Every year around the beginning of November the citizens of Barcelona breathe a huge sigh of relief because once again the Catalan capital becomes theirs and only theirs. Of course it is somewhat impolite to complain that people from around the world love your city too much, but consistently avoiding featuring in people’s holiday snaps for a change is a definite perk. Being able to cross the road without getting run over by rickshaws and buying your vegetables at La Boqueria without being sandwiched among crowds of holidaymakers are just some of the factors that make Barcelonans look forward to the unusually tranquil winter months in their hometown.
Which is why Barcelona makes a perfect winter getaway for those seeking serenity and culture but not hot summer weather. Cheap flights and discounted hotel rooms are one of the main factors that make winter getaways to Barcelona all the more attractive. In the post-Christmas rush and leading up to March you should be able to book a five-star hotel for the price of a three-star one. Off-season flight tickets are just as excitingly cheap.
Although the streets aren’t packed, neither are they deserted. There are a wealth of festivities beloved by locals and celebrated throughout the winter season. Around Christmas time, you will be treated to visions of the Caga Tio around the city and I encourage you to purchase your very own Caganer. The Three Kings’s Day celebration held on Twelfth Day is a magical event heralded by a procession of floats. The Festa dels Tres Tombs around St Anthony’s Day also features a parade where you can even bring your pets along for a blessing. The Santa Eulàlia, celebrating the city’s patron saint is understandably an even grander celebration with concerts and processions held around town.
However perhaps the greatest attraction of a few days away during winter in Barcelona is in the fact in spite of the cheaper air fare and accommodation, almost none of the factors that make Barcelona such a traditional summer hotspot are off the table in the winter. During the winter months temperatures rarely dip below 5 degrees Celsius and are often quite a bit above that, so you can still enjoy paella on the beach and take an enjoyable leisurely stroll in the sun after. In fact, the lack of humidity actually means the air is clearer, the sky – bluer, and the colorful architecture seen all over the city – even more prominent in the crisp winter air.
If you do get chilly, however, Catalan cuisine is just as delicious in the winter months as it is during the peak season. Check out one of El Born’s many fondue restaurants for a Catalan take on a winter classic, or maybe grab dinner at the La Parra where meat is cooked on an open wooden grill that warms the entire room. Also make sure you try the delicious native foods reserved for winter time, particularly the suquet casserole (a fish and potato broth), rosquillos de vino (cookies flavoured with anise and wine) and the roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes sold by street vendors all over Barcelona.
If it does get a tad chilly outside, make sure to enjoy the warmth of the many phenomenal boutiques and high street stores across Barcelona, a city well known for its shopping opportunities.
If you’re the type of traveler that likes to stray off the beaten path, the winter season in Barcelona will allow you to savor the best a city much beloved by tourists has to offer without the crowds. If you’re the type of person who loves being part of crowds – well then, come for one of the many winter parades and you will not be disappointed!