Visiting Barcelona in September
Great weather, a litany of festivals and less tourists…
By Jessica Bowler
Europe’s biggest street party – La Mercè – is just one of the epic fiestas that takes place each year in Barcelona in September, while it’s also the perfect time of year to try a wine tour, or enjoy some beach time, without getting burnt.
September is one of the nicest months of the year to visit Barcelona. The tourist crowds of the peak summer months have calmed down, and the locals are back from their lengthy August holidays, meaning the city feels “lived in” again – and not a mere Gaudi-themed amusement park.
Overall it’s the perfect month to pick off a few cultural highlights, drop in on a fiesta or two, and to enjoy some outdoor activities while the sun shines bright and the city’s summer vibes continues.
Weather in September
The temperatures become much more manageable this time of year, with average highs of 26 degrees Celsius, while average lows are still a balmy 20 degrees. A refreshing change from August which is sticky, day and night, but still hot enough to head down to the beach and enjoy a swim in the sea, if you feel so inclined. On average September has just four rainy days each year, so you’re unlikely to have to take cover for long, if at all.
In terms of what to pack, you’ll need all your usual summer holiday stuff (shorts, t-shirts and swimwear!), especially during the day, but it would be wise to pack one or two long pairs of pants, and a warm layer or two for the evenings, just in case it cools off.
16 Great Things To Do
To help you make the most of the month, we’ve rounded up some fun and fresh ideas for things to do in Barcelona in September, so you don’t miss any of the great stuff going on.
1. Celebrate Barcelona’s Traditions at La Mercè
La Mercè is an annual festival celebrating one of the patron saints of Barcelona, the Virgin of Grace. The official feast day is the 24th, and the celebrations take place a few days before and after this date. It’s been going since medieval days, and today there are 600 completely free events held throughout the city! Don’t miss a castellers – human towers – performance. More info about La Merce in our events calendar, or on the official website, below:
2. Rock Out at the BAM Festival
BAM stands for “Barcelona Accio Musical”, and it’s a series of concerts to accompany La Mercè festival (above). There are venues all over the city, and the music tends to be indie rock, though you’ll also find electronic and pop artists. The concerts are all outdoor, and – even better – free! Pop into your local tourist office and ask for a programme, or you should be able to find more info on La Mercè section of Barcelona’s city website, below:
3. Head to the Beach!
More often than not, the weather remains great in Barcelona well into September. With the mix of warm temperatures (average 26 degrees Celsius by day) and reduced crowds, as everyone gets back to school and work, there’ll be plenty of space for you to put down your towel in prime sunbathing position. Then all that’s left to do is update your Instagram with sausage legs and a cool glass of sangria. For the low down on Barcelona’s urban beaches keep reading.
4. Go Wine Tasting in the Penedes
Early autumn is also a lovely time to get out into the wonderful rolling hills of the local wine country. The Penedes region is full of first rate wineries, big and small, many of whom specialise in producing Cava… although you’ll find excellent table wines as well. For a splash of luxury hire a private tour guide who will pick you up from your hotel and take you to two boutique vineyards, as well as an authentic Catalan restaurant in the countryside. For a more affordable option, check out the Create Your Own Cava activity, which is incredible value for money. Click the button for all your options!
5. Visit Gaudi’s Casa Mila by Day… or Night!
Gaudi’s famous mansion, sometimes referred to La Pedrera (‘The Quarry’) thanks to its undulating façade, is a highlight for most culture-orientated travellers thanks to its unique architecture, preserved period apartment, and stunning rooftop, ornamented with the architect’s trademark chimneys. You can read more about the roof, interior and buying skip the line tickets for visiting by day. But did you know, you can also visit Casa Mila by night? Sign up for their ‘La Pedrera Origins‘ show and you’ll get an evening tour of the mansion, before heading up to the roof for an audiovisual show with a glass of Cava. One of the more original things to do in the Catalan capital!
6. Get Off The Beaten Track by Bike
Barcelona is a city best explored by bicycle… at least in our opinion! The terrain is flat, the climate is clement, and there’s plenty to see outside the touristic Gothic Quarter. Specialised in alternative and sustainable tourism since 2010, Steel Donkey Bike Tours pride themselves on showing travellers the real Barcelona, revealing hidden parks and plazas, hip local hang outs and offering insight into both contemporary and historic times. Recommended by Lonely Planet and with great reviews, if you want to see something a bit different from the usual itinerary look them up. The name comes from the fact that the donkey is the national animal of Catalonia.
