Barcelona in December (2024): Ultimate Guide To What To Do

New Year's Eve fireworks over the Magic Fountain as an example of what to do in Barcelona in November with weather that's cooler
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December in Barcelona has a charm all its own, blending the city’s vibrant culture with a festive holiday spirit. The streets light up with twinkling lights, and there’s a sense of anticipation for the coming celebrations.

I live in Spain and have experienced several Decembers in Barcelona, each time finding new ways the city comes alive during this special month.

So, what’s it like to visit Barcelona in December? From cozy Christmas markets to lively New Year’s Eve parties, and even the more peaceful moments that the winter brings, spending this month here offers a mix of excitement and tranquility.

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!

Is December a Good Time to Visit Barcelona?

Yes, December is a good time to visit Barcelona. While the weather may be cooler than in the summer months, one of the biggest advantages of visiting Barcelona in December is the lack of crowds. This lets you enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere, with shorter lines and fewer tourists.

The summer months here can be incredibly busy, with long lines at popular attractions and crowded beaches so unless you really crave the heat, avoiding that craziness can make for a much better trip.

And while, of course, the weather may be cooler in December, when you look at Barcelona’s weather for each month, you’ll see that it’s still mild compared to many other parts of Europe. Bring layers and a jacket to stay comfortable, and you’ll be able to enjoy all that Barcelona has to offer during the holiday season.

It also means that you’ll have no issue weather-wise doing the outdoor activities that visitors love to do in Barcelona all year round. Sure, it will definitely be fresher outside than earlier in the year, but it’s more than fine to walk around the city or even stop at a terrace for some tapas or a drink.

New Year's Eve fireworks over the Magic Fountain as an example of what to do in Barcelona in November with weather that's cooler

Plus, the city is decorated with festive lights and decorations, making it a magical time to visit! In fact, the Christmas lights are turned on during November in Barcelona, so whenever you come in December, the city will be fully lit up ready for your trip!

Another advantage of visiting Barcelona in December is the many holiday events and activities. The city is known for its Christmas markets, where you can find unique gifts and delicious food. There are also many concerts, shows, and other cultural events happening throughout the month. 

And of course, you can’t miss the famous New Year’s Eve celebration in Plaça d’Espanya, where you can watch the fireworks and enjoy live music.

Christmas lights in Barcelona in December
Source: F Delventhal (CC BY 2.0)

Best Things to Do in Barcelona in December

Barcelona, the vibrant and bustling capital of Catalonia, is a dream destination for many throughout the year. 

But, there’s something truly magical about visiting Barcelona in December. The city comes alive with festive lights, charming markets, and plenty of unforgettable experiences to enjoy during the holiday season. 

Let’s dive into the best things to do in Barcelona in December!

1. Christmas Markets

No visit to Barcelona in December would be complete without exploring the city’s enchanting Christmas markets. 

The most famous ones are unquestionably the markets located at the Barcelona Cathedral (Fira de Santa Llúcia) and the Sagrada Familia (Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família). These markets are brimming with unique gifts, delicious food, and festive decorations. 

Christmas market in Barcelona in December
Source: Ajuntament Barcelona (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Make sure to keep an eye out for the quirky Catalan traditions of caganers and caga tios. Caganers are small figurines, often hidden in nativity scenes, depicting people in the act of defecating, while caga tios are wooden logs with painted faces, which “poop” out small treats when beaten with sticks. 

Yep, they’re pretty weird, there’s no two ways about it. But they’re also completely normal in Catalonia and are sure to make your Christmas market experience all the more memorable!

2. Sagrada Familia

No trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia. Designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí, this architectural masterpiece is truly breathtaking, especially when lit up during December evenings. 

Take a guided tour to learn about the history and symbolism behind this iconic landmark, and make sure to climb one of the towers for a stunning panoramic view of the city.

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.

3. Els Llums de Sant Pau (The Lights of Sant Pau)

If you plan to be in Barcelona during December, you can’t miss Els llums de Sant Pau (The Lights of Sant Pau). It’s an incredible display of lights, projection and innovative art work displayed at the biggest and one of the most spectacular examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the world: the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista.

The front façade of the main building has an amazing light show projected on to the front of it, that plays a couple of times each evening during the holiday season – so it’s free to see!

