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20 Best Things To Do in Barcelona at Christmas (2024)

decorations in Barcelona at Christmas in Spain
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Christmas in Barcelona is something out of a fairy tale. The city lights up with festive decorations, markets pop up in squares, and there’s a cheerful buzz in the air.

I live in Spain and have experienced the magic of Christmas in Barcelona firsthand – it’s a time when the city’s unique traditions and vibrant atmosphere really shine.

So, what’s so special about spending Christmas in Barcelona? From the dazzling light displays to the cozy Christmas markets, and the unique Catalan traditions, there’s a lot to love about Christmas in this city.

Let’s discover the charm of Barcelona at Christmas and find out why it should be on your holiday destination wishlist.

Planning a trip to Barcelona last minute?


If you’re booking your trip to Barcelona last minute, I’ve got you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

⭐ Most popular sights in Barcelona

  1. Sagrada Familia – tickets often sell out weeks in advance so get your entry ticket here (or entry tickets AND a guided tour here)
  2. Park Güell – grab your skip-the-line entry
  3. Casa Batlló – click here for tickets and audio guide

🌍 Top tours in Barcelona

  1. Montserrat Tour, Monastery and Winery (great day trip!)
  2. Flamenco Show at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes (incredible night out)
  3. Tapas Walking Tour with Food, Wine, and History (all the highlights at once)

🛏️ Top hotels in Barcelona

  1. Ohla Barcelona (5-star luxury with an amazing rooftop pool)
  2. Seventy Barcelona (boutique hotel with beautiful décor)
  3. Àmfores Boutique Guest House (great budget option with superb location)

🚌 Want free public transport while you’re in Barcelona? Check out the Hola Barcelona travel card!

Table of Contents

What to do in Barcelona at Christmas?

What’s great about visiting Barcelona at Christmas is that all the usual sights have to be on your must-do list. But the thing during the holiday season is that a lot of them are taken up another notch thanks to the Christmas spirit!

Whether it’s Gaudi’s masterpieces covered in Christmas lights or that amazing Spanish food topped off with some holiday traditions, make sure you give yourself enough time to see (and book in advance) the main sights you’d want to see throughout the year, while also making sure you have the chance to experience what the holidays are all about here.

1. Visit the Sagrada Familia’s Christmas festivities

So it’s that time of the year again – a time for twinkling lights, joyful carols, and the aroma of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. And where better to soak in the festive spirit than Barcelona, particularly the world-renowned Sagrada Familia! 

No matter what time of the year you come here, a visit to the Sagrada Familia is a must. While the outside is pretty incredible (especially at Christmas, as I’ll get to in a moment), the inside is just as awesome – and I mean that in the true sense of the word.

Book your tickets ahead of time though as they sell out fast at even the quieter times of the year… which Christmas definitely isn’t.

The majestic Sagrada Familia is one of the best places to celibrate Barcelona Christmas.

And when it comes to the extra holiday spirit that takes place around the Sagrada Familia, well, a word of caution: Be prepared for a spectacle that could possibly put your local Christmas experience to shame! As I’ll get to just below…

PRO TIP: The Sagrada Familia is easily the most visited tourist site in Barcelona and tickets frequently sell out weeks ahead of time.

To make sure you don’t miss out, you need to book your tickets for the Sagrada Familia well in advance of your visit. As once they’re gone, they’re gone – and seeing inside is a definite must while you’re here.

Check out the Sagrada Familia Christmas Market

From the last Saturday of November until December 23, the magnificent Sagrada Familia, a masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, hosts what’s arguably Barcelona’s best Christmas market that’s sure to light up your eyes (and Instagram feed!). Set in the lush gardens and against the breathtaking backdrop of the monument itself, this market is a vision of holiday cheer. 

Over 120 stalls, reminiscent of a Barcelona winter wonderland, fill the open air with festive aromas and sights.

And woah, the shopping! Nativity figures, vibrant Christmas trees, handmade gifts, and delicious holiday treats – there’s enough to stuff your suitcase and fill your bellies! 

Do yourself a favor – don’t forget to try the chestnuts, sweet potatoes, Christmas candies, and chocolates. Trust me, your tastebuds will thank you.

Plus keep an eye out for the famous Caganers and Caga Tíos! I’ll explain more below what these are, but safe to say, these peculiar Catalonian Christmas traditions are a hoot and certainly add to the whimsy of the fair. 

