Barcelona is often considered a prime destination for summer holidays, with its sandy beaches and bustling outdoor cafes. As seasoned Barcelona visitors, we have always made stops in the past, for example, to have a stopover on the way to southern Spain or to Portugal, but never having the chance to immerse ourselves in the city’s winter charm. But what has made up our mind finally to have a winter adventure in Barcelona?
As temperatures back home continued to drop, the idea of a winter escape became more enticing. The rain made everything wet, and when the temperature dropped to minus 10 degrees over the night, the rain became ice on the roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces, making us extremely difficult to venture outside.
As the gloomy weather showed no sign of improvement, we were delighted to discover that over a thousand kilometres south of Frankfurt, Barcelona was basking in warm temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius with daily sunshine throughout December. With the promise of beautiful weather, a unique holiday experience, and mild temperatures to escape the chilly weather back home, We eagerly made hotel and flight reservations to Barcelona.
Where we stayed and how we reached Barcelona
Upon arrival, we checked in at Hotel Barcelona Universal, a cozy hotel near the bustling harbor and directly next to a metro station. The hotel offers a good breakfast, featuring delicious Spanish delicacies like air-cured ham. Getting to our hotel was a breeze, as it was a short taxi ride from the airport, which we arrived at after a direct flight from Frankfurt with Lufthansa.
Itinerary of winter adventure in Barcelona
Join us as we take you through our eight-day itinerary in Barcelona, packed with exciting activities and unforgettable experiences, perfect for anyone looking for a winter escape to the Catalan capital.
- 1st Day activities (22.12): Chistmas Market Plaça Nova, Dinner in Bar Lobo, Barri Gotic night walking
- 2ed Day activities (23.12): Palau de la Música Catalana, Mercat de Santa Caterina,El Born area and Parc de la Ciutadella, Rooftop Bar at Hotel Ohla Barcelona
- 3rd Day (24.12): Barcelona Habour and Beaches, Christmas gifts exchange in the hotel, dinner at the restaurant Cera 23
- 4th Day Activities (25.12): Parc Güell, Lunch at La Rambla, Plaça Reial, Barri Gotic and dinner in My Way
- 5th Day activities (26.12): Horta’s Labyrinth Park, Rooftop Bar “La Dolce Vitae” at Majestic Hotel
- 6th Day Activities (27.12): Barcelona Aquarium, Mercat de la Boqueria
- 7th Day activities (28.12): Montjuic, Lunch at Pincho J, Catamaran Cruise tour
- 8th Day Activities (29.12): Sagrada Familia church, Lunch in Japanese Restaurant Koyo
1st Day activities (22.12)
As our Lufthansa flight to Barcelona was a short-haul, we were surprised to learn that we wouldn’t get any complimentary meals on board. Since we hadn’t had breakfast before departing, we were starving by the time we landed. So, we quickly made our way to Passeig de Gràcia for a much-needed lunch.
Chistmas Market Plaça Nova
Our winter adventure in Barcelona started with a visit to the local Christmas market. We headed to the Christmas Market at Plaça Nova near the famous La Rambla street. As the sun began to set, the city came alive with stunning illuminations, adding to the already festive atmosphere of the Christmas season.
Dinner in Bar Lobo
The restaurant had survived the three-year-long corona pandemic. We were eager to try their signature dishes again, the honey-glazed eggplant and the wasabi tuna tartar, which we had loved during the previous visits. Unfortunately, this time the eggplant was no longer crispy, and the portion of the tuna tartar had been reduced and tasted somewhat strange. Despite our excitement to return to Bar Lobo for dinner, our favourite tapas bar in Barcelona, we were disappointed with our dining experience.
Barri Gotic night walking
The pleasant warmth of the Mediterranean air prompted us to take a stroll around Barri Gotic, the old quarter, to immerse ourselves in the captivating evening scene.
2ed Day activities (23.12)
Palau de la Música Catalana
Our first stop was the Palau de la Música Catalana, a magnificent Art Nouveau building designed by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner between 1905 and 1908.