And visiting Els Llums de Sant Pau in November is perfect because the light show is still relatively new for the season, which means fewer crowds and a more up close experience.

Els Llums de Sant Pau light show in Barcelona in December

But the inside takes things to another level, as Sant Pau is transformed into a sparkling fairy tale setting, offering a truly unique experience. With about 1.5 km (almost one mile) of lights, projections and glowing art work, I mean it when I say you’ll truly be amazed by the spectacle.

You can find out more here, including information on getting tickets to this. Alternatively, if you’re coming earlier in the month – and especially if you’re interested in Art Nouveau – then the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista is definitely still worth a visit and you can grab your tickets to the Hospital of Sant Pau here.

4. New Year’s Eve

Ring in the New Year in style in Barcelona! The city’s celebrations are known for their festive atmosphere, with fireworks, live music, and revelers filling the streets. 

Don’t miss the spectacular light show at the Magic Fountain and the big club night out at Poble Espanyol. Barcelona’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are an experience you won’t want to miss!

5. Visiting the Pyrenees (Three Countries in One Day)

Visiting the Pyrenees in December is an excellent idea as the region transforms into a stunning winter wonderland. With its snow-covered landscapes, charming villages, and festive vibes, it’s the perfect time to explore this part of the world.

For a whirlwind adventure, consider this One-Day Tour to Spain, France, and Andorra where you’ll be taken to all three countries in one day. Highlights include medieval Bagà in Spain, a French village for lunch, followed by stunning mountain vistas in Cadi-Moixero National Park and relaxation in Ax-Les-Thermes’ healing waters.

(The option of tax-free shopping in Andorra isn’t bad either!)

Snowy mountains in Andorra near Barcelona in December

Alternatively, this Guided Day Trip to Andorra and France offers a great blend of nature, culture, and history all in one. You’ll relish traditional French cuisine and hot springs in Ax-les-Thermes, marvel at breathtaking views from Pas de la Casa, and explore Andorran landmarks like Casa de la Vall and Sant Esteve Church.

It’s a perfect choice for those who appreciate a mix of guided activities and free exploration, for a day full of diverse experiences.

6. Park Güell

Another Gaudí masterpiece, Park Güell is a beautiful and whimsical park that offers a perfect escape from the bustling city. Wander through the colorful mosaic terraces, lush gardens, and winding pathways while admiring the incredible views of Barcelona.

This park is a fantastic spot for a leisurely stroll or a romantic picnic, making it an essential stop during your December visit.

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.

7. Fira de Reis (Kings’ Fair)

The Fira de Reis, or Kings’ Fair, is another must-visit market in Barcelona. These tend to open in mid-December in preparation for celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings in January in Barcelona and offer a great opportunity to pick up last-minute gifts or indulge in delicious Spanish treats. 

The vibrant atmosphere, lively entertainment, and cheerful spirit make this fair a memorable event during your December visit.

Fira de Reis in Barcelona in December
Source: Nadine (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

8. Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gòtic, is the heart of Barcelona’s old city. With its narrow cobblestone streets, medieval architecture, and charming squares, this historic neighborhood is the perfect place to wander and soak up the atmosphere. 

The area is adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations in December, adding an extra touch of magic to your explorations. Stop by one of the many cozy cafés for a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of cava to warm up during your walk.

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.

Happy woman walking down street in Spain

What’s your perfect destination for your dream trip to Spain?

Want to discover a city or live your island dreams?

Embrace the food scene or step through the pages of history?

Whatever your travel style, discover the perfect Spanish city to add to your trip here!


9. Festa Major de Sant Andreu de Palomar

December in Barcelona shines with the Festa Major de Sant Andreu de Palomar, where tradition and community spirit light up one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. This festival brings together the best of Catalan culture, while the streets come to life with music, from folk to contemporary, alongside artisans and vendors offering local crafts and flavors.

Workshops and cultural displays dive into the local heritage, making it a great spot for anyone keen to experience authentic Catalan festivities. It’s a vibrant celebration of community pride, welcoming everyone to join in the festivities and experience the warm spirit of Barcelona in December.

10. World Press Photo Exhibition

Early December also features the World Press Photo Exhibition at the CCCB, displaying impactful press photographs from around the globe. This exhibition provides a profound look into current events, human stories, and natural wonders through powerful imagery.

