about a 30-minute drive from the city, celebrates with a mass inside and numerous traditional activities in the main square, including live music, groups dancing the traditional Catalan dance, food stalls and more.
Barcelona in May
- Formula 1 – The Cucuit de Catalunya, located about 20 kilometers north of Barcelona near Montmelo, hosts the Barcelona Formula 1 race, which takes place over three days every year in mid-May, May 13-15 in 2016. This is a great opportunity to see some of the best Formula 1 drivers in the world compete in one of the most important races.
- Corpus Christi – This day honoring the Holy Eucharist falls in late May or June, on May 26 in 2016. During this festival, solemn processions can be seen through the city, and the streets of Sitges are blanketed with flowers.
- Sant Ponc – As part of the celebrations honoring the patron saint of beekeepers and herbal specialists, on May 11, an herb fair in Carrer de l’Hospital, features stands with fresh herbs and spices, flowers, honey, fruits, wines, aromatic oils, cakes and other sweets.
Barcelona in June
- Primavera Sound – Held during the first week of June, from June 1-5 in 2016, Primavera Sound is the world’s biggest indie and alternative music festival. Events take place mainly in Barcelona’s Parc del Form, and are complemented by a large number of concerts at various venues in the Raval neighborhood.
- Sonar Festival – This three-day electronic and advanced music festival held annually in mid-June (June 16-18, 2016), is the biggest of its kind in Europe.
- El Grec Barcelona – El Grec, or The Greek, is one of the city’s most anticipated festivals of the year. It encompasses music, dance, theatre, flamenco, film and even the circus. The series begins in June, reaches its peak in July and goes on into August.
- Nit de Sant Joan – Sant Joan is celebrated on June 23, and is one of the city’s biggest and noisiest parties. It features fiery activities, including fireworks that are set off from balconies, in the streets and in the squares, while bonfires are lit along the beachfront. Lots of cava, Barcelona’s favorite drink, is consumed, and many people take their first dip of the year into the sea at dawn.
- Pride Barcelona – This annual week-long gay pride event in late June features concerts, drag shows, film screenings, art shows and open-air dance parties complete with foam, culminating with a festival parade along Carrer de Sepulveda.
Barcelona in July
- Rock Fest Barcelona – Rock Fest Barcelona is a heavy metal rock festival that just came onto the scene in 2014, but it’s quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest and best of its kind. Held over three days in mid-July, July 15-17 in 2016, it features nearly 40 bands, with 2016’s lineup showcasing bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer, Anthrax, Michael Schenker and Twisted Sister.
- Sala Montjuic – Held at Barcelona’s Castell de Montjuic, with the grassy moat of the castle transformed into an outdoor cinema, this outdoor film festival kicks off on July 1 and features a blend of recent independent films along with classics that are shown three times a week through August 5.
- Festa Major del Raval – The Raval area hosts this annual summer festa in mid- to late July, which features more than 40 events, including concerts, dances, traditional Catalan parades and more.
- Festival Cruilla Barcelona – This mid-July festival, which will take place over July 8-10 in 2016, is an eclectic festival that includes everything from electronica acts and Jamaican music to rock and pop, African and R&B. 2016’s event will include artists like Robert Plant, Alabama Shakes, Cat Power, Damien Rice and Love of Lesbian.
Barcelona in August
- Festa Major de Gracia – This week-long festival held in the neighborhood of Gracia in early to mid-August, features outdoor concerts, dances and a host of other festivities. Elaborate decorations based on various themes like the solar system, marine life or local politics can be seen hanging throughout the streets.
- Circuit Festival – Held in Barcelona over two weeks in the first half of August, this is the largest international gay and lesbian event in the world. It features non-stop parties, music, workshops, film festivals, literary readings, sporting events like beach volleyball and football tournaments, debates and more.
