Barcelona is crowded, especially in the summer and during religious festivals such as Easter and Christmas. For those who want to avoid both crowds and queues, the best months are early March, May, late September and October. These months are cooler than high summer.
Barcelona’s climate is mild and gentle so avoid the crowded school holiday times. Plan your visits to each of the attractions for a weekday in preference to a weekend. Monday and Friday tend to be slightly busier than the other days. Try to visit the most popular attractions first thing in the morning as they open.
- Tourism Seasons in Barcelona
- Barcelona Weather Month-By-Month
- Most Popular Events in Barcelona
- Things To Do in Barcelona
Tourism Seasons in Barcelona
High or Peak Season
This season covers the whole of May through to the first half of September. This popular part of the year for travel attracts the most visitors. The accommodation costs soar in response to demand. The weather is hot throughout these months but July and August are blisteringly hot. The city is full and there are queues for everything. On the plus side, everything is open and the days are long and sunny. Sunset typically after 9pm.
The beaches are the perfect place to cool down. Everyone has the same idea so they are crowded. The middle of the summer is when Barcelona hosts many festivals. During June, July and August there are free concerts in the open air across the city. This is thanks to the festival called Musica als Parcs.
Plan ahead to get the best accommodation rates. Check out the Best Family Hotels in Barcelona and Best Hotels in Barcelona for great places to stay.
Middle (Shoulder) Season
There are two shoulder seasons in Barcelona. The first covers the second half of March and the whole of April. The second covers the second half of September and all of October. This is a good time to visit the city. The weather is still great and the prices are more affordable than in peak season. The attractions are less crowded and there are some festivals held during these times. The last of the summer sale bargains can be had in September.
Off-Peak or Low Season
The off-peak season is when the lowest prices can be obtained for accommodation. In Barcelona, this runs from November through to the first half of March. There may be some small increases in prices over the Christmas holidays. These months are colder and wetter which means you are unlikely to spend a great deal of time on the beach. Perhaps a gentle morning or evening stroll along the water’s edge.
It is a great time for a leisurely relaxed break. Enjoy the city and have frequent snack breaks to watch the world go by. Enjoy some of the indoor attractions without having to push through the crowds to see the details. Time to enjoy the winter sales and go home with a bargain. You can splash out with the money you saved on accommodation.
Barcelona Weather Month-By-Month
Compared with places that suffer from snow and freezing temperatures in the winter months, this month in Barcelona is not so bad. The temperature will range between 5°C and 16°C. You are unlikely to experience frost or ice, even overnight.
On average there will be eight wet days. The rainfall is light, about 40mm for the whole month. Expect drizzle rather than a downpour. There are plenty of sunny days. About half of January is blessed with sunshine in Barcelona. Despite the season, there are plenty of daylight hours, about 10 hours a day. Sunset is in the late afternoon. For example, on New Year’s day, it will be light up to 5.30pm. Then the days start to grow a little longer, another half hour before sunset by the 6th.
Pack for cooler weather but still relatively mild. Some warmer layers, a coat and an umbrella will cover dealing with the weather.
Weather Stats for January: High 16°C, Low 5°C, average 14°C. Average rainfall 40mm. Number of rainy days:8.
The weather can change over the course of a single day. Expect sun but be prepared for rain. A good option is to pack layers for both warm and cool days. Generally mild weather, reaching 14°C on average. Slightly warmer overnight with a low temperature of 6°C. Less rainy days than January (although February is a short month) with the same amount of rain over five days. The rain is generally a light drizzle but there is the possibility of a thunderstorm.
Weather Stats for February: Average 14°C. Average rainfall 41mm. Number of rainy days:5.
The weather in Barcelona is lovely and gentle at this time. Day time temperature beginning to peak at 16°C, night time dropping to a comfortable 8°C. The days are getting longer. Sunset around 7pm by the third week. The clocks roll forward in March making sunset around 8pm. Less rainfall and more sunny days. It can be a little chilly so pack some warmer clothing. With only four rainy days on average, you could leave the umbrella at home.