This market isn’t just about buying – it’s about experiencing the culture, tradition, and the essence of Christmas in Barcelona.

Stall selling decorations at one of the best markets in Barcelona Christmas.

Participate in Christmas Events at the Sagrada Familia

Festivities at Sagrada Familia don’t stop at shopping. The events roster is packed with captivating activities, promising a sensory overload. 

The highlights? The Christmas workshop, traditional Christmas Concert, and the unforgettable illumination of the Nativity Facade.

Gift your little ones an afternoon at the Christmas workshop. It’s brimming with discovery activities, handicraft workshops, and the joyous task of decorating the Sagrada Familia Christmas tree. Plus, they get to learn about the story of Christmas in a fun, engaging manner.

For the melody-lovers, the traditional Christmas Concert isn’t to be missed. Each year, artists serenade the crowd with songs about Mary that echo through the sacred halls. 

And if you’re like me and love a good light show, the illumination of the Nativity Facade is a sight to behold. Life-like nativity scenes, soothing background music, and a narrative of the birth of Jesus – no matter your religious beliefs, it’s an experience that will make your heart swell with holiday joy!

Attend the Christmas Mass at the Sagrada Familia

In the midst of all the merry chaos, take a moment to experience serenity by attending the international masses at Sagrada Familia, held every Sunday. The beautiful service, hosted by the Archdiocese of Barcelona, is free for visitors, but keep in mind, seating is limited. 

To make sure you grab a seat, arrive early and start your Sunday with a spiritual experience like no other.

Sagrada Familia also hosts “Extraordinary Masses” by invitation only. Check their calendar in advance to plan a visit that coincides with these special events.

2. See the Christmas exhibits at Casa Milà

Casa Milà, or as locals fondly call it, La Pedrera is one of Barcelona’s architectural jewels. 

I mean, it’s a visual delight throughout the year, but during Christmas? It transforms into a canvas that paints a picture of critical reflection on modern consumerism.

Each Christmas, La Pedrera teams up with local design schools to work their magic on the building’s façade, and believe me when I say, it’s nothing short of enchanting! With twinkling lights and creative installations, La Pedrera becomes an illuminated work of art. 

Casa Mila in Barcelona at Christmas

This initiative by the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation not only showcases young talent but also promotes a thought-provoking perspective on the holiday season. So, if you’re someone who enjoys a blend of aesthetics and deep thoughts, this Christmas exhibit is your cup of cocoa!

And don’t rush off once you’ve soaked in the view from the outside. The interior of La Pedrera has its own festive charm. 

Peek into the different traditions of the season through heartwarming Christmas displays. But remember to keep your camera at the ready because this is one of the most photographed buildings in Barcelona, especially during the holidays!

3. Experience the light display at Park Güell

Now, what’s Christmas without some jaw-dropping light displays, right? So, head on over to Park Güell, another gem in Barcelona’s crown. 

Just imagine – Gaudí’s fantastical creation bedazzled with vibrant Christmas lights. Now, if that doesn’t scream “Christmas”, I don’t know what does! 

The already whimsical and colorful park takes on an even more magical aura during the holidays. So, whether you’re a hopeless romantic, a die-hard Christmas fan, or simply love a good light show, Park Güell’s light display is a must-see!

FYI: If you’re looking to visit both the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell and you’re short on time, you can get skip-the-line entry and a tour of both sights in one day right here.

4. Check out Barcelona’s Christmas markets

In the mood for more holiday spirit? I’ve got you covered as Barcelona’s Christmas markets are just the ticket. 

Starting towards the end of November, these bustling hubs of festivity pop up all over the city. Each market, an enchanting wonderland, is teeming with unique gifts, Christmas trees, ornaments, and traditional Pessebre figures, and yes, more cheeky caganers!

Now, let me help you narrow down your must-visit list:

  • Fira de Santa Llúcia: Being one of the oldest Christmas markets in the city, a visit to this place is like stepping into a Christmas postcard. From handcrafted ornaments to delectable local treats, this market has it all.
  • Fira de la Gran: For an authentic Barcelona Christmas experience, you can’t miss this one. Tucked away in the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, this market is an amalgamation of tradition and merriment.
  • Fira Nadal de Port Vell: Want to pair your Christmas shopping with some stunning sea views? Say no more! This market by the old harbor offers a uniquely Catalonian coastal Christmas experience.
  • Fira de Reis: If you’re in town after Christmas, head to the Fira de Reis. Held around Epiphany (early January), this market is the perfect place to keep that holiday spirit alive just a tad bit longer.

