The Very Best Things to do on a Winter Escape to Barcelona
Considering a winter getaway to Barcelona and wondering what to do in this lively city? If so, I am glad you are here.
Welcome to my article about Barcelona in winter and things to do at Europe‘s largest metropolis on the Mediterranean coast. In this article I share my experienced tips to help you figure out what is best for your winter trip to Barcelona.
Barcelona is an excellent European city holiday destination and for good reason. You will absolutely love the city vibes, lively scenes, the splendid architecture, the museums, and the incredible cuisines. Barcelona has a seaside too which is great if you want to combine a city visit and a beach vacation.
Barcelona makes an ideal destination for travellers looking for an unforgettable experience. With so many popular attractions and things to do, deciding on what to do is indeed not an easy decision to make. To help you figure out where to go and what to see, I share the best sights and top tourist attractions in Barcelona in winter that are worth your time the most.
MY WINTER ESCAPE TO BARCELONA
I visited Barcelona a few years ago for an extended holiday. We did a road trip from Barcelona to Costa Brava, along the coast all the way to Costa Daurada with trips to Port Aventura and the coastal towns. It was an incredible experience.
I was more than happy to return recently to Barcelona. I don’t usually like to leave the comfort of home in January but was convinced to a weekend away which I couldn’t refuse. Besides, the weather in the UK has been unusually cold! Barcelona turned out to be a perfect winter escape for me. Mild temperatures, gentle breeze, no rain and warm winter sunshine. I enjoyed meandering through the city streets, taking time to admire the stunning architecture. The lively culture that makes Barcelona one of the most beloved cities in the world was not amiss. This culturally diverse city of Europe does not disappoint.
As our visit to Barcelona was in January, we did not experience any of the festive-related activities. I’d suggest that the crowd was much less than one would expect in December during the festive season. Barcelona in January was still a busy city with so many things to do.
In this article I share all of the highlights of Barcelona which you could experience on your trip along with my experienced tips.
AN OVERVIEW ABOUT BARCELONA + THINGS TO DO IN WINTER
This guide about Barcelona in winter gives you an insight into what to expect when you visit this grand city of landmarks in winter. There are plenty of tips and advice to help you make the most of every minute of your stay here. In addition to must-sees, Barcelona also has many more interesting and fun things to do. While it may not be possible on a short visit, these experiences will make your stay more special even if you make time for one or two experiences.
Take a look.
ABOUT BARCELONA, SPAIN
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia. Located in the northeast region of Spain and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Famous for Gaudi and other Art Nouveau architecture, Barcelona is one of the trendiest cities in Europe. A city that has provided inspiration to generations of artists, writers and dreamers alike. The stylish city is a hub of culture and beauty that is sure to captivate your imagination and stimulate your senses. This bustling city is well-known for its iconic landmarks, stunning architecture, beautiful beaches and incredible cuisine.
Like its Andalusian cousin, sultry Seville, this sun-drenched destination has something for everyone to enjoy in winter. Home to many renowned museums, churches, parks and beaches, there is no shortage of experiences to create lasting memories. Immerse in the incredible showcase of modern and contemporary art at the MOCO Museum, take a stroll through the historical streets and enjoy the spirited atmosphere of Las Ramblas Barcelona — you will love it!
BARCELONA IN WINTER
Barcelona is often referred to as the “Sun City” due to its temperate climate and year-round sunshine. Winter, however, does bring a chill to the city, making it an ideal destination for those looking to get away from the colder temperatures elsewhere. While temperatures can drop to as low as 4°C (or 40°F) during the winter months, the days are usually mild and sunny, providing plenty of opportunity to enjoy all that Barcelona has to offer.
VERY BEST THINGS TO DO IN BARCELONA IN WINTER
Barcelona is an extraordinary city filled to the brim with stunning places and fantastic cultural experiences. When the winter chills sets in, Barcelona transforms into a unique wonderland of art, nature, and gastronomy.
Barcelona in winter offers visitors many exciting activities to keep them busy and entertained. This guide encompasses the best sights and attractions, and the must-sees. Start with the top of the list and work your way down to suit the amount of time you have in the city.
I have included a day-trip to Catalonia’s holy mountain, Montserrat as an important activity to do. I sincerely hope you can include this in your itinerary of places to visit in Barcelona. We had a remarkable day in the mountains, including a walk along St Michael’s Path to St Michael’s Cross. The views of the monastery and the valley below are breathtaking. It really is great to venture out of the city for a day to experience the mountains and to enjoy the local cuisine for a different perspective of a city vacation.
Be sure to read all of the suggestions and choose a few additional places that interest you the most.
You should be able to cover most of the places mentioned here in three days and if you have three to four days, you can include more fun and valuable activities from the recommended list.
Here are my selections of the very best things to do in Barcelona in winter.
