Given the liveliness of Barcelona today, it’s hard to believe that only a quarter of a century ago it was filled with factories and warehouses and scruffy beaches separated by railroad tracks. Visitors looking for the famous Spanish sun-and-sand combination went elsewhere, and few travelers were beguiled by the city’s charms. Many viewed the city as a mere pit stop en route to Ibiza. Then the 1992 Olympic games came to town, bringing worldwide exposure and setting off a chain reaction that transformed Barcelona and continues to reverberate.
August is probably the busiest time in Barcelona; at the same time about 10% of shops and restaurants can be found closed from mid-August to early September, when the owners go on vacations. In the centre of Barcelona you will find most shops and restaurants open. However there will still be plenty of tourists. Barcelona is great off-season and is a lovely city even in winter months of January and February as long as the possibility of rain is low. Most shops and shopping malls are closed on Sundays because of law restrictions, but not all. In Ciutat Vella you will find plenty of small fashion shops, souvenir shops and small supermakets open on Sundays.