Enjoy Autumn in Barcelona
As the colours start to change and the seasons move on are your thoughts turning to an off-season break? Have you considered autumn in Barcelona? While summer offers sun kissed promises, autumn gives this Catalonian city a different kind of glow. The tourists and the heat thin out, while cultural and foodie events as well as opportunities for exploring the outdoors emerge. In this post, brought to you in a collaboration with Dealchecker, we introduce our pick of the city’s autumnal delights and surprises…
Autumn in Barcelona…
The leafy streets are looking golden. The air has cooled down and the sea has warmed up. There’s even the rare chance to spot a local amongst the tourists at Sagrada Familia. And there’s so much to do in autumn in Barcelona. From events to attractions to food and wine experiences, this city is pretty much a 24/7 demand on your time. But where to start? We noticed Dealchecker have produced a useful infographic full of autumn ideas. It’s a useful starting point to your planning and a bookmark to remember to check out the festivals and events. Click and explore the mini gallery below to get a sample of some of their ideas then head over to Dealchecker to check out the infographic in full.
Seven Ways to Enjoy Autumn in Barcelona
Just looking at this fabulous array of events, attractions and activities is making me want to go back. Because as a family we had the best time in this Catalonian city. Here’s our pick of seven great ways to enjoy autumn in Barcelona…
1 Indulge in the art and culture
For me, Barcelona is all about the art. And autumn gives you the chance to see Park Güell and other Gaudi masterpieces without having to queue forever or elbow your way to the front. If you are limited for time and money visit Park Güell at the end of the day. It is free of charge from 5-8pm. And if you are visiting after November 1st its winter opening deal gives away limited free tickets on the first Sunday of every month. The tickets are only for the Monumental Zone that contains the Dragon, the Hypostyle Room and the terrace; the rest of the park is free to enter at any time. If you visit in autumn you have more chance of sitting on Gaudi’s curved bench or taking a photo of the mosaics without another tourist bombing your selfie. If you’re lucky you might catch some traditional Catalonian dancing around the city.
And then of course we come onto Barcelona’s main attraction Sagrada Familia. Sadly it’s never free of tourists at any time of the year. But you can find places to escape within it. In the softer autumn light you may enjoy the patterns and shapes in the unique pillars and roof spaces. Book an early morning or late afternoon slot, invest in the audio commentary and imagine Gaudi creating his unearthly masterpiece. And don’t worry about the cranes. According to the artist, his client (God) was in no hurry for it to be finished and neither should you be. Just relax and enjoy. You can also see another side of it a night.
The exterior of Casa Batlló was under wraps for refurbishment on our last visit but is now very much on display. The museum is one of modern architecture’s showpieces and on Saturdays in September you can do a ‘theatrical tour’ with Gaudi himself, pretty much made for families. Or use the museum’s SmartGuide to lead you from the ground floor into the roof via the famous stairwell.
Oh and if you’d like to be a bit creative yourself, Gaudi Experiencia gives you the chance to play with Gaudi’s visuals on a giant screen. Particularly fun if you have kids, and they’ll love the 4D moving Scope Screen complete with wacky glasses.
2 Visit the fair at Tibidabo
Tibidabo is our favourite outdoor space in the city and opens at weekends and selected other times in the autumn. Tibidabo is the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola and gives spectacular views over the city and the coast. At the summit the beautiful Sagrat Cor church dominates, providing as much enjoyment for adults as the Tibidabo Amusement Park does for kids. Our kids really loved this park. Check out our post about Visiting Tibidabo at any time of year.
A ‘must do’ in the park is the 1928 Red Aeroplane, which takes you on a cute flight above the city in a replica of the aircraft that first flew from Barcelona to Madrid. We also enjoyed the giant bucket ride although it did make me feel rather sick. If you can control the vertigo it provides great views of the basilica. There are various ways you can get to Tibidabo and getting there is all part of the fun. Try the funicular, tram or bus. If you are a film fan see if you can spot locations from the Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
3 Enjoy seasonal food
One of the joys of visiting Catalonia is always the food. From seafood to tapas the variety is huge, and one of the best and cheapest places to sample it is in the local markets. If you want the authentic experience then avoid touristy Boqueria on Ramblas (and some of the more skillful pickpockets) and pop down to El Born for a market populated by locals. Santa Caterina Market, designed by Enric Miralles, has a Gaudí style roof shaped like a wave and some fab and great value tapas bars.
At lunchtime many locals buy a baguette and some cheese and head for the park. We recommend Parc de la Ciutadella where you can rent a paddle boat or enjoy the spray of the fountain. If you time it right there may be some Lindy Hop going on at the bandstand. Or go for a walk and see which takes your fancy. If you are interested in the Barcelona foodie experience take a look at our Barcelona food guide. If you like fish and seafood then the Olympic Port at Barcelonetta is a seafood lovers paradise.
