What to Do with 48 Hours in Rainy Barcelona

February 5, 2017
what to do in barcelona

I had a very clear picture in my head about how my two days in Barcelona would go.

Stunning blue skies as a backdrop to Gaudi’s colorful buildings.  Breathtaking photos of La Sagrada Familia and Sagrat Cor.  Sipping sangria in a floaty sundress and cardigan while chowing down on patatas bravas.

Something like this but, like, way better:

I wanted my Barcelona trip to look like this, instead it rained the whole time...how to make the most of 2 rainy days in this beautiful city

Then this happened.

That’s right, rain.  And more rain.  And sad, heavy, gray, overcast skies.  Basically, the saddest pictures ever.  And with only two days planned in the city, I couldn’t just wait it out.  So I sucked it up and hit the (wet) streets.

Here are my tips for what to do in Barcelona to make sure your trip isn’t ruined by bad weather.

Re-work your itinerary, pronto

I had a whole list of everything I wanted to see and photograph, including Parc Guell and going up to Mount Tibidabo to see Sagrat Cor.  Quite frankly, those would have been mostly wasted trips since it was raining for a full day and completely overcast and gloomy the other day.

Hopefully you’ve already reserved your tickets for going inside La Sagrada Familia, because if not…well, if not then you’re just like me and SOL.  Obviously, if you enjoy museums then this is a perfect opportunity to wallow in the amazing art and culture Barcelona has to offer.  I’m not, so I had to get creative.  And re-set my expectations.

Eat and drink everything in sight.

In full transparency, this is my default setting anyway—to me, food and drink are one of the biggest reasons to travel, and my favorite way to experience a new culture.  But because I couldn’t be blown away by some of the sights, it gave me permission to spend time sitting at cafes, eating, drinking, and people watching.  Normally with only two days to see a city, I’d kind of rush getting food during daylight so I could go on to the next place.  But with fewer places to be, I got to find hidden little alleys and plazas away from the noise and just chill.

Also, sangria.  All the sangria.

Tips for what to do in Barcelona if it's gray & rainy...how I made the most of my trip despite the weather

Tips for making the most of overcast, rainy Barcelona...adapt your plans, eat everything, & don't mind getting a bit wet

Tips for making the most of Barcelona if it rains...for one thing, eat everything in sight!

Don't let the rain ruin your trip to Barcelona, tips for getting the most out of your time

Wander. Linger.

If eating everything in sight is my default setting, this is the opposite.  I’m generally a woman on a mission.

It’s a bummer, but also a fact of life—a lot of the time rain or gray skies means that your photographs of the most famous sights will be duds.  So maybe go see them quickly, just to say you did, but then just get lost.  Wander around weird side streets and alleyways.  Find a plaça that wasn’t on your itinerary, or that you’d decided to skip.  Sit on a bench and watch a guy blow ginormous bubbles in the Plaça Catalunya.  With an empanada.  Because, see the previous point…

what to do in barcelona

what to do in barcelona

What to do in Barcelona...including if it rains!

what to do in barcelona

Get wet.

You don’t melt, and this is a really good excuse to not do your hair (not that I need an excuse…).  The most annoying thing for me is that I do really need my glasses for walking around, and I’m not an actual wizard so I can’t do the impervious charm on them to keep the rain off.  But with only two days to experience Barcelona, I decided to embrace getting wet and go see as much as possible anyway.

One of the bonuses of this approach is that the crowds will be much lighter at outdoor attractions, so you won’t have to be dodging hordes of tourists holding up iPads and selfie sticks to get a clear shot.

Though no one wants rain when traveling, it often means fewer crowds and having sights all to yourself. What to do in Barcelona

Get out there at off-times.

I got one of my favorite views and shots pre-dawn when I was out for a run.  You couldn’t tell, but it was still cloudy and sprinkling—but the way that Casa Batllo was lit up against the dark sky made the clouds irrelevant.  While sunset probably won’t work out if it’s cloudy, nighttime might just be your best friend when it’s overcast.

2 days in rainy Barcelona...Casa Batllo at night is beautiful despite the rain. What to do in Barcelona if it rains.

Believe it will end…

…and be prepared to take advantage when it does.  About an hour before sunset on my second (last) day, the sun finally broke through the clouds.  The picture of blue skies below is only a few minutes after that happened, and I couldn’t stop snapping pictures…I wasn’t entirely sure that the sun was here to stay, and didn’t want to miss a second.  I ran back to La Sagrada to meet my friends and re-take all my Sagrada pictures (which looked SO much better with the blue sky behind it).

The clouds were gone for good, so we did end up getting a beautiful sunset on our last evening, which we spent down at Barceloneta watching the mellow pinks reflect off the water.  I’d been certain throughout the two days that the sun would come out, and was so thankful it did…but the best part is that even if it didn’t, I’d still managed to have an awesome time in this beautiful and unique city.

what to do in barcelona

what to do in barcelona

what to do in barcelona

what to do in barcelona

Have you ever had a trip completely KO’d by rain?  What other tips do you have for making the most of a rainy trip??

Other short city explorations you might like:

What to do in Barcelona if it rains...with a short time, rain shouldn't ruin your plans

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