If you have the incredible opportunity of studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain during the Fall, do I have a treat for you! I want to give you the inside scoop on a fantastic weekend festival celebrated every September in Barcelona. Here’s a quick guide on what to see and do in one jam-packed, super exciting day. Ready to go? Let’s explore La Mercè.
What is La Mercè?
La Mercè is a city-wide festival in Barcelona, Spain that began in 1871. It celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè in Catalan. Although the actual feast day is September 24, it is always celebrated over a long weekend around this date.
Here is your guide to a perfect Saturday to enjoy all the festivities Barcelona has to offer!
Because Barcelona has an incredible nightlife, make sure to sleep in on Saturday to recover from the night before. Don’t worry about missing much in the morning hours; Spaniards are notorious night owls! At 10 o’clock, I get ready for the day, making sure to have time to run by my favorite coffee shop for a café con leche and chocolate croissant before heading out into the city.
The first stop of the day is the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. If you can, squeeze through the crowds with your friends to make it into The Plaça de Sant Jaume to see the castellers compete! A castell is a human tower, and this tradition can only be seen in the Catalonia region of Spain (tip: try to see the competing castellers from towns outside of Barcelona, these are the most impressive groups to see!) I was amazed by the sheer strength and bravery of these people as they scaled one another to build such impressive structures.
For lunch, head to Ciutadella Park to enjoy the food truck festival. I recommend picking up delicious ginger pork sandwiches and eating by the Cascada Fountain.
After fortifying yourself with food, it’s time to head to the beach on a beautiful September day! Grab your bathing suit and head down to Barceloneta to sunbathe by the Mediterranean and catch up on your favorite book.
By late afternoon, go home to change in order to get in some more city sightseeing!
Head out on foot to explore the El Born neighborhood with your friends. If you want a bite to eat with a great view, stop for some tapas and cava in front of the beautiful Santa Maria del Mar church. The way the church stones changed color during the sunset is breathtaking.
This is also a great time to take a stroll down Las Ramblas, explore the gothic quarter, or maybe even walk along the harbor. After a long day like this, you’re going to be super excited about a homemade meal. We eat around 9pm in Lluisa’s house (my host mom), just late enough to give you energy for the night ahead!
After dinner, head to the beach with your friends to see the fireworks! And because this is La Mercè, there will be a plethora of free concerts around the city.
If you make it home after dawn, I’d say mission accomplished.
And that’s how you spend your Saturday in Barcelona during the La Mercé festival!
The world awaits…discover it.