Weather Stats for March: High 16°C, Low 8°C. Average rainfall: 33mm. Number of rainy days: 4.
The average high day time temperature is 18°C. Occasionally this will be 21°C on a warm sunny April afternoon. Unless you like a bracing swim the average sea temperature of 14°C this month is unlikely to tempt you.
There is an average of 37mm of rain. Expect this to be light drizzle but there can be a brief thunderstorm.
Pack summer clothing for the sunny afternoons but be sure to include some warmer layers. The evenings and early mornings can be a little chilly.
Weather Stats for April: High 21°C, Average 18°C. Sea temperature 14°C. Average rainfall 37mm.
Lengthening days with an occasional high temperature of 25°C. You can expect 20°C as an average with an afternoon high of 22°C. Sunset is now hovering around 9pm. The first half of the month sees most of the rain. May in Barcelona averages about nine days of rain. Generally light but there can be a thunderstorm. The sea is warming up and attracting swimmers and those who just like to splash about in the shallows.
Pack for plenty of layers. Include swimming costumes and sandals. Prepare for the odd shower or thunderstorm. Light rainproof clothing or perhaps an umbrella.
Weather Stats for May: High 22°C. Average 20°C. Average rainfall:54mm. Number of rainy days: 9.
June is hotter than May and cooler than July. Expect the high daytime temperature to be 26°C. It can reach 28°C. Nighttime temperatures will rarely fall below 18°C. June has very little rain. The most likely time for rain is in the first half of the month. The summer solstice and very long days in June. Sunset is after 9pm.
Summer clothing and sun protection is a must. Basic sun protection kit should include sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. Pack a warmer layer for late evening and the occasional breeze. The sea is definitely warm enough for swimming.
Weather Stats for June: High 28°C, Low 18°C, Average daytime high 26°C. Average rainfall 11mm.
The perfect time to be lazing on a beach in Barcelona with a good book and an occasional dip in the sea. The water temperature is like tepid bathwater with an average of 23-24°C.
Sun protection is essential. Both in and out of the water. The day time temperature can reach a roasting 30°C so be sure to plan to have some time in the shade. The average day time temperature is 28°C which coupled with very little rain means you do need to be rigorous in applying sunscreen. There is plenty to do on the beach so pack plenty of beachwear and summer clothing. Take care to stay hydrated.
Weather Stats for July: High 30°C. Average High 28°C. Average sea temperature: 23°C. Average rainfall 25mm. Number of rainy days: 2.
The high average temperature this month is 29°C. August in Barcelona is scorching. Factor in the humidity and it will feel a great deal hotter. All the places that offer a means of cooling down such as parks, pools and the beach are packed with a mixture of visitors and locals. Fourteen hours of hot sunny daylight. Dawn breaks before 7.00am and the night arrives after 9pm. By the end of the month, the days are beginning to shorten by about half an hour. Still plenty of daylight until late. Pack plenty of high factor sunscreen, sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and cooling after sun lotion. If you are lucky enough to catch a shower you are blessed. There is no need to pack any warm clothing for this month in Barcelona. Remember your swimsuit and your waterproof sunblock.
Weather Stats for August: Average High 29°C. Average rainfall 64mm.
Generally moving around and sightseeing is easier after the hot humid heat of August has gone. The beach is still useable and you can still comfortably swim in the sea. The average high day time temperature is now 26°C. The weather continues to cool down across the length of the month.
You can experience contrasting weather in Barcelona in September. You can have hot sunny days which are perfect for the beach. You can have cloudy rainy days and are more likely to experience a thunderstorm. Barcelona has plenty of attractions to shelter you from the rain while spending an enjoyable day inside.
Packing is more of a challenge. Summer clothes mixed with rainy day gear and warmer layers. Sunscreen and an umbrella.
Weather Stats for July: Average high 26°C. Average rainfall 75mm. Number of rainy days: 9
October is in the shoulder season and Barcelona is less crowded. The weather is now really pleasant. Average daytime temperatures of 21°C. A little more rain, averaging 81mm but only over six days. Pack for warm weather but prepare for the odd rainy day. The days are growing shorter on the approach to winter. The clocks reverse an hour this month so sunset at the end of the month is around 6.30pm.
