Please sign in to post.

Barcelona December - Christmas Markets and Day Trips

We will be in Barcelona December 1 - 9, staying in the Gracia area. This will be our 3rd visit so we have already visited a lot of the key Gaudi sites, but we are hoping to explore new neighborhoods, and markets, and soak up some holiday cheer!

We would love recommendations for the best winter activities since our prior visits were early September and mid-April.

It looks like two Christmas Markets will be running while we are in town, the Fira de Santa Llúcia and the Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família - are these primarily shopping markets or do they have food and drink like the German markets? Are there any seasonal specialty food or dishes w should seek out? Any other worthwhile markets or nativities?

We are also considering day trip options like Montserrat, and Girona, a friend also recommended Sitges, and Sant Cugat del Vallès. We would only do 1 or 2 day trips max.

On our last visit (6 years ago) we had some great fun exploring and eating our way thru Poble Nou, and this is our first time staying in Gracia which looks like a terrific neighborhood.

Thanks in advance for any tips!

Posted by
455 posts

As a side comment, Dec 6 and Dec 8 are public holidays in Spain, so be prepared for places to be quite busy that week, as many people take many days off...or even the whole week.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you , that is great to know! Will shops or restaurants be closed on those days or are they days we should just expect crowds and/or need to make reservations?

Posted by
24089 posts

Check weather before heading to Montserrat; it is at altitude (over 4000 feet). You can buy your transportation tickets at the Placa d'Espanya station on the day of the trip, so no need to commit in advance.

If no one here responds here, seek local advice about Sitges once you get to Barcelona. I enjoyed a day trip there, but that was in August. It could be lively due to the holidays (and also because Barcelona has relatively mild winters), or it could possibly be kind of dead. I just don't know.

I love Girona. Train time ranges from 38 minutes to over 2 hours, so check the schedule carefully. A few trains are variable-fare AVEs that can get quite pricey if you buy your ticket late, but there are plenty of equally fast AVANTs that cost only 13.90 euros each way. Seven of tomorrow's AVANTs to Girona are sold out, so you might not want to wait until the day of travel to get those tickets.

Posted by
2806 posts

[infox: #barcelona #christmas #nadal #xmas #enric #2022]


You'll love Gràcia, you'll see... it's like a small town inside Barcelona, with pedestrianised narrow streets and tree-lined squares full of terraces. In winter, since "it's cold" (mind me, telling this to an NYer, you must be laughing your a**), the terraces have those outdoor heaters for clients to keep warm. We're Mediterranean after all, we love outside no matter the weather.

As per Xmas-specific info in Barcelona, check it's the City Hall's website and contains a trove of useful info.

Xmas markets
For reference: in the Catalan language this is referred to as "Fira de Nadal" (=Xmas market). Yes, those two Xmas markets are the ones in town, but they're not like Central European Xmas markets, they're less cosy and, to my taste, they've become "too business-oriented" in recent years. The Fira de Santa LLúcia (, which is hosted in front of the Cathedral in the Old City, has been happening every single Xmas since it was founded in 1786, and its stalls sell all types of figurines and other material for making your nativity scene at home.

Nativity scenes
For reference: in the Catalan language these are referred to as "pessebre" (=crib or nativity scene). Three suggestions:

Btw, no matter what religion -if any- you have, in fact, most of us here in Catalonia are not religious these days and many -like myself- are agnostic, nevertheless, these activities are rather like visiting an art museum or a theatre play in the case of the live nativities and they're quite enjoyable I must say.

We don't have a 'ball dropping in any square' but we have a great firework display on NYE at Avinguda Maria Cristina in Montjuïc. This is a great video from 2015's: and this was from 2019 Stay tuned to the City Hall's website (above) for this year's details.

--part 1 of 2--

Posted by
2806 posts

NYE chimes and other traditions
The countdown to the end of the outgoing year is marked by the last twelve chimes of the year, which are eagerly followed by everyone. As each chime sounds a grape is eaten and it is customary to make a wish. This ritual is a call for good luck, even if eating grapes for New Year is not all that new in comparison with other Christmas traditions. In fact, its origin lies in the grape surplus of 1909.

Xmas street lights
Another feature of Xmas in Barcelona is the street light decorations, unfortunately, the present Mayoress and her team have very peculiar ideas on what Xmas should be and this line-item seems to be way down in her list of priorities in comparison to previous administrations. This was last year's: Note that Xmas street lights are divided into two groups: those paid for by the City Hall and those paid for private enterprises (or guilds).

What's Barcelona like in December? and this presented by a (rather silly) local TV host

Nothing to add, as said earlier, get warm clothing, it can be cold up there in winter. Having said that, you'll notice our winters tend to be quite sunny, so regardless of the temperature, the sun always brightens the day!

Sant Cugat del Vallès
Sant Cugat? Except for the magnificent Romanesque monastery, I personally wouldn't find much reason to visit... as a tourist I mean.

For me personally is a must. And I always suggest adding a 'detour': in the morning, at around 9pm, take a bus from Barcelona to Besalú, a magnificent medieval town and at around 1pm take the bus to Girona, have lunch there and visit the city until the evening. The last high-speed train to Barcelona departs at around 9pm and it's only a 40' journey to Barcelona. Girona is indeed a special city, nicknamed the "romantic city", it's a bit of a cauldron of the history of Catalonia. There's also a Xmas market at Independence Square and Xmas streetlights throughout the city. Girona is often considered the second capital city of Catalonia after Barcelona. Lots of things to see and to do. Well worth visiting.

Avoid travelling on the 25th and 26th and Jan 1st as there are fewer trains/buses. Book your Xmas restaurant in advance, the ones opening tend to be quite busy. Prepare to pay double the normal price on that day. Do taste our traditional Catalan 'dinar de Nadal' (Xmas lunch) and other food: Dress in layers, it can be deceitfully pleasant during the day but it gets colder in the evenings. When in crowds, be aware of pickpockets.


--part 2 of 2--