Winter is a truly magical season in Barcelona.
With less tourists and chaos, winter is when the true city emerges. By day, there is a relaxed hum throughout the city, while at night, Barcelona turns into a Christmas wonderland as the dazzling lights illuminate the streets. Between the unique holiday traditions, less noise, and unbeatable prices, winter is the best time of year to explore the real Barcelona.
While many countries wind down their Christmas celebrations after December 25th, in Spain, the festivities carry on well into January. The first week of January is an enchanting time to visit Barcelona, as locals continue to buy gifts and delight in the city’s beautiful Christmas lights. After much anticipation, thousands of adults and children line the city streets to watch the spectacular Three Kings Parade on January 5th. This parade is so magnificent that people actually bring their own ladders to see the parade over the crowd! With wildly decorated floats, live music, dance, and elaborate costumes, this parade is a must-see for any age.
Oh, the food! Barcelona has some of the greatest food and drinks in the world, from the famous jamón ibérico and delicious fresh seafood, to craft cocktails, cava, and sangria. Despite these classic mouthwatering eats, Barcelona has many fantastic Spanish staples that you must try during the winter:
Escudella, a delicious and hearty Catalan stew that is common during Christmas, is perfect after roaming around chilly Barcelona. As the first documented soup in Europe, some recipes date back to the 14th century. This timeless dish is served in two courses: first, the broth with noodles or rice, and second, a heaping plate of warm vegetables and meats.
If you’re a chocolate lover, look no further! Spain has some of the greatest hot chocolate in the world. Suizo, Spain’s thick, rich, fondue-like hot chocolate is often paired with churros– a match made in heaven!
If you smell something burning while walking down the cobblestone city streets, it’s probably Castañas (chestnuts) roasting on an open fire. Street vendors across Barcelona wrap the castañas in newspaper for easy takeaway.
Traditionally, people eat castanas with Panellets, the classic Spanish dessert served on All Saints Day. These tasty little sweets are made from sugar, egg yolk, and almond rolled together in a small ball and coated with pine nuts.
Although Barcelona can get chilly in the wintertime, the strong Mediterranean sun illuminates the city with bright blue skies. Average temperatures range from 50 – 60 degree fahrenheit, which is significantly warmer than most other European cities. On warmer days, you may find people relaxing on beaches or taking a dip in the ocean.
Take advantage of the low cost of flights and accommodation during the winter season! Tickets and hostel/hotel rooms often charge half as much as summer prices. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Budget-Friendly Travel to learn more about how you can have an amazing adventure without breaking the bank.
During summer, throngs of tourists flock to this metropolitan city, compelling locals to vacation elsewhere. Because of this lack of Barcelona natives, you will have less of an immersive experience when visiting in summertime. However, most locals will remain in Barcelona for the holiday season, and many are excited to show you their culture.
One of the greatest parts about winter in Barcelona is that you are able to explore its renowned attractions without the hordes of international tourists. Less tourists means less time spent waiting in line to see Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, or the many incredible museums around the city. If you love art and architecture, wintertime is better than any other to explore what Barcelona has to offer.