5. Visit the light display at Casa Batlló

Next up on our Christmas escapade is the iconic Casa Batlló, another architectural masterpiece by Antoni Gaudí. Now, Casa Batlló is a sight to behold any time of the year, but around Christmas? It’s a whole different level of enchanting!

From late November until January 6th, the Casa Batlló dresses up in Christmas finery, with a unique light show illuminating its façade. But it’s not just any light show – it’s a spectacular fusion of light and music that dances across the building’s façade every 30 minutes, ending with a flourish at 10 PM. 

Each show lasts three mesmerizing minutes – a symphony of lights and music that’s sure to leave you spellbound.

6. Discover the light extravaganza at Sant Pau

Keep your eyes wide and cameras ready, folks, because our next destination is nothing short of extraordinary. The Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, one of Barcelona’s lesser-known gems, hosts a light extravaganza that is truly magical. 

facade of the Hospital Sant Pau during the Els Llums de Sant Pau in Barcelona at Christmas

The historic hospital building turns into a canvas of vivid colors, creating a spectacle that will leave you in awe. It’s a delightful mix of history, architecture, and Christmas lights that’s not to be missed!

Check the schedule on the website to get there at least 10 minutes in advance of the next show, so you can see everything that goes on here – it’s worth it, I promise.

7. Follow the Christmas lights

Barcelona takes its Christmas decorations very seriously, and it shows. Come winter, the city dresses up in a festive outfit, with lights twinkling from every corner. Known as Els Illums de Nadal, these lights set the city ablaze with Christmas cheer.

Turned on at the end of November and shining bright until January 6th, these Christmas decorations sprawl across an astounding 100 kilometers, illuminating 400 various points throughout the city. Now, that’s a Christmas light tour that could give Santa’s workshop a run for its money!

So, where should you go for the best Christmas light displays?

  • Streets of Plaça de Catalunya: As the city’s central square, Plaça de Catalunya dons a festive avatar that is truly mesmerizing. You’ll feel like you’ve walked right into a Christmas storybook!
  • El Corte Inglés: This department store knows how to do Christmas right. It’s not just about shopping here – the Christmas lights are a feast for the eyes.
  • Hotel Majestic: Now, if you’re looking for a bit of luxury with your lights, look no further. The Majestic Hotel gets, well, truly majestic with its Christmas decorations.
  • Carrer d’Aragó streets: This bustling street gets a festive makeover that’s sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

8. Find Barcelona’s nativity scenes

Christmas in Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the city’s rich tradition of “Pessebres”, or Nativity scenes. These meticulously decorated dollhouse-like displays, complete with beloved characters like the Caganer and Tió de Nadal, are an integral part of Catalan homes during the holidays.

For those on the hunt for the most awe-inspiring Pessebres, look no further than these spots:

  • Pessebre in Plaça Sant Jaume: Every year, this bustling square is home to a unique, modern interpretation of the traditional Nativity scene. It’s a Pessebre like no other!
  • Sagrada Família Basilica: Nestled within this iconic basilica, you’ll find a nativity scene that blends divine spirituality with the warmth of Christmas tradition.
  • Cathedral of Barcelona: This imposing Gothic cathedral harbors within its ancient walls a nativity scene that feels like a journey back in time.
  • Plaça de Sant Jaume: Come December, the city hall square transforms into a festive spectacle, complete with a grand, traditional Pessebre.

Whether you’re a traditionalist at heart or simply a fan of all things Christmassy, Barcelona’s Nativity scenes are a sight to behold!

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9. Do a wine tour of the Gothic Quarter

Switch gears and immerse yourself in the festive spirit by exploring Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter through a wine tour (like this one!). Tucked away in the winding, cobbled streets are quaint wine bars and shops, brimming with local and international wines. 

A wine tour here isn’t just about the delectable wines, it’s a cultural immersion – a stroll through history, a mingling with locals, and a rendezvous with Catalan gastronomy.