Mercat de Santa Caterina
We also visited the Mercat de Santa Caterina, a traditional market with vibrant food stalls and restaurants. Its colorful roof, attached to the building by a wooden structure, features a vast mosaic of ceramic pieces representing fruits and vegetables. While relaxing at the Rooftop Bar of the Hotel Barcelona Edition, we caught a glimpse of the market’s stunning rooftop.
El Born area and Parc de la Ciutadella
In the afternoon, we strolled through the charming El Born area and went to Parc de la Ciutadella, a beautiful space for leisure and cultural activities. The park boasts over a hundred species of plants, including century-old trees and fascinating sculptures. One of its highlights is a massive structure in the north, loosely based on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Additionally, the iconic Arc de Triomf is just a short walk away.
Despite the warm winter weather in Barcelona, we were sweating and thirsty in our jackets. We decided to relax and cool off at the Rooftop Bar at Hotel Ohla Barcelona, enjoying the stunning view of the sunset.
Rooftop Bar at Hotel Ohla Barcelona
Later, we continued our evening adventure by heading to Plaça d’Espanya, where we discovered the Rooftop Arenas de Barcelona, an open observation platform with a breathtaking 360-degree view, the twinkling city lights as they take in the panoramic vista.
3rd Day (24.12)
Barcelona Habour and Beaches
It was a warm and sunny Christmas Eve, and we decided to walk from our hotel to the harbour and then to the beach. As we strolled along the shoreline, we couldn’t help but notice that one of the restaurants we had dined at before was still there. Their food was as delicious as before, though we couldn’t help but notice the prices gone up since our last visit.
Christmas gifts exchange in the hotel
Since we were on a trip to Barcelona, we decided to exchange our Christmas gifts in the afternoon instead of waiting until the evening like we would back home in Germany. We exchanged small gifts, leaving the larger ones we had purchased in Frankfurt at home since they were too cumbersome to carry on the plane.
Dinner at the restaurant Cera 23
We had made a reservation at the restaurant Cera 23, which, like many Spanish establishments, had a late dinner time. The earliest reservation we could secure was at 7 pm, and when we arrived, we saw that nearly all the tables were occupied by tourists from around the world, including Japan, China, Denmark, and Germany.
4th Day Activities (25.12)
The great weather continued inspiring us to seek out more outdoor activities, so we decided to visit Parc Güell, a magnificent park featuring numerous creative structures designed by Gaudi and rooted in geometry. Although the park was originally intended to be part of a failed housing development, it has since been transformed into a stunning municipal garden that draws visitors.
Lunch at La Rambla
After admiring the stunning Parc Güell situated on the outskirts of Barcelona, we hopped on the metro and headed back to La Rambla to grab a quick lunch and refuel. With our hunger satisfied, we embarked on a journey to discover the enchanting Plaça Reial, a lively square in the city.
As I gazed out at the bustling square, I was captivated by the palm trees swaying gently in the breeze while the intricate balconies and wrought-iron street lamps added to the charm of the surrounding buildings. The array of outdoor cafes and restaurants lining the square provided a selection of local and international cuisine, allowing us to indulge in a delicious meal or refreshing coffee while immersing ourselves in the vibrant atmosphere.
Barri Gotic and dinner in My Way
Continuing our journey, we wandered towards Barri Gotic to capture more pictures before dinner at My Way, a restaurant near our hotel.
5th Day activities (26.12)
Horta’s Labyrinth Park
Horta’s Labyrinth Park features the city’s oldest conserved garden and serves as a living museum. The park has a slightly Italian look with a romantic style, with its wide cypress hedges forming an imposing labyrinth. Horta’s Labyrinth Park includes small temples with Tuscan columns, fountains, and sculptures inspired by different mythological stories. The waterfall and stream flew over a stone bed, and a shadier garden covered in ivy and African lilies provided a lovely escape from the sun.
