The whole Mediterranean area enjoys a temperate climate during the summer months, and it's precisely for this reason that during this period flights are already beginning to be filled throughout Europe. However, what makes Barcelona an ideal destination for a summer weekend with friends or family is that it offers much more than sea and beaches. In this article, we give you some tips to enjoy the city at 100% during the summer months.
1. Attend cultural initiatives and local festivals
The summer of Barcelona is full of cultural activities. In addition, there's no single week that doesn't includes a popular festival of some neighbourhood, event or outdoor festival. Here we tell you the best ones.
Sant Joan — The festival that inaugurates summer
First of all, it's worth remembering the Sant Joan festival welcomes the summer on the night of 23 June, right through to 24 June's sunrise. It's a pagan festival in which fireworks and bonfires are lit to celebrate the summer solstice. The purpose of this ceremony, at the time, was to give greater force to the sun, because from hereon the days begin to get shorter and shorter until the winter solstice. For this reason, the beaches of Barcelona are filled with tourists and locals who are ready to enjoy a night of non-stop partying, bonfires and fireworks. If the idea of joining the commotion on the beaches doesn't really excite you, you should know that every corner of the city will be celebrating in some way. There are also concerts in several squares across Barcelona.
- San Juan Barcelona 2017 Jun 23 - Jun 24 Enjoy a magical evening on one of the beaches of Barcelona for the Sant Joan.
The Festas Majores
Each district of the city organises its celebrations maintaining traditions and local customs. Experiencing them — mixing with local people — is an encounter not to be missed, as these events show the true popular culture of this wonderful land.
The most famous are the Festa Major of Gracià and the Festa Major of Sants; both are organised during the month of August. The neighbourhood of Gracià, for example, becomes a cheerful mix of colours and themed sculptures arranged with care by the inhabitants along each street. They're filled with colours, flowers and music of all kinds.
In September there is the festival of all festivals, La Mercè. It's the time of the year that all Barceloneses look forward to. During these days all kinds of activities are organised, including free concerts, dance shows and parades… If you're lucky enough to spend these days in the city, don't miss two of the most rooted traditions in Catalonia: "Castellers", human towers with participants climbing one above the other until significant heights are reached; and the "Correfoc", parades of dancers disguised as devils who walk the streets brandishing flaming and powerful sparklers while creating choreographies accompanied by bands of music and percussion.
Barcelona makes a very popular destination for all lovers of good music, especially in the summer. Maybe it's due to its music festivals, including the two mega-fests Primavera Sound and Sónar, both organised in June. Alternative festivals with independent singers.
Primavera Sound is perhaps one of the most famous festivals in Europe in which many prominent artists from the rock and indie scenes participate. It's organised in Parc del Fórum, which is very well connected with the centre of the city.
Sónar, on the other hand, is the main event of the current electronic scene. It brings together new talents and established artists, present in all areas of music and audiovisual production.
If you're more into Rock, June also has Rock Fest, a festival with a stage that over the years has seen groups like Iron Maiden, Slayer and Amon Amarth.
In July, with the ever-increasing temperatures, the Cruilla Festival begins and bring rock, blues, reggae, ska, folk and electronic music in order to mix many musical styles in a single festival.
Another event not to be missed is Barcelona Beach Festival. Also in July. It'll make everyone dance on the beach until dawn to the beat of the best electronic and techno music. This music style brings a new event — Tomorrowland Barcelona. The Belgian behemoth of a festival has decided this year to take its party to various places around the world. For Spain, they chose Barcelona.
There's still room for more though, specifically for Mas i Mas Festival, founded in 2003. It offers an interesting cultural program during the summer months. Needless to say, in just a few years it has become a tradition to enjoy the warm August nights of Barcelona. In addition to jazz, the festival also offers flamenco shows and Caribbean music.
- The full list of music festivals in Barcelona Article with complete information of all the music festivals that Barcelona hosts.
The Grec Festival
Performing arts are the absolute protagonists of this important cultural event that pays special attention to the most innovative styles and new proposals from the world of theatre, dance, music and even circus. A classic and contemporary, traditional and avant-garde mix in the beautiful location of the Greek theatre on the hill of Montjuïc. A perfect show on summer nights.
- Barcelona Grec Festival Jun 14 - Jul 31 The Grec Festival of Barcelona is an international festival of theatre, dance, music, and circus acts.
2. Enjoy the good weather
One aspect to take into account when we talk about the climate of Barcelona is the fact that the seasons have very well defined and precise limits. When it's cold in the winter, it's nippy; when it's hot in summer, it's pretty hot. It makes it very easy to design your holidays ahead of time, unlike other European capitals. Yet with that said, the summer in Barcelona isn't as unbearably sweltering as it can be in other Spanish cities, so between June and September you can enjoy the sun with ease.
Barcelona has some of the best urban beaches in the world. The beaches of the city stretch along five kilometres of coastline and spread out across various neighbourhoods of the city. The most central and well known is the Barceloneta beach, a few minutes walk from the city centre. Its dimensions have allowed the inclusion of many sports facilities and numerous leisure activities. Barceloneta has a beach for young people and tourists. There are volleyball courts, children areas, sports equipment, restrooms and lockers… Just take care of your belongings because, from time to time, there are thieves stalking tourists.
