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May in Catalonia: What to do and weather guide

Catalonia gets ready for summer! May means terrace season begins, together with picnics at the beach and dinners al fresco. In the mountains, ski season is over and gives way to hiking and camping time! There are plenty of hours of light (15!) to explore, and the air is tinged with the scent of summer.

You won’t get bored as there’s a lot taking place in the country this month, from the well-established marathon of Barcelona to a gastronomic festival where snails are the protagonists!

Are you coming to Catalonia in May? Our guide with local plans to do in the country in May might come in handy!

The weather in Catalonia in May

Catalonia enjoys balmy weather in May. Spring temperatures are pleasant, sunshine is the norm, and the hours of light are plenty for exploring around!

🌡 Temperatures

The temperatures vary a lot depending on the area of Catalonia you’re visiting. Temperatures get warmer and warmer, and on the coast, there might be a few days of bikini-worthy beach weather. There, the average high in May is approx. 23 ºC, while the lower is around 16 ºC. It’s warm for T-shirts at midday, but it’s good to have a spring jacket at hand in the evenings. Day temperatures are similar in the centre of Catalonia and the region of Lleida, although they get a bit lower at nighttime. In the mountains, temperatures are a bit lower, and it especially gets cold at night when they reach around 8 ºC. You can watch the weather on your phone’s app (we usually use Google Weather) or Accuweather.

🌦 Weather

Don’t expect a lot of grey days like in Norway or London. We’re lucky sunshine is the norm in most parts of Catalonia in May!

☔️ Rain and snow

There are, on average, five rainy days in May in the centre of Catalonia, Lleida, and the coast. In the mountains, the average gets up to 8 days. What does this mean? With a bit of luck, you won’t get wet during your visit. But we highly recommend you pack a jacket that is also waterproof, or a small, easily-portable umbrella, so you can keep exploring without getting soaked!

☀️ Hours of light

There are between 14 and 15 hours of light a day in Catalonia in May. That’s plenty of sunshine for outdoor activities and for exploring around! Sunrise happens around 6:45 am at the beginning of the month and at 6:18 am at the end. So, for those staying at the coast and wanting to catch a beautiful sunrise over the sea, you better set your alarm early! Sunset, on the other hand, happens after 9 pm. Yes, it’s that wonderful time of the year when you can enjoy dinners outside, and it’s still bright.

What to pack for a trip to Catalonia in May

🧣 Clothing

What about the clothes to pack? You’ll need a bit of everything this time of year. Garb some full-length trousers and a spring jacket, but also shorts, T-shirts and, if you’re feeling optimistic, your swimmers too! If you’re going to the mountains, don’t forget a coat and some warm jumpers.

🥾 Footwear

Regarding shoes, sneakers are a great option. A pair of hiking boots will do if you plan to go to the mountains. Always remember to bring comfy shoes!

What’s on in Catalonia in May

Participate in a triathlon in a unique setting (1 May & 28-29 May)

If you like to sneak a sports event on your trip, you might be interested in those two triathlons. What’s unique about them is not the option of choosing between several distances or the number of participants. What’s special are the dreamlike locations where the triathlons take place.

In May, this circuit, named the TriTour, has two races. Both take place in the beautiful southern region known as Terres de l’Ebre. The first is on the weekend of the 30th Apr and 1st May in the Ebre Delta, and the second is on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of May in Amposta. Think about swimming at the end of the Ebre river, where it is about to join the Mediterranean sea, cycling through rice fields, and running nearby swamps or pretty villages.

Watch a movie for 3.5 € (3-5 May)

Yes, you heard that one right! Thanks to the Fiesta del Cine (Cinema Festival), tickets to all movies in most cinemas cost only 3.5 €! Whether they screen the latest blockbuster or a classic, all tickets cost the same. We bet the beginning of May is a happy time for cinemaphiles!

To grab this opportunity, you just need to sign up online, show the ticket at the cinema, and enjoy the movie!

Taste delicious vermouths at Vermut & Soul (6-8 May)

Vermut is a weekend ritual for many Catalans. Before lunch, we meet with friends, family, or mates, head to the bar terrace, and enjoy vermouth and some olives, chips, or/and cockles under the sun.

The Vermut & Soul festival is a great way to introduce yourself to this local tradition. It’s a festival dedicated exclusively to vermut held in Barcelona’s Olympic port from the 6th to the 8th of May. Think food, drinks, live music, and various activities, such as a catamaran trip with a vermouth taste and a live concert onboard.

Party under the sun with Brunch in the city

Who said you need to spend the whole night out to enjoy great parties? For those who like more to party in the sunshine, be in bed at 11 pm, and wake up fresh the next day, allow us to introduce you to Brunch in the city!

This festival takes place on Sunday 8th, 22nd, and 29th of May from 1 to 10 pm. You’ll only need to book your ticket in advance, and love electronic music! Then, you’re ready to have a great time.

And the location? It’s always in Barcelona, but the exact place keeps changing every time! It can be in the famous Poble Espanyol, in a park in Les Corts, or in an old beer factory.

There’s also something really cool about this festival that party mums and dads will love: little party animals are welcomed! The festival has an area exclusively designed for kids and parents. Also, there are activities programmed, so the young enjoy it as much as the old!

Go shopping in a Gaudí building (6-8 May)

Fancy a day of shopping in the capital? Forget about Zara, H&M, or Stradivarius, and get ready for a unique shopping experience. Think market stalls with local clothing, cosmetic, and jewellery brands located in a Gaudí building. Yup, that’s what the Bcn en las Alturas market is.

The market takes place in one of Gaudí’s lesser-known masterpieces, the beautiful medieval-style Torre Bellesguard, on May 6th, 7th, and 8th.

