7 reasons to visit Barcelona in December (2023 guide)

Christmas Market in Barcelona

Are you planning on visiting Barcelona in December? 

Barcelona: it’s known for its vibrant culture, Gaudi-created architecture, and rich Catalan cuisine.

But did you know that it’s a fantastic Christmas destination?

As December arrives, the festive markets open, welcoming tourists with their unique Catalan traditions.

Of course, if you visit Barcelona in December you may escape the harsh winter in other parts of Europe too – Barcelona’s usually never too cold!

Whether you’re drawn to the bustling Christmas markets, crowd-free Barcelona beaches, or the city’s effortlessly cool vibe, there are countless reasons to visit Barcelona in December.

Let’s take a look at them!

Why visit Barcelona in December?

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 13, 2017: View of the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family (Sagrada Familia) with a beautiful blue sky.

Visit Barcelona in December to enjoy warm weather, a festive atmosphere, plenty of delicious food, outdoor activities and New Year’s celebrations.

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It’s definitely one of the best Spanish winter destinations – read on for all of our top reasons!

Mild weather

While much of Europe ranges from chilly to snowy in December, Barcelona’s mild and comfortable snow here is very, very rare.

Sure, it’s winter, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to bundle up excessively!

Average temperatures hover around 10-15°C (50-59°F); it’s pleasant enough to explore the city’s stunning architecture, stroll along the less-crowded beaches, or sip hot chocolate at an al-fresco street-side café.

It’s the perfect blend of winter charm without the chill!

Christmas festivities

Christmas Market in Barcelona

Barcelona’s December scene is alive with Christmas spirit, and the city’s markets are the heart of the celebration.

At the Fira de Santa Llúcia, near the Gothic Cathedral, you’ll discover handcrafted ornaments, nativity scenes, and delicious Catalan treats like “turrón” and “neules.”

If you’re looking for something a bit different, the Fira de Nadal at the Sagrada Familia offers a stunning backdrop to a market filled with local crafts, foods, and performances.

The illuminated Sagrada Familia only adds to the festive atmosphere!

Don’t miss the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, a world-renowned market that goes all out during the festive season.

In addition to the markets, there’s the amusing Caga Tió, or “pooping log” tradition.

Families create and decorate a wooden log, feed it treats, and then “encourage” it to deliver presents on Christmas Eve or Day.

It’s one of Europe’s quirkiest Christmas traditions – check out my full post on it

Seasonal food

Barcelona’s food scene comes alive in November with an array of Spanish seasonal dishes!

Start with “Escudella i Carn d’Olla,” a traditional Catalan stew brimming with meats and vegetables.

Local restaurants also join the festivities by offering special holiday menus.

From gourmet dining establishments to cosy tapas bars, here you can indulge in dishes like “Canelons,” stuffed pasta often enjoyed on Boxing Day, or the much-loved “turrón,” a nougat made of honey, sugar, egg whites, and almonds.

And don’t forget to explore Barcelona’s bustling food markets during December, including Mercat de la Barceloneta and Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. 

Psst… I think the very BEST way to experience Barcelona’s immense food scene is a guided food, wine and history tour (all my favourite things!) like this one. You’ll get your culture fix while trying some of the city’s best dishes at secret local spots – what’s not to love?

Winter sales and shopping

Rows of Caga Tio, the Catalan Pooping Log, at a Christmas market.

If you’re looking to shop, Barcelona in December has you covered!

Begin Christmas shopping at the famous Passeig de Gràcia, where top international brands offer incredible discounts during winter sales.

If you’re searching for something more local and unique, explore the El Born district, where artisans sell handmade crafts, jewellery, and souvenirs.

Don’t miss the chance to visit one of Barcelona’s vibrant Christmas markets, such as Fira de Santa Llúcia, where you can pick up traditional Catalan Christmas decorations and delicacies.

After Christmas, the sales start, where you can purchase clothes and accessories at bargain prices! 

Outdoor activities

Thanks to Barcelona’s idyllic weather, outdoor activities are abundant in Barcelona in December! 

Do you love to hike?

Check out the nearby Montserrat Mountain with elaborate trails, allowing you to experience the natural beauty of Catalonia.

If you visit Barcelona in December, explore the city’s famous parks like Parc Güell and enjoy Gaudi’s artistic genius amid lush greenery!

Want to soak in the city’s architecture without the summer crowds? December is an ideal time for leisurely sightseeing.

Wander the Gothic Quarter’s narrow streets, bike along the beachfront, or even take a Segway tour of the city’s historic sites. 

Being in close proximity to the Costa Brava, enjoy the beaches without anyone else around, a rare treat during other times of the year (it might not be beach weather, but it’s usually good enough for a beach stroll!). 

If you’re up for a bit of adventure, take a side trip to the Pyrenees for skiing or snowboarding!

New Year’s Eve celebrations

Christmas lighting in a street of Barcelona.

Barcelona knows how to welcome the New Year with style!

From grand public celebrations to intimate gatherings at local bars and restaurants, there’s no shortage of ways to ring in the New Year here. 

Plaça d’Espanya hosts a massive public celebration, complete with a spectacular light show, live music, and, of course, fireworks.

Thousands gather here to count down to midnight.

Then there’s the local tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight!

Locals and tourists alike partake in this custom, symbolizing good luck for the coming 12 months.

As the clock strikes midnight, revellers eat one grape for each chime, accompanied by cava, the local sparkling wine.

Are you interested in dining and dancing the night away? Many of Barcelona’s renowned restaurants and clubs offer special New Year’s Eve packages.

