The stunning Spanish city of Barcelona is a modern art piece worth visiting year-round.
Blessed with the climate of a Mediterranean dream-town, you’ll be swept away by the colors, textures, flavors, and sights! You’re ready to hop on a flight, but when’s the best time of year to visit Barcelona?
What is The Best Month to Visit Barcelona? The best month to visit Barcelona depends on your preferences for the city and is a subjective factor in traveling. If you hate crowds, August will be the worst month for you to visit. If you want the streets to yourself and avoid long lines, aim for November to March. For the most moderate weather and highest volume of festivals and events, Spring is the best time of year to visit Barcelona.
There are many factors that play into what month is the best time to explore this fascinating city.
Since there is not one simple answer to be given to a subjective question, this will be your ultimate guide from a world traveler that’s done the homework for you and seen Barcelona many times now.
I will cover month by month, so you don’t miss a thing in this Catalonian haven of year-round enchantment!
The Best Month to Visit Barcelona
Barcelona is a modern city that hits you in the face with culture the moment you walk through it. With mopeds and scooters racing around taxis in loud streets of chaos, fragrances of warm bread and fresh seafood tapas filling the round cornered streets, and the kind way Europeans engage with each-other in their slowed down way of life.
Barcelona natives and Catalonians enjoy the slowness of living. The way most Europeans live is generally nothing less than poetry.
Life in Barcelona may include waking up later, naps after lunch, working a bit later but then having drinks and tapas appetizers until 10pm.
Between now and midnight is when dinner will be served normally, so you can enjoy the night with Catalonian wine and rich conversation.
Can you see how any time of year is the best time to go to Barcelona?
I will cover the charms of Barcelona month by month, so you get an idea of when the best events are, things you can’t miss, tips that will depend on the season, and how to be a professional adventurer!
Best Month for Sightseeing in Barcelona
If you’ve done a bit of research on Barcelona, you know by now that there will be lines out the door at the major attractions.
You will need to be intentional in your planning while still leaving time for spontaneity to ensue.
If you plan to hit the major sights like the Basilica de la Sagrada Família in central Barcelona, be aware that the lines will be considerably longer at the following times:
- Summer (Late July and August being the busiest time of year).
- Christmas (packed for the holiday services and Christian ceremonies)
- Easter (people traveling from far and wide to gather in the town’s major churches)
If you don’t mind the lines or can only visit in August, I would advise you to purchase your tickets far in advance and consider spending extra for the ‘Skip-the-line’ options. It may be worth it if you only have 48 hours in Barcelona to not spend 3 of it in a queue.
Let’s say you despise pushing your way through crowds and want to go when you can actually see the monuments without crowds of people blocking it.
NOTE: The best time for you to avoid the crowds in Barcelona will be between February and May (Springtime) and between late September to November (Fall).
The lines are the shortest during these seasons, tickets for airlines and railways are often significantly cheaper, thinner crowds, and quite nice weather depending on your sentiments towards the heat or snow.
PRO TIP: In August, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the slowest days for most museums and tours. If you start early in the day instead of around 11am when everyone wants to go, you may get more one-on-one time with the guide as well.
Best Month for Festivals in Barcelona
If you want to dance the night away or lose yourself to a large Barcelona festival, the best time for you to jet-set will be late Spring or early in Fall.
Some of the most popular events in Barcelona and their dates are:
- Primavera Sound Festival – Usually late May or early June. 2019’s festival in Barcelona included the following artists, just to name a few: Cardi B (replaced by Miley Cyrus last minute), Interpol, Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, Charli XCX, Nina Kravitz, and more. The real musical hype of the season, this is perfect for the Coachella-lovers and indie-souls.
- Festa Mayor de Gracia – Each year in August, an incredibly fun time to be exploring the city as essentially every street is in a competition to make theirs the most beautiful street of all. The concept of Gràcia festival is that streets in the neighborhood compete to win the prize of being the best decorated street in Barcelona.
- Festes de la Merce – Arguably the largest festival all year long, Festes de la Merce happens in September. It includes feasting, merriment, competitions, concerts, parades, and Catalan dancing on every street corner. The definition of a good time, this festival will bring you closer to what makes us human, and revel in that excitement.
These are just a few of the main festivals and mostly during summer or late summer, which is peak season in Barcelona.
Best Month for Shopping in Barcelona
If you’ve ever gone shopping anywhere in Europe, you’ll know it’s a thing of beauty.
