Barcelona is arguably known worldwide as a great summer destination. Because let’s be honest, who could say no to a beach vacation, sun, and ice-cold sangria? But did you know that a visit to Barcelona in winter can really be worthwhile as well?
Whether you want to visit Barcelona in December for Christmas or during January and February – there are plenty of great events, fantastic food, and, as always, lots of wonderful Barcelona attractions at this time of year.
Below you will find the most essential facts, advantages, and disadvantages for a visit to Barcelona in the winter, temperatures, as well as things to do in Barcelona in winter, winter events, yummy winter dishes, and everything you should know for a winter trip to Barcelona.
What to find out in this post
Barcelona Winter Temperatures
Compared to Central European countries, the temperatures in Barcelona are pleasantly mild even in winter. The average temperatures in December – February are a pleasant 8 – 15 ° C (46 – 59°F).
The mild Barcelona weather has an average of 3-4 rainy days a month. Conversely, this means that you can expect plenty of sun in Barcelona, even in the winter.
The Barcelona December weather is usually quite warmer than January and February, so you can still enjoy your coffee on one of the city’s countless terraces during Christmas.
Be sure to bring a warm jacket despite the sunny temperatures. Because as soon as the sun is gone, the temperatures also drop. The relatively high humidity and the cool breeze that blows from the sea makes the whole thing seem even colder. So if you are out in the evening or the shade, you will be grateful for your winter jacket, believe me.
Pros and Cons for a Visit in Barcelona in Winter
- Cheaper than in summer
- Fewer tourists
- Cooler than summer, but warmer than cities in Northern/Central Europe
- Some events/traditions that only take place in winter
- Colder temperatures
- No swimming in the sea
- Rain is more likely than in summer.
Barcelona in December – Christmas in Barcelona
Like most Western cities in December, Barcelona is wonderfully decorated for Christmas. Everywhere in the city center, especially in Plaça Catalunya, there are lots of wonderful festive lights to discover.
In addition to gifts and Christmas decorations in the shop windows, a number of Christmas events also ensure a festive mood.
My personal favorite place during the Catalan Christmas season is Plaça Reial, near Las Ramblas. Here the huge palm trees are decorated with Christmas lights, which creates a wonderfully exotic Christmas atmosphere.
Unique Christmas traditions in Catalonia
Probably the strangest Christmas tradition I’ve ever heard can be found here in Catalonia. It is actually a very innocent children’s tradition, but admittedly it may seem very strange to outsiders.
Cagatió (en: shit*ing uncle) is a Catalan figure that you can buy everywhere around Catalonia at Christmas time. It is also called Tió de Nadal. This figure is a small log with a typical red Catalan hat and a painted/carved face.
This small log is giving out gifts for children on Christmas or Epiphany in the old tradition. To do this, the children have to hit him with sticks and sing the Cagatió song, almost like a Catalan piñata. Before that, however, it must be fed by the children throughout the Christmas season. So the Catalan children leave him a plate of something to eat every night, e.g., Cookies or fruit.
Before giving the presents, the back of the Cagatió is then covered with a blanket under which the adults then hide the presents.
That wasn’t enough “shit*y” traditions for you? Perfect, because the Catalans have more of them in stock. While in our Western nativity scenes, mostly Maria and Josef sit with their holy child and share the stable with a few animals, angels, and shepherds, there is still a little surprise to be found in the Catalan crib: the Caganer.
These are small statues that do their business with their pants down. While the typical Caganer was only available with a traditional Catalan outfit, there are now various other statues such as celebrities or characters from films or comics, such as Darth Vader, in the Caganer style. This unique little figure has become one of the best-selling souvenirs in the city, even outside of the Christmas season.
While the Christmas season for most Westerners ends at boxing day, the Spaniards expect on January 6th yet another great celebration – Epiphany. Although the day is also known in order countries, it is usually not celebrated as it is in Spain.
Many Spanish children have to be patient until this day until they can finally unpack their gifts, while most children in Western countries are usually released from their waiting on Christmas Eve.
In Barcelona, this important day is celebrated with a huge parade that runs through the whole city. You’ll find more on this later in this article.
This day is often celebrated with a Roscón de Reyes in Catalan families or among friends. This is a cake wreath filled with cream. Two small statues are usually baked into the cake. According to the old tradition, there is a statue that represents a black bean and a figure that represents Jesus (but it can also be a crown or something along those lines). Whoever gets the piece with the statue of Jesus will be crowned “Prince” for the rest of the day and may wear a paper crown. However, whoever receives the piece with the black bean must pay for the cake next year.
