Barcelona in winter: top things to do and guide for 2023/4

Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, Spain

With mild winters, staggeringly beautiful architecture and none of the summer crowds, Barcelona in winter is well worth considering. 

Sure, you might not be spending much time on Barceloneta Beach (although a quick dip is definitely possible in November!), but twin Spanish Christmas traditions with Barcelona’s highlights, and you’ve got yourself a glorious winter break. 

Or, visit in January or February to experience this world-renowned city – one of the best in Europe – without crowds. 

I visited Barcelona in winter, and here’s exactly what you can expect!

What’s Barcelona like in Winter?

Barcelona is the perfect place for a winter getaway if you’re looking for somewhere warmer to visit.

It’s not quite as hot as places further south in Spain, like Malaga and Marbella, but there’s a high chance of sunshine and, in December at least, the city will be filled with festive spirit!

Winter is the off-season, so it’s a lot quieter and there are fewer crowds.

Compared to the summer, popular tourist attractions like Las Ramblas and Sagrada Familia are a lot more relaxed!

You won’t have to fight your way to the front of the queues or wait for a table at the best restaurants.

From a practical point of view, Barcelona is cheaper in winter too.

You can also expect the city’s art galleries to open new exhibitions, seasonal foods, and festive parades like the Three Kings Parade.

I visited Barcelona in winter and it quickly became one of my most memorable city breaks!

What’s the weather like in Barcelona in winter? 

Winter descends in the city from December to March – but it’s quite mild!

The coldest months are January to February, but even then temperatures don’t tend to drop below 9°C/ 48°F.

During the day, you can expect temperatures as high as 15°C/ 59°F, and while snow is possible in Barcelona, it’s very rare.

There’s often sunshine too!

The hills around the city are cooler and chillier, but the temperature rarely drops below 0°C/ 32°F.

Winter in Barcelona: month-by-month

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 13, 2014: Passeig de Gracia  in winter dawn. Barcelona, Spain

Here’s a table looking at each month of winter in Barcelona.

MonthAverage HighAverage LowAverage Days of RainSpecial Events
November17°C (63°F)8°C (46°F)8Christmas markets setup, shops decorating
December15°C (59°F)6°C (43°F)7Christmas markets, Santa Lucia Fair, concerts
January14°C (57°F)6°C (43°F)5Three Kings Parade, winter sales
February15°C (59°F)6°C (43°F)5Carnival, Santa Eulalia Festival
March17°C (63°F)8°C (46°F)7Beginning of spring, outdoor activities

Barcelona in November

November marks the beginning of the winter season in Barcelona, with average temperatures ranging from 8°C to 17°C (46°F to 63°F).

The weather’s generally mild, but there can be occasional rain!

This month is filled with a sense of anticipation for the upcoming festive season, with shops starting to decorate and outdoor Christmas markets beginning to set up.

Barcelona in December

December in Barcelona is incredible.

Average temperatures are from 6°C to 15°C (43°F to 59°F).

The Christmas spirit is in full swing, and the city comes alive with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and bustling Christmas markets.

The Christmas market near the Gothic Cathedral is a must-visit.

Special events like the Santa Lucia Fair take place, and the city’s main squares host concerts and activities for children.

Barcelona in January

January is one of the coldest months in Barcelona, with average temperatures between 6°C and 14°C (43°F to 57°F).

But the city is still vibrant and full of life!

The Three Kings Parade, a significant event in Spanish culture, takes place in early January, providing an unforgettable spectacle with colourful floats and costumes.

There’s also the beginning of the winter sales in shops, making it a great time for shopping enthusiasts.

While the crowds are fewer, the cultural life of the city continues to thrive!

Barcelona in February

February’s weather is similar to January, with temperatures ranging from 6°C to 15°C (43°F to 59°F).

It’s a fantastic time to visit if you want to avoid the tourist crowds and enjoy the city more authentically.