Rooftop Bar “La Dolce Vitae” at Majestic Hotel
Later in the afternoon, we took a break at the Rooftop Bar at Hotel Majestic. From the rooftop terrace, we enjoyed a stunning panoramic view of Barcelona with its most iconic landmarks, such as the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and the Agbar Tower. While the cuisine menu was pricy, the delicious food and relaxing ambiance made it a perfect spot to unwind.
6th Day Activities (27.12)
The Barcelona Aquarium is the best Mediterranean-themed Aquarium in the world for discovering the biodiversity of marine ecosystems, with a particular focus on Mediterranean species. We understood the importance of conservation efforts to protect these delicate environments. However, the indoor temperature was quite warm, and even on a mild winter day, we needed desperately refreshing drinks from the onsite cafeteria.
Mercat de la Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria is a popular destination for visitors to Barcelona, often appearing on lists of recommended things to do. We decided to check it out for a quick lunch but were overwhelmed by the crowds and struggled to find a place to eat. We noticed that many of the pricier eateries were primarily catering to tourists. Ultimately, we opted to have lunch in the charming Barri Gotic neighbourhood instead. While Mercat de la Boqueria may be a famous attraction, I prefer Mercat de Santa Caterina for its less touristy atmosphere.
7th Day activities (28.12)
We took the cable car to Montjuic, a mountain in Barcelona. It was a slightly cloudy and foggy day, but the views from the cable car were still impressive. As we ascended, the city of Barcelona slowly emerged from the mist, and we were in awe of the breathtaking scenery around us.
Once we reached the top, we were surprised at how peaceful and quiet it was. It felt like a different world from the hustle and bustle of the city below. The fog added a sense of mystery to the landscape, and we could hear nothing but the gentle sound of the breeze blowing through the trees.
Lunch at Pincho J
A Pincho is a small snack, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain. They are related to tapas, the main difference being that Pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. They are served in individual portions and always ordered and paid for independently from the drinks. In the first several days, we noticed several restaurants offering Pinchos. They looked so decent and attractive. Pincho J near our hotel is one such restaurant and is very welcome by the locals.
Catamaran Cruise tour
In the afternoon, we embarked on a Catamaran Cruise to enjoy the Barcelona skyline from a fresh perspective. The boat departed from Port Olimpic and sailed in the sunset, allowing us to bask in the warm Mediterranean sun and relish the cool sea breeze. The cruise tour lasted about one hour and was a delightful winter adventure in Barcelona.
8th Day Activities (29.12)
Sagrada Familia church
The Sagrada Familia church has become a popular attraction due to its prolonged construction period. We noticed significant progress since our last visit a couple of years ago. As the number of components increases, so does the entrance fee, and purchasing tickets on-site is quite challenging. Nonetheless, we still admired the remarkable facade and the church’s unique architecture without entering. I highly recommend adding this iconic site to your Barcelona itinerary but make sure to book tickets well in advance online to guarantee entry.
Lunch in Japanese Restaurant Koyo
To satiate our appetite for all-you-can-eat Japanese sushi, we arrived at the Japanese Restaurant Koyo early to avoid any queues. Although the lunch menu did not include Sashimi, the variety of sushi more than made up for it, making each visit to Koyo Restaurant well worth the price.
Travel tips for winter adventure in Barcelona, Spain
If you’re planning a winter adventure in Barcelona, Spain, here are some travel tips to keep in mind:
- The winter climate in Barcelona is mild, so you probably won’t need a heavy winter jacket. However, bring a warm jacket as temperatures can drop when the sun goes down and at night.
- While the beaches may have plenty of sunshine, the water can be too cold for swimming. I would not consider it to be an activity of the winter adventure in Barcelona.
- Despite fewer tourists in the winter, book tickets in advance for popular sites to avoid missing out on limited entries.
- Don’t miss out on the Christmas markets in Barcelona, particularly the oldest one, Fira de Santa Llúcia (Feria de Santa Lucía) in the Barri Gòtic district, right next to the city’s cathedral.
- Barcelona is beautifully illuminated during the festive season, particularly in Plaça Catalunya, so be sure to explore and enjoy the city’s bright lights.