When is the best time of year to visit Barcelona?

Barcelona needs little introduction as a popular holiday destination. The spectacles of Las Ramblas, FC Barcelona, Gaudi and the beaches have put the city firmly on the map.

The cities hot Mediterranean climate is a major factor in its popularity – Barcelona enjoys year round sunshine and warmth, very low rainfall and a very mild winter.

Peak season for tourism is the summer when the city and its beaches are thronging with visitors. But without doubt Barcelona is a city with year round appeal. Visiting the city outside of the summer is any equally rewarding experience and you will find the streets are less choked, museums queues are shorter, accommodation is more readily available and cheaper, and the sun is still shining.

Obviously the best time to visit depends on what you want to get out of your visit. If you are not a beach person and want to visit the Picasso and Miró Museums then there is no need to come in summer.

To make life easier for you and help you decide when is the best time of year to plan your trip to Barcelona we have created a breakdown of activities, events and goings on in the city season by season.

Spring

Spring is a popular time to visit Barcelona with visitors from the Northern Hemisphere, especially Scandinavia and Northern Europe. As winter and darkness hangs on in these countries spring comes early in Barcelona where spring is underway and the sun shining from April onwards.

Events in Barcelona in spring

Summer

Barcelona has an incredible buzz come the summer months and it is a joyous time of year. As mentioned before, this can make it a little too busy for some. Come August the cities own inhabitants up and leave for the cool of the Costa Brava or the Pyrenees leaving the city to the tourists.

Events in Barcelona in summer

Autumn

Autumn is a mellow season in Barcelona. The cities inhabitants breathe a sigh of relief as the heat slackens from mid September. But the weather stays nice through October and even into November, with cooler evenings.

Events in Barcelona in autumn

Winter

Winter in Barcelona is as mild a winter as you can find anywhere in Europe. This is a really nice time of year in the city, especially through November and December when cold of any kind is exceedingly rare and eating outdoors is still no problem. Catalan Christmas has many wonderful traditions to explore and this is a highly festive time of year.

Events in Barcelona in winter

If you are coming to Barcelona remember that an apartment in Barcelona is an affordable option at any time of year as well as comfortable and convenient

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Fun times at Primavera Sound 2013 in Barcelona

At the end of May, Primavera Sound 2013 returns to Barcelona, this time for its 12th year. The event focuses on independent music, performers that have played here in previous years include: Lou Reed, The White Stripes, Primal Scream, New Order, Iggy and the Stooges, Pulp, The Petshop Boys, Motörhead, The Smashing Pumpkins, Portishead, My Bloody Valentine and Neil Young. Last year more than 100,000 part-goers attended, making the Primavera Sound Festival one of the most important alternative music festivals in the world and the biggest in Spain.

Alternative, indie, electronic, pop, hip hop, dance, folk, jazz, metal and experimental music are among the genres that are included in the festival. The tradition of amazing line ups continues in 2013 with Metz, Blur, the Beach House, the XX and Dead Can Dance confirmed as playing.

This year the festival takes place from May 22nd to May the 26th, and as in previous years, Primavera Sound will be held at the Parc del Fòrum leisure site in the Diagonal Mar area. If you can’t spend 80 euros on a day ticket, take heart as the festival this year will include two free concerts called ‘Primavera a la Ciutat’, schedules to take place near Arc de Triomf on the first and last days of the festival.

Primavera Sound’s main stage is situated in the vast Parc del Fòrum, an incredible setting with the Mediterranean sea for a backdrop, as if the music did not guarantee an amazing atmosphere!

Further Info

The Primavera Sound website contains all the practical information you might need. Remember that although open-air, Primavera Sound is not a camping festival. This is a very poplar event which takes place right at the beginning of the peak tourist season in Barcelona so it is never too soon to book up your accommodation. Hotels tend to increase their prices for events such as Primavera Sound, and become booked up very far in advance. But a rental apartment is a good affordable option, especially for groups. We offer rental apartments near to the Parc del Fòrum, in Poble Nou.

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Diada de Sant Jordi – what is it all about?

La Diada de Sant Jordi is Barcelona’s unique version of Valentine’s Day. Catalan Sant Jordi celebrations are ancient, dating back centuries to the middle ages. In the Catalan version of the myth he slays a dragon and rescues a princess, and a rose is said to have blossomed from the creature’s blood (the very same red rose that is the symbol of England).

