Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons in Barcelona. It is when the people of the Catalan capital reclaim their city. Moving away from big crowds of tourists and with much less noise, it is a time of relaxation, great weather, family moments and good food.
During winter in Barcelona there are many traditional meals to enjoy. One of the tastiest of the Catalan cuisine is escudella de carn d’olla – vegetables and meat in a soup, with special shell-shaped pasta called galets. Churros with dipping chocolate and turrón are two more of the seasonal delicacies you will find in Barcelona during the winter months.
Although Barcelona may have cold weather during the winter season, the bright blue skies give the city a colourful touch, contrasting with the dull grey skies that you might find in other European cities. From November to February the temperatures could be around 12°C/57°F, and you will often find people lazing on the beach or even taking a dip in the Mediterranean Sea on particularly warm days.
One of the highlights of winter in Barcelona is that you can enjoy all of its famous attractions without the long lines you will encounter in summer. That means far fewer crowds at sights such as Gaudí´s masterpiece the Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, the modernist Casa Batlló, the Camp Nou football stadium and many more… not to mention the beautiful Christmas lights which illuminate the city. And as an added bonus, each winter the Plaça de Catalunya central square transforms into a 1,400 square metre ice rink.
While there are fewer tourists, the streets are no less lively. More locals venture to the inner city to enjoy the holiday atmosphere, especially around the historic Barcelona Cathedral, where each year the largest Christmas market in the city is held. The Santa Llúcia Fair (Fira de Santa Llúcia) will celebrate its 230th anniversary this year and will host a spectacular range of Christmas decorations, gifts, trees, nativity figures and much more. In addition to the hundreds of stalls full of Christmas goodies that you will find at the market, there are also many activities in which to take part, including crib scene making and the parade of the Carassa de Nadal.
A typical Catalan mythological character can also be found at wintertime in Barcelona. The Tió de Nadal is a fun tradition, mainly for the children. The ‘Caga Tió’, as he is otherwise known, is a big smiley-faced log placed in homes, schools and other areas all over Catalonia. The children give him food such as turrón every night in the run up to Christmas to make him full with presents. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the children hit him with sticks (just like a piñata) until they find gifts under his blanket. Smaller versions of the logs are sold at the Santa Llúcia market.
The Three Kings
Another anticipated family event is the parade of the Three Kings, which is full of magic, energy and colour. The best way to enjoy it is to see the excitement on the children´s faces as they try to give their letters to the kings and gather sweets thrown from the moving floats. Although the parades are held in each town, one of the most fantastic shows can be seen in Barcelona´s city centre. The yearly route is pretty much the same each year, and it is definitely a must if you are visiting the city, since it is a very Spanish experience.
Visiting Barcelona during winter is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a taste of true Catalan culture. Staying in a Barcelona apartment allows you to explore this wonderful city and all that it has to offer this winter season with more privacy than a hotel, and plenty of space to celebrate the holidays the way you want to. In addition, renting a Ramblas apartment in Barcelona will allow you to be within walking distance of all the festivities taking place in the city centre, as well as leaving you close to the main sights of Barcelona.
How to get there from the UK
British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2, Norwegian and Vueling all offer direct flights to Barcelona from UK airports. Flights depart regularly from almost all of the London hubs – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend – as well as from airports across the UK, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham and more. And prices start at just £26* for a return flight in January.
Inspired to book a winter break? Here are a few more destinations that are at their best in wintertime:
Wondering where to go for a winter city break? Well we’ve got a few alternative suggestions for you, from Iceland to Talinn.
If you can’t stand the cold, why not jet off somewhere the sun is currently shining? Fly south to one of our top picks for winter sun and you’ll be topping up that tan before you know it.
We’ve chosen the best January holiday destinations and added information on where to stay, when to book flights and what weather to expect when you arrive.
*Published December 2016. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.