It’s an opportunity to engage with the stories that shape our world, presented through the work of leading photojournalists. A thought-provoking visit for anyone interested in the power of visual storytelling.

11. Ice Skating

December in Barcelona offers a unique winter treat – ice skating at Plaça de Catalunya. This bustling square transforms into a magical winter wonderland, complete with a large ice rink that welcomes skaters of all ages and skill levels.

Surrounded by the city’s festive decorations and lights, the ice rink becomes a focal point of holiday cheer in Barcelona. Whether you’re gliding across the ice with ease or taking your first tentative steps, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the holiday season, offering a fun break from shopping and sightseeing.

(And after your skating session, you can warm up with hot chocolate or explore the nearby Christmas markets!)

12. Barcelona Food Tour

Barcelona is a food lover’s paradise, and there’s no better way to explore the city’s culinary scene than by joining a food tour

These guided tours take you to the best tapas bars, markets, and specialty shops, where you can sample traditional Spanish and Catalan dishes. In December, you’ll also have the chance to taste festive treats and seasonal delicacies that are sure to take your trip to the next level.

MY PICK: My favorite food tour in Barcelona is this Tapas Walking Tour with Food, Wine and History1,000+ reviews with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 can’t be wrong!

But if you want something to take your Barcelona food experience to the next level, check out this Paella Cooking Experience and Boqueria Market Tour. It’s a great way to learn (under the guidance of a professional chef) while getting to enjoy what you make at the end!

13. Medieval Market in Vic

For a great day trip from Barcelona, consider visiting the Medieval Market in Vic. This annual event transports you back in time with its medieval-themed stalls, costumed performers, and live music. 

Browse the market for handmade crafts, sample traditional food, and immerse yourself in the historical atmosphere. This day trip offers a unique experience you won’t soon forget!

14. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is another Gaudí creation that you can’t miss in Barcelona. This stunning building, with its colorful façade and undulating balconies, is a true work of art. 

Take a guided tour to learn about the history and architectural details of this modernist masterpiece, and enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations that adorn the building during December.

Casa Batllo in Barcelona in December

15. Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, is yet another Gaudí gem. This striking building features a unique, wavy stone façade and intricate iron balconies. 

In December, the building comes alive with festive lights and decorations, making it an even more enchanting sight. Don’t forget to visit the rooftop terrace for breathtaking views and an up-close look at Gaudí’s imaginative chimneys.

16. Museu Picasso de Barcelona

Art enthusiasts will love the Museu Picasso de Barcelona, which houses one of the most extensive collections of Pablo Picasso’s works. Discover the famous artist’s early years and his deep connection to the city of Barcelona as you explore this impressive museum. 

Visiting during December allows you to enjoy the museum without the usual crowds (and, let’s be honest, escape the chill outside), providing a more intimate experience with Picasso’s masterpieces.

Want to see several museums while you’re in Barcelona – without busting your travel budget?

The Barcelona Card gives you free admission to 25+ museums, including the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) and many more.

Valid for three to five days (so only pay for what you’ll use!), you also get free public transportation. Check the full list of museums and grab your card here.

17. El Dia dels Sants Innocents

December in Barcelona brings a unique tradition known as “El Dia dels Sants Innocents,” celebrated on December 28th. It’s Spain’s equivalent of April Fools’ Day, where pranks and hoaxes are the order of the day.

From fake newspaper headlines to small surprises hidden in everyday objects, it’s a fun day to be here. So if your favorite tourist sight looks a bit different today (bubbles in the Magic Fountain, anyone?), you’ll know why.

18. Cursa dels Nassos

Fancy starting your New Year’s Eve with an adrenaline rush? Join in the annual Cursa dels Nassos, a 10k race held every year on December 31st.

The “Race of the Noses” (love the name, by the way) begins at 5:15 pm, just in time to get your heart pumping before the party begins. It’s a scenic route around Poble Nou, along the seafront, down to the stunning Ciutadella Park and back through the lively Poble Nou neighborhood.

The registration fee is around €20, and you can sign up on their website before December 21st. So remember to pack your running shoes along with your party clothes!

participants in Cursa dels Nassos in Barcelona in December
Source: Ajuntament Barcelona (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

19. Manga Barcelona

In December, Barcelona welcomes all manga and anime enthusiasts to Manga Barcelona, a festival celebrating Japanese pop culture. This event is a real treat for fans of manga, anime, and cosplay, making it the perfect way to cap off the year.

