This article was originally posted on the 28th October 2017 and updated on October 26th 2018.
It’s getting chilly out there! Barcelona may be on the Mediterranean but those sea breezes turn cooler this time of year. We still have the odd warm day and the sun still shines, meaning a blustery walk along the sea front will still be good fun, but we have some great activities and ideas that will help keep you entertained inside or outside, regardless of the temperature in the city.
One of the best things about Catalonia is that every holiday is accompanied by something delicious. For example, while in the UK they give chocolate eggs at Easter, in Catalonia they give chocolate sculptures that can cost hundreds of euros! This time of year, as the leaves change colour and the temperature drops, three different and delightful treats hit the shelves and the streets of Barcelona.
Catalan “Street Food”
Street food might conjure images of fried snacks on sticks, but Catalans have their own ideas. During the autumn and winter months, stalls (which just appear to be large, closed boxes in the street most of the year) will unlock their wooden doors and the owners will bring metal containers out onto the pavement. These become the barbeques on which the delicious, Catalan street food is prepared.
These stalls, simply called paradas de castanyas, which means “chestnut stops”, are an intrinsic part of the celebration of All Saints Day, which takes place on November 1st and is a national holiday in Spain. While Halloween as a celebration, with dressing up and trick-or-treating, is now common in Barcelona, the parties and foods of All Saints Day are still enjoyed all over Catalunya. The stalls open a week or so before the celebration and stay there for a couple of weeks afterwards, before closing up again for another year.
As their name might suggest, these stalls sell a tasty snack that is common in colder times across Europe – roasted “castanyas” or chesnuts. Wrapped in paper and sold for just a few euros a pack, they are a great way to warm your hands on a chilly November evening.
The other delicious offering from the stands is “boniatos”, or sweet potatoes, which are wrapped in foil and roasted on the coals until soft on the inside, with a natural rich and buttery taste.
These special huts only pop up at this time of year, so if you’re lucky enough to be visiting in November, make sure to grab these local street snacks. Children in schools are even visited by a “castanyera”, an old lady dressed in old-fashioned clothing that represents the chestnut sellers, and the children have to sing a special song to her to receive their treat. Sadly singing won’t bring chesnuts to you, but there’s lots of street corners with these foods and you can follow your nose if needs be – the smoky smell fills the air.
Now for the dessert. You can find these in bakeries all over Barcelona (see some of our favourites listed below) and they are a must-try if you’re here during autumn. Grab yourself a coffee and a “panellet” – while now there are many variations on these balls of patisserie perfection, the traditional recipe is ground almonds in dough and layered with pine nuts. The crunchy outside and soft inside are the taste of fall, so chomp on these as you stomp through leaves.
Bakeries: Baluard Bakery, Carrer del Baluard, 38, 08003
La Colmena, Plaça de l’Àngel, 12, 08002
Ideal, Carrer Gran de Gràcia, 207, 08012.
Escape Room activities have blown up in the last few years, with the largest one in Europe recently opening up right here in Barcelona. The idea encourages teamwork, imagination, and above all, a sense of adventure. Bring out your inner Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot as you and your team race against the clock to solve the physical and mental challenges and escape to freedom! With our amazing Escape Rooms in the centre of Barcelona, you can have up to 6 people on a team and play 3 rooms simultaneously, meaning up to 18 people at a time can be puzzling their way to victory – who will escape first and who won’t escape at all? Who will be the skilled survivors and who will be locked in the room and forgotten… well, not forgotten; we’ll let you out again of course! But as the clock counts down you forget for just one minute that it’s all a game and will find yourself drawn into the world created by the room.
If you think this is for you, visit our page and get in touch to book – Escape Room.
I say a little prayer for you
Europe’s Catholic countries are known for having some beautiful churches, and Barcelona is no exception. Even for those who are not religious, Barcelona’s churches are all lovely in their own way. From the grand Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic quarter with its tranquil cloister and highly decorated insides to the stark shell of Santa Maria del Mar in the medieval Born neighbourhood, a fresh, crisp November day is the perfect time to visit these amazing spaces. Some you need to pay to get into and others are free, some will hold concerts and all of them have regular masses should you wish to visit (quietly!) during a sermon. Seek out the lesser known churches such as the one the Plaza de Sant Felip Neri in the Gothic quarter and in Plaza Virreina.
Finally, no visit to Barcelona’s churches is complete without a visit to Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, Sagrada Familia. This building, that has taken more than one hundred years to complete, is stunning both inside and out. Follow the story of its construction as you walk around the outside, where it is clear which sections were completed long ago and those which have just been created, then head inside to discover Gaudi’s love of nature erected in stone and stained glass.
November is a great time to visit Sagrada Familia as it is less busy and, in low season, special deals on tickets are sometimes offered.
Contact us for a tailor-made tour which can be adapted to include a guided visit inside the Sagrada Familia.
Ok, so we’ve already covered food, but that was snacks – this is dinner! And entertainment too. Poble Espanyol is a great spot for those who want to see something that most tourists don’t visit – this often overlooked reconstruction of Spanish-style houses is an awesome setting to see that most Spanish of dancing styles, Flamenco.
The Poble Espanyol is located on the hill by the sea, Montjuic, and is easily reached by taxi, bus or on foot. We suggest walking if you want to work up an appetite for the show; you may arrive a little out of breath, but doesn’t that make it all the more satisfying? Choose from two seating times (18.00h for the early diners, 20.30h if you want to eat at Spanish time!) and then choose your menu: Tapas or a 3-course dinner. Then you can sit back and enjoy the show! Watch as the dancers stamp, clap and twirl around the stage, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Included with this Flamenco and dining package is a ticket to explore the Poble Espanyol, so arrive an hour or so before your dining time to take a stroll through Spanish architectural history.
Contact us today and shout “olé”!…Or tell us that you want to book a Flamenco show with dinner.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Barcelona in November – we’re waiting for you!