Christmas Markets in Barcelona
Of course, like almost every European city during this season also Barcelona has some great Christmas Markes. Even if they are hardly comparable to the Christmas markets in Germany, they are still worth a visit.
What makes them special is not the winter magic that lies above them, but the very own Catalan Christmas traditions that underlie them.
Fira de Santa Llúcia
The Fira de Santa Llúcia (Feria de Santa Lucía) is by far the oldest Christmas market in the city. Its roots go back to 1786 when the market was first mentioned in writing. It is not only the oldest Christmas market in the city but also the most visited.
The market is located in the Barri Gòtic district (Barrio Gótico), right next to Barcelona’s popular cathedral. The sale of figures and decorations for Christmas nativity scenes is particularly popular at this Christmas market. In addition, jewelry, sweets, and souvenirs are also offered here.
Fira de Nadal
The Fira de Nadal is also a popular Christmas market for tourists and locals alike. With its proximity to the popular Sagrada Família, this is hardly surprising. The highlight of this small Christmas market is the sale of (small) Christmas trees.
This Christmas market feels far less touristy than the Fira de Santa Llùcia and is therefore particularly popular with the locals.
Fira de Nadal de Port Vell
Let’s go on with the newest Christmas market in Barcelona because it has only recently been possible to visit this market at Christmas time. This Christmas market is modeled on other European Christmas markets and therefore has a slightly different atmosphere than the two Christmas markets just presented.
As the name suggests, this Christmas market is located on the Plaça del Portal de la Pau at the Old Port (Port Vell). Apart from the fact that the huts here were made more in Central European style, the market itself looks even more Christmassy than the other two. In addition to a giant illuminated Christmas tree, there is a carousel and an illuminated Ferris wheel.
Fira de Reis
The Fira de Reis is not a Christmas market in the traditional sense, but actually a “king’s market.” This is clear not only from the fact that the market will not open until the end of December but also from the way the market is presented.
The market is located on Gran Via in Barcelona. It’s particularly popular with families with children as there are some activities for the smallest visitors. But of course, there are also the traditional stands where sweets and nativity scene figures are sold.
Holidays and Events in Barcelona during the winter
Holidays in Barcelona’s wintertime
06.12 Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day)
08.12 Inmaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception)
25.12 Navidad (Christmas)
26.12 Sant Esteve (Boxing Day)
01.01 Año Nuevo (Nw Year)
06.01 Reyes Mago (Holy Three Kings)
Events in Barcelona during the winter months
New Year’s Eve (Noche Vieja)
For many, it is a real highlight to spend New Year’s Eve in Barcelona. After all, the nightlife of the Catalan capital is considered one of the best in Europe. However, what many don’t know is that the typical New Year’s fireworks here in Spain are not as typical as in other cities. There are occasional fireworks, especially near the beach, but not nearly as many as you might know it from Central Europe (the big annual fireworks take place here in Spain for San Juan in June).
Instead, there is a tradition of eating 12 grapes during the last minutes before midnight and swallowing them before midnight. There is a countdown to this on television. One grape must be eaten with each chime. The whole procedure is actually not that easy. But the doce uvas tradition is said to bring good luck for the coming year.
For me, calçots are definitely the most important reason to visit Catalonia in winter. You shouldn’t miss this delicious Catalan specialty if you decide to visit Barcelona between January and March.
These Catalan spring onions are enjoyed at a so-called calçotada. Roasted meat and the typical pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomatoes) are usually served as well. It is best to let someone first show you how exactly it works. But once you’ve figured out how to eat the onions, it’s not only fun, but it also tastes incredibly tasty.
First of all, you have to peel off the slightly burnt skin of the onions before you can dip them in the delicious Romesco sauce. It’s best to wear a pair of gloves and protection for your clothes because you can get a little dirty while eating.
Sales in January (Shopping)
If you like shopping, January in Barcelona is probably the perfect month for your visit. Many of the popular stores (especially fashion chains such as Zara, H&M, etc.) have their annual sales at this time. Then you can shop as much as you like and find some incredible bargains.
But also keep in mind that the shops can usually get quite crowded and there can be long lines at the changing rooms.
Extra tip: Try to avoid weekends when shopping. The best time is probably in the mornings during the week when the shops are not yet so crowded.
Three Kings Parade
As already mentioned before in this guide, the Three Kings Day takes place on January 6th. The evening before the big day, every year, a big parade takes place that makes all children’s eyes light up. But this event is also well worth seeing for adults.
Every year there are lots of creative vehicles and lots of great costumes, interesting music, and great performances. According to tradition, the mayor gives the three kings the keys to the city so that they can bring gifts to every child in the city at night.