From this was born the tradition of women receiving roses on Sant Jordi which persists to this day. As anyone who is in Barcelona on the 23rd of April can tell you, Barcelona’s streets and plazas are a sea of red rose flower stalls and by the evening you’re unlikely to see a woman in the city without a rose in her hand.

However Sant Jordi has evolved to include the tradition of giving books, all thanks to the business verve of one Catalan bookseller, a certain Vincent Claver Andres. In 1923 he noticed that St George’s Day coincided with the almost simultaneous deaths of two literary greats William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, both of whom passed away on the 23rd of April 1616. So he came up with the idea of women reciprocating their roses with a book as a gift for then men in their life.

This is why on the Dia de Sant Jordi and you’ll find Barcelona crammed with book stalls, some 10% of Catalonia’s annual book sales happen on this one day!

Apart from gift giving, Sant Jordi is a celebration of Catalan national identity. The red and gold Catalan flag is hung all across the city, and in Plaça de Sant Jaume you can watch and even partake in the sardana, the Catalan national dance.

Though it is not a public holiday but a regular work day, Saint Jordi has a happy festive atmosphere that is almost like a carnival, the streets come alive with people out and about and enjoying the spring sunshine.

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The Feria de Abril in Barcelona

The concept of a ‘Fería de Abril’ or ‘April Fair’ has its roots in the province of Andalucía where it is associated with the capital, Seville. In the post-war years however many Andaluces emigrated to Barcelona, and in 1971 set up their own version of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla as a reminder of home.

Since the 1970s the Barcelona feria de abril has grown to become the second-largest Spring Fair in Spain. As one would expect from this is a colourful and exciting week when Barcelona’s Andalusians relish the chance to celebrate the arrival of spring and revel in the exuberant traditions of southern Spain.

Southern Spaniards as well as Catalan people and visitors arrive in throngs to join in the revelry made up of singing, dancing and of course eating and drinking! Sherry and cold cañas flow freely and are accompanied of course by traditional Spanish paella.

One of the main features of the Feria de Abril are casitas, meaning “little houses”. In fact small marquees, these are set up erected in the Fòrum area of Diagonal Mar. Each casita is operated by a different organisation and these range from political parties to sporting or cultural groups. Every year there are at least 70 such casitas operating at the fería, all filled with revellers eating, dancing and celebrating the Andaluz way of life.

One key difference between the Barcelona and Seville festivals is that the casitas in Barcelona are open to for everyone to venture inside, try some traditional food and drink, and enjoy the flamenco shows. You can even join in if you feel brave!

Another fun feature of the Feria de Abril is a huge fairground complete with a Ferris wheel overlooking the Mediterranean. Candy floss and popcorn abound as do traditional the fairground favourites shooting galleries and dodgems.

But overall it is the atmosphere here that makes this a truly special event. The weather at this time of year is delightful and puts everyone in a partying mood, and the fería is an inclusive family affair where you will find several generations taking part. Traditional costumes add colour and truly make for a fun and flamboyant atmosphere!

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Mozart’s Requiem Concert 2013

Classical music lovers coming to Barcelona will not want to miss the chance to see his requiem live at the Barcelona Auditori. Mozart composed the Requièm Mass in D minor in Vienna in 1791 and it remained unfinished at his death.

On Monday the 25th of March the Orquestra de Cambra de l’Empordà (OCE) and Coral Polifònica de Puig-Reig bring this wonderful piece of music to the Auditori in Barcelona.

To reach the auditori catch the purple line (L2) to Monumental metro station or else a number 10 or 6 bus from the centre.

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Barcelona Restaurant Week 2013

Barcelona and Catalunya are famed for their gastronomy, restaurants such as Ferran Adria’s Ell Bulli or the brothers Roca’s El Celler de Can Roca in Girona have held places one and two respectively in the prestigious San Pellegrino Top 10 Restaurants Award.

If these luminaries seem a bit over budget for your trip then you would do well consider the twice annual Barcelona Restaurant Week, which in spring runs from Friday the 8th of March to Sunday the 17th of March 2013. Around 35 of Barcelona’s top restaurants, including some Michelin starred restaurants (if the French influence is your thing) offer a fixed price menu so that everyone can afford to enjoy some of the best food in the city.

The 2013 menu price is set at €24 plus a 1€ donation for charity. Sales tax is not included though, so the full menu price is €25 plus 10% IVA/VAT. But €27.50 is little to pay for fine food in Barcelona, even without drinks.