Weather Stats for October: Average 21°C. Average rainfall: 81mm. Number of rainy days: 6
The crowds are largely gone. The average low temperature is 8°C. At the start of the month, the high temperature is 19°C. By the end of the month a cool 15°C. Most of the average 34mm of rain falls in the first half of the month. If visiting in early November pack some rainproof clothing. There are only four rainy days in November. Best to pack layers to allow warm and cool weather options. Unless you are a dedicated swimmer in all weathers, a swimming costume is unnecessary.
Weather Stats for November: High 19°C falling to 15°C over the month. Low 8°C. Average rainfall: 34mm. Number of rainy days: 4
On some afternoons you can have a high temperature of 14°C. Generally, the temperature will be around 11°C. Visitors from countries with freezing winters will find this month in Barcelona relatively pleasant. The sea breezes can make the temperature feel very chilly so definitely pack warm clothing. Make sure you have some lighter options as there will still be some warmer days. There will be a little light rain during the month so it may be worth packing an umbrella.
Weather Stats for December: High 14°C. Average 11°C. Average Rainfall 35mm
Most Popular Events in Barcelona
January in Barcelona
- New Year’s Day.
A national holiday throughout Spain. A day to stay in and relax with most shops being closed. Nearly all the visitor attractions will be closed. You will still be able to eat out as not all of the restaurants and bars close at this time.
- Three King’s Day.
Another Spanish wide event that is celebrated in Barcelona. In the evening on 5th January, the three wise men or kings will arrive by sea. They will be welcomed and will then ride through the city on floats that have been decorated to fit their royal status. Children will line the route in hope of catching the small gifts and sweets that will be thrown into the crowds. In Spanish, this is called Dia de los Reyes Majos. This marks the end of the Christmas season.
- Festa dels Tres Tombs.
St Anthony is honored in the second half of January. He is regarded as the Patron Saint of the sick, the poor and animals. The Sant Antoni area of Barcelona is where the procession takes place. Pets are brought to line the route of the parade in the hope that these animals will be blessed. The Catalan phrase “tres tombs” can be translated as “three turns”. This traditional parade would have involved the procession following the same route three times. This is an echo of Roman customs that pre-date this Christian festival. Now one procession around Sant Antoni district but the old name remains.
February in Barcelona
This marks the beginning of Lent. Each area of the city will host an event to mark this time of reflection. There are a number of parades and costume contests across the city. Lent is not celebrated in Barcelona as enthusiastically as in other cities in Spain. Some market stallholders and some children may dress up as part of the carnival. The period of Lent covers the 40 days prior to Easter. Easter is called Semana Santa in Spain.
- Festival of Santa Eulalia.
A four-day annual festival in honor of Santa Eulalia. Her feast day is on the 12th of February and this is when the festival takes place. This is all about the children and there are many activities for them. You will be able to take part in family workshops, visit concerts and puppet shows. There are always parades and for this festival the popular Catalan sport of building castles out of people.
- Valentine’s Day.
Across the world, the 14th of February is associated with love and romance. Here they celebrate this on Sant Jordi (St George). His special day is the 23rd of April. If you are celebrating Valentine’s day in Barcelona you will find plenty of restaurants who are happy to accommodate you and your loved one with a special menu.
March in Barcelona
- Festival de Sant Medir de Gracia.
Vila de Gracia area puts on this annual event. The procession consists of riders on beautiful horses. Pack animals also take part in the parade. The starting point is Plaza Ruis i Taulet. This colorful parade travels first to Arrabassada for a picnic. Suitably refreshed they proceed on to Saint Sant Medir, a hermitage. On the return trip back to the square sweets are thrown by the riders. Especially for the delight of the children in the crowd. An evening firework display provides the finale to the event.
- Barcelona Marathon.
Almost 20,000 runners from all over the world descend on Barcelona in the middle of March to take part in this magnificent race. The route takes the runners past many of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks.