Barcelona celebrates Carnival in February, a lively and colorful event filled with parades and parties.

It’s also the month of Santa Eulalia Festival.

Barcelona in March

March sees the beginning of spring in Barcelona, with average temperatures from 8°C to 17°C (46°F to 63°F).

The city starts to blossom, and outdoor activities become more appealing!

The mild weather and the reawakening of the city make it a fun time for a visit.

Things to do in Barcelona in winter

The best things to do in Barcelona in winter include strolling through the Christmas market, exploring Park Güell, taking in the views from Mount Tibidabo, and admiring the beauty of Sagrada Familia.

This Catalonian city has it all!

Sagrada Família

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

It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit Barcelona, no trip to the city is complete without seeing the Sagrada Família.

The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, better known as Sagrada Família, is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world.

This impressive structure was designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction commenced in 1882 and isn’t expected to finish until 2026.

The design of Sagrada Família is likened to Spanish Late Gothic, Art Nouveau, and Catalan Modernism.

Immerse yourself in the rich history of the church with a guided tour.

Here’s a guided tour that includes fast-track access.

You can also buy your ticket in advance to ensure you get your preferred slot

Click here for a ticket, which includes an audio guide.

Alternatively, you can admire its beauty from afar.

I found the best place to see this remarkable site was from the pond in Plaça de Gaudí (Google maps link).

Park Güell

Park guell in Barcelona

Built in 1914 and first opened to the public in 1926, Park Güell is one of the most vibrant and unique parts of the city.

Composed of unique architecture, lush gardens, and impressive walkways, this isn’t a place you want to miss.

UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site in 1984 and it’s not hard to see why.

Another fine example of Antoni Gaudi’s work, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world.

Park Güell is located in the district of Gracia and there are two large areas to cover. These are the monumental area and the woodland area.

I enjoyed exploring both areas but the monumental area is where you should start as this is where you’ll find Gaudi’s Trencadis-style architecture.

The most famous creation in the park is El Drac, which can be seen at the entrance.

You can buy your ticket in advance by clicking here, which will ensure you get your preferred slot.

Or, click here for a guided tour.

Visit Barcelona’s best museums

Barcelona, renowned for its art and architecture, is home to a plethora of fascinating museums.

Whether you’re an art aficionado, a history buff, or just interested in exploring the local culture, the city’s museums offer something for everyone.

Make sure to plan your visits in advance, as some of these museums are quite popular and can sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Here are some must-visit museums:

Barcelona Cathedral

Cathedral of Barcelona, Catalonia

Barcelona Cathedral, otherwise known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is the city’s Gothic cathedral.

As you’ve probably come to expect by now, Barcelona is jam-packed with amazing architecture – and this building is no different!

The seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, this cathedral was constructed between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.

While the outside of the cathedral is pretty special, I highly recommend going inside too.

A walk around Barcelona Cathedral will allow you to observe its interior in all its glory.

Don’t forget to take the lift up to the rooftop.

The roof was my favourite part of the cathedral because you can see the intricately designed spires close up.

The roof is also notable for its gargoyles, which consist of both mythical and domestic animals.

Tapas Tour

Embark on a Tapas Tour in Barcelona’s iconic Gothic Quarter, visiting 4 local hot spots.

Alongside a knowledgeable local guide, you’ll sample delicious classic tapas dishes, paired with wine, cava, and vermouth.

You’ll enjoy this tour in a small group, so it’s an excellent one to do if you want to make new travel friends!

Plaça Espanya

One of the most important squares in the city is Plaça Espanya.

Plaça Espanya is a stunning square in the heart of the city.

Once home to Barcelona’s old bull-fighting ring, the square is now the gateway to the fountain light show of Montjuic.

It’s also a major transport hub.

Plaça Espanya primarily connects the main neighbourhoods in the area, but there are lots of things for tourists to see too.

I visited Plaça Espanya in the evening because this is when the area comes to life.