Carnival in Sitges
If you happen to be in Barcelona at the Carnival time (by chance), you shouldn’t miss the Carnival celebrations in Sitges. The small town, about 40 minutes by train from Barcelona, has made a name for itself as the region’s colorful LGBT capital. Its carnival customs are, therefore, no less eventful.
The Carnival in Sitges has been celebrated for over 100 years, and so there are various parades during the Carnival Weeks that will not only delight the smallest visitors. Impressive costumes and colorful decorations await you.
Food in Winter in Barcelona
When I just think of Turron, I’m already counting the days until Christmas so I can enjoy this delicious candy again. The delicious sweet bars can be bought all over the country at Christmas time and are not only enjoyed by the Spanish children.
There are various types of Turron. The best way to describe them is with white nougat. However, new and unusual varieties are added every year. Just give them a try and let us know which one is your favorite.
This popular dish is particularly enjoyed by Catalan families on December 27th. You probably already know the Italian version of this dish: the cannelloni. On the second day of Christmas, they are traditionally filled with meat from the previous day and a delicious bechamel sauce.
But many restaurants also offer this delicious Catalan dish in winter. If you have the chance, you should definitely give it a try.
What the roasted almonds are for us Germans at the Christmas markets in Germany are the roasted chestnuts at the Spanish Christmas and winter markets. As soon as the temperatures in the city drop, the roasted chestnut stands appear at many places throughout the city. And so it happens that in the streets of Barcelona there is usually the sweet smell of these fried delicacies during the wintertime.
Churros con chocolate
Another winter highlight in Barcelona is churros con chocolate. Although you can theoretically find these delicious pastries all year round, they are particularly popular in winter.
There are various restaurants and bakeries, as well as small stalls in winter that offer the delicious pastries. The churros are especially fresh in the mornings. Traditionally, the warm pastries are dipped in hot liquid chocolate and eaten in this way. You can then drink the rest of the chocolate, which is served in a cup. Could there be a better way to warm up on a cold winter day?
The Calçots already mentioned under Events are another culinary delicacy in winter. You can find them throughout Catalonia and Barcelona during the months January to March and enjoy them during a so-called calçotada.
The best things to do in Barcelona in Winter
Visit Sagrada Família
Opening Times: 09.00 am – 06.00/ 07.00/ 08.00 pm (depending on the month)
Entrance Fee: From 15 € (Standard-ticket); from 29 € (Ticket + Tower + Audioguide)
Barcelona Top Tip: You should definitely buy your ticket online in advance to skip the lines and be sure to get a ticket before they are sold out. You can find tickets online here.
The Sagrada Família is probably the most important building in the city, if not the whole country. Gaudí’s masterpiece simply captivates all of its visitors. No matter whether in summer or winter, the Sagrada Família simply belongs to every visit to Barcelona.
The fact that you can warm up a bit while looking at the breathtaking interior architecture of the basilica is, of course, only a small plus point.
Opening Times: 09.00 am – 09.00 pm
Entrance Fee: 24,50 €
How to get here: Metro Passeig de Gràca (L2, L3 or L4)
Tickets: Check for tickets online here.
This colorful building, located on Passeig de Gracia, definitely stands out from the crowd. At the beginning of the 20th century, Casa Batlló was designed by Barcelona Designers Gaudí for Josep Batlló i Casanovas and has been an integral part of Barcelona’s streets ever since.
The building has a very special meaning for the Catalan culture, as it was designed in the style of Sant Jordi (Saint George), the patron saint of the city. This is particularly evident from the fact that the roof of this unique building was modeled on the shape of a dragon.
Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Opening Times: March – November: 09.00 am -08.30 pm; 09.00 pm – 22.00 pm; November – March: 09.00 am – 06.30 pm; 07.00 pm – 09.00 pm
Entrance Fee (Daytime): 22 €
Tickets: You can find tickets and tours here.
Casa Mila is another building on Passeig de Gràcia designed by Gaudí. Evening visits, which are refined with music and a drink, are particularly popular during the winter months.
Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera due to its shape, is anything but ordinary. The shapes of this building are absolutely fascinating, both inside and out. Just as spectacular is the incredible view from the roof of the building, which promises a direct view of the Sagrada Família.
Even if the beach may not be suitable for swimming during the winter, a walk on the beach is almost twice worth it. With an average of around 26 sunny days a month, the winter is also very sunny here in Barcelona.
At the same time, there are far fewer visitors here during the winter months than during the warm months. This not only gives you plenty of space but also a lot more peacefulness and tranquility during your walk.
