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How to stay cool in Barcelona in July

Hi -
Traveling with two small children to Barcelona in July. I know we'll be hot and there will be tons of tourists, but we were able to housesit and are on break from school, so that's when it works for us! Could someone give us tips for what is cool/Air Conditioned so I can plan our days to stay cool? Looking for tourist locations/museums/churches/restaurants with AC that we could plan to pop into if we get overhot. Our place is a little ways out of town, so it would be nice to seek refuge easily. Is Sagrada Familia cool/Air Conditioned? We're more concerned with everyone having a pleasant time than cramming in all the sites, this will be the kids first international travel and we live in a place that stays pretty cool, so I'm nervous about the heat. Excited to hear your tips! (other than napping in the afternoon, I'm aware of that suggestion already :D)

Posted by
486 posts

I am a grandparent…my husband and I took our adult children/spouses and 5 grandchildren last July to Barcelona and a Med cruise. Kids aged 7-13. Our Hotel Lleo had a rooftop pool. Helpful it was! Had A/C also. It was hot…everywhere! Familia Sagrada…cooler than outside…but no A/C. Lines waiting…even tours…wait outside…hot! I had small portable mini fans. Cooling towels. Of course water bottle holders. Hats, mini umbrellas. Churches, museums…no A/C but usually cooler. Earliest morning tours! They still all say one the their favorite places!

Posted by
27409 posts

I can't tell you specifically what is air conditioned in Barcelona, but I have a few general suggestions:

  • Large churches tend to stay cooler than the average building, so the Barcelona Cathedral and Santa Maria del Mar might provide a respite. Note that shoulders, knees and midriffs should be covered, and hats should be removed before entering those churches. I suspect one reason La Sagrada Familia doesn't feel particularly cool is that by the time the day warms up a bit, it is absolutely packed with human beings registering 98.6F.

  • I have a strong suspicion the Palau de la Musica Catalana is air conditioned. It's a performance venue, and I assume people attending events in the warmer months expect a certain degree of comfort. There are English-language tours offered there; they might need to be booked a bit in advance. The building is over-the-top gorgeous.

  • I bet movie theatres are air-conditioned; the trick would be to find one showing a suitable English-language movie that has been subtitled in Spanish rather than dubbed.

  • The large department store El Corte Ingles on Placa de Catalunya may well be air conditioned. Ditto shopping malls you might happen to be near.

  • I'd be very surprised if the restaurants of large 4- and 5- star hotels are not air-conditioned.

  • I don't remember whether the Metro was cool when I used it. Maybe you could get far enough into a station to benefit from the cooler air without having to pay for a ride you aren't going to take.

  • There's a clue to whether a random restaurant you're walking past is air-conditioned: If the door is propped open on a hot day, there's probably no a/c. If the door is shut tight, there may well be a/c--in which case there could be a sign near the door to confirm your suspicion.

  • This sounds like a joke, but it really isn't: You can always pop into a grocery store and hang out near the frozen food for a while.

  • I assume there's still a tourist information office beneath Placa de Catalunya. Sometimes there's a line there, but not always. If you're in the area, you could pop in and see what they suggest. I'm sure they've heard the question before.

Some other how-to-survive techniques:

  • Hit a beach, if only to walk with your feet in the water.

  • Consider taking along Kool-ties or cooling cloths to provide some relief. You'll need to re-wet the cooling cloths during the day, and I don't know that you'll find easy ways to do that as you just wander around. I believe they've turned off the fountains because of the drought. 

  • Be sure everyone drinks a lot of water if you run into hot weather. Bottles of cold water will be readily available in little corner stores. I don't know whether there will be places for free refills along the street, especially considering the drought.

  • It is absolutely true that it helps tremendously to get an early start on your day. I fail at that except on the rare days when I have an early train to catch. Every time that happens in the summer, I am amazed at how pleasant it is outdoors at 8:30 or 9 AM.

With luck you won't have such terrible heat that it's a problem. Believe me, it would be much worse if you were heading to Seville or other places in the south.

Posted by
8234 posts

We visited Barcelona and had a room in a hotel about 1/2 mile from Sagrada Familia. The hallway was cool, however no a/c was coming into our room. The hotel refused to fix the a/c, and we had to leave after one night. We booked an apartment on Booking.com close by that had good a/c.

My suggestion is to book a more modern hotel--fairly new one. Chances are the HVAC system will be satisfactory

As far as tourist sights and restaurants go, you have to take what they have to offer when it comes to a/c.

Posted by
329 posts

Maybe do a day trip to Montserrat which is up in the mountains so it’s a little cooler. I’m sure museums like Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, the Joan Miró Foundation and the Picasso Museum have AC. I didn’t go to the Museum of Science but that may be a fun one for the kids. You could email the museums and ask them about the AC, although I’m sure they have it.