At night, the Magic Fountain of Montjuic lights up the plaza at the head of Avinguda Maria Cristina.

Unbelievably, the light show here can produce more than 7 billion light-and-water combinations!

Las Ramblas

Rambla street in morning. Barcelona, Spain.

Las Ramblas Boulevard will quickly become one of your favourite places in Barcelona. It certainly became one of mine!

Las Ramblas is a lively, vibrant, and iconic street in the heart of the city.

It’s home to a wide variety of the best attractions in Barcelona and is often the first landmark tourists identify.

What I love about Las Ramblas is how it runs right through the city.

You can walk in one straight line from the top of the street, all the way to the marina.

Las Ramblas is less than a mile long and it runs from Plaça Catalunya in the north to Port Vell in the south.

The street is lined with market stalls, restaurants, and once again, impressive architecture. Attractions you’ll find along Las Ramblas include Liceu Theatre, La Boqueria Market, and the Columbus Monument.

Visiting Las Ramblas in winter is perfect because it’s nowhere near as busy – but do be mindful of pickpockets, sadly this is rampant on Las Ramblas.

Holiday markets

Christmas Market in Barcelona

In my opinion, Barcelona is one of the best cities in Europe when it comes to Christmas markets.

When I visited, I was amazed by just how many markets there were to explore.

Barcelona has several Christmas markets so it’s fair to say you’ll be able to do all your Christmas shopping here!

The Christmas markets in Barcelona take place daily from late November until the 23rd of December. The oldest Christmas market in the city is the Market of Saint Lucia, which dates back to the 18th Century.

This market can be found in front of Barcelona Cathedral.

Most stalls sell Christmas decorations, mistletoe, accessories, figures, and even trees.

You can also find markets in front of Sagrada Família, near the Columbus Monument, and on Gran Via.

Montserrat Monastery Tour

Embarking on a 5-hour half day trip to the Montserrat Monastery is a refreshing escape from Barcelona’s hustle.

This is a transfer service, so you can explore the area at your leisure once you arrive.

Montserrat Monastery is a renowned spiritual retreat and cultural centre.

Home to the Benedictine monks, it is known for its intricate architecture and a world-famous boys’ choir.

Hiking trails also await, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging treks.

The tour concludes with a return drive to Barcelona, leaving you enriched and invigorated by the unique blend of nature, spirituality, and culture Montserrat offers.

Gothic Quarter

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is beautiful.

Commonly referred to as Barri Gotic, this part of the city is where you’ll find the narrow medieval streets, quirky bars, the best Catalan restaurants, and nightclubs.

For those of you who want to learn more about Barcelona’s history, be sure to visit Museo d’història de Barcelona.

This interesting museum shows the remains of the old Roman city!

You can easily explore the Gothic Quarter after checking out Las Ramblas, as the street conveniently divides the Quarter and El Raval.

You’ll also find Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter.

I enjoyed walking the narrow alleyways, tucking into street food, and looking at the artisan stalls during my visit to the Gothic Quarter.

FC Barcelona Camp Nou

One of the best recommendations on a rainy day in Barcelona is FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

Camp Nou has been the home of FC Barcelona since 1957. Ever since, it’s been widely regarded as one of the best football stadiums in the world.

Camp Nou isn’t only home to one of the best football clubs in the world, but it’s also the largest stadium in Europe and the third biggest football stadium in the world!

You can immerse yourself in football history on a guided tour of the 99,000-seater stadium, where you’ll learn all about Barcelona’s greatest treasure.

A tour of the stadium allows you to explore the changing rooms, hold trophies, sit in the dugout, and learn more about the city and its affinity with the sport.

You can book your tour to Camp Nou in advance by clicking here.

I took in a Copa del Rey match when I visited the stadium too!

Flamenco Show

Indulge in Barcelona’s vibrant culture with an indoor winter treat: an enthralling 30-minute flamenco show, followed by a delightful tapas dinner.