In Barcelona and Europe in general, the fashion industry is booming – and its quite obvious.
They receive the designs from top fashion icons to run through there and the ones that succeed move to other parts of the world. If you want a leg-up on the best sales and periods to collect your Spanish-Dream-Closet, here they are:
- Winter Sales – The winter sale begin the first or second week of January and end around February with no official starting and ending dates but often offer 70-80% off to make room for the new season.
- Summer Sales – They will discount many things yet simultaneously raise the price as the demand is higher in the summer. Be aware of this and don’t get scammed into paying more than it’s worth.
It will be filled with crowds, elbow to elbow, in the summer especially. So you may want to let the crowds die down.
Waiting a couple weeks can clear out the drama, but it may mean a huge depletion of all the best deals and quality items.
TIP: At Street Vendor Shopping beware of certain street vendors and know that they will say a higher price than the product is worth at first, hoping you won’t haggle with them and they can get more out of you.
It’s not like shopping in America for example, where you have to buy it at the price advertised (unless it’s a brick and mortar store of course).
With street vendors, the best way for you to negotiate is as follows:
- Show interest in their piece
- Asking the price
- Grimacing at the price
- Say something along the lines of “I don’t know about that much, never mind,” while you simultaneously set it back down on the table.
- They will usually cut the price in half to land the sale or at the least give you an immediately huge price-reduction. Never act too interested, for the sake of your wallet and that sometimes painful European conversion rate. Your welcome.
Shopping is a way of life in Europe, and you’ll have such a blast just getting lost in alleyways and finding the most unique treasures.
Barcelona Traveling Month by Month
Now that I’ve covered some main attractions which people coordinate their travel around, let’s cover it month by month! This way, you can notice if something pops out to you or gets you excited to your core! When something becomes bucket list-worthy, it won’t be long before you make that dream a reality.
- January – This is the coldest month usually but remember that that’s about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Very thin crowds so you won’t battle crowds at the Sagrada Familia or Park Güell. Cheaper flights, cheaper Airbnb, and festivals like the St. Anthony Festival and Tres Tombs Parade that show the heart and soul of Barcelona.
- February – It may be sunny on and off but still a bit chilly in February. Lots of delicious vegetables that are seasonal for this time will be incorporated into the tapas menus, like the calçot for example. My favorite event for this month is the stunning Llum Light Festival where the entire city sparkles like a starry sky, (google pictures to feel your heart swell!)
March – In my opinion, this is the best time of year to visit Barcelona. The flowers are in bloom, the city is coming back to life after the cold, and this is an opportune time for those who want to avoid the crowds like the plague. This also makes accommodations and airfare cheaper.
The events to look out for include the Sant Medir Festival in the enchanting neighborhood called, La Gracia, and the Sant Josep Oriol Festival. This is a big Catalan party you won’t want to miss which including feasts, parades, and giant fatheads that roam the street like oversized characters.
- April – Perfect weather, the end of sales for airfare and accommodations, and beautiful events! My favorite is the Sant Jordi Festival, where love and literature are celebrated. The Sant Jordi Festival held April 23rd and is essentially the Catalonian Valentine’s day held two months later than the States.
- May – This is when the crowds are starting to form, but you’re not being bombarded yet. Weather is fabulous, but rates may be creeping upwards, and it may get harder to find cheap accommodations.
June – Now it’s getting busier. For the next three months, tourism will be up, and you’ll have to deal with crowds. This is, however, the opportune time to hit the beach and soak up those rays as you dip your toes in the Mediterranean.
This is the start of the Musica als Parcs which will have live music in the parks for free! This goes on all over the city at open-air venues from June to August. You can also celebrate Barcelona’s diversity at the Pride Festival during this month.
July – The days are officially longer so you’ll have the sun up until around 9:30-10pm. This makes the nightlife even more powerful in Barcelona, with dinner not being eaten until late in the night. Temperatures will be 80’s to 90’s but feel hotter with the high humidity.
If visiting in July, you have to check out the Barcelona Beach Festival, which is a one-night-only event featuring some of the largest stars from around the globe.
- August – This is ultimately the busiest and most expensive month. Children are off school and families are flocking here before the semester begins again. This is actually a time when many businesses shut down, and Europeans are known for taking month long vacations (goals). This month you can look forward to the Festa Major in mid-august, and the Sants Festival which paints the town in color!
