10 Best Things to Do in December in Barcelona

There’s no better place to be during the holidays than Barcelona. In a city that’s never too cold and full of spirit, this Mediterranean town knows how to bring in the new year and make the most of the holiday season. Every attraction usually does something special this time of year; from Gaudi’s buildings which, ‘enhance’ their lights at night, to Passeig de Gracia’s special shopping evenings and incredible discounts, to Corte Ingles’ beautiful facade, the city turns into a wonderland of sorts. Even without the snow, Barcelona manages to make it feel ‘fresh and wintery’. Every year a skating rink is erected in Plaza Catalunya, staying up for the entire month. It’s ideal for families on the weekends and those looking for a different way to ‘impress a date’, or remind themselves of colder climates back home.

In addition to the city’s monuments and lights, other holiday attractions include ‘barrio’ festivals (each neighborhood has its own celebration date) and restaurants usually have holiday promotional menus, including 2 for 1 drinks and specially tailored brunch and weekend menus as well.

Perhaps the biggest ‘attraction’ during the holiday season in Barcelona, is the fact that restaurants and shops are open on Sundays for the entire month of December. A rarity in this city and a welcome one, especially during this time of year. 

Built in 60 years for the Virgin of the Sailors, this church has an elegantly simplistic artistic structure. With few architectural extremities, this church is modestly ornamented with elegant columns and a few buttresses. The stained glass is the most elaborate decor in the church, and the lovely rose window is truly an attraction. Situated in the heart of the Born neighborhood, this is a great place to see beautiful architecture while also being able to take in some boutique shopping and eat delicious tapas at any of the restaurants along Passeig Del Born or amongst the narrow side streets.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: A serene, beautiful place to enjoy the holiday cheer, whether you’re religious or not

Sam’s expert tip: Right outside the Church, across the courtyard is an excellent wine and tapas bar

Read more about Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar →

Hi This Is Barcelona

Photo courtesy of Mariah Quesada

Less of an attraction, Hi. This Is Barcelona is a private tour company with a high volume of honeymoon couples and those looking for romantic getaways. The company customizes all of its tours, so if you’re looking to spice up an experience with a touch of something special, these guys have some amazing ideas. From private walking, biking, car, and specialty tours, they can arrange a day in wine country at a private family-run vineyard, or set up a cooking class with professional chefs, or arrange a shopping day with designers. They’re also able to help set up surprises for loved ones and have a network of people who can help them make an ordinary experience, that much more special.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Tailored tour company specializing in holiday packages taking people off the beaten path

Sam’s expert tip: Ask about their special honeymoon tours

Read more about Hi This Is Barcelona →

If you’re hungry or just feel like browsing rows upon rows and stalls upon stalls of fresh fruit, cured hams, authentic Spanish tapas and pretty much anything you might have a craving for, Barcelona’s Boqueria market should top the check list. Directly off La Rambla, the market is a genuine Barcelona experience; you might even get to see little pigs wearing baseball caps if you go on the right days! If you’re hungry go to the back of the Boqueria where there are several small and rustic but very delicious restaurants. Ra in particular is a great place to dine.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Vibrant, exciting and the best place to experience the holidays wondering around the stalls

Sam’s expert tip: The front stalls are more expensive than the ones farther in, so if you want to save a few Euros, head closer to the back.

Read more about Mercat de la Boqueria →

Parc Güell

Parc Güell

Another one of Gaudi’s amazing creations, Park Guell features the longest bench in the world as well as Gaudi’s tiny house where he lived for several years. The park is a mix of design and architecture with nature and illustrates Gaudi’s connection with natural beauty and its greatness. From the Park you can see beautiful city views and even bring food for a small picnic on the grass. This is a romantic and very unique park, intertwined with authentic Modernism structures as well as a rich and beautiful landscape. New to the Park is the Gaudi Experience which is a small shop and interactive ride at the bottom of the Park’s entrance.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Great place to take holiday pictures, in nature and amongst beautiful architecture

Sam’s expert tip: Get off at Lesseps metro and enter the Park through the back to avoid the long uphill steps

Read more about Parc Güell →

Aire de Barcelona

Aire de Barcelona

Photo courtesy of Aire de Barcelona

A mix of Arabic baths and amazing massage, the Banos Arabes (Hammam) at Barcelona’s Aire, Spa are soothing and incredibly relaxing. This is an excellent couples activity or perfect for a rainy day if you want to feel warm. The Arabic baths are made up of several pools, some hot, some cold and then the extremes being piping hot and ice cold. You’re given an hour in the baths and then if you book the massage as well, there’s a small room to the side where one you can enjoy a 20 minute or hour long massage. The spa is right near the Picasso Museum and other boutique shops in the Born and delicious restaurants.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Relax during the holidays at the baths, with their excellent holiday promotions

Sam’s expert tip: Be sure to reserve there is a limit on how many people can enter at one time.