But the added bonus of doing it at Christmas is, well, all the holiday stuff that goes with it! For example, the Gothic Quarter is impressive at the best of times, but when decked out with lights, it’s taken to another level. 

When combined with a great glass of Spanish red, well, that’s a Christmas to remember.

If you’re looking for a great tour that will show you the highlights of Barcelona’s incredible 2,000+ year history, I definitely recommend this Old Town and Gothic Quarter Walking Tour.

You’ll be taken to the best parts of the oldest, most interesting parts of the city, while hearing stories about this time and the centuries that have followed. In particular, for first-timers, it’s a great way to see all the main spots at once.

10. Visit Montserrat and see the Boys’ Choir and Black Madonna

If you fancy a short trip outside Barcelona, don’t miss out on the magical mountain of Montserrat. It’s not just the stunning views that are worth the trip, it’s also the legendary Boys’ Choir, also known as “Escolania”. 

Their divine voices echoing through the Basilica is a truly uplifting experience. And while you’re there, pay a visit to the Black Madonna, the patron saint of Catalonia. 

This day trip to Montserrat (with a stop at a boutique local winery for wine tasting!) promises an experience that’s spiritually enriching and visually breathtaking. Just make sure you check the schedules beforehand to not miss out on the choir.

 Montserrat in Barcelona at Christmas

11. Jump on the Christmas Tourist Bus

For a great way to see the fights during your Christmas adventure, hop on the seasonal Christmas Tourist Bus! This nighttime bus tour, running every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in December, is a Christmas treat on wheels. 

Over the course of a cozy 1.5 hour ride, you’ll be whisked around Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks, all decked out in festive finery. From the enchanting Sagrada Família to the historic Arc del Triomf and the bustling Passeig de Gràcia, you’ll see Barcelona in a whole new (Christmas) light.

The tour is a steal, but remember, amigos, Barcelona can get a bit chilly in December, so bundle up and get ready to soak in the festive sights! 

12. Attend a Christmas concert at Palau De La Musica Catalana

If you’re a fan of music and architecture, you’re in for a double treat at the Palau De La Musica Catalana. This masterpiece of Catalan Modernism is already a feast for the eyes, but around Christmas time, it adds a dash of magic to the mix with its lineup of festive concerts.

Be it a spine-tingling choir performance, a Christmas-themed symphony, or a lively flamenco show, the Palau becomes a veritable stage for Christmas cheer. 

Just imagine yourself in the stunning concert hall, the music echoing off the ornate walls, as outside, the city sparkles with Christmas lights. Can’t get more Christmassy than that, can it?

Palau De La Musica Catalana in Barcelona at christmas

13. Visit the large Caga Tio at the Cathedral

Now, Christmas in Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a dash of local tradition, and one such beloved tradition is the Caga Tio, or the ‘pooping log’. Yup, you heard it right!

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you’ll find these adorable wooden logs, with their painted faces and red hats, in Catalan homes. 

But for a larger-than-life experience, head over to the Cathedral and meet the giant Caga Tio there! Plus, for any kids you’re traveling with, they’ll be shown the local tradition of hitting the log with a stick so that it, er, “produces” presents.

You’ll see what I mean when you get there – it’s a quirky, fun tradition that adds a unique touch to the festive celebrations in Barcelona.

14. Watch the Father Christmases Parade (mid-December)

No Christmas is complete without a parade, and Barcelona doesn’t disappoint! Come mid-December, the city comes alive with the Father Christmases Parade. 

This colorful cavalcade of Santas winds its way through the streets, spreading cheer and delighting onlookers, young and old.

Whether it’s the sight of Father Christmas on his sleigh, the lively music, or the general merriment, the parade is a surefire way to ignite the Christmas spirit. So, make sure to grab a good viewing spot, and let the magic of Christmas sweep you off your feet!

15. Dive into the Harbor Swim (25th December)

Here’s a tradition that might send chills down your spine, but in a good way, I promise! Every Christmas Day, brave souls from around Barcelona and beyond converge on the Port Vell harbor for the annual Christmas Harbor Swim, or Copa Nadal. 

The event, which has been a tradition since 1907, sees participants dive into the chilly Mediterranean waters for a 200-meter freestyle race. Even if you’re not up for a brisk swim, the event is a spectacle worth witnessing. 