April in Barcelona
- Semana Santa (Holy Week).
In common with other countries, Holy Week (the period that runs from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday) is a great celebration across Spain. The exact date changes from year to year but is generally in the first weeks of April. A unique Catalan treat is the “Mona” that is handed out in a similar way to Easter eggs. The “Mona” is made from chocolate and pastry. These are crafted into cute and quirky roughly egg-shaped figures.
You can witness the blessings of palm leaves on Palm Sunday both at the Gothic Cathedral and Basilica Sagrada Familia. Look out for the dancing eggs known as l’ou com balla – a blown egg which is placed on the top of fountains. They are light enough to stay at the top and they appear to dance.
The Easter procession in which the statues of Jesus and Mary are carried by the faithful takes place in the old town. Trumpets and drum rolls provide a celebratory accompaniment to the parade.
- Feast of St Jordi.
April 23rd is the feast day of St Jordi, the Catalan patron saint. This day is less about slaying the dragon and more about love and romance. A Valentine’s day type of celebration but more inclusive. All the important women in a man’s life will be gifted a red rose on this day. Grandmothers, sisters, as well as wives and girlfriends, are acknowledged. In return the men receive books. It is a popular and bright day with the main streets filled with the sellers of books and roses.
- Virgin of Montserrat.
This feast day takes place on 27th April. This image of the Virgin Mary is also known as Our Lady of Montserrat. She is the Co-Patron Saint of Catalonia, the other being St Jordi. This day is celebrated with a pilgrimage to the Montserrat Abbey (Santa Maria Abbey). This is a short drive of about half an hour out of the city. The Virgin of Montserrat is a rare European black Madonna. Mass is celebrated inside the abbey and outside there are lots of activities – traditional music and dancing.
May in Barcelona
- F1 Racing.
F1 or Formula 1 racing takes place here in a weekend in the middle of May. Two days of practice runs and then one day for the race. The F1 circuit is called the Circuit de Catalunya. It is situated close to Montmelo, about 20km from Barcelona. A popular sport so plan in advance to obtain tickets for this popular event.
- Feast of Sant Ponc.
A delightful saint – beekeepers and herbs form his patronage. His feast day is on the 11th of May. Carrer de l’Hospital puts on a fair. The stands feature a vast range of products involving honey and herbs. Expect to find aromatic oils, flowers and fresh herbs as well as honey. No celebration is complete without food and drink so there are stalls selling cakes and wine.
- Corpus Christi.
Sitges is one of the best places to appreciate this festival. The streets are awash with masses of flowers. Parades take place across Barcelona. Quieter and dignified as befits a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This takes place at the end of May or the beginning of June.
June in Barcelona
- Primavera Sound.
This festival takes place at the beginning of June. It is billed as the world’s largest festival of alternative and indie music. The main venue for the event is the Parc del Form in Barcelona. There are numerous other concerts across the Ravel area.
- Sonar Festival.
Another huge festival held over three days in the middle of June. The music is “advanced” and electronic. It is billed as the largest festival of this type across Europe.
- El Grec Barcelona.
This covers all the performing arts and that includes the circus. This is a very long festival beginning at the end of June, all of July and finishing in early August. Lots of performances and screenings.
- Sant Joan’s night.
A loud and spectacular celebration on 23rd of June. Begin the day at dawn with a dip in the (pleasantly warm) sea. At night fireworks will explode into the sky. Launched from balconies as well as from street level. All along the beach bonfires are lit. A celebration of fire. Accompanied by chilled glasses of cava the famous and delicious sparkling wine of Spain.
- Barcelona Pride.
End of June for this festival. It lasts a whole week and the gay community out on lots of events. Exuberant open-air dance events contrasted with quieter art shows. Something for all tastes with concerts, shows and films. The event’s finale is a parade. The parade’s route is the Carrer de Sepulveda.
July in Barcelona
- Barcelona Rock Fest.
