Aside from all the major monuments and sights, which can be visited year-round, there are many things to do in Barcelona in the off-peak season. If you’re visiting in the Autumn months you’ll find a different Barcelona, one which is less crowded and has more of a distinctly local vibe.
Celebrate La Castanyada
La Castanyada is Catalunya’s most important holiday during the fall. It coincides with Halloween (which is not a tradition here, but has grown in popularity in recent years) and All Saints Day, and it revolves around food: the castanyes is draws its name from—chestnuts—, moniatos—sweet potatoes—, and panellets, which are typical catalan sweets served for desert. There is no consensus on the festival’s origins, but it is widely thought to be the pagan flipside to the Catholic All Saints Day, the day of the dead. Go for a walk around the city, and you’ll find little street stalls selling castanyes and moniatos in the plazas, and many different varieties of panellets in bakeries and pastry shops. These are typically taken with a local variety of sweet wine, Moscatell.
Get to know Spanish All Saints Day
Tots Sants –All Saints Day— is the Catholic holiday that coincides with La Castanyada, and t is closely linked with El Dia dels Morts–the day of the dead. It is said that on Tots Sants the living visit the dead, while on El Dia dels Morts the dead visit the living. For the more religious and conservative families, Tots Sants is the day to visit one’s departed relatives at the cemetery.
Costume up for Halloween
Halloween is a foreign import in Catalunya, but over the past few years it has moved from obscurity into the mainstream and become quite popular. Costumes used to be a rarity, but in recent years they’ve become more common and there are plenty of costume parties all over the city, including at many of the most popular clubs. If you’re in town at the end of October and you want to dress up for a night out pay a visit to Relámpago in Gràcia to pick up a mask or a costume.
Go mushroom picking!
Mushrooms are delicious, and autumn is mushroom season. Especially appreciated in Catalunya are Rovellons, a seasonal, local variety of mushrooms that can be found in abundance in the Catalan countryside from October to December. Book a tour with a local guide and go mushroom gathering in the mountains of Tibidabo, or even farther out from Barcelona, and then come back and take a cooking class and learn how to put to use your freshly gathered fungi. Some other varieties you should look out for are the deliciously earthy Trompetes de la Mort, Camagrocs, and Gírgoles.
Check out Barcelona’s Jazz Festival
In Barcelona, summer belongs to rock, pop, and electronic music, but autumn is the season of Jazz. Every year top international artists gather in the Catalan capital for the Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona, which runs from October to December (exact dates vary slightly every year). Unlike a traditional music festival, where all the acts are crammed together into a few days at an overcrowded concert venue, Barcelona’s festival is spread out over weeks, with concerts, masterclasses, documentary showings many other interesting events taking place at different venues all over the city. Altogether a more relaxed proposition, in keeping with the festival’s eclectic and well-curated character.
Learn about cutting edge architecture at OpenHouse
A city famous for its architecture couldn’t be without its own architecture festival. Enter OpenHouse, which since 2010 has done precisely what its same says: open some of Barcelona’s most interesting buildings to visitors so residents and tourists alike can engage with the city’s architecture on a more intimate level. Many local classics are on the program, but so are many other lesser known, contemporary works that usually don’t receive much attention. OpenHouse is a great opportunity to deepen your knowledge of Barcelona’s architecture and to get to know parts of that are usually overlooked.
Autumn and spring are the best months of the year to be outdoors in Barcelona. Rent a bike and go for a ride along the Passeig Maritim in the evening, and enjoy the colorful Mediterranean sunset and the breeze. Alternatively, if you want a more scenic route, head to the Carretera de les Aigües, which runs for 9 kilometers across the Tibidabo hills, and has a beautiful view of the whole city at its feet.