Just a short walk from Las Ramblas, immerse yourself in Spain’s fiery dance and feast on a variety of typical dishes, igniting a love affair with Spain’s rich traditions.

It’s a perfect escape from the chill, blending culture and cuisine in one unforgettable evening.

Mount Tibidabo

Mount Tiblado

For me, the best views of the city can be found at Mount Tibidabo.

Tibidabo is a hill that overlooks Barcelona. It is only 512m (1,619 feet) tall but the views are still spectacular.

From the hill, you can see Barcelona in its entirety.

On a clear day, you can see most of the coast too, so don’t miss out. The summit of the hill is occupied by the Sagrat Cor church and Tibidabo Amusement Park.

I found this to be a strange place for an amusement park but Sagrat Cor church was breathtaking.

You can reach the base of Mount Tibidabo by train or bus.

You can then walk up the hill or jump on the funicular to the top.

Day trip to Costa Brava

Discover Costa Brava’s winter charm on a day trip from Barcelona.

Explore the medieval village of Tossa de Mar and stroll among exotic plants in the Botanical Gardens of Blanes.

You’ll then savour a traditional lunch in a family-owned restaurant, and enjoy the stunning views from the lighthouse in Tossa de Mar.

This tour’s a fantastic way to dive into local culture without the summer crowds, as you wander through narrow cobblestone streets lined with traditional whitewashed houses.

Three Kings Parade

Every year during the first week of January, Barcelona comes together to celebrate the parade of the three wise kings.

One of the most celebrated festivals in the city, the parade usually takes place on the 5th or 6th.

A wonderful occasion for everyone, this is by far one of the best winter attractions the city has to offer for children.

The kings are greeted at the port as they disembark and the procession moves towards the city centre.

The festival lasts for approximately three hours and the parade is celebrated with food, drink, and sweets.

Where to Stay in Barcelona in Winter

Here are some recommended places to stay in Barcelona:

Toc Hostel Barcelona

Toc Hostel Barcelona is an excellent choice for backpackers.

With its central location, guests have easy access to many of Barcelona’s main attractions.

Dorm rooms are pod-style, with individual lights and power sockets.

There are private rooms too.

Plus, the communal areas and shared kitchen are excellent places to meet fellow travellers!

Casa Lit Barcelona by Ona (previously Acta Mimic)

Casa Lit Barcelona by Ona, previously known as Acta Mimic, is a stylish hotel located in the heart of the city.

The unique design and artistic atmosphere set it apart.

With comfortable rooms and a convenient location near popular sites like Las Ramblas, it’s an excellent option for those who want a blend of quality and accessibility without breaking the bank.

This is where we stayed on our December trip to Barcelona, and we loved the comfortable bedrooms and modern furnishings.

The One Barcelona GL

Are you looking for something a little more luxurious?

Look no further than the One Barcelona GL.

Located in the sophisticated Eixample district, this five-star hotel offers elegant rooms with top-notch amenities.

What sets it apart is its indoor swimming pool and indulgent spa, providing a perfect retreat after a day exploring the city – and obviously, they’re even open on the coldest winter days.

How to Get to Barcelona

Taking the ferry from Mallorca to Barcelona!
Taking the ferry from Mallorca to Barcelona!

Good news: travelling to Barcelona in winter is generally more affordable than in summer! Here are the main ways of getting there:


Winter often sees a reduction in flight prices.

Major airlines offer regular flights to Barcelona’s El Prat Airport from various international destinations.

I flew out from Barcelona airport to London Heathrow with British Airways for a discount price – EasyJet and RyanAir also ply the route.


If you’re planning to drive from France, winter conditions can make roads over the Pyrenees – where it’s much colder – more challenging to navigate.

Snow and icy conditions may require additional preparation and caution!