Manga Barcelona offers a huge range of activities, from cosplay competitions to panel discussions with industry experts. You can explore the world of manga through exhibitions, purchase rare collectibles, and even meet your favorite artists and voice actors.

20. Festivalet

December sees the arrival of Festivalet, a great artisan market that’s perfect for holiday shopping and soaking up the festive spirit. This event gathers local artisans, designers, and crafters who showcase their unique creations, making it an ideal place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.

Festivalet offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere where you can browse through a diverse array of handmade goods. From jewelry and clothing to home decor and delicious treats, there’s something to cater to everyone’s tastes.

What sets Festivalet apart is the opportunity to meet the artisans behind the products, hear their stories, and even participate in DIY workshops. Whether you’re looking for distinctive holiday gifts or simply want to revel in the festive ambiance, Festivalet is a must-visit event in Barcelona during December.

21. Untasted Cheese Fest

Cheese fans, this one’s for you, as the Untasted Cheese Fest arrives in Barcelona in early December. This amazingly delicious festival showcases a variety of artisanal cheeses, both local and international, offering a chance to explore unique flavors and textures.

What makes this event special is the opportunity to connect with passionate cheese makers and experts, attend workshops, and learn about cheese pairings (ok, and sure, the samples are pretty great too). Whether you’re a cheese pro or simply curious, the Untasted Cheese Fest is worth a visit.

22. Passeig de Gracia

Passeig de Gracia is one of Barcelona’s most elegant boulevards, lined with upscale shops, exquisite modernist buildings, and chic restaurants. 

During December, the street is illuminated with festive lights, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or some holiday shopping. Don’t forget to admire the architectural marvels along the way, such as Casa Batlló and Casa Mila.

Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona in December

23. Fundació Joan Miró

The Fundació Joan Miró is dedicated to the works of the renowned Catalan artist Joan Miró. This modern art museum showcases a wide range of Miró’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings, as well as temporary exhibitions from other contemporary artists.

Located on Montjuïc hill, the museum offers stunning views of Barcelona, making it an ideal spot to visit during your December trip.

Fundacio Joan Miro in Barcelona in December

Weather in December in Barcelona

While December is one of the coldest months of the year in Barcelona, the weather is still pleasant enough to enjoy outdoor activities. The average high temperature during the day is around 14°C (57°F), while the average low temperature at night is around 5°C (41°F).

Plus, with only three days of rain on average, you can enjoy the city’s festive atmosphere without worrying about getting wet.

That said, it basically never snows in Barcelona in December (or ever – at least not in the city center) so if you’re looking to go to a winter wonderland for your Christmas vacation, the mild weather here may not be what you actually want.

In any case, it’s important to note that the weather in Barcelona can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to pack a variety of clothing options. Layering is key, as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. 

What to Wear in Barcelona in December

If you’re visiting Barcelona in December, you’ll want to pack some warm clothes. While the city is relatively mild compared to many Northern European cities, it can still get chilly during the winter months. Here are some tips on what to wear in Barcelona in December.

The key to staying warm in Barcelona in December is to layer up. Start with a base layer, such as a long-sleeved shirt or thermal top, and then add a sweater or cardigan. 

You’ll also want to bring a warm coat or jacket, as well as a scarf, hat, and maybe even gloves. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking around the city.

Of course, if you’re planning on going out to dinner or to a show, feel free to dress up a bit. But for daytime activities, such as sightseeing or visiting museums, casual wear is fine. Just make sure you’re comfortable and can move around easily.

Travel tips for December in Barcelona

Dress in Layers

In December, Barcelona’s weather can be quite unpredictable, with temperatures ranging from chilly mornings to milder afternoons. To stay comfortable during your sightseeing, dress in layers. 

Wear a warm sweater or fleece, along with a light, waterproof jacket that can be easily removed as the day warms up. Don’t forget to pack a scarf, gloves, and a hat for those cooler days and nights.

Book Your Accommodation Early

Barcelona is a popular destination all year round, and December is no exception. To secure the best deals and ensure availability, book your accommodation well in advance. 