4 Chill out in the parks
Talking of Barcelona parks, there are many and they are vast and you can spend hours playing in one. Or you can wend your way around one or two or more of the parks in a day, trying different activities at each. Parc de la Ciutadella has a hundred year old zoo. Parc de Montjuïc, created for the 1929 International Exhibition and redeveloped for the 1992 Olympic Games, is a lovely space to walk around. Or rent an electric bike and whizz around it. There are some excellent art museums at Montjuïc to stop off at such as the Fundació Miró. The Olympic Stadium, the Telecommunications Tower, and the Botanical Gardens are all worth a visit.
Barcelonetta is Barcelona’s seaside playground and also came from the Olympic development of 1992. It is worth a whole day if you can spare it. The beach is studded with cafés and restaurants and the area is also proud of its art; Frank Gehry’s fish sculpture catches the sun in its copper gills and the twin towers of Hotel Arts and Torre Mapfre greet you as you walk or bike along.
5 Enjoy some active nature spotting
Within an hour’s drive from the city there are some great outdoor activities you can do by yourself or with the family. Costa Barcelona is focused on nature tourism with 16 natural parks and over 100kms of coastline, as well as mountains, monasteries and medieval castles.
Things to do include guided Segway touring at Els 3 Monts in the hills of Sant Llorenc del Munt Obac Natural Park; the first natural park in Spain. The park is situated within reach of three mountains and is a mecca for climbers, caving enthusiasts and walkers. The guides at Dinamic Solutions led us expertly through the countryside on the Segways. Its a lot of fun mastering one on off road terrain. Watch out though, it can have a mind of its own.
More tranquil were the donkeys at Rucs Del Corredor, a donkey preservation centre about half an hour’s drive in light traffic (just under 50km) north west of Barcelona. It offers riding for all the family in Parc del Rukimon in the Canyamars valley. We enjoyed a sunny, happy trek. Check this link out for more detailed ideas for nature inspired adventures in the countryside around Barcelona.
You can also explore the area by bike. Near El Prat airport is a peaceful place called Espais Naturals Del Riu, part of the Delta De Llobregat. It’s a haven for bird and wildlife spotting and you can cover quite a bit of distance on two wheels. (If you still have energy on your return to Barcelona and want to see the city centre by bike a good option is a Fat Tire Bike tour. The guides are full of insight and local knowledge; they take you to some of the main points of the city and filled you in on any history you may have missed.)
6 Take in some sporting action at Barca FC
If you are a football fan you can’t visit Barcelona without seeing the football stadium Camp Nou. You can do this in one of two ways. Buy a ticket for a match and experience the atmosphere and the noise of a home game. Or take a self guided stadium tour where you can learn about the historic club and its star players. The home of Barca football team is one of the biggest stadiums on the globe and The FC Barcelona Museum (included in the tour) is the most visited attraction in the whole of Catalonia. Even non football fans find it interesting as its such an integral part of the city and such a passion for its resident and worldwide supporters. Invest in an English audio tour which also includes a helping of Catalonian history. Read this post on Camp Nou and Barca FC to find out more details and how to book.
7 Celebrate the grape
Autumn is the time for harvesting and celebrating the grape. It’s a good time for a visit to a Catalonian winery to try some vino blanco or the fabulous cava. We took a walk in the rolling countryside of El Penedes, west of Barcelona, lifting leaves to see the grapes, running our fingers through the mineral rich clay and limestone soil, and visiting the cellars of Eudald Massana Noya to learn the ingredients for the production of their cava.
If you are feeling super active then you can book yourself onto a Nordic walking tour of vineyard in Alella; one of the smallest and oldest wine producing regions in Spain, situated 15km north of the city. Our poles gave us that extra push as we slowly headed up the steep vineyards of Alta Alella winery but we did stop on the hill for a chilled glass of cava. We could see the Mediterranean sea on our left and the towers of Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia on our right.
Another option for celebrating the harvest is to head down to the wine festival in Sitges. Sitges is a lovely little seaside town filled with people walking tiny dogs and chilling out. I did an Instagram walk there and there was no shortage of photo opps. The Sitges wine festival is in October along with a gourmet food festival. Check out Dealchecker infographic above for other autumn festival ideas.
Disclosure Note: This post is brought to you in a collaboration with dealcheckers.co.uk. The Fall in Love with Barcelona this Autumn is a graphic produced by dealchecker.co.uk who asked us to share seven of our top reasons to visit Barcelona in autumn and their infographic. While they compensated us for our time in writing and sharing this, the ideas and experience remain, as ever, entirely our own.