The concept of a week of affordable dining in top city restaurants first originated in New York in 1992. Since then the idea has since spread to over 100 cities worldwide, including Madrid, Seville and Barcelona in Spain.

See a list of participating restaurants here (in Spanish).

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Saint Patrick’s Day in Barcelona

For all our Irish customer’s and as well as all those who enjoy the craic, we have selected our pick of events for celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Barcelona.

St Patrick’s Stand up comedy show

To celebrate St Patrick’s day the Guinness Laughter Lounge are bringing international Stand Up Comedians to Barcelona. Leading the line up will be Andrew Stanley, TV presenter/Comedian of hit Irish TV series ‘I dare ya’ who is guaranteed to bring the ‘craic’ to Barcelona.

Having performed worldwide at the Montreal, Australian and Edinburgh Comedy Festivals and becoming a regular fixture on the Kilkenny Cat Laughs Calendar, Andrew Stanley is one of the top comics working the Worldwide Comedy Circuit today.

So if you want to join in the fun get yourself down to Calle Portal Nou 30 at 9pm on the 15th. Entrance is 15 euros.

St Patrick’s Drink Beer & Celebrate Weekend Party

If you are looking for somewhere to serve you a pint of Guinness (or two!) this Saint Patrick’s Day then Flaherty’s Irish Bar in Barcelona is a great place to head place to head. Flaherty’s will be holding a two day party over the weekend of the 16th and 17th featuring live music and Irish food as well as “Lots of Guinness, great craic and lots of free gifts!”

Located just next to Las Ramblas and a stone’s throw from the sea, Flaherty’s is found at Carrer Joaquim Xirau i Palau 08002 Barcelona

Kitty’s St. Patrick’s Street Party

But don’t just limit yourself to one venue. What is probably the biggest St. Patrick Day party in Barcelona takes place on Saturday the 16th March 2013 at Kitty O’Shea’s Irish pub. Kitty’s organise a St. Patrick’s day street party on the Rambla de carrer de Numancia every year with pipers, Irish dancing, Irish music and more. This year the street party takes place on Saturday the 16th March from 11:00.

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Springtime activities in Barcelona for 2013

Spring is a great time of year to visit. While the cold and wet outstay their welcome in the north of Europe the temperature in Barcelona is warm and the sun is shining.

Barcelona’s spring climate is perfect – warm and sunny it is not yet too uncomfortably hot. It’s perfect for strolling along Las Ramblas or by the sea, or for eating fresh local seafood in the sunshine on one of Barcelona’s many terraces.

Barcelona is warming up, so we compiled a list of activities to enjoy outdoors in Barcelona.

Easter 24-31 March – known locally as Semana Santa (holy week). Witness processions throughout the city and the blessing of the palms on diumenge de rams (Palm Sunday), when people flock to the cathedral carrying palm fronds. Try the famous local Easter cake, La Mona de Pascua.

La Diada de Sant Jordi 23 April – Sant Jordi (Saint George’s day) is a romantic occasion celebrating Catalonia’s patron saint. Couples exchange gifts and traditionally the men give women a rose while women give men a book.

Spanish Formula One Grand Prix 2013 10-12 May – Formula One in Barcelona is a treat for motor racing fans, come and watch the race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo just 30 minutes from Barcelona.

Night at the Museum – this event is now running in cities all over the world. The museums and popular attractions taking part offer free entry from 7pm until 1am on Saturday the18th of May. Some museums involved include the Picasso Museum, MNAC, La Pedrera, the Cosmocaixa science museum and the CCCB.

Flamenco Ciutat Vella 19-22 May – a quintessential event, the Old Town’s flamenco festival, takes place from the 1 with singers, guitarists and dancers from across the spectrum of flamenco styles. (CCCB, C/Montalegre 5, Raval; 93 306 41 00; www.flamencociutatvella.com)

Festa Major de Nou Barris 21-30 May – one of Barcelona’s liveliest festes major (neighbourhood parties), with castellers (human castles), correfocs (mobile firework displays) and free concerts. (Nou Barris; www.bcn.cat/noubarris)

Primavera Sound 22 May-26 May – probably requires little in the way of introduction. Primavera Sound 2013 is set to rock the spot once more with a line up including Blur, My Bloody Valentine, Wu-Tang Clan, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the Jesus and Mary Chain playing in outdoor venues across Barcelona.

