Visiting Barcelona in December 2023


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Visiting Barcelona in December is a good idea. You can still get by with packing pretty lightly because the cold hasn’t really set in yet. The best part is that it’s the shoulder season, and the crowds are not as thick. Read on to find out what to do and what to expect so you can prepare for your Barcelona vacation!

Why you should visit Barcelona in December

Reasons to visit Barcelona in December:

  1. Festive Atmosphere: Barcelona is known for its lively and colorful festivals, and the holiday season brings even more opportunities for celebration. The city is decorated with lights, Christmas markets and various events happening throughout the month of December.
  2. Mild Weather: Compared to many other parts of Europe, Barcelona has relatively mild temperatures in December, with an average high of around 14°C (57°F) and low of 6°C (43°F).
  3. Fewer Crowds: December is generally considered the low season for tourism in Barcelona, which means fewer crowds and lower prices for accommodation and activities.
  4. Cultural Attractions: Barcelona is home to a wealth of cultural attractions, such as the iconic Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, the Picasso Museum, and many others. Visiting these places in December can be a more peaceful experience as there are fewer tourists.

Reasons for choosing another time

  1. Shorter Days: With the winter solstice falling in December, the days are shorter and darker, which may not be ideal for some visitors who prefer more daylight hours to explore the city.
  2. Rain: Although Barcelona generally has mild weather, December can be a relatively rainy month with an average of 9 rainy days.
  3. Reduced Business Hours: During the holiday season, many businesses and attractions may have reduced hours or even close for the holidays. Make sure to check ahead and plan your itinerary accordingly.
  4. Limited Beach Activities: While Barcelona’s beaches are a popular attraction during the summer months, in December, the weather is not typically warm enough for swimming or sunbathing, so beach activities will be limited.

Typical weather in Barcelona in December

The weather in Barcelona in December is generally mild but cool, with temperatures ranging from around 6°C (43°F) to 14°C (57°F). The days are typically shorter, with an average of around 9 hours of daylight. December is one of the cooler and wetter months in Barcelona, with an average of around 9 rainy days during the month.

While December is not the warmest or sunniest time to visit Barcelona, it can still be a pleasant time to explore the city’s indoor attractions, such as museums and galleries, or to enjoy the festive atmosphere and Christmas markets. It’s important to pack warm layers and waterproof clothing to be prepared for the cooler temperatures and potential rain.

Tips for dressing appropriately in Barcelona in December

  1. Layering is key: Temperatures in Barcelona in December can fluctuate throughout the day, so it’s important to wear layers that can be easily added or removed as needed. Start with a base layer, such as a thermal shirt or long-sleeved t-shirt, and add a sweater or fleece, a jacket, and a waterproof outer layer if it’s raining.
  2. Wear comfortable footwear: Barcelona is a city best explored on foot, so it’s important to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes that can handle a lot of walking. Closed-toe shoes are also a good choice to keep your feet warm and dry.
  3. Bring a scarf and hat: A scarf and hat can help keep you warm and protect your ears and neck from the cold wind. Choose materials like wool or fleece for maximum warmth.
  4. Bring an umbrella or rain jacket: December is one of the rainiest months in Barcelona, so it’s important to be prepared for wet weather. Bring an umbrella or a waterproof rain jacket to stay dry and comfortable.
  5. Don’t forget sunglasses: Even though the temperatures are cooler in December, the sun can still be bright and intense. Bring a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s glare.

What to pack in Barcelona in


  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Light jacket or sweater
  • Scarf and hat
  • Umbrella or raincoat
  • T-shirts or short sleeve shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Pants or jeans
  • Skirts or dresses (for warmer days)
  • Cardigans or light jackets
  • Comfortable socks
  • Underwear and bras
  • Camera or smartphone for photos
  • Power bank or charger for your devices
  • Adaptor plug (if needed for your electronics)
  • Travel-sized toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
  • Medications or prescriptions
  • Travel documents (passport, visa, boarding passes, etc.)

Remember to pack light, as it’s easier to navigate Barcelona’s narrow streets and public transportation with a smaller, lighter suitcase or backpack.

What to do in Barcelona in December 2023

December 8, 2023. Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Most shops and restaurants are closed.

Ice Skating: In December, there are several outdoor ice skating rinks set up around the city, including in Plaça Catalunya and the Barcelona Ice Rink.

Christmas lights: Barcelona is known for its impressive Christmas light displays, particularly on Passeig de Gracia and Rambla de Catalunya. The lights create a magical atmosphere in the city and are a must-see during your visit.