Port Vell harbor in Barcelona at Chridtmas

So, grab a cup of hot chocolate, wrap up warm, and join the crowds cheering on these daring swimmers. It’s a truly invigorating way to spend Christmas morning!

16. Experience the Three Kings Parade (5th January)

Just when you think the festive season is winding down, Barcelona pulls another celebratory rabbit out of its hat with the Three Kings Parade on January 5th. This event marks the arrival of the Three Kings (or Wise Men) into the city, who parade through the streets tossing sweets into the jubilant crowds.

There are a number of parades celebrating this throughout the city, but there’s one major one that’s the place to be. The procession, filled with beautifully decorated floats, music, and dancing, winds its way through the city, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.

It’s an enchanting evening that keeps the holiday spirit alive into the New Year. Just don’t forget to leave your shoes out that night – who knows, you might wake up to find a small gift from the Kings!

17. Go ice skating

Why not channel your inner figure skater and hit one of Barcelona’s pop-up ice rinks? Whether you’re an experienced skater or a novice, there’s something incredibly festive about gliding around on the ice, especially if there’s a light dusting of snow.

Some of the city’s best rinks include the Ice Rink at La Farga in Hospitalet, the largest temporary ice rink in Europe, and the rink at Plaça Catalunya, right in the heart of Barcelona. Make sure to check the opening hours in advance as they might vary during the holiday season.

And just be sure to wrap up warm and maybe treat yourself to a steaming mug of hot chocolate afterwards. After all, it’s Christmas!

 a couple at an ice skating rink

18. Tick off that Christmas shopping list

There’s something truly magical about Christmas shopping in Barcelona. The air is crisp, the streets are adorned with twinkling lights, and the storefronts are beautifully decorated. 

And the best part? There’s something for everyone on your list!

Whether you’re on the hunt for some high fashion in Passeig de Gracia, looking for unique local crafts in the Christmas markets, or browsing for books in the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona’s diverse shopping scene has got you covered. Remember to keep an eye out for Catalan Christmas traditions, like Caga Tió and Caganer figurines, which make for unique and quirky gifts. 

Shopping in Barcelona isn’t just about checking off your list, it’s about experiencing the joy and excitement of the season!

19. Book in for a Christmas lunch

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a feast? Barcelona’s culinary scene truly comes alive during the festive season, with a myriad of restaurants offering special Christmas menus. 

From traditional Catalan dishes to innovative gastronomic experiences, there’s no shortage of options for a hearty Christmas lunch.

One popular choice is Escudella i Carn d’Olla, a hearty meat and vegetable stew that’s a Catalan Christmas classic. Or if you’re a seafood lover, why not indulge in a Suquet de Peix, a delicious fish and potato stew? And let’s not forget the sweet treats, like Turron and Neules. 

Be sure to book your Christmas lunch in advance though, as tables tend to fill up quickly!

20. Get some grapes for New Year

Now, you might be wondering, “What’s with the grapes?” Well, as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve in Barcelona, it’s a Spanish tradition to eat 12 grapes, one for each stroke of the clock, to bring good luck for the coming year. 

Supermarkets and fruit shops across the city stock up on grapes in preparation for this fun tradition, so be sure to grab a bunch!

Join in the fun at Plaça Catalunya or celebrate from the comfort of your home. Just remember, it’s trickier than it seems to eat all 12 grapes in time with the chimes! Laughing and a lot of grape-induced cheek puffing is guaranteed.

 
grapes and clock for New year's eve countdown

Is Barcelona good at Christmas?

Absolutely! Barcelona is fantastic at Christmas time. With its blend of vibrant holiday traditions, delicious food, and stunning decorations, the city is a wonderland of Christmas cheer. From festive markets to captivating light displays, nativity scenes to special concerts, Barcelona knows how to celebrate the Christmas season in style.

Its streets and squares are adorned with twinkling lights, the shops are decked out in their holiday best, and you can feel the Christmas spirit in the air. The city also offers a plethora of unique holiday traditions that make Christmas in Barcelona an unforgettable experience. 

So, if you’re looking for a place that truly embodies the magic of the season, Barcelona is the perfect Christmas destination.

Are things open in Barcelona over Christmas?

Yes, many things are open in Barcelona over Christmas. Although some places may close on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, you’ll still find plenty of things to see and do during this time. Christmas Eve is, however, typically a half-day for many businesses in Barcelona, so plan accordingly. 

