Typical! You book a city break in Barcelona to soak up the atmosphere and sun – and it’s raining. The Mediterranean climate means we typically enjoy mild winters and scorching summers, though from time to time, a little rain pours down and the sun disappears.
If on your next trip to Barcelona the heavens open, you might be tempted to cosy up in your hotel room and hold off exploring for another day. But we don’t think the rain should stop you from having a good time! Grab your raincoat and head outdoors, because there are so many exciting things to get up to in Barcelona when the weather is poor – you just need to be ready to try something you might not have considered. Below, we round up some of your options…
The perfect day out for the whole family, L’Aquàrium de Barcelona is a real underwater treat. It’s home to more than 11,000 animals (covering 450 species) and it’s also Europe’s only Oceanarium, with fourteen themed areas which cover everything from the Meditteranean to the Tropical Coral Reef and the “Jewels of the Sea” Exhibition you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re planning a visit, find some time to explore the glass tunnel, where you can walk with sharks, and check out the regular feeding talks which are delivered in Spanish and English.
If you’re after an adventure, it’s possible to cage dive with sharks or dive without a cage if you’re a qualified scuba diver. The little ones can even stay overnight, where they’ll be given a sleeping bag and left to catch some Zs in front of the aquarium’s awe-inspiring shark tank.
Museum of Modernism Barcelona
If you’re a fan of modernism, then the Museu del Modernisme de Barcelona is a real hidden gem in the city. Housing the works of Antonio Gaudí, Joan Busquets, Gaspar Homar, Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Joaquim Mir, Josep Llimona, Eusebi Arnau, and more, the museum features breathtaking sculptures, furniture and decorations. It’s the perfect stop-off point for art lovers, but you should note that the museum has a no photo policy, so leave your camera in the hotel and spend time marvelling at the many artefacts on display.
One of the most prestigious ‘History of Art’ Institutes in Europe, the Casa Amatller is another item to add to your bucket list on a rainy day in the city. A fine example of Catalan modernist architecture, the building was designed by renowned Puig i Cadafalch for chocolatier Antoni Amatller, but since 1942 has been open to the public, preserved in its original condition, with its furniture and decorations intact to help you ‘step back in time’.
The purpose of the museum today is to showcase the 19th-century masterpiece in all of its glory, like its stunning modernista stained-glass windows in the caretaker’s office. In order to truly understand its history, an audio guide is offered in Spanish, Catalan, English, and French, and tour guides are on hand to provide further insights into Catalan culture.
If the weather is not on your side and you want to stay warm and dry, the head to one of the city’s many authentic bars to sample some Pinchos (Pintxos). Meaning ‘to pierce’ in English, pinchos are small pieces of bread with delicious toppings, like ham, goats cheese, salmon, and sausage. Typically found pre-prepared on bar tops in restaurants and cafes, pinchos are a must-taste on your next visit to Barcelona – a real authentic treat.
The best part is that many restaurants offer pinchos from as little as one euro, and traditional restaurants will typically charge you for the number of skewers left on your plate at the end of the meal, so knock yourself out and sample all of the delicious flavour combinations!
Tapas y Platillos around the Born
It would be a crime to visit Barcelona without sampling some of its delicious tapas, so whilst there are showers, head on over to the Born Area for a tasty adventure. We recommend starting your journey with vermouth and some olives to whet your appetite, before traversing the narrow streets and checking out some of the area’s many authentic tapas bars.
Think Iberian ham, smoked sardines on a toast and lamb terrine – all options to consider when you’re in the heart of Barcelona’s foody region. Not so adventurous or need help separating the hidden gems from the tourist hotspots? Consider a Barcelonina foodie tour, where you’ll learn more about our food traditions, the area’s history, and sample dishes from some of the best places to eat in Barcelona. The perfect way to spend a drizzly afternoon!
Santa Maria del Mar
Also known as the cathedral of La Ribera, the Santa Maria del Mar is one of the most stunning examples of Gothic style architecture, and another sensible choice when the rain is pouring. Built over 55 years between 1329 and 1384, Santa Maria del Mar is an excellent exemple of a church in Catalan Gothic style, and with its tall columns and stain-glass windows, it must be seen with your own eyes to be believed. Should the rain stop, or you’re armed with an umbrella, the church offers guided tours on the roof of the building from May to October, exploring its construction, its history, and the surrounding La Ribera neighbourhood. The best part? Entrance to the church is free (donations are welcome), and you can gain access to the nave, choir and the crypt for just ten euros if you want to explore the venue further…
Don’t let the rain stop you from shopping ‘til you drop – most of Barcelona’s markets and stalls are indoors! If you only visit one on your holiday, we recommend the La Boqueria Market, Barcelona’s biggest food market. In fact, the market welcomes more than 40,000 visitors a day and was voted the world’s best food market by CNN. Its stalls offer a whole host of authentic Catalan food products like fish, ham, and vegetables, and its many tiny bars and tapas restaurants make great stop-off points for a bite to eat and a glass of wine.
Antoni Gaudí cut his teeth working on the Palau Güell, originally built as an urban palace as an extension of politician Eusebi Güell’s family home on La Rambla. A beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture, the building’s intertwining of stone, wood, iron, pottery, and glass help to create something truly awe-inspiring. Declared a historical-artistic monument by the Spanish Government back in 1969 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, Palau Güell can be visited year-round, whatever the weather, for €12, which includes a guided tour.
Come rain or shine, hiring a Barcelona private guide is the best way to see the city through new eyes and head off the beaten track. Whether you want to explore Barcelona by bike or sample authentic tapas with the locals in the Raval area, you’ll find it all with Barcelonina.