Fira de Santa Llucia (Santa Lucia Christmas Fair). TBD. last days of November – end of December-ish 2021. The most popular and largest Christmas fair in Barcelona, you’ll find rows and rows of stalls in front of the Barcelona Cathedral. Expect to see Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, caganers, wooden toys, and a huge tió de nadal that the children can beat with a stick. ( <- What?? Yup, find out about that here.)

Christmas activities in Barcelona: End of November-ish, January 6, 2024. Holiday activities are ongoing throughout Barcelona. Most activities are in Plaça Catalunya and Plaça Sant Jaume. Check out Christmas activities in Barcelona – as I update it every year!

Fira de la Sagrada Familia (Sagrada Familia Christmas Fair)Last weekend of November – December 23rd. This is a fun Christmas market to go right in front of the Sagrada Familia. You’ll see Christmas trees, artisan gifts, Christmas decorations, food vendors, Nativity scenes, and more. A great place to visit right after seeing the grand church!

Fira de Reis de la Gran Via (Three Kings Christmas Fair). End of November-ish to January 5, 2023. Description is above. This Christmas fair IS open on December 26 when everything is closed. Hurrah!

Festival de la Infancia (Children’s Fair). TBD.  This is an indoor event for kids to learn, discover, and play! It’s held at the Fira Gran Via, where kids can learn about the Barcelona tram, pretend they work at the Barcelona port, or be a footballer. It’s meant to inspire children about future careers. I went in 2019, and queues were quite long for some stands like the one for FC Barcelona, so I suggest going early to knock those out of the way. Then enjoy the rest of the stands!

December 25, 2023. Christmas Day. Most shops and restaurants are closed.

December 26, 2023. Boxing Day / St Stephen’s Day. Most shops and restaurants are closed.

New Year’s EveDecember 31, 2023. Barcelona’s main New Year’s Eve event takes place in Placa Espanya with many people celebrating along the beach to watch the fireworks and celebrate with friends and family.

Sant Esteve Market: Held on December 26th, this market is a great place to sample local food and drink, including traditional Catalan dishes like canelons and escudella i carn d’olla.

What to eat in Barcelona in December

  1. Escudella i carn d’olla: This is a hearty Catalan stew that is traditionally served during the Christmas season. It is made with various meats, vegetables, and beans, and is typically served with a side of noodles.
  2. Xocolata amb xurros: This is a popular Spanish breakfast or dessert that consists of hot chocolate and churros. It is a perfect warm and sweet treat to enjoy on a chilly day.
  3. Bunyols: These are small, fried doughnuts that are a popular dessert during the Christmas season in Barcelona. They are typically dusted with sugar or served with a sweet dipping sauce.
  4. Canelons: This is a traditional Catalan dish that is often served on Boxing Day (December 26th). It consists of cannelloni stuffed with leftover meat from Christmas dinner, such as turkey or ham, and baked with a creamy béchamel sauce.
  5. Fricandó: This is a beef stew that is typically served with mushrooms and a rich sauce made with almonds, onions, and red wine. It is a comforting and hearty dish that is perfect for the cooler temperatures in December.

Extra travel tips for going to Barcelona in December

  1. Plan ahead: December is a popular time to visit Barcelona, so it’s important to plan your trip well in advance. Book your accommodation, tours, and activities ahead of time to ensure availability and to avoid disappointment.
  2. Check the weather: While December is generally mild in Barcelona, it can also be rainy and windy. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you go and pack accordingly.
  3. Take advantage of Christmas markets: Barcelona is known for its Christmas markets, which are a great way to soak up the festive atmosphere and pick up unique gifts and souvenirs.
  4. Visit attractions early or late in the day: To avoid the crowds, consider visiting popular attractions early in the morning or later in the evening when they are less busy.
  5. Use public transport: Barcelona has an extensive public transport system, including buses, metro, and trains, which is affordable and efficient. Avoid driving or renting a car, as traffic can be heavy and parking can be expensive.
  6. Try local cuisine: Barcelona has a rich culinary tradition, so make sure to try some of the local cuisine, including traditional dishes like escudella i carn d’olla and bunyols.
  7. Take advantage of cultural events: Barcelona is home to a range of cultural events in December, including Christmas concerts, exhibitions, and festivals. Check local event listings and take advantage of the opportunities to experience Barcelona’s vibrant culture.

By following these tips, you can have an enjoyable and memorable trip to Barcelona in December.

By Justine Ancheta

California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).

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