Reduced crowds

As Barcelona’s not that renowned when it comes to Christmas destinations in Europe, visiting in December affords a unique opportunity to experience the city without the typical tourist crowds!

As the peak summer season fades away, so do the long lines and crowded streets.

Wander the iconic La Rambla without elbowing your way through throngs of people or take a peaceful stroll through the stunning Park Güell, enjoying Gaudi’s artistic masterpieces without interruption.

The reduced crowds also mean shorter waiting times at major attractions like Sagrada Familia or the Picasso Museum.

This calm atmosphere extends to the city’s beautiful beaches.

Even though it’s winter, you can still stroll along the beach or take a quick dip! 

With fewer tourists, you’ll find Barceloneta Beach much less crowded!

Shopping’s much more chilled out too – whether you’re browsing the city’s unique boutiques or exploring the festive Christmas markets. 

What’s the weather like in Barcelona in December?

Cathedral of Barcelona, Catalonia

December in Barcelona is pretty mild. 

There may be rain at times, but generally the daytime temperatures are mild enough to enjoy the city! 

Here’s a quick overview of the weather you can expect:

Weather EventValue
High temperature C (F)14°C (57°F)
Low temperature C (F)8°C (46°F)
Average sea temperature C (F)15°C (59°F)
Days of rain7

What to pack for Barcelona in December

Packing for Barcelona in December requires some thought to accommodate the mild but sometimes unpredictable weather.

Since the temperatures can vary, it’s wise to pack clothes that can be layered, such as light sweaters, long-sleeve shirts, and a warm jacket for the evenings.

Whether you’re planning on walking through the city or hitting the Christmas markets, walking shoes or comfortable boots are a must.

Even though Barcelona doesn’t get extremely cold, a scarf and gloves can be useful for chillier days or evenings.

With an average of 7 days of rain in December, having a small umbrella in your bag might come in handy.

If you’re planning to visit heated pools or indoor spas, don’t forget to pack swimwear. Even in winter, the sun can be bright, so sunglasses are recommended.

Lastly, a daypack for carrying essentials like water, snacks, or your camera is a great addition to your packing list.

This packing list should provide a comfortable and stylish base for your Barcelona trip in December, allowing you to enjoy all the city has to offer.

Things to do in Barcelona in December

Park guell in Barcelona
  1. Explore the stunning Gothic Quarter, decorated with Christmas lights.
  2. Visit La Sagrada Familia, especially during a winter sunset.
  3. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, sampling seasonal treats.
  4. Experience the unique Christmas tradition of Caga Tió, a favourite with Catalan Families.
  5. Enjoy ice skating at the temporary rinks near Plaça Catalunya.
  6. Attend a Christmas Mass at the historic Barcelona Cathedral.
  7. Explore Montjuïc Castle for breathtaking city views.
  8. Take a side trip to the nearby Pyrenees Mountains for skiing or snowboarding.
  9. Savour traditional Catalan Christmas dishes at a local restaurant.
  10. Visit the Picasso Museum, which may have fewer crowds.
  11. Discover Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell under a crisp winter sky.
  12. Attend the Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona’s oldest Christmas market.
  13. Take a relaxing dip in a heated pool at Aire de Barcelona.
  14. Visit the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc for a winter-themed show.
  15. Explore the iconic architecture of Casa Batlló and Casa Milà.
  16. Enjoy a beach day at Barceloneta Beach, minus the crowds.
  17. Take part in the New Year’s Eve Celebrations at Plaça Espanya.
  18. Explore the El Raval neighbourhood for unique shopping experiences.
  19. Attend a live performance at the iconic Gran Teatre del Liceu.
  20. Wander through Poble Espanyol, an open-air architectural museum, to experience Spain’s beautiful architecture.

Check out my full guide to visiting Barcelona in winter by clicking here.

Barcelona in December FAQs

Is December a good time to visit Barcelona?

Yes, December is an excellent time to visit Barcelona. The weather is generally mild, and the city is adorned with festive decorations and Christmas markets. Reduced crowds also allow for a more relaxed exploration of the city’s renowned attractions.

Do people go to the beach in Barcelona in December?

While December isn’t prime beach season, the mild weather still allows for enjoyable strolls along the beaches. Some locals and tourists do venture to the shores of Barceloneta Beach and other nearby beaches, enjoying the tranquility without the summer crowds.

Is Barcelona nice in Christmas?

Barcelona is enchanting during Christmas. The city embraces the holiday spirit with festive markets, unique Catalan traditions like Caga Tió, beautiful decorations, and special holiday menus at local restaurants. It’s a magical time to experience Barcelona’s cultural richness.

Is Barcelona worth visiting in the winter?

Absolutely! Winter in Barcelona offers many delights, from the seasonal foods to the festive Christmas atmosphere. Plus, the city’s mild winter climate means you can still enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking and sightseeing. Proximity to the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees allows for diverse experiences.

Is Barcelona expensive in December?

December can be more affordable in Barcelona compared to the peak summer months. Accommodation prices may be lower, and winter sales in local markets and shops can provide opportunities for great deals. However, prices can vary, so it’s wise to plan and book in advance.

Is everything open in Barcelona in December?

Most attractions, shops, and restaurants in Barcelona remain open in December. Some places might have special holiday hours, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s advisable to check the schedules in advance for any specific venues you wish to visit.

Are you ready for Barcelona in December? 

With more hours of sunshine than many other European destinations and plenty of things to do, Barcelona’s a wonderful winter city break – but December, with festive markets, is an ideal time to visit. 

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