This study characterizes the seasonal cycle of the Catalan inner-shelf circulation using observations and complementary numerical results. The relation between seasonal circulation and forcing mechanisms is explored through the depth-averaged momentum balance, for the period between May 2010 and April 2011, when velocity observations were partially available. The monthly-mean along-shelf flow is mainly controlled by the along-shelf pressure gradient and by surface and bottom stresses. During summer, fall, and winter, the along-shelf momentum balance is dominated by the barotropic pressure gradient and local winds. During spring, both wind stress and pressure gradient act in the same direction and are compensated by bottom stress. In the cross-shelf direction the dominant forces are in geostrophic balance, consistent with dynamic altimetry data.