Visit the Celebrated La Sagrada Familia
The Basilica of La Sagrada Família (Basilica of the Holy Family) in Barcelona is one of the most iconic and celebrated symbols of Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture in the world. An architectural masterpiece, it is the most visited landmark in Spain. The La Sagrada Familia is an exceptional basilica in terms of its origin, and purpose, a project driven by and for the people.
I was completely awed by the sheer size, the elegance and the rainbow-coloured glass windows. This celebrated cathedral is so different to the other celebrated cathedral I had seen in Spain. I highly recommend that you include La Sagrada as one of the best things to do in Barcelona during your winter visit. Truly, you can’t come to Barcelona and not visit La Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia is the busiest tourist destination in Barcelona and is ALWAYS busy no matter the season or time of day. If you decide to visit this iconic landmark, you must pre-book your timed ticket/s online in advance of your visit.
The construction of La Sagrada Familia
Designed by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, the basilica has been under evolution since 1883 when the first foundation stone was laid, and work continues till today. The Sagrada Familia is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sagrada Familia has become a symbol of Barcelona and Catalonia. Its intricate design and stunning façade are characteristic of Gaudí’s artistic style. The Sagrada Familia is truly a sight to behold. It is one landmark in Barcelona which you absolutely cannot miss. Huge and impressive from the outside while a jaw-droppping sight once you step in. A place where you will go “wow” at every turn! The Sagrada Familia is a place that you have to experience first hand as no pictures can do it justice.
While the exterior is filled with rich detail, the interior glows in magical rainbow hues as the light filters through the colourful glass windows. In what seems like a forest of slender columns, reaching high up to surround the vaulted ceiling. The experience is surreal.
What to look out for when you visit La Sagrada Familia:
You can appreciate the breathtaking architecture, learn about its fascinating history, and explore the intricacies of Gaudí’s unique vision. The impressive Sagrada Familia is packed with religious symbolism.
Here are some features to look out for both inside and outside of La Sagrada Familia and tips to know for when you visit:
La Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside
INSIDE: TOWERS AT THE SAGRADA FAMILIA
You can access two of the nine towers situated at either end of the basilica and enjoy the incredible views over Barcelona. The Nativity Tower and the Passion Tower are fully accessible by visitors.
To access either of the towers, you need to purchase a ticket that includes the option. You can select the Nativity Tower or the Passion Tower to suit your interest as both towers give you fascinating views over Barcelona. One thing to note, however, is that you can take the escalator up but must take the stairs on your way down;
OUTSIDE: THE FACADE OF LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
The Sagrada Familia has three symbolic facades:
The Nativity Facade: A stunning and unique feature designed by Gaudi giving an insight into his imagination. Featuring intricate carvings of figures from biblical stories as well as symbols from Catalan culture, making it one of the highlights of the basilica.
The Passion Facade: Focuses on themes related to the Passion of Christ, full of symbolism and captivating details.
The Glory Facade: This facade depicts Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection along with his present and future glory. Gaudi left several detailed sketches for his successors to complete the work correctly.
INSIDE LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
Gaudi was passionate about nature and its many forms. He showcases his passion by designing the pillars as slender tree trunks, thus creating a concrete forest in the basilica’s interior.
Attending a Mass at La Sagrada Familia
Masses at La Sagrada Familia are held at two Altars: the Main Altar and at the Crypt Altar.
Masses at the Main Altar are held on Sundays every week. These can be attended for free via the main entrance to the basilica on the Nativity facade (Carrer de la Marina).
Daily mass is held at the Crypt Altar, in Spanish and Catalan. Access for mass at the Crypt is via 318 Sardenya Street.
Good to know before you go:
Time: I’d suggest two hours as a minimum. However, if you are visiting the towers, give yourself at least two to three hours.
Best time to visit: If you want to avoid the crowds, visit first thing in the morning when the church opens at 9:00 AM. We visited just after lunch time, around two and spent about three hours. It was still a very busy atmosphere. The timing was perfect as the sunlight struck the windows, the colourful illumination was captivating.
Suggestions and Tips for visiting the Sagrada Familia
Pre-book skip-the-line tickets online in advance and avoid wasting time waiting in queues or being disappointed at last minute due to a sell-out occassion.
You need to allow extra time for locating the entrance (there are several) and to go through the security checks.
Tip: In high season, plan ahead and give yourself extra time as you still need to queue even with skip-the-line tickets.
PRO TIP: Join a guided tour. There is so much symbolism, interesting facts and stories about the Sagrada spanning the 140 years that you will totally miss without a guide. Having a guide enhances your visit instead of getting the tickets and going on your own.
*If you decide to join a guided tour, opt for a guided tour that includes tower access. The view over Barcelona from the tower is spectacular.
*Guided tours of La Sagrada usually lasts 1.5 hours but you can stay on for as long as you like to explore deeper after the tour.
In addition to La Sagrada, you may want to join this special tour that includes most of Gaudi’s landmarks in Barcelona.
Hours: From 09:00 — 18:00 daily.
Add: C/ de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain.
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