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Some new apartments in Plaça Catalunya

We are very happy to have just launched some exciting new apartments on our site this month. The Universitat Ramblas building is located just behind Plaça Catalunya and contains 11 brand new luxury apartments all of which are beautifully decorated in a contemporary style. The whole building was recently renovated to a very high level at the end of 2012.

As the photo of the attic apartment shows, the apartments are beautiful, light, open and modern with an exceedingly high standard of decoration, fixtures and fittings, and interior design. The building’s original architectural features, such as its beams and ceiling tiles have been preserved. The building has been resorted with a great deal of care.

All apartments feature heating, air conditioning, a TV, Wi-Fi and all the kitchen equipment needed to prepare a meal.

The Universitat Ramblas building is located just next to Plaça Catalunya, and as its name suggests, Las Ramblas too! You could not be in a more central location.

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Our top 5 Christmas activities in Barcelona

1) Christmas markets

Barcelona hosts a number of excellent Christmas markets which are perfect for feeling festive and doing a little light shopping at. They tend not to offer the mulled wine, pretzels and wurst of traditional German markets. But, hey this is Spain, a nice glass of wine and a tapa are never far.

The two main markets are the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas market and the Sagrada Familia Christmas market.

The Fira de Santa Llúcia market takes place just in front of the Cathedral in the old town, a really atmospheric location, and even more atmospheric after dark when the lights of the stalls illuminate the medieval Cathedral La Seu behind.

For the most part you can buy Christmas trees, decorations and mistletoe here though there are also some great gift ideas in the crafts section where you can buy hand-made products such as jewellery, toys, leather goods and ornaments.

The Sagrada Familia market takes place on Plaça Sagrada Familia just in front Gaudi`s amazing Sagrada Familia basilica, so if you are visiting the building you can have a wander around the market afterwards. You will find many of the same offerings as at the Fira de Santa Llúcia market – trees, decorations and small traditional handmade gift ideas.

2) Ice skating

Not something you would traditionally associate with Barcelona but a great Christmas activity and a great thing to do with kids. From now until January there is a large covered ice rink in Plaça Catalunya, just at the top of Las Ramblas. For further details see or activities section.

Enjoy an ice skate under Barcelona´s amazing blue winter sky before heading down into the old town for some paella or hearty traditional Catalan cooking.

3) Christmas shopping

Barcelona is a brilliant city for shopping. If you are looking for clothes and fashion this especially true, no surprise in a city that is so famous for style and fashion.

You can find all your major international brands and chains, some really special Spanish labels that are hard to find abroad, plus many small one off shops selling locally made clothes, bags and jewellery that are unique to Barcelona.

The shops in Barcelona re concentrated in the very compact city centre. El Portal Del Angel is just off Plaça Catalunya and parallel with Las Ramblas. Here you can find international chains such as Zara, Mango, H&M and Top Shop. On the other side of Plaça Catalunya is Passeig de Gracia where high-end brands such as Armani, Gucci, Prada and Sita Murt are found. If you are looking to discover some local bargains, try El Born or Gracia where there are many small boutiques.

For electronic goods your best bet is El Corte Ingles on Plaça Catalunya, this is Spain´s largest department store. Opposite it is FNAC for books and music.

4) Nativity scenes

A trip to Barcelona at Christmas would not be complete without seeing a Catalan nativity scene simply for the local colour given by El Caganer, the crapper. Joseph, Mary, manger, baby Jesus, wise men, shepherds. Check. Man squatting down having a crap next to them. Check. No-one is sure of the origin of this tradition; some say it is a peasant tradition related to the fertilisation of the soil. Others say that it cocks a snoop at religion, as Catalunya has never taken Catholicism that seriously compared to the rest of Spain. Either way, it´s good for a laugh, and sure to amuse your kids. If you want to take a piece of traditional Catalan Christmas home with you, you can buy your own Caganer figure in any of the Christmas markets.

The best place to see the Catalan nativity scene in Plaça Sant Jaume in the old town, complete with life size figures.

5) See the old town

Barcelona`s medieval old town is beautifully preserved and at this time of year is wonderfully atmospheric. The gothic architecture creates an atmosphere of times past and the narrow streets are great for a bit of aimless wandering and exploring.

Stop off in a bar for a chocolate con churros (hot chocolate with donuts) to give yourself a calorie boost to keep the cold at bay. Though during the day in Barcelona at Christmas when the sun shines, you may actually not need a coat. So a cold beer instead perhaps?

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