I visited Barcelona three times (in August, January, and December). Last year, we visited it between 1st-5th of December and it was a nice experience. Below you can find my pros and cons of traveling there during winter. The cons are not meant to be a “do not go there” but all I want is to make you aware of some less pleasant things that you may face (and to be prepared for them).
1. No queues at the touristic places. Before going to Barcelona, I read a lot of blog posts in which everyone recommended to buy in advance every ticket as the queues are really large. I really hate to book in advance as I do not know when I will get there (what if I miss the entrance hour? what if I get too early and I get bored until it’s time to enter?). I risked and approached Sagrada without having a ticket and I was surprised that there was no queue for entering! In the end, I bought the ticket online, just in front of Sagrada as it was cheaper with 4 euros than the tickets bought from the ticket office. Same for Batllo house. I bought the tickets in front of the house and then just entered and presented them to the staff. No queue, no stress. As you can imagine, skip the line tickets are not needed at all during the winter season.
2. Nice weather. Clear sky, sunny days, lovely temperatures (in December it is around 18 C). Not really the weather for wearing only a T-shirt but with a jacket it is all solved (during the day). The last day in Barcelona was unexpectedly warm so all I wore was:
Also, in January 2013, when I visited Barcelona for one day, the weather was also sunny and warm, at that time I was wearing a shirt and a jacket and it was enough.
3. Lower prices. Even if the prices at the touristic places stay the same, the accommodation prices are lower than in the touristic seasons. For e.g. we paid 100 euros (571 RON) for 4 nights. For the same hostel, same duration (4 nights), in May, two persons will pay 250 euros (1.184 RON) and in August, same conditions, 340 euros (1.593 RON)! So winter is a budget-friendly season when it comes to accommodation (and you really need to make some savings as the prices are pretty high in Barcelona).
4. Less crowded. Well, Barcelona is always crowded but nothing to compare with the high season. We felt it especially at the touristic places, where there was no queue for entering. We encountered crowds in the Gothic Quarter, where the Christmas market and other Christmassy activities were held.
Cons (less pleasant things)
1. Maintenance period. During the low season, it is habitual to encounter places under maintenance as the number of tourists is fewer than in the summer for ex. When we were there, the following were under maintenance:
- Casa Batllo
- Casa Mila
- Park Guell
- Montjuic funicular
- Service cut (on the way to Monserrat, we had to change a train and a bus in order to take the R5 to Montserrat)
- The exteriors of Montserrat monastery
We could visit the places, however, it is pretty annoying to hear a lot of noise during a visit or to change 3 public transportation vehicles when all you wanted was to take a direct train to the destination. However, these things challenge you and sometimes, make a trip memorable.
2. It gets dark early. Being 17:30 and already dark can be pretty annoying when you have so much to visit! Basically, you have only a few hours to visit everything and take some good shots.
3. Windy weather – When we landed in Barcelona and saw that there was a clear sky and sun I was so happy and couldn’t wait to get outside and enjoy it. But….I encountered an issue: the wind! From the enthusiasm of “hey! what a nice weather!” I immediately put the hat and the scarf and closed the jacket. For me, the hat and the scarf were mandatory especially during the evenings but I saw a lot of people not wearing them so I think that depends on the person. Also, visiting Bunkers of Carmel was a cherry on the cake: it was so windy that we couldn’t stand there too much. We took some photos and then returned home, a bit frozen.
These would be the top things you should consider when visiting Barcelona in winter. Do you have any other recommendations?
Travel. Enjoy. Repeat.