Besides shopping, there will also be concerts and gastronomy stalls selling delicious street food and drinks. Oh, and we almost forgot to mention the views! Well, you’ll see it for yourself when you go there!

Discover the most colourful side of Girona at Temps de flors (7-15 May)

Once a year, during the spring season, the city of Girona transforms into a spectacular floral display. For nine days in May, Girona celebrates its acclaimed Temps de Flors, a festival that dresses the city with beautiful flowers, striking colours, and penetrating aromas.

Girona’s city centre’s monuments, courtyards and urban locations turn into floral creations and ornamental gardens. All flower shows are free of charge, and it’s a unique opportunity to access monuments or buildings usually not opened to the public.

Also, you’ll love the festive atmosphere of the city. During all week, concerts and events are organised throughout the city. Everything revolves around this festival: shopkeepers decorate shop windows, associations prepare the exhibitions, and restaurants offer floral menus.

The floral designs are renewed every edition, so you can visit them every year! Each Temps de Flors festival is unrepeatable and unique.

👌🏼 Our tip

If you decide to visit Temps de Flors without staying overnight, we highly recommend you travel by public transport. It isn’t easy to park in Girona during theTemps de Flors festival, and even less during the weekends. The train station is only 20 min walk from the historic centre, and you’ll find more info on how to get there in our Girona guide.

Run the Barcelona Marathon (8 May)

An alternative (and sweaty!) way of sightseeing Barcelona is running the Zurich Marató Barcelona. 42 km of fun passing through the city’s most emblematic sites: Plaça Espanya, Camp Nou, Casa Batlló, Sagrada Família, and Arc de Triomf, amongst others. I (Marina) ran it in 2014, and I had a lot of fun seeing participants from all over the world taking selfies in front of La Sagrada Família while running! It was one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever done, but at the same time, one of the most rewarding and memorable races I’ve ever run.

The city comes alive on the day of the marathon. People are cheering all over the city, the road traffic is closed, and thousands of runners turn the empty streets into colourful parades. Whether running is your passion or you just want to cheer up the athletes and amateurs making an effort, don’t miss this cool race if you happen to be in Catalonia!

Two runners entering the finish line of the Barcelona marathon

Visit more than 75 museums for free (14 May)

After cancelling this event last year due to the pandemic, the much-awaited and loved Nit dels Museus (Museum Night) is here again! On May 14, from 7 pm to 1 am, 75 buildings in Barcelona and its surroundings are open to the general public free of charge. Some of the buildings on the list are the Sant Antoni market, the Montjuïc castle, the FC Barcelona museum, and the Palau Güell.

Besides enjoying the museums for longer, you’ll also have the opportunity to join several organised activities, such as guided tours, live performances, or activities for the little ones.

👌🏼 Our tip

As this event happens only once each year, expect big queues in some of the most famous buildings (especially the ones in Barcelona’s city centre). Our recommendation? Check out the schedule, choose which museums you’d like to visit and design your route in advance.

Get your cheese-fix at Lactium (14&15 May)

Cheese lovers, welcome to the largest cheese market in Catalonia! On the 14th and 15th of May, the cheese festival Lactium takes place in the charming city of Vic. 40 Catalan and artisan cheesemakers from all over the country go there, and you’ll be able to taste and buy more than 200 cheeses!

Would we change all our travel plans to go specifically there? No. But if you happen to be in Barcelona and have a free day, this is a great choice for a day trip. You can reach Vic by train (1:30 h from Barcelona), and the market takes place only 10 min walking from the train station (map here). Also, Vic is a city rich in history and with delicious places to eat. We recommend checking the historic medieval city centre, the cathedral (Catedral de Sant Pere de Vic), the main square (Plaça Major), and the Roman temple. For eating, Sherpa Vic (Nepalese cuisine), Devici Bar de Vins (wine bar), Peter’s Brasas (Latin food, huge portions!), and El Manubri Gastro-Bar (focaccias and cocktails) are excellent choices.

Eat snails at the Aplec del cargol (20-22 May)

This is undoubtedly one of the biggest (and craziest!) gastronomic festivals in Catalonia. L’Aplec del Caragol, which would be translated to something like The Snail Meet, is a festival held yearly in Lleida.

For three days in May, thousands of locals from Lleida organise themselves into groups and associations and celebrate a big party whose main star is the snail. Although it might sound weird to eat snails, it’s pretty popular here in Catalonia. We don’t eat them daily, but we do when we eat at a traditional restaurant.

And what do people do at the Aplec del cargol? Well, the main activity is definitely eating and drinking. Besides, the festival also has music, fireworks, and street entertainment. Picture more than 200,000 people together consuming around 12 tonnes of snails! That’s the Aplec del Cargol.

Photo by calafellvalo / BY-NC-ND

Other cool plans to do in Catalonia in May

Looking for more ideas for your spring trip? Here you have some suggestions:

  • Hike the Camí de Ronda: The Camí de Ronda is a beautiful hiking trail that follows the coast of Catalonia. Pick a section of the track and enjoy stunning views of the Mediterranean sea, charming villages, and pine forests.
  • Cycle the Olive Oil route in Tarragona: Jump on a bike and immerse yourself in a landscape strongly dominated by the cultivation of olive trees. Along the way, learn about olive oil, its history, and its production.
  • Discover Barcelona alternatively: Why not enjoy the spring weather by exploring the city’s best sights by bike, inline skates, or SUP? 
  • Adventure into the impressive gorge of Mont-Rebei: Spend a weekend hiking and kayaking in Mont-Rebei, a wall of rock crossed through by a river of emerald blue water.

And if you’re spending some days in Barcelona, no matter the season, don’t miss out on our list of original things to do at any time of the year.

Have you ever visited Catalonia in May? If so, we would love to hear about your experience!

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