- Festa de Sant Roc – Barcelona’s oldest festival, Festa de Sant Roc, has been celebrated every year since 1589. Centering around the Placa Nova in front of the cathedral in mid-August, it features plenty of Catalan traditions like parades with fat heads and giants, 19th-century street games, sea shanty singing groups, dancing, fireworks and more. It also hosts two must-see contests, one of which involves people walking over a greasy pole known as the “la cucanya,” and the other, “glops amb el porro llarg,” includes competitors drinking wine from a gigantic version of a wine carafe.
Barcelona in September
- La Diada de Catalunya (National Day of Catalonia) – Celebrating the region’s autonomy on September 11 each year, this is Catalonia’s most historically and politically significant holiday. The day-long festival marks the day Barcelona was besieged by Spanish and French troops in 1714 during the War of Succession. Organized demonstrations typically meet at the Fossar de les Moreres where they pay homage to the defenders of the city who died during the siege. A number of cultural events are held in most Catalan villages, and many of the locals wave or display the Senyera, which is the flag of Catalonia.
- Barcelona BAM Music Festival – BAM, which means “Musical Action Barcelona,” promotes some of the best independent artists from folk, rock and pop to indie and electronic. It’s held in late September at various venues throughout the city.
- Festes de la Merce – Honoring Our Lady of Merce (La Merc), Barcelona’s patron saint, this four-day celebration held around September 24 features free music concerts from contemporary to traditional, that are held in the plazas, including Placa Sant Jaume and Placa de Catalunya, as well as a run, harbor swimming race, parades and Catalan dances.
Barcelona in October
- Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival – This long-running festival kicks off in early October and runs through most of December, featuring everything from local and national artists to world-famous musicians.
- Dia de la Hispanitat – This national day that commemorates Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World has become controversial in Catalonia, which means the only events that generally take place are demonstrations, or occasionally a low-key celebration organized by people who come from other regions of the country.
- Barcelona International Boat Show – Billed as a not-to-be-missed event for sea lovers, this boat show features 670 boats that are on display along with 150 yachts and super-yachts that are on the water. Activities include surfing, windsurfing, paddle surfing, kayaking and dinghy sailing in the “beach fun zone,” a wave pool, radio-controlled sailing, a “nautical night” with music and tasting sessions, and much more.
- Halloween – Although Halloween is not a Catalan or Spanish tradition, the day has become embraced in Barcelona and throughout the country much as it has in many other parts of the world with fancy dress parties and costume contests. Kids also go trick-or-treating, but it’s called “Truco o Trato” here.
Barcelona in November
- All Saints’ Day – This public holiday on November 1, called “Tots Sants” in Catalan, is celebrated by friends and relatives laying flowers on the graves of their loved ones who’ve died. Here, you can also enjoy the Catalan tradition of La Castanyada, which means chestnut time. It includes eating roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, cakes called panellets and drinking muscatel wine. Stalls are set up selling these items throughout Barcelona streets.
- Eurocon – This annual science fiction convention is held in early November, November 4-6 in 2016 in the heart of Barcelona at the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona.
Barcelona in December
- Christmas Market – In mid-December, a huge open-air market known as Fira de Santa Lucia opens in the streets around the main cathedral. It features all sorts of Christmas decorations and handmade crafts, trees, and figurines for nativity dioramas called pessebres. The market runs through January 6.
- Placa de Catalunya Christmas Festival – Starting about a week before Christmas and running for two weeks, the central square in Barcelona hosts a Christmas festival that features a light and sound show as well as a variety of activities and workshops for all ages.
- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – In Spain, Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25 with gift-giving and a Christmas lunch. Everyone is welcome to attend the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, held at the Santa Maria del Mar church. Just before midnight, you’ll hear a Gregorian chant, “El cant de la Sibil·la,” performed in the Catalan language.
- New Year’s Eve – December 31st brings parties that are held throughout the city, with the main event taking place at Montjuic’s Magic Fountain. The party is free and starts at 11pm with a spectacular music, light and water show. At midnight, 12 bells chime and then the fireworks show begins, finishing up about half-past midnight.
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