With only 55 days of rain a year on average, and mild temperatures year-round, Barcelona has some of the best weather you can find anywhere. But even on those rare occasions when it does rain, there are still plenty of things to do in the Catalan capital. Check out some of our recommendations for the best things to do in Barcelona when it rains.
Discover the Mediterranean ecosystem at the Barcelona Aquarium
Inaugurated in 1995, the Barcelona Aquarium boasts 450 different species of marine animals in the largest Mediterranean ecosystem display in the world. Walk through the underwater glass tunnel and watch clown fish, octopi, rays and bull sharks swim by overhead. If you have a diving license you can even go for a swim in the tank. More information and tickets for the Aquarium here.
Take in the city’s sights on a bus tour
Barcelona’s Hop On Hop Off buses have a covered roof, so they’re a good way to tour the city on a rainy day and see all its major landmarks without getting wet. Like their name suggests, you can get off the bus at any stop to explore a landmark more in-depth and get back on again later with the same ticket. More information and tickets for the hop on hop off bus here.
Visit Palau Güell, Gaudí’s first famous house
Before creating the world-famous Casa Batlló, the Park Güell or the Sagrada Familia, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí designed the Palau Güell for his patron Eusebi Güell. Inaugurated in 1888 for Barcelona’s World’s Fair, the Palau Güell belongs to Guadí’s orientalist period, in which he drew inspiration from eastern art and architecture, such as from Persia, India and Japan, as well as from Spain’s own Islamic heritage. As one of his earliest works, the Palau Güell also offers some perspective into Gaudí’s evolution as an architect. More information and tickets for Palau Güell here.
Go shopping at a bullfighting ring turned-shopping mall
Las Arenas is Barcelona’s newest and coolest shopping mall. Built inside an old bull fighting ring, it has over one hundred shops, a 12-screen cinema, and dozens of bars and restaurants. Perhaps the best part is the viewing platform at the top, which runs in a circle all the way around the building overlooking the city and offering a great view of Montjuic. There are many restaurants at the top level where you can enjoy a meal with a view right on the terrace.
Watch an independent film in Gracia
Sitting right in the heart of Gracia, on Carrer Verdi, from which it draws its name, the Cinema Verdi is known as the go-to place in Barcelona to watch alternative and independent films in their original language. The Verdi is a different movie theater, not focused on Hollywood super productions and blockbusters, but rather on the type of films that take home the awards at Cannes, the Berlinale, or the Sundance festival. After catching a film, try one of the Middle-eastern restaurants you’ll find just a few meters away for dinner.
Tip from Matthias: The Verdi offers discounts on certain days. You’ll pay roughly half price if you go see a movie on a Monday as opposed to the rest of the week.
Feast on the smells, sounds, colors and tastes of a world-famous food market
La Boquería is a sensory overload – make your way through the throngs of shoppers that visit it every day, and you’ll be bombarded by an array of sounds, smells, and colors that few places can rival. It is one of Europe’s most emblematic food markets, and although it has become a major tourist attraction, this hasn’t diluted the quality of the produce on offer – many of the city’s top restaurateurs do their shopping here. The market doesn’t only sell produce; there are also many bars and restaurants among the stalls where you can have a meal. You’ll have to wait to get a stool (here, eating is done on a stool at the bar), but the experience is worth it. Try El Quim de la Boqueria, known for its fried eggs with squid and its ham croquettes. Find out more about La Boquería here.
Visit Barcelona’s science museum: CosmoCaixa
The Cosmocaixa is Barcelona’s science museum, and unlike most museums where you are encouraged to look but under no circumstances touch anything, here you can get hands on with the exhibits. The most interesting part is the rainforest display, an enclosure that contains an aquatic rainforest ecosystem with mangrove trees, fish and amphibians, reptiles, and other animals. The museum is on a hill above the city, so you can also enjoy a spectacular view of Barcelona from the terrace. Find out more and book tickets to CosmoCaixa here.
Discover Riojas, Priorats, Cava, and other local signature wines
Spanish wines often don’t get the same attention as French and Italian ones – but this is largely because of marketing, and because French and Italian gastronomies are more iconic and more recognized internationally. However, Spain has an ancient and rich wine-making tradition, with nothing to envy its two neighbors, and you can –and definitely should– get acquainted with it during your visit. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Try Blend & Bottled, which pairs top Spanish wines with artisan cheeses and charcuterie for a taste of some of the best the Iberian soil has to offer.
Take a break from the city’s bustle at a Spa
Like with all major cities, sometimes Barcelona can get a little overwhelming – but there’s a great getaway in the heart of the city itself for those moments when you just want to unplug and relax. Aire de Barcelona, located right across the street from El Parc de la Ciutadella, is a Spa that offers thermal pools, aromatherapy, massages and body treatments, all in a beautiful underground stone brick vault setting, illuminated by lanterns and candles. Relax in one of the warm pools, and you’ll feel like you’ve left the urban bustle behind.
Go to an art exhibit at Barcelona’s most important modern art museum
The MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, is a local landmark and the mecca of contemporary art in Catalunya. As far as art museums go, the MACBA definitely falls on the cerebral side of the spectrum – you should read up on the exhibits before you visit them and prepare to be challenged by what you encounter – which is not necessarily a bad thing. A museum that asks questions of its guests and invites them to think instead of just be passive consumers of art is doing its job rather well.
Go shopping in Barcelona’s largest department store
El Corte Inglés is the biggest chain of department stores in Europe, and the Plaça Catalunya location, which celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 2012, is one of its flagship stores. You’ll be able to find everything from fashion, to electronics, cosmetics, perfumes, gourmet products, toys, and many other things on its 10 floors. You can also take a pause from shopping on the top floor, which houses a restaurant and bar overlooking the Plaça and the lower city through a giant, façade-spanning glass wall.
Get acquainted with one of Catalunya’s most important artists
The Fundació Joan Miró is one of Barcelona’s coolest and most emblematic museums. Created by the artist himself as a vehicle to make art more accessible to everyone, it houses a permanent collection with hundreds of Miró’s paintings and sculptures as well as temporary exhibits featuring other contemporary artists. The building, designed by Catalan architect Josep Lluis Sert, is also a work of art. Widely regarded as one of the most outstanding museum buildings in the world, its labyrinthine distribution guides visitors on a journey through Miro’s evolution as an artist throughout his life.