Buses often reach places that trains don’t go, like the Pyrenees. I used ALSA buses while I was travelling around Spain.


Travelling by train is a convenient and scenic way to reach Barcelona.

High-speed trains connect the city with various parts of Spain and France.

Winter schedules are typically consistent!

You can book trains on the Renfe website.


Ferries to Barcelona from the Balearic Islands and other Mediterranean locations continue to operate during the colder season.

Though less frequent than in summer months, they remain a viable and leisurely option for travel – I took the ferry from Palma to Barcelona and had a lovely relaxing crossing!

You can purchase ferry tickets online – we used Trasmediterranea.

You can take a look at my full blog post (on my other blog) about the Palma to Barcelona ferry by clicking here.

What’s Barcelona Like at Christmas?

Christmas lighting in a street of Barcelona.

Christmas in Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without traditional Spanish food.

Markets and local eateries offer seasonal favorites like “turron” and “polvorones.”

The city’s architectural marvels, including Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló, are adorned with festive lights and decorations.

Barcelona’s Christmas markets, such as the Fira de Santa Llúcia near the Cathedral and the Fira de Nadal at Sagrada Familia, are must-visit destinations.

These markets are set in some of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, offering unique gifts, decorations, and seasonal food.

Local traditions such as the Three Kings Parade and “Caga Tió” add a touch of Catalan charm to Christmas in Barcelona!

What’s Barcelona Like in New Year?

New Year’s Eve in Barcelona draws travelers from all corners of the globe.

As one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, Barcelona is renowned for its dazzling New Year’s festivities.

The magic begins at Plaça d’Espanya, where a spectacular light and water show at the Magic Fountain captivates visitors.

The nearby Montjuïc Hill offers a vantage point to watch fireworks illuminating the city’s iconic buildings.

In the heart of the city, Las Ramblas and Plaça de Catalunya are bustling with street parties, concerts, and revelers toasting to the New Year.

Traditional Spanish food is enjoyed, and the custom of eating 12 grapes at midnight for good luck is a must-do.

Barcelona’s reputation as one of the gay capitals of Europe also adds to its inclusive and diverse celebrations.

Where to Eat in Barcelona in Winter

Winter in Barcelona might mean that some al fresco restaurants are closed, but the city’s vibrant culinary scene still offers plenty of options!

From traditional Spanish tapas to innovative fusion dishes, here are some recommendations:

  1. Cervecería Catalana: A must-visit for tapas enthusiasts, this restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including the popular fusion tapas, combining traditional Spanish flavors with international twists.
  2. El Quim de la Boqueria: Located in the iconic La Boqueria Market, this place offers a taste of Barcelona’s fresh produce. Don’t miss their seafood tapas and Spanish omelettes.
  3. Moments: For a fine dining experience in the Catalan capital, Moments offers exquisite Catalan cuisine prepared with seasonal ingredients.
  4. Vegetalia: Looking for vegetarian options? Vegetalia’s diverse menu offers hearty winter stews and salads, perfect for keeping warm during the cooler months.
  5. Sensi Tapas: A favorite among locals and tourists alike, Sensi offers a blend of traditional and fusion tapas. The restaurant’s innovative approach to tapas makes it a unique culinary destination. 

What to Pack for Barcelona in Winter

Don't forget to pack a coat for Barcelona winter!

When planning a winter trip to Barcelona, pack items that will allow you to comfortably explore and enjoy the city.

Although the weather is typically milder compared to other European destinations, the cold weather can still get chilly, especially in the evenings.

Pack a lightweight but warm jacket, some sweaters, and long-sleeve shirts.

These items can be layered to accommodate the fluctuating temperatures, and a nice scarf and gloves may come in handy during those chillier nights.

Even though Barcelona doesn’t usually require heavy winter gear, take enough to stay warm during a nighttime stroll!

Since you will likely spend a significant amount of time exploring on foot, comfortable walking shoes or boots that are weather-resistant are a must-have.