Major attractions such as Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló, usually maintain their regular opening hours throughout the holiday period (except for specific dates such as Christmas Day), but it’s always wise to check their schedules in advance. 

A woman at a Christmas market that is popular at Christmas in Barcelona.
Source: Jorge Franganillo (CC BY 2.0)

Restaurants, bars, and cafes also remain open, often offering special holiday menus. For shopaholics, many shops stay open during the Christmas period, providing plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. 

Just remember to check opening hours as they may vary during the holiday season.

Why spend Christmas in Barcelona?

Spending Christmas in Barcelona is an opportunity to experience the festive season in a truly unique and enchanting way. The city comes alive with lights, markets, concerts, and traditional festivities that offer a different take on the holiday season.

Barcelona is not just about the sun and the beach; it’s a city rich with history, culture, and vibrant traditions, and this is never more evident than during the Christmas season. 

Three Kings Parade a tradition in Barcelona at Christmas

Here, you’ll find holiday markets brimming with handmade crafts and traditional Catalan Christmas figures, breathtaking light displays, and culinary delights that will make your mouth water. From the quirky Caga Tió and Caganer traditions to the beautiful nativity scenes and the festive Three Kings Parade, Barcelona offers a Christmas experience that’s steeped in tradition yet refreshingly different. 

So, if you’re yearning for a Christmas experience that’s a bit out of the ordinary but still filled with plenty of holiday cheer, Barcelona is the place to be.

What is the weather like in Barcelona at Christmas?

During Christmas, Barcelona tends to be quite mild, with average temperatures ranging from 8°C (46°F) to 15°C (59°F). While it’s not exactly beach weather, it’s still comfortable for exploring the city and enjoying all the outdoor Christmas activities.

December in Barcelona can be slightly unpredictable, with a mix of clear, sunny days and periods of rain. Snow is rare but not unheard of. It’s a good idea to pack a mix of warm clothing, including a jacket or coat, along with lighter layers for those warmer days. 

Comfortable shoes are a must for exploring the city’s streets and markets. Even if it’s a bit chilly, the city’s vibrant holiday spirit and festive decorations will be sure to warm you up. Don’t forget your umbrella, just in case!

What are some typical Christmas traditions in Barcelona?

Barcelona is teeming with unique and endearing Christmas traditions! Among the most beloved are the “Caga Tió”, a Christmas log that gives gifts to children, and “Caganer”, a cheeky nativity figure. Let’s not forget “Turrón”, a type of nougat that’s a must-have holiday treat.

Caga Tió, or the Christmas log, is a charming Catalan tradition that kids especially love. The log, often adorned with a grinning face and a cute red hat, is “fed” by children from December 8th. 

On Christmas Eve, children hit the log with sticks while singing traditional songs, prompting it to “excrete” small gifts. It’s a quirky but fun tradition that adds a unique twist to the holiday festivities.

Caganer is a peculiar but much-loved character in Catalan nativity scenes. This small figure is often hidden in a corner of the scene, depicted as a peasant wearing traditional Catalan attire – and, yes, he is shown mid-defecation! 

Although it might seem…odd, to say the least, locals love him.

Finally, no Catalan Christmas would be complete without turrón. This delicious nougat confectionery comes in various types, from soft and hard to those filled with almonds or fruit. It’s an essential part of the holiday season and makes a lovely souvenir, too.

What do they eat for Christmas in Barcelona?

In Barcelona, a traditional Christmas feast usually includes “Escudella i Carn d’Olla”, a rich two-part dish, followed by sweet treats like “Turrón” and “Neules”. On the day after Christmas, it’s customary to have cannelloni made from leftovers.

Escudella i Carn d’Olla is the star of the Christmas table in Barcelona. The meal begins with a nourishing broth filled with giant pasta shells called ‘sopa de galets’. This is followed by a hearty plate of meats and vegetables that were cooked in the broth, known as ‘carn d’olla’.

And then come the desserts! A Barcelona Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the bubbly delight of cava, Catalonia’s famous sparkling wine. There’s also turrón, a type of nougat that is a favorite Christmas treat, and neules, delicate, tubular wafers that often accompany a glass of cava.

Turron a favorite treat in Barcelona at Christmas

St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, is traditionally marked by a meal of cannelloni, often made with leftovers from the Christmas feast. The concept of not wasting food and enjoying the flavors of the holiday for a little bit longer is what makes this dish special.