This is a three-day festival held in the middle of July. It attracts all the well-known heavy metal bands and fans from across the globe. A relatively recent addition to the festival calendar in Barcelona but very popular. You can expect to see around 40 different bands each year.
- Sala Montjuic.
An outdoor film festival held in the moat of the Castell de Montjuic. Three screenings every week throughout July. It finishes in the first week of August. Expect to see more recent independent films as well as a good selection of classic films.
- Festa Major del Raval.
Around 40 events will take place across the Raval area of Barcelona in this festival. Held in the second half of July. It features traditional dancing (Catalan), concerts and other performances. Naturally, there is a parade.
- Festival Cruilla Barcelona.
This festival is staged in the middle of July and it caters to a wide range of diverse musical tastes. Any type of music from electronic to R&B can be performed here.
August in Barcelona
- Festa Major de Gracia.
This festival takes place in the Gracia area of Barcelona. A week of activities in the first half of August. A feature of this celebration is that the streets are hung with decorations that have been based on a particular theme chosen for that year.
- Circuit Festival.
The first two weeks of August are dominated by this international festival. This gay and lesbian event puts on a huge number of different activities. Literary, mixed media, music and sport. All interests are represented and many activities allow participation. If you have the energy you can attend a party every hour of the festival.
- Festa de Sant Roc.
This annual festival has been held in Barcelona since 1589. It is packed with many historic traditions. The Catalan parades feature huge heads and giant figures. Street games dating back to the 19th Century are played. You can listen to sea shanties. Watch the dancing and enjoy the fireworks. People compete to drink wine from an oversized carafe in the “glops amb el porro llarg”. Those with a great sense of balance or lack of fear attempt “la cucanya” (the greasy pole). It has the distinction of being the oldest festival in Barcelona. It is held around the Placa Nova – the square in front of the Cathedral, in the middle of August.
September in Barcelona
- La Diada de Catalunya.
This is the national day of Catalonia, a celebration of gaining autonomous rule. The 11th of September is when Barcelona remembers those who died defending the city in the siege of 1714. The Catalonian flag (the Senyera) will be prominently displayed at the many cultural events held in the villages. The organized demonstrations take place at Fossar de les Moreres. The opposing forces in 1714 were both Spanish and French troops.
- Barcelona BAM Music Festival.
This festival takes place across the city in Late September. The BAM represents the phrase “Musical Action Barcelona”. The festival promotes all types of independent artists. Every type of music is covered from folk to electronic.
- Festes de la Merce.
La Merc is the personal patron saint of Barcelona. Her feast day is on the 24th of September. The festival honoring her lasts four days around this date. Free concerts in many of the plazas. For the more athletically inclined a competition swim in the harbor or a running race. There are dancers and parades to entertain the crowds.
October in Barcelona
- Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival.
This starts in the first half of October and continues until close to the end of December. Every year it attracts musicians from across the globe. It also showcases. plenty of local and national talent.
- Dia de la Hispanitat.
These days this festival is not celebrated as vigorously as in the past. This is Christopher Columbus day. Such events as do occur are very quiet or are in the form of demonstrations.
- Barcelona International Boat Show.
A celebration of all things nautical. A display of about 670 boats. Anchored off-shore there will be around 150 yachts ranging from the modest to the extravagant super yachts. Plenty of water-based activities and themed parties.
Not really a Spanish festival but it does provide an opportunity for kids to dress up and go looking for sweets. In Barcelona, this is called “Truco o Trato”. There are also competitions and parties which are not just for the children.
November in Barcelona
- All Saints’ Day.
The 1st of November is a public holiday. The Catalan translation is “Tots Sants”. It is a time when graves are visited and decked with flowers for remembrance. It is also the time of year when sweet chestnuts are plentiful. The streets are filled with stalls selling not only roasted chestnuts but also sweet potatoes and cakes. The traditional cake during La Castanyada (Chestnut time) is a panellets. The traditional accompaniment is a glass of muscatel wine.
Held in early November in the Centre de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona. This convention celebrates science fiction.
December in Barcelona
- Christmas Market.
