Prepping for a thrilling Spanish adventure and want to know the best time to visit Barcelona?
When you plan a trip, every traveler knows that the when of the journey is just as crucial as the why. Sure, a bargain ticket to an exotic locale is exciting, but it’s important to make sure that you’re traveling when you want to. Weather, local celebrations, and crowds are all important travel considerations. To start, it’s wise to take stock of what you hope to get out of your trip. Dreaming of sun-soaked afternoons on the beach? It’s probably best not to go when the city in question is in the depths of winter. Hoping for a tranquil weekend in quiet coffee shops? Perhaps don’t go during the biggest festival of the year. Barcelona is both a cultural hub and a fast-paced city, and so you can visit year-round and have a great time! It just depends on what sort of trip you’re envisioning.
We love winter in Barcelona (and wrote a whole post about it!), and if you don’t mind wearing a coat while you sightsee, winter might be the best time to visit Barcelona for you. The holiday season in Spain lasts for over a month while citizens get ready for Christmas, New Year’s, and the Three Kings celebration, and the streets are alive with glittering lights, Christmas markets, and churros with chocolate. Barcelona’s narrow, winding streets teem with excited shoppers out with their families, and everywhere, you can find little stalls heaped with paintings, plastic toys, and jewelry for sale. In Catalonia, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are celebrated right alongside the culturally more-significant Three Kings Day, where the whole city floods the streets to watch an incredible parade every year. Want to avoid the crowds? Try heading to Barcelona just after the festivities–the initial swell of tourists will have subsided, leaving you free to explore everything from the Sagrada Familia to the Gothic Quarter.
While the dazzle of the Christmas markets and lovely quiet streets of a late-winter Barcelona trip might be enjoyable, nothing compares to springtime in sunny Spain. As the cold weather softens to warm, flowers bloom, trees come back to life, and the Spanish people celebrate with Semana Santa, or Holy Week. Holy Week occurs during the week from Palm Sunday leading up to Easter, and the city of Barcelona is crowded with a nonstop series of parades, processions, and concerts. Prices on everything from hotels to restaurants might be a little higher than normal, but experiencing Semana Santa in Spain is truly something special. If you decide you don’t want to go during Holy Week, then spring is one of the best times to see Barcelona. The weather is pleasant–not hot, not cold–and sights like Gaudí’s Park Güell will take your breath away in the spring sunlight.
Summer in Barcelona means one thing, and one thing only: the beach! While the city fills with excited locals and tourists exploring Picasso’s museum and sipping café con leches by the Cathedral, the bright white beaches are ready for exploration. You can relax in the Mediterranean sun while you swim, lounge, and read by the glittering turquoise water. At night, Barcelona’s club and bar scene comes alive, so you can party at some killer Spanish hotspots. If you want to get away for a day? The lovely Costa Brava is right around the corner. Besides, June in Barcelona means Sant Joan, a centuries-old celebration of healing and cleansing where everyone gathers on the beach long after dark to eat, talk, and swim. Despite the heat, summer could be your best time to visit Barcelona if you love the beach, sun, and beautiful festivals.
For the staff here at Lifestyle Barcelona–and for many locals–fall is, hands-down, the best time to visit Barcelona. With the heat of the summer cooling off, the city shifts into a different mode, and welcomes what for many is the biggest festival of the year: La Mercè. On September 24, the Catalonians celebrate the Virgin of Grace and the city’s patron saint, Santa Eulalia, and they do it in style. Barcelona’s traditional teams of Castellers craft terrifying and incredible human towers that stretch toward the sky; a pyrotechnics show, complete with music and fireworks, happens at the spectacular Montjüic fountain. Strolling through the city’s many stunning landmarks, you may wander into the Catalan Wine Fair or an unbelievably cool correfoc, or “fire run,” where “demons” shower sparks down on a dancing crowd. During the weeklong celebration, one other “Guest City” city is invited to share its culture and history with Barcelona, as well–in 2013, for instance, it was Vienna. The month of September is a celebratory one, with hundreds of events to explore from circus acts to music to dancing. If you are hoping for a trip that stuns and amazes, then the best time to visit Barcelona might be then.
What do you think is the best time to visit Barcelona? Let us know in the comments!