7. Witness Catalan Pride during La Diada
Known in Catalan as the “Diada Nacional de Catalunya”, this festival on September 11th celebrates all things Catalan. Traditionally, it’s a day for cultural events, though they’re often overshadowed by the independence demonstrations and marches held in the city centre by Catalan nationalists in recent years. Depending on who you ask, either 500,000 or 2 million people showed up to last year’s demonstration. If you’re fascinated by Catalan independence this is a great opportunity to see politics in action, with people usually gathering around Arc de Triomf. If you’re not, then it’s best to avoid this area as it will be congested, and with a heavy police presence. The Local website has more info.
8. Go Wild on a Boat Party!
The last of the Barcelona boat parties set sail this time of year, so if you’re young and carefree and fancy spending a couple of hours at sea swigging sangria and dancing away then read up on your options! A great way to meet fellow travellers, and take advantage of the city’s coastal location while the sun still shines.
9. Dance the Night Away in Opium
Experience the razzle-dazzle of Barcelona’s epic nightlife on a tour of some of it’s best venues, starting with Mirablau and night views over the entire city and finishing at the legendary Opium club. The tour only runs on weekends during the high season, and is a great way to meet other party people and experience some of the city’s best venues at the same time…
10. Go Sea Kayaking on the Mediterranean
With the colder weather about to kick in, this is your last chance to grab an oar and enjoy an amazing day of kayaking on the Costa Brava. Our partners organise transport from Barcelona city centre up to Sant Feliu (a bit over an hour away), every day at noon, after which you board your kayaks and, with the help of a guide, explore the stunning coves and bays of the local coastline. They’ll even be a chance to snorkel and swim in some of the caves. The price is just €65 with everything included. More info and bookings here.
11. Get Festive at a “Festa Major”
All year round, Barcelona’s neighbourhoods take turns hosting their versions of a neighbourhood block party. They’ll typically involve a mix of local traditions and a modern-day block party. Not surprisingly, these parties tend to be more popular in the warmer months. In September, the districts of Barceloneta, La Ribera and Poblenou all hold their “festa major”. Click the link above to find out more!
12. Take A Sailing Trip!
You can go sailing almost any time of year in Barcelona – weather permitting – but let’s face it, it’s only really enjoyable when you can lounge on deck in your swimming costume and dive off starboard for a cooling dip. There are dozens of great boat trips you can do when in Barcelona… so many in fact that we wrote an article about them! Whether you want to rent a yacht and skipper for just you and your partner/friends, or you want to join others on a jolly jaunt out onto the Mediterranean you can find something fun and affordable.
13. Enjoy the Last of the Summer Rooftop Bars
Barcelona’s coolest rooftop bars are usually found hidden inside swanky hotels, but you don’t have to be a staying customer to use them in most cases – you just need to be able to afford the inflated bar prices. Just head inside, go straight for the lift, and head to the top floor and enjoy the amazing views and VIP vibe. These bars tend to open during the warm weather months, with most closing in September or October until the springtime. There’s a great list of the best rooftop bars over at Barcelona Navigator, whose photo (above) we have borrowed! (Thanks Dan!).
14. Enjoy a Local Food or Beer Tour
Barcelona is full of foodie things to do, and hip local tours are multiplying year by year. One young company that specialises in both authentic tapas tours and regional craft beer tasting is the appropriately named Tapas & Beers. Their tapas tour takes place in the authentic Sant Antoni and Poble Sec districts, whilst their beer tour is led by a passionate cerveza connoisseur.
15. Strike A Pose for a Professional Photographer
Who doesn’t occasionally dream of becoming a model? Exotic locations, great clothes, millions of Instagram followers… what’s not to like? Shutter Kings Barcelona sadly can’t promise to turn you into the next big thing on the catwalk, but they can capture your best angles in some of the city’s most iconic locations. Book one of their photoshoots for you, your family or your group of friends and you’ll get 30 professional portraits to take home with you as the best possible souvenir of your travels.
16. Be Prepared for a Chance of Rain
While September is mostly dry, you never know when those four or five days of rainfall (on average) are going to strike. It’s never bad to have a few indoor activities you might like to do just in case. Here’s a list of great museums to get you started, or you could drop in on an escape room – check our favourites.
More Autumn Activities!
About the Author
Jessica was born in England and grew up in California before moving to Seville to study Spanish. She now lives here in Barcelona, where she works in communications, studies for her masters and still finds time to update her award-winning blog Barcelona Blonde – as well as being a regular contributor to Barcelona Life!