Exploring Barcelona in the summer
It’s no secret that we are enamored with Barcelona and the surrounding Catalunya region. In our humble opinion, there’s really no bad time to visit, but don’t waste too much time before booking that ticket. With scenes from the newest Game of Thrones filmed in nearby Girona, the area will soon be chock full of enthusiastic fans of the show. With many taking the summer months to travel, we’ve composed a list of five reasons why July is a great time to visit Barcelona.
The music scene
July is a poppin’ month when it comes to Barcelona’s numerous summer music festivals. The open air Festival de Pedralbes lasts June through July and features headliners like The Cranberries, Tom Jones, and The Lumineers. To jam to a more eclectic beat, book your tickets during the Festival Cruïlla Barcelona. The festival takes place July 8–10 and talented crooners include Damien Rice, Crystal Fighters, and Cat power.
Música als Parcs (Music in the Parks) is an annual event of free concerts that take place in parks throughout the city. The music selection ranges from classical to jazz and is fun for the whole family. Our advice is to pack a picnic and enjoy the complimentary music and ideal ambiance.
Being a mediterranean city, Barcelona tends to get quite toasty in the summer. The good news is that July may be hot but it’s not the hottest month to visit (that would be August). Take advantage of the summer sun with a trip to the beach and enjoy the city’s world famous paella al fresco. The heat is also a perfect excuse to indulge in sangria or, our personal favorite Barca libation, a fragrant gin and tonic.
A fun way to beat the heat while touring the city is with a sidecar tour. Feel the wind in your hair as your guide takes you through the city streets to some of Barcelona’s most iconic spots.
The city’s residents also tend to use the summer for traveling and the result is sometimes a less crowded Barcelona than usual. This makes for the perfect time to navigate the city’s famous sites. Shorter lines mean that you’ll be able to take in more of iconic Barcelona. We would suggest a self-tailored Tour de Gaudi. We would start with a visit to his perpetually under construction La Sagrada Familia, followed by a stop to take in the colorful Casa Batlló, and end with a stroll through Park Güell with its epic views over the city.
Viewfinder Tip: Skip the long lines by booking your tickets to many of Barcelona’s famous sites online.
One of our favorite places to explore on foot is Barcelona’s maze-like Gothic Quarter. This architecturally rich area is a great place to shop for souvenirs and stroll at your own pace. Once the hunger hits, duck down any street for some authentic Spanish tapas.
Summer in Barcelona is a fantastic time to enjoy a few of the city’s many festivals. A July favorite is the Festa Major de Poble-Sec where bands and booze collide. The festival takes place around El Molino on Paral·lel street as well as along the length of Carrer Blai. This year, the festival runs from July 16–24 and features a little something for everyone. Past years have even included a craft beer festival. That’s one surefire way to ensure a party.
The food in Barcelona is fantastic all year round, but the heat of the summer months make some dishes even more enjoyable. Like we mentioned earlier, paella is best enjoyed by the ocean. This traditional dish is a flavorful bed of saffron rice cooked with both meat and seafood. The best paella has pockets of rice that have been slightly burnt adding extra flavor and texture. Some of the best restaurants for paella include 7 Portes, Restaurant Montiel, and La Mar Salada.
As far as drinks go in Barcelona, gin and tonics reign supreme. Forget everything you know about G&Ts. The toughest part of ordering a gin and tonic in the city is choosing which gin you want. Barcelona pairs top shelf gin with flavorful tonic concoctions, usually topped with fresh fruit, spices, or herbs. The end result is a refreshing cocktail that is sure to cool you down before you heat up the night.
Remember that dinners tend to start late in Spain and typically last well into the night. Do as the locals do and partake in a traditional siesta in the afternoon to not only rest from your day of adventures but also to prepare for the night ahead. If you find yourself peckish before dinner, dash into one of the city’s ubiquitous tapas bars.
Regardless of when you find yourself in Barcelona, be sure to stop and enjoy this magical city at your own pace. There’s so much to take in that we’re sure we could explore the city for years and still not see it all.
Where are your favorite summer travel spots?
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Chris and Tawny have had articles and videos published on USA TODAY TRAVEL, BBC Travel, Matador Network, as well as appeared as guest stars on TLC Asia's Fun Taiwan television series. When not on the road, you can find Chris and Tawny nestled in their home in Tacoma, Washington fueling up on coffee and cat cuddles while planning their future adventures. You can follow their travels on their blog, Instagram, and YouTube