In the days leading up to Christmas, many local restaurants serve these traditional dishes. So, make sure you grab the chance to try them. They truly offer a taste of Catalan Christmas tradition. 

And here’s a tip: If you want to take some special Christmas treats back home, turrón and neules make great souvenirs.

FAQs

What do you wear to Barcelona at Christmas?

While Barcelona isn’t exactly a winter wonderland at Christmas, it’s not beach weather either. The key to dressing right is layers. Think warm clothing like coats and scarves for the cooler mornings and evenings, with lighter wear for the pleasantly mild afternoons.

Temperatures in Barcelona during December generally range between 8°C (46°F) and 15°C (59°F), but can sometimes drop a little lower, especially at night. For this reason, it’s wise to pack a warm coat or jacket, along with scarves, hats, and gloves. 

During the day, particularly in the sunshine, you may feel comfortable in just a sweater or a lighter jacket. Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes for all the walking you’ll be doing around the city, particularly if you plan on shopping at the Christmas markets or touring the many architectural wonders. 

If you’re planning to visit fancy restaurants or hit the nightlife, make sure to pack a few dressier items too. And lastly, as it can occasionally rain in December, a small umbrella or waterproof jacket wouldn’t go amiss in your suitcase.

Is Barcelona busy over Christmas?

Yes, Barcelona can get quite busy over Christmas, but not overwhelmingly so. The city is lively with holiday festivities and the streets are filled with locals and tourists alike enjoying the seasonal charm. That said, Barcelona’s Christmas rush is generally less intense than the summer tourist peak.

For that reason, it’s an ideal time for a more relaxed exploration of the city.

Christmas in Barcelona is a beautiful mix of vibrant energy and serene moments. Sure, you’ll find the main tourist areas bustling, particularly around the Christmas markets and iconic sights like the Sagrada Familia or Casa Batlló. 

But you’ll also discover quieter, magical moments, like strolling through lit-up streets after dark, or sitting in a cozy café sipping a hot “Cacaolat” (the local version of hot chocolate).

Do keep in mind that some popular attractions might require advance booking to avoid long lines. And if you’re planning a Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner at a particular restaurant, it’s a good idea to make a reservation.

Does Barcelona do Christmas markets?

Absolutely, Barcelona does Christmas markets and does them wonderfully! The city is well-known for its festive markets which are teeming with Christmas cheer. You’ll find a variety of them scattered throughout the city, selling everything from holiday decorations to artisanal gifts and delicious treats.

One of the joys of spending Christmas in Barcelona is the chance to wander through the city’s charming Christmas markets. From the traditional Fira de Santa Llúcia, dating back to the late 18th century, to the bustling Fira de la Gran Via, Barcelona’s markets are a delight for all your senses.

Decoration pine cone Christmas Market

Whether you’re looking to buy a unique handmade gift, indulge in festive foods, or simply soak up the Christmas spirit, Barcelona’s Christmas markets have you covered.

You’ll find a colorful array of stalls selling Christmas trees, ornaments, nativity figures, and of course, the infamous caganer!

What is the Christmas market of Barcelona called?

Barcelona hosts several Christmas markets, but the most traditional and famous is the Fira de Santa Llúcia. This market has been a part of Barcelona’s Christmas tradition since 1786 and is named after the Feast of Santa Lucia, which falls in December.

The Fira de Santa Llúcia is located in the square in front of Barcelona Cathedral and is typically open from the end of November to December 23. With over 300 stalls, this market offers a vast array of items, including Christmas decorations, crafts, and gastronomic treats.

Remember to look out for the sections dedicated to “simbombas” (musical instruments), “figuristas” (nativity and Christmas figures), and “verdura y plantas” (greenery and plants). 

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try to spot a Caganer, a cheeky character that’s a uniquely Catalan addition to the nativity scenes.

Enjoying the Fira de Santa Llúcia is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local Christmas culture. So, grab a warm drink, take a leisurely stroll, and let the market’s festive ambiance fill you with holiday spirit!

What is an interesting fact about Christmas in Barcelona?

One intriguing fact about Christmas in Barcelona is the unique tradition of Caga Tió, also known as the “pooping log”. This charming and humorous Catalan custom involves a painted log that “poops” out presents for children during the Christmas season. 