- September – The best time to go if you want to catch a football game (American Soccer) as the season is kicking off now until May (with Christmas and New Year’s off). With one of the best teams in the entire world, your trip to Spain really wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the stadium. Don’t forget to lose yourself with the crowd as you all dance and yell, “GOAL!!!”
- October – Barcelona is calming down, and the weather is perfection with low humidity and around 70-degrees Fahrenheit on the average afternoon. A tip for this month is that admission to some of the most famous monuments in Barcelona go on sale or become free during the 48H Open House in late October.
- November – This is the beginning of the slow season where the crowds have officially cleared out, and the locals start to emerge even more. We’re back to affordable deals on airfare and accommodations and a great time for music and art lovers to emerge! With the Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival, as well as the Alternative Independent Film Festival, this is a time to soak up the culture and practice your Spanish.
December – This is a fabulous time to purchase cheap air tickets but don’t plan it right around Christmas, or it may be double the price. A magical time to be in the city, the climate in winter is crisp due to Barcelona’s proximity to the mountains, but often sunny. Snow is quite rare and won’t usually last more than a couple days.
Look out for Christmas markets like the Fira de Santa Llucia, and party on New Year’s Eve at the Plaça Catalunya among thousands of other locals and tourists alike.
Now that you know the major perks and downfalls for each time of year, here’s a brief overview of the national holidays and how they affect your trip.
Holidays and Catalan Feasts in Barcelona
The holidays and Catalan fiestas are worth the trip alone! Note them in your calendar, and it may influence when you decide to book your vacation.
A perk for the residents (that isn’t so good for tourists) is if a holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, many people also take off the weekday in between.
This creates an extra-long weekend for them but keep this in mind for planning your vacation. Many businesses may be shut down during these holidays and the weekend that follows.
Official holidays that are observed include:
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- January 6 – Feast of the Epiphany (A giant festival that looks like Carnival in Rio).
- March/April – Good Friday and Easter Monday
- May 1 – May Day, May/June (Whit Monday)
- June 24 – Feast of St. John
- August 15 – Feast of the Assumption
- September 11 – National Day of Catalonia
- September 24 – Feast of Our Lady of Mercy
- October 12 – Spain’s National Day (It commemorates when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas in 1492).
- November 1 – All Saints’ Day (also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows’ Day,the Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints. A festival which celebrates all saints, known or unknown).
- December 6 – Constitution Day
- December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Celebration).
- December 25 – Christmas
- December 26 – Feast of St. Stephen – It is an official public holiday in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Philippines, and more.
As you can see, the Spanish love their feasts. Yet another reason they are one of the best countries.
These dates do change the prices for airfare and accommodation, so research deeply before booking your trip and be aware of how long businesses may be closed during your vacations.
It’s quite hard to enjoy Spain if it feels like a ghost town that you can’t eat in, drink in, or shop in.
Tips for Purchasing Airfare to Barcelona
The funny thing about airline tickets is that every single passenger has paid a different price for their seat.
Keep that in mind when you purchase and aim for a good value time-period. Set alerts to watch the price on the airline you want to go on.
Google will send you updates when the price is extremely low, and it recommends you should purchase.
The cheapest and best times to purchase airfare tickets will be:
- 6-12 months out from the trip
- Less than a week before it departs
If it’s a couple of months out, this is when it’s most expensive. If you book it a year or so out, it will usually be significantly cheaper.
If you can swing it, the cheapest flights will be the week before departure or the actual day of departure.
The airline wants to sell those seats. If it has any extra tickets to be sold, the airline will lower the prices for tickets on the day the plane takes off.
Each year over 32 million tourists swarm Barcelona to revel in its unique magic and way of life.
You’re going to an exotic new country full of culture and packed with rich history that dates back thousands of years.
It won’t truly matter what time of year you go, but if you absolutely need an answer, I would say March or April are the best times to get the trifecta of perfect weather, affordability, and crowd-avoidance to fully enjoy yourself.
To summarize, my final words of advice would be:
- If you hate crowds or want the cheapest tickets, hold out for winter. You’ll look great in a trench coat for pictures and get the whole place to yourself while not coming home flat broke.
- If you want to go to the beach or explore in your yellow sundress, then by all means, you should! Just note that it will be a bit busier in Spring and substantially busier by Summer.
‘Feliz viaje’ means ‘happy travels’ in Spanish. So I’ll part by wishing you Feliz viaje and hope you remember that there’s never a wrong time to be in Barcelona!