When people say Barcelona, the image that comes to mind is a long stretch of sandy beach and bathing in the summer sun against a backdrop of bright blue skies. Internationally, the Catalonian capital is a famed summertime destination, boasting soaring temperatures and a coastline to die for. However, this wonderfully diverse city is still alive and buzzing after the tourist season is over. In reality, visiting Barcelona during the off-peak months comes with its own benefits and is worth considering!
Related article: Budget travel: On the budget in Barcelona
For most, opting for an off-season trip is a budget decision. While this is not the only reason why you should visit the city out of the summer months, it is a substantial benefit.
As a general rule, flights and hotels drop their prices once the main tourist flock has gone home. This means you could even splurge and treat yourself to an apartment for the trip. When booking your flights and hotels, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), particularly on aggregate sites such as Kayak. A VPN can open you up to a whole range of potential savings. There are many varieties of this software available, so simply do some research and find the best for you.
An off-season trip gives visitors the chance to enjoy Barcelona’s spectacular sights without drowning in a sea of tourists. Wander Parc Güell in solitude or investigate the hidden beauty of the Gothic Quarter. Not only will this make for a more enjoyable experience, it will provide spectacular photo opportunities.
However, there is a word of warning. Due to the reduced traffic, many of the main attractions vary their opening times during the colder months. For example, Gaudi’s famed cathedral masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, closes a few hours earlier in spring and autumn and is only open for half the day during winter.
Winter in Barcelona offers a whole host of events, festivals and local celebrations that will be the cherry on top of your Spanish adventure.
The Sagrada Familia is home to a beautiful Christmas fair in December, with over 100 stalls selling great gifts and decorations. For even more choice, head down to the Catedral de Barcelona and explore the whopping 300 stalls of the festive market in its surrounding squares.
The winter season also sees the cities famed center square, Plaça de Catalunya, turn into a sparkling ice rink where winter visitors can skate with the locals.
Related article: Discover the natural beauty of Barcelona in winter
The main concern most have when considering an off-season trip is the weather. While you won’t need sunscreen and bikinis during a winter trip to Barcelona, the temperature stays pleasant all year round, averaging 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15ºC) at its coldest. This means you can still wander the streets without worrying about having to wrap up, and evening strolls on the beach can be a great way to enjoy the city’s famed coastline.
Visiting at this time of year also allows you to explore the surrounding mountains. The hike up Montjuïc is much more appealing when you don’t have to battle the sizzling heat, and the views it provides over the city are equally as beautiful. Similarly, the Tibidabo amusement park is infinitely better with a cool breeze on your back and is much less busy in winter; however, beware the variation in opening times.
Without the push for tourism that floods summertime in Barcelona, off-peak visitors are offered an incredibly exclusive luxury. There’s far more chance of experiencing the local culture when you aren’t distracted by the thriving summer holiday industry.
At this time of year, restaurants are brimming with natives, so it’s easy to find local favorites by simply judging the lines at the door. Similarly, without the rush of alco-tourism that descends on Barcelona every summer, it’s easy to find the intimate, cultural bars that are true hidden gems to uncover.
In these venues, you are sure to chat with native Catalonians and find recommendations of their favorite things to do. Visiting Barcelona in this way is bound to ensure you a truly authentic and unique experience you wouldn’t find in even the best travel guides.
So what are you waiting for? This year, why not step outside the box, and book a winter trip to this fantastic European hotspot of culture, architecture and beauty!