The main cathedral becomes the center of a giant Christmas market in the middle of December. This open-air seasonal market is called Fira de Santa Lucia. It is open until 6th January. Many people set up a Nativity scene in the Christmas season. You will find the necessary figures here. Along with a large range of decorations and trees. Handcrafted gifts also feature among the many stalls.
- Placa de Catalunya Christmas Festival.
This event in the central square starts the week before Christmas. It runs for a fortnight and features workshops and activities for everyone. In addition, there is a show of sounds and lights in the evening.
- Christmas Eve.
The traditional mass is held Santa Maria del Mal Church is open to everyone. It is an opportunity to hear the Gregorian chant in Catalan – El Cant de la Sibil·la. This is chanted a few minutes to midnight to welcome in Christmas Day.
- Christmas Day.
The usual routine of an exchange of gifts followed by a celebration lunch.
- New Year’s Eve.
A free event is held at the Magic Fountain on Montjuic to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. At 11pm the fountain is used in combination with music and lights for a spectacular show. At the midnight hour listen for the 12 chimes that herald the start of the new year. A half-hour dazzling firework display starts the new year with a bang.
SHOPPING FOR FUN AND SOUVENIRS
BARCELONA, SPAIN – JUNE 23, 2014: Barcelona souvenirs at counter in store window
The main sales take place twice a year. These are the times to go looking for bargains. Many items can be reduced to 30% of their original price. January is the traditional time for post-Christmas sales. First, there is the ‘Festival of Kings’ and then a week later – the sales. In other words, the sales start in the second week of the month. There are no fixed dates but you can expect to find that the sales will carry on until the beginning of March.
Discounts in Spain are called rebajas. The shops will start with small discounts. The discounts will increase until they reach the final clearance prices. The clearance prices are known as remates.
The second main sale takes place at the end of June to the beginning of September. These summer sales follow the same process as the winter ones.
The beginning of the sales attracts the largest crowds. Especially for bargain hunters at the biggest stores such as El Corte Ingles. The crowds thin out as the second and third round of discounting approaches. Towards the end of the sale period, there will be less discounted items available.
So choose your time depending on how much you are prepared to fight your way through the crowds to snap up a bargain.
Things To Do in Barcelona
SPENDING TIME ON THE BEACH
Summer in Barcelona is hot. Very hot. The high humidity means being in the city is sticky and uncomfortable. Everyone heads to the sea to cool down. This is the time when the beaches are most crowded. Crowds bring litter. The best experience is early in the morning. The beaches have been cleaned. The water is free of debris such as drinks bottles.
The sea is warmest for swimming from June through to late September. The water temperature is really pleasant at this time.
To avoid the crowds but still enjoy the beach, go late or early in the season. The best months for fewer people and reasonable swimming are September and May. It can be a little chilly in the water in early May and late September.
Most of the big festivals take place from the second half of spring through to the first half of Autumn.
Primavera Sound is considered to be the world’s largest festival for alternative and indie music. This is staged at the end of May or the start of June.
August sees the Festa Mayor de Gracia. It runs over nine days. It is followed by the splendid Festes de la Merce in September. This four-day festival packs in a lot of events to honor the patron of the city. There are feasts and parades. Music and traditional Catalan dances as well as sporting events. Swimming races in the harbor and a run.
Enjoy the fun of the festivals but remember that they will attract a lot of visitors. Book accommodation early if you are determined to attend a Barcelona festival.
WATCHING FC BARCELONA IN ACTION
FC Barcelona is considered to be a great football team, world-class. The stadium is a major tourist attraction in its own right. You can book a tour of the stadium. This will give you an opportunity to look behind the scenes and stand on the field. To experience the atmosphere in the stadium with the excitement and anticipation in the air then book a ticket for a game.
The playing season runs from August through to the end of May. The fixtures are published in July so you can plan ahead for tickets. The football in Barcelona pauses around the Christmas break. The weekends are when most of the matches are played.
To enjoy the beaches and other attractions without the crowds while also attending a match, visit in May or September. It doesn’t matter which month you visit. There is always plenty to see and do as well as watch the football.