This will give you the opportunity to choose from a wider range of options, whether you prefer a cozy boutique hotel, a budget-friendly hostel, or a luxurious apartment rental.

a view of Barcelona in December

Take Advantage of Fewer Crowds

December is an excellent time to visit Barcelona’s most popular attractions, as the city tends to be less crowded compared to the peak summer months. Take advantage of this by planning visits to iconic landmarks like the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and the Picasso Museum. 

Remember that some attractions may have reduced hours or may be closed on certain days during the holiday season, so be sure to check ahead and plan accordingly.

Experience Local Holiday Traditions

Embrace the local holiday spirit by participating in some of Barcelona’s unique traditions. Attend a Christmas concert at the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana, watch the Three Kings Parade in early January, or take part in the festive atmosphere at one of the many Christmas markets. 

By immersing yourself in the local customs, you’ll create unforgettable memories and gain a deeper appreciation for the city’s rich culture.

Indulge in Seasonal Cuisine

During your December visit, don’t miss the opportunity to taste some of the seasonal dishes that are more typical during the winter months. 

Sample traditional treats like turron (a sweet nougat), polvorones (crumbly almond cookies), and escudella i carn d’olla (a hearty meat and vegetable stew). Make a reservation at a local restaurant or join a food tour to discover the best spots for indulging in these delicious seasonal specialties.

polvorones in a plate

Why Shouldn’t You Travel to Barcelona in December?

If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona, you might be wondering whether December is a good time to visit. While Barcelona is a great destination year-round, there are a few reasons why you might want to avoid visiting in December.

1. The Weather

While Barcelona is one of the warmer cities in Europe, December is still considered winter.

The temperatures can drop to around 9°C (48°F) at night, and only reach around 15°C (59°F) during the day. It can also be quite rainy, with an average of 3 days of rain during the month. 

So if you’re looking for a warm and sunny Spanish beach vacation, December might not be the best time to visit Barcelona.

2. No Snow

It may sound funny putting this as a negative right after mentioning the lack of heat being a potential downside, but it’s true that many people travel over the holidays in search of that European winter wonderland.

Unfortunately, as mentioned a bit earlier, you’re not going to find it here. Barcelona doesn’t really get snow, so it’s not going to be that kind of Christmas scene.

That said, there are plenty of other places around Spain (and in nearby Andorra) that get tons of snow, so you could always combine a trip to Barcelona with a visit to a snowier corner of the country.

street Christmas lights in Barcelona in December

3. Limited Opening Hours

Many shops, restaurants, and attractions in Barcelona have limited opening hours during the month of December. This is especially true on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. 

This means that if you’re planning to visit Barcelona during this time, make sure to check the opening hours of the places you want to visit in advance. You might need to adjust your itinerary to make sure you can see everything you want to see.


Can You Swim at the Beach in Barcelona in December?

While the weather in Barcelona in December is mild, it’s not warm enough for swimming in the sea. The average temperature during the day is around 14°C/54°F, and at night, it can drop to 6°C/43°F. The sea temperature is around 14°C/57°F, which is too cold for most people to swim comfortably. 

However, you can still enjoy a leisurely walk along the beach or sit on the sand and enjoy the view.

Does It Rain in Barcelona in December?

December only sees about 6 rainy days on average in Barcelona, and the total rainfall for the month is around 28mm, which is below average. However, occasional rain is still possible, so it’s a good idea to bring a raincoat or umbrella just in case.

Christmas decoration in Barcelona in December

Is It Hot in Barcelona in December?

Barcelona in December is not hot, but it’s not freezing either. The average temperature during the day is around 14°C/54°F, and at night, it can drop to 6°C/43°F. You’ll need to wear warm clothes, especially in the evenings, but you won’t need heavy winter coats or boots.

Is It Cold in Barcelona in December?

Barcelona in December is not as cold as other European cities, but it’s still chilly. The average temperature during the day is around 14°C/54°F, and at night, it can drop to 6°C/43°F. You’ll need to wear warm clothes, especially in the evenings, but you won’t need heavy winter coats or boots.

Is Barcelona Windy in December?

Barcelona can be windy at any time of year, but it’s not particularly windy in December. The average wind speed is around 10 km/h, which is relatively calm. However, occasional gusts of wind are possible, so it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater to protect yourself from the wind.

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