As you proceed from the centre, you reach the Olympic Village area, famous for its port. It's very attractive for the water activities that are organised on Nova Icaria beach. If you're looking for quieter and more accessible beaches, it's worthwhile to continue on closer to an area of Barcelona called Poblenou.
If you don't like the idea of sunbathing all day, give yourself time to stroll through the city parks. The biggest and best known is the Ciutadella park, next to the Born district. For a relaxing afternoon we recommend renting a rowboat on the lake in the centre of the park, admiring the famous fountain or simply sitting on a towel on the grass and enjoying the peace of the park.
Laberint d'Horta is a lesser-known park by tourists, as it's slightly further away from the city centre in the neighbourhood of Horta–Guinardó. It's the oldest garden park in Barcelona dating back to 1802, when it was designed by the marquis Joan Antoni Desvalls i d'Ardena and Italian architect Domenico Bagutti. The neoclassical part is its main attraction. In the centre of the main attraction of the park — the labyrinth of cypresses — stands the statue of Eros.
If you want to visit the classic sights, which are highly frequented by tourists, you can go up to Park Güell. It has 18 hectares and incredible views of Barcelona. It was designed by Gaudí, one of the greatest exponents of Catalan Modernism, as commissioned by the entrepreneur Eusebi Güell. The monumental part isn't free, but it's worth visiting the huge garden around it to enjoy the beautiful view of the city.
- Barcelona and its green spaces Breathe fresh air in the most amazing parks of the city ...
At street level or closer to the sky. If there's something not missing in Barcelona its the beautiful terraces; they're designed to recharge the batteries, make life enjoyable and take advantage of the good weather. Throughout the summer there are many free events organised on the terraces of large hotels.
There are theme nights often focusing on food or music. However, if the dates of your stay don't match any of these events, then you can at least come and visit the terrace of the top floor of an hotel, as it's a unique opportunity to discover the city in an alternative way and enjoy a night as a couple or with friends.
- Top 10 terraces of Barcelona Relax in one of these terraces in Barcelona and discover the noble art of 'terracing'!
The Magic Fountain show
The great fountain built for the 1929 Universal Exhibition is situated at the foot of Montjuïc hill. It's one of the main sights to visit in Barcelona, especially on a warm summer night. From June to August the shows are more frequent and repeated every week from Wednesday to Sunday. Its play of lights, water and colours dazzles makes it an ideal place to relax and recharge before a long night in Barcelona.
- Magic Fountain of Montjuic Event Feb 26 - Jan 06 The Magic Fountain of Montjuic offers a colorful show, which takes you to another world with water jets explod...
The definitive activity of summer is the open-air cinema. Cinema Lliure (Free Cinema, in Catalan) on the beach is a free opportunity to watch independent films. They're projected on San Sebastián Beach during the summer nights. It's also a meeting point where you can discuss, comment and enjoy not only the film, but also music and short films that are projected before the movie.
In the beautiful setting of Montjuïc Castle stands Sala Montjuïc — a mixture of cinema, live music and picnic. During an event, called Cinema a la fresca, films of various styles are projected in their original language with subtitles in Spanish. Our advice is to take a blanket or towel to sit on. If not, you could also rent one right there. It's advisable to arrive a little in advance to get a good seat on the grass.
Explore the city by bike
In summer taking public transport can become a nightmare due to temperatures and an abundance of tourists. If you want to avoid being squashed in a full metro car, consider the option to move in another way. Try a bike. Barcelona is a great city for cycling as it's mostly flat and there are many bike paths. Cycling is one of the easiest, cheapest and fun ways to discover any place in the city.
- Tips for riding a bike in Barcelona More than just exercise, discover the advantages of traveling by bike around town.
3. Choose an accommodation in a strategic location
This choice is undoubtedly key to the success of a summer holiday. The first question that hits everyone before choosing accommodation in Barcelona is which area to stay in. The choice is even more crucial during the summer months when you have to share the city with many other tourists.
- The 5 best neighbourhoods to stay in Barcelona Coming to Barcelona and don't know where stay? Here are the top 5 areas of the city
If you come to Barcelona mainly to enjoy its beaches, stay in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, which is located on the sea front. Barceloneta was originally a neighbourhood of fishermen and sailors. Now it's one of the place that gathers most of the nightclubs of the city.
From here you can also enjoy romantic evenings on the Passeig Marítim, find all kinds of water sports, dine out at seafood restaurants and dance in the most famous clubs such as Shôko and Pasarela. In this area there are several tourist attractions such as Port Vell, the Columbus Monument and Barceloneta market where you can buy local and fresh produce. Barceloneta is a comfortable option, as it's perfectly connected to the rest of the city by public transport with the metro (Barceloneta station) and several bus lines.
If you prefer the calm and serenity of the parks and hills surrounding the city, perhaps it's better to move to the northern end. It's the most authentic and colourful neighbourhood in Barcelona. It houses the beautiful Park Güell — Gaudí's masterpiece. Until the late nineteenth century, when it was incorporated into the urban area of Barcelona, Gràcia was a separate village with its own Town Hall.
The neighbourhood of Gràcia is a succession of pleasant streets that are not always open to traffic, small houses and small squares. The squares of Gràcia are a perfect place to relax during the summer because they're transformed into a true meeting hub. Plaça del Sol, which is perhaps the best known, is a meeting point for an interesting mix of students, modern people, tourists and street guitarists. Sit on the sides of the square with a drink and enjoy the creative vibes of the neighbourhood.