Barcelona is an established city-break destination with a year-round tourist, business, and convention trade. Different seasons
have different attractions, from spring dance festivals to Christmas markets, but there’s always something going on. As far as the weather is concerned, the best times to go are spring and autumn, when the temperatures are comfortably warm and walking the
streets isn’t a chore. In summer, the city can be very hot and humid while August sees many shops, bars and restaurants close
as the locals head out of the city in droves. It’s worth considering a winter break, as long as you don’t mind the prospect of occasional
rain. It’s generally still warm enough to sit out at a café, for example, even in December or January.
- Best Time to Go to Barcelona for Sightseeing: The lines to enter the city’s most popular sights and attractions, like the Basilica de la Sagrada Família in central Barcelona, are at their longest in the summer and on Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. As the weather is fairly comfortable year round, it’s best to avoid the summer months and any period around a major holiday. The first half of March, the month of May and mid-September through October, are arguably the best times of the year for sightseeing, with thinner crowds, shorter lines and warmer, but not too hot, weather. Visiting on a Tuesday or Wednesday can also help lessen the chance you’ll have to battle countless other tourists. Try to plan your sightseeing early in the day, starting with the most popular sight, for the best experience.
- Best Time for Shopping: There are two periods each year that offer big sales, with the chance to find huge bargains that include discounts of as much as 70 percent off. The winter sales begin the week after the Festival of the Kings, or the second week of January, and typically run until the end of February, although there are no official sale dates. It kicks off with the first rebajas, or discounts, followed by bigger markdowns for the second rebajas, and finally remate, which marks the final clearance sales. The summer sales, which follows the same pattern, start during the first week of July and run through the end of August. In either period, the first rebajas is known for being quite frantic, particularly at El Corte Ingles (a major department store), which means you’ll need to be prepared to elbow your way through the crowds in order to get to the best bargains. If that doesn’t sound like something you want to endure, go either late in the first week or wait until the second week when you’ll still find a wide variety of items, but the crowds won’t be nearly as bad. Toward the end of the sales, there will be a noticeable reduction in what’s left.
- Best Time for Beaches: Barcelona summers tend to be hot and humid, making it a perfect time for the beach, though not the best time to be wandering around the city. Of course, this also means practically everyone else is handing to the beaches too, so they can be very crowded – and, while the water is clear and the sand is clean in the morning, by the end of the day, both can get a bit littered. As the water temperature is most comfortable from swimming from around the end of May through mid- to late-September, your best bet for fewer crowds and optimal conditions can usually be found by going early or late in the season, in May or September.
- Best Time for Festivals: If you’re hoping to attend one of the city’s big festivals, you’ll need to arrive sometime between late spring and early autumn, with the majority of Barcelona’s larger festivals taking place then, including the world’s biggest indie and alternative music festival, Primavera Sound, held in late May or early June. The nine-day Festa Mayor de Gracia is hosted in August, while the grandest fiesta of the year is the four-day Festes de la Merce in September, which honors the city’s patron with a run, harbor swimming race and all sorts of concerts, parades, Catalan dances and feasts. Of course, when major festivals are held, expect the crowds to be thick, though many feel that just makes it even more fun and exciting.
- Best Time for an FC Barcelona Game: Barcelona hosts one of the best football teams in the world, FC Barcelona, and many feel a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting the team’s famous stadium. While tours are available, the best way to experience it is by catching a game. The schedule is set every year around mid-July, and matches usually start in late August and end in late May, with a winter break around the Christmas and New Year holidays. The best time to go, for those who also want to enjoy pleasant sightseeing and the beaches, is arguably in September or May, though you’ll have a good time during any month in between as well. Most matches are played around the weekends, so plan accordingly.
Barcelona Travel Seasons
- High Season (May to Early September): High season in Barcelona brings the hottest weather, the biggest crowds and the highest accommodation rates. July, and especially August, tend to be sweltering, and tourists spill out of every hotel, restaurant and attraction, with long lines just about everywhere. The advantages of traveling during this period are wonderfully long days, with the sun sticking around until around 9:30pm, and all of the attractions are sure to be open with the tourists out in full force. This is also the perfect time to head to Barcelona’s beautiful beaches and you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy major festivals like Musica als Parcs, which features free concerts between June and August in various open-air venues throughout the city. Book the Best Hotels in Barcelona and the Best Family Hotels in Barcelona well in advance.
- Shoulder Season (Late March to April and Late September to October): The shoulder season can bring the best of both worlds, with a number of festivals held in the spring as well as the late summer/early autumn months, and crowds tend to be a bit thinner during this time as well, while the weather is often idyllic. Prices haven’t yet hit their peak in early spring, and they begin to drop again in September when kids are back in school and the crowds abate.
- Low Season (November to Early March): During the low season, prices not only drop exponentially, especially for accommodation, but it’s a great time to enjoy Barcelona without having to wait in long lines or fight for personal space. The chillier temperatures and frequent drizzle means you won’t be spending much, if any, time on the beach, but you will find a more romantic atmosphere with the opportunity to share an umbrella and cozy up to the one you love. It’s also the perfect excuse for taking things at a slower pace, occasionally stopping into a charming café for café con leche or churros with hot chocolate, rather than rushing from sight to sight.