Opening Times: 08.30 am – 06.30 pm & April – August: 08.00 am – 08.30 pm
Entrance Fee: 7.50 € Online & 8.50 € on-site; rest of the park: free of charge
Barcelona Top Tip: You should definitely buy your ticket online in advance to skip the lines and be sure to get a ticket before they are sold out. You can find tickets online e.g., here.
In addition to the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell is probably the city’s biggest landmark. Even in winter, the way here is worthwhile. Since there are far fewer tourists visiting the park at this time of year, this usually means more beautiful photos for you.
During the summer months, the park can also get quite hot, which can make your visit a bit tiring. In winter, on the other hand, you can let the warm rays of the sun warm you.
Not surprisingly, the park itself was also designed by designer Antoni Gaudí.
The popular promenade Las Ramblas is also not as crowded during the winter months as it is during the summer. So you can take a leisurely stroll along the approximately 1.3 km long path that leads you from the city center to the harbor without being pushed around by other visitors.
Be sure to stop at Plaça Reial, which borders Las Ramblas. This is one of my favorite places in Barcelona during the winter, with its beautiful winter lighting on its huge palm trees.
A visit to the most popular market in Barcelona, La Boqueria, is also worthwhile at this time of year. With fewer tourists and lots of Christmas sweets, winter is probably the best time to visit here.
Opening Times: Depending on the season. Check here for current Opening Hours.
Entrance Fee: free
Although the magical fountains at Montjuïc are a real experience in every season, the atmosphere here seems even more magical than usual during the winter. Especially at Christmas, when the music of the water and light show is replaced by Christmas sounds, this magical show will make you feel all Christmasy.
When it’s cold outside, Barcelona’s museums are the perfect place to warm up while learning interesting things. Luckily, the selection of museums in the Catalan capital is anything but small. Whether you are interested in history, traveling as a couple, family, or solo, you will definitely find something that interests you here. Barcelona is also home to some of the most important art museums in the country. If you prefer something a little more unusual, maybe the city’s erotic, hemp, or chocolate museum is the right place for you.
Ice-Skating in Barcelona
Even if you can hardly imagine it in the sunny Barcelona weather, there are various skating rinks in Barcelona during the winter that are just waiting for your visit. So if you don’t want to do without the typical winter activities in Barcelona, you can definitely have some fun here.
The most popular skating rink is in the Les Cortes district and belongs to the L’illa Diagonal Center shopping center. The large shopping center in La Maquinista also offers you an ice skating rink during the winter. The last popular ice rink is next to the Camp Nou Barça stadium. You also have the option of indoor ice skating in the Skating Club de Barcelona, which opens its doors for you all year round.
Winter Day Trip to La Molina
Did you know that you can even find skiing opportunities just a few kilometers from Barcelona? Exactly, you read correctly. While you sit comfortably in the sun on one day while enjoying your Spanish tapas, you can make rush downwards the snow-covered ski slopes the next day.
La Molina is a ski resort located less than a 2½ hour drive from the Catalan capital. You can either stay there or visit La Molina as a day trip from Barcelona. You can get there either by (rental) car, train, or bus.
FAQ about Barcelona in Winter
Does it snow in Barcelona?
In theory, snow is possible in Barcelona during the winter. However, it’s rather unlikely, though. When it snows (about once every 1-2 years), the snow has mostly melted before it even touches the ground.
Can I swim in the sea in Barcelona in winter?
The seawater is usually too cold for swimming in winter. The average water temperature is between 12.5 and 14 °C (54,5 – 57 °F) in January and February and between 12.5 and 17.5 °C (54,5 – 63,5 °F) in December. In December, there are sometimes a couple of brave people who still dare to go into the water, but this definitely has nothing to do with a relaxed beach holiday.
Are there fireworks in Barcelona on New Year’s Eve?
Yes, there are fireworks on New Year’s Eve. However, this is usually not nearly as long and impressive as in other cities worldwide. The most important fireworks display in Spain takes place in San Juan in June.
How many days should I spend in Barcelona?
The longer, the better. You should spend at least three days, e.g., a long weekend in Barcelona to see the city’s main attractions. However, we recommend that you stay in the city for at least five days to discover the most beautiful places in the city without any rush.
Is Barcelona expensive?
Compared to most Central European cities, Barcelona is usually a bit cheaper. But of course, it depends on what you want to see and where you are staying. You can get a rough idea in our Barcelona Budget Guide here.
Have you ever been to Barcelona in winter? Can you recommend a visit? What is stopping you from visiting Barcelona during this season? Let us know in the comments below!