If your itinerary includes visiting upscale restaurants or attending any special events, you may want to pack a pair of smart shoes too.

In terms of accessories and essentials, sunglasses are recommended even in winter, as Barcelona can be quite sunny.

Sunscreen is a good idea – you can still burn in winter!

An umbrella could be useful, as the city does experience occasional rain during the winter months.

If you’re visiting Barcelona over the winter holidays and have special events on your agenda, such as a New Year’s Eve party or dining at a fine restaurant, add a formal outfit to your luggage. 

Where to Go from Barcelona


Fancy extending your trip?

Vibrant Barcelona is well connected to other destinations in Spain.

Whether you’re interested in mountains, historic cities, islands, or cultural centers, there are countless places to visit in Spain during winter.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Pyrenees: The breathtaking landscapes of the Pyrenees – specifically Val d’Aran – are ideal for skiiers. You can catch a bus from Barcelona – it takes around 5 hours.
  • Lleida: If you’re seeking a rich cultural experience without the crowds of tourists, consider a visit to Lleida. Its beautiful architecture and historical landmarks make it a fantastic destination within easy reach of Barcelona. It’s only an hour on the train – perfect for a day trip!
  • Mallorca: Fancy a relaxing island escape? Mallorca, with its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, can be accessed by boat or flight from Barcelona.
  • Madrid: The Spanish capital, Madrid, boasts world-renowned museums and lively tapas bars. A high-speed train connects it to Barcelona in just a matter of hours.
  • Andalucia: Andalucia’s sunny weather even in winter and its rich cultural heritage, including flamenco dancing and historic landmarks, make it one of Europe’s best winter destinations. Take a high-speed train to Seville from Barcelona to reach it!

Barcelona winter FAQs

View of the city from Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Barcelona:

Is Barcelona worth visiting in December?

Absolutely! Barcelona in December is adorned with festive lights and decorations in December.

The weather is mild, and the city’s iconic sites are less crowded, making it an ideal time for a visit.

Is it cold in Barcelona in winter?

Compared to many other European cities, Barcelona’s winters are relatively mild.

While it can be chilly, especially at night, temperatures rarely drop below 9°C/48°F.

Do bring some warm clothing, but don’t expect freezing temperatures.

Is Barcelona good for nightlife in winter?

Yes, Barcelona’s nightlife remains lively even in winter – it’s a large city, after all!

Many bars, clubs, and restaurants are open year-round.

Is Barcelona too cold in December?

While December is one of Barcelona’s colder months, it’s generally not considered too cold.

With daytime temperatures reaching up to 15°C/59°F, it’s quite pleasant for exploring the city, but do pack some warm layers for evenings.

Can you sunbathe in Barcelona in December?

Sunbathing in December might be a bit optimistic, as temperatures are cooler.

However, sunny days are not uncommon, and you can still enjoy a pleasant walk or picnic on the beach!

Is Madrid or Barcelona better in winter?

Both cities have their own charm in winter.

Barcelona offers milder weather and coastal views, while Madrid, being more inland, provides a more traditional Spanish winter experience with cooler temperatures.

That said, most people do prefer Barcelona – but it’s down to personal preference!

Is Barcelona expensive in winter?

Barcelona tends to be more affordable in winter compared to the peak summer season.

You’ll likely find better deals on flights and accomodation accommodation and may enjoy fewer crowds at popular attractions.

Is Barcelona nice for Christmas?

Barcelona is beautiful during Christmas, with festive markets, such as the Fira de Santa Llúcia, special events, and decorations throughout the city.

So yes, it’s definitely worth visiting in the festive period!

Are you ready for Barcelona in winter? 

The weather will be cooler in Barcelona in winter, but all of its famous attractions are still ready to be enjoyed. 

Whether you fancy a Christmas trip without too low temperatures, or a January visit without the crowds, a winter trip to Barcelona has something for everyone!

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