It’s one of the distinct ways in which Christmas is celebrated in Barcelona, demonstrating the region’s blend of irreverent humor and deep-rooted traditions.

The Caga Tió is a wooden log, often painted to resemble a face, covered with a blanket and placed in the living room. Starting from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, children feed the log small treats each night.

Then, on Christmas Eve, they hit it with sticks while singing traditional songs, encouraging it to defecate gifts. It’s a quirky tradition that adds a touch of fun to the Catalan Christmas festivities.

Caga tio logs stacked up at a Barcelona Christmas market
A herd of caga tiós. Source: Joan GGK (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Are shops closed on Christmas in Barcelona?

Yes, the majority of shops are closed in Barcelona on Christmas Day, December 25, and also on the official holiday of St. Stephen’s Day, December 26. However, some small convenience stores and restaurants may remain open, and of course, essential services like pharmacies and hospitals continue to operate.

Barcelona, like much of Spain, treats Christmas Day as a time for family, so many businesses close so that employees can spend time with loved ones. That said, public transportation usually runs on a reduced schedule, and some attractions, like the Sagrada Familia, may still be open for visitors.

If you’re in Barcelona over these days, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Do your shopping beforehand, book any required tickets in advance, and check the opening times of any places you plan to visit.

Colorful Christmas balcony decoration in Barcelona at Christmas

Which restaurants are open at Christmas in Barcelona?

While many restaurants in Barcelona close on Christmas Day and on December 26th (St. Stephen’s Day), there are still some that remain open, especially those in hotels. Some establishments offer special Christmas menus and it’s a wonderful opportunity to try traditional Catalan holiday dishes. 

It’s best to check with the restaurant in advance and make a reservation as places can fill up quickly. In particular, lunch is the more important meal of the day in Spain, including at Christmas, so plan accordingly

Remember, the Spanish tend to eat dinner later than many other countries. It’s not unusual for Christmas lunch to start at 2pm or even later, with dinner to then be at 9 pm at the very earliest, so keep that in mind when planning your day.

Is Barcelona open between Christmas and New Year?

Yes, Barcelona is open and lively between Christmas and New Year. Most shops, restaurants, and attractions operate with normal or slightly adjusted hours, barring Christmas Day and New Year’s Day when some establishments may be closed. 

The period between these holidays is a great time to experience Barcelona’s festive atmosphere, catch up on shopping, or sample traditional Catalan holiday dishes.

It’s always worth checking specific opening times in advance, especially for smaller, independent businesses. Many locals take this time to relax and enjoy the holidays with family, but the city’s tourism infrastructure ensures there’s always plenty to do and see for visitors. 

Don’t miss out on exploring the beautiful Christmas markets or taking a stroll to admire the stunning festive lights throughout the city.

 a couple exploring the beautiful city of Barcelona at Christmas

What tourist sights and attractions will be open in Barcelona during Christmas?

Most of Barcelona’s major tourist sights and attractions are open during Christmas, with the exception of Christmas Day and, for some, New Year’s Day, when certain venues might be closed. Key attractions such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló typically remain open throughout the holiday period, albeit often with reduced hours. 

It’s always best to check ahead and book any tickets in advance. But even on days when certain attractions may be closed, there’s always something to do in Barcelona. 

The city is known for its vibrant street life and architecture, so a walk around the Gothic Quarter or a stroll along the beach in Barceloneta can be just as rewarding. 

And don’t forget about the city’s numerous Christmas markets, light displays, and nativity scenes, all adding a festive touch to your visit.

Do trains run on Christmas Day in Barcelona?

Yes, trains, including the Barcelona metro, do run on Christmas Day, though with adjusted schedules. On Christmas Eve, December 24, the metro closes at 11:00 pm. On Christmas Day, December 25, the metro closes at 2:00 am. Then, on St. Stephen’s Day, December 26, the metro closes at midnight. 

These schedules allow residents and visitors alike to travel throughout the city during the festive period.

Bear in mind that there are also special schedules on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with continuous metro service from December 31 to January 1. There’s also continuous service on the night before Three Kings, January 5. 

On Three Kings Day, January 6, the metro closes at midnight. 

So, whether you’re joining the city-wide celebrations or heading out to a special Christmas dinner, Barcelona’s public transport network will help you get there.

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