Read more about Aire de Barcelona →

Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Mila, otherwise known as La Pedrera, is one of Gaudi’s most well known creations and is situated on Passeig de Gracia, just a stone’s throw from Casa Batllo. Constructed between 1905-1912, from the outside La Pedrera looks like it is made up of skulls. Architecturally however, it is considered to be incredibly innovative as its facade is self-supporting. It also has underground parking and separate lifts and stairs for the owners and servants. Something that many people dont’ know, is that the structures on the roof were actually what inspired George Lucas’ Storm Troopers for his Star Wars series.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: La Pedrera’s rooftop lights up like none other during the holidays

Sam’s expert tip: Check out the book store in the building

Read more about Casa Milà (La Pedrera) →

CCCB (Barcelona Contemporary Cultural Center)

CCCB (Barcelona Contemporary Cultural Center)

Established by Joan Miro as a forum for contemporary art. Much of Miro’s work is displayed here in a wide variety of mediums, while periodic exhibits feature other artists. There’s also a sculpture garden, library, gift shop, restaurant, and an auditorium for classical music performances. Located in the Raval neighborhood, the CCCB is more than a Museum. It’s a cultural hot spot and local hang out and has a wonderful variety of exhibits and installations year round. This Museum caters to those interested in slightly alternative art forms and displays and fuels a creative and innovative vibe. It’s jus a short walk from La Rambla as well.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Featinr a fabulous exhibit this holiday season, the World Press Photo tour in Barcelona

Sam’s expert tip: Their exhibits change quite frequently so even if you’re not interested in what’s on at the time, keep checking for updates.

Read more about CCCB (Barcelona Contemporary Cultural Center) →

Plaza Catalunya

Plaza Catalunya

Photo courtesy of Plaza Catalunya

Barcelona’s city center hub and major landmark separating the old from the new; Plaza Catalunya is a watering hole for teenagers wanting to gather ‘after hours’, families on a Sunday afternoon, late night beer vendors, tourists and at one time or another almost everyone who frequents or lives in the city. It’s spacious, newly designed circle provides for an intimate place to gather and catch up with friends and in the summer the water fountain is on full blast and acts as a great backdrop for picturesque photos. It’s a short cab ride from the cruise port or a nice stroll up La Rambla

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The only place to go outdoor ice skating in the city, during the holidays

Sam’s expert tip: Hard Rock Cafe is right next door and a great place to set for meeting spots.

Read more about Plaza Catalunya →

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

Without a doubt this is Gaudi’s crowning glory. Set to be completed in 2046, the Sagrada Familia is a Barcelona must-see. Even if you don’t want to go inside, the outside facades, history and master design are equally breathtaking. This was Gaudi’s last piece of work before he died and is still yet to be finished having taken more than 100 years already. The outside is breathtaking and leaves most people gawking, eyes and mouths wide open. If you want to look inside it’s worth it to take a tour or get the audio tour. The towers and elevator up provide for gorgeous city views as well.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: A beautiful place to visit during the holidays, with special lights during the ‘season’

Sam’s expert tip: Be sure to go early if you want to enter the Church, or reserve tickets online before hand.

Read more about La Sagrada Familia →

Happy Melly

Happy Melly

Photo courtesy of Happy Melly Facebook

As the term work-life fusion gains traction (as opposed to work life balance) many people are combining their vacations with a few emails and virtual meetings ie the: ‘Workation’. Barcelona’s Happy Melly branch is a great way to connect with like-minded vacationers who are trying to achieve the right balance while visiting the city. Dedicated to helping people be happier at work its Barcelona hub is a wonderful resource if you’re looking to find the best co-working spaces, cafes with free wifi or if you just want to discover best practices for living a happy life, especially while on the road.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: A unique ‘extra’ for people wanting to get the most out of their vacation and infuse a bit of work-life balance

Sam’s expert tip: Ask about upcoming challenge weeks to see if there are any in Barcelona during your stay

Read more about Happy Melly →

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