Barcelona is the capital and largest city of Catalonia and Spain’s second largest city, with a population of over one and half million people (over five million in the whole province).
This city, located directly on the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, has a rich history, having been under Roman, then Frank law before declaring its independence.
In 1992, Barcelona gained international recognition by hosting the Olympic games which brought a massive upturn in its tourism industry.
This had the effect of changing the city in ways that are still felt today with neighbourhoods renovated (and in some cases leveled) and the intense focus of modern design permeating all aspects of life in Barcelona from public buildings to something as simple as a park bench or an event poster.
For visitors, this has translated into the very modern, yet incredibly old city you see now in the 21st century, where the new elements work to both preserve and celebrate the ancient.
This beautiful city is full of what European cities are known for (outdoor markets, restaurants, shops, museums and churches) and is fantastic for walking with an extensive and reliable Metro system for more far-flung destinations. The core centre of town, focused around the Ciutat Vella (“Old City”) provides days of enjoyment for those looking to experience the life of Barcelona while the beaches the city was built upon provide sun and relaxation during the long periods of agreeably warm weather.
|Ciutat Vella |
(the Old City), is indeed the oldest part of the city and is numbered as District Number One. It is located in a central position on the Mediterranean coast and is the top tourist magnet of the city. Top attractions in Ciutat Vella include the Medieval architecture of the Barri Gotic neighbourhood, the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona in Raval and the Naval Museum at the end of the entertainment-filled walking path known as Las Rambles.
is known as the “Modernist Quarter” for its imposing Modernistic buildings such as the Casa Mila, the Temple Expiatori and the local district hall. The district’s street-grid is extremely strict, being divided into square blocks with widened streets at every intersection to allow for greater visibility.
is located in north-central Barcelona just north of Eixample. It was originally a separate city, which was founded in 1626 as the Our Lady of Grace Convent. It joined Barcelona only in the 20th Century and maintains an ambience of its own
is located along the Mediterranean on the southern edge of Barcelona. It was formerly a separate municipality centred in Sants, but also includes the port and industrial complex called the Zona Franca and a wealth of museums and monuments. There are also frequent fairs and festivals in this part of Barcelona.
|Sant Martí |
on the east edge of town, is named after the first church built in the area- St. Martin’s.
|Inland Suburbs |
Areas such as Sarrià, Pedralbes, Horta and Sant Andreu invite you to get off the beaten path and get away from the tourist crowds.
History of Barcelona
The exact circumstances of the founding of the city of Barcelona are uncertain, but the remains of a settlement many thousands of years old have been found in the neighborhood of Raval. While legend has Hannibal’s father founding Barcelona in the 3rd Century B.C., there is no substantiating evidence.
The Roman Period
Around 15 B.C., the Romans established the military camp of Faventia near the present-day Barcelona city hall. The colony was, at first, dwarfed in size by nearby Tarraco but soon grew large and prosperous, largely due to its excellent harbor.
To this day, there are vestiges in Barcelona of its Roman past, many on display at the Barcelona City History Museum. In the city’s historic center, the original Roman street grid is still discernible. There are also fragments of ancient Roman walls built into the Basilica La Seu, a cathedral dating from the 4th Century A.D.
Invading Visigoths captured Barcelona in the 5th Century and made it, though briefly, the capital of Gothic Spain. By the 8th Century, Islamic invaders took the city, but in 801, the French wrested it back into Christian hands and made it the capital of a new buffer state called the “Hispanic March.
The Hispanic March was ruled by the Count of Barcelona, and as time wore on, local counts became increasingly independent of French rule. The County of Barcelona soon annexed all Catalonia and generally prospered, though in 985, the city was sacked by Almanzor, ruler of Muslim Andalusia.
In 1137, the County of Barcelona was united to Aragon by royal marriage, ultimately forming the single Crown of Aragon. The County of Barcelona, united with the rest of the Catalan Counties, formed the Principality of Catalonia, which remained in personal union with the kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca and others under the Crown. Aragon then built up an empire, which included Naples and Sicily and achieved naval domination of the western Mediterranean.
In 1469, Aragon was united to Castile, again by royal marriage, and Madrid instead of Barcelona became the capital of the Monarchy of Spain. When Spain gained a New World Empire, the importance of Mediterranean commerce, and thus of Barcelona, declined.
Barcelona remained a hotbed of insurgency long after union with Castile, and this led to the failed Catalan Revolt of 1640 to 1652. Also damaging the city at this time was the Great Plague, which killed half the population. Barcelona took some damage during the Napoleanic Wars, but the 19th Century Industrial Revolution improved the city’s fortunes, while at the same time it turned into a revolutionary center.
In 1931 Barcelona was one of the first cities to proclaim the Second Spanish Republic and it was declared the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia the same year. During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s, Barcelona was a stronghold of Republicanism but was eventually overrun by Anarchists and Communists until the Fascist Franco regime took the city and won the war. Francisco Franco ruled as dictator until his death in 1975, after which the monarchy was re-established under Juan Carlos I, who in turn, transitioned to democratic rule.
In more recent decades, Barcelona, again the capital of the autonomous Catalonia, has gained importance as an economic center and as one of Europe’s busiest ports. In 1992, the city garnered attention by hosting the Summer Olympics.
The city of Barcelona has a classic “Mediterranean climate” with mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers. While there are four distinct seasons to the year, they are not at all of equal length if measured by conditions rather than equinoxes: “summer” lasts from May till October (half the year), cooler winter temperatures continue for three months, (December, January and February), and the transitional periods of spring and fall are only represented by the single months of April and November.
The hottest month of the year is August, which has average highs of 84º F (29º C) and average lows of 74º F (23º C). The coldest month is January, with highs averaging 59º F (14º C) and lows averaging 49º F (9º C). April has average highs of 66º F (19º C) and average lows of 55º F (13º C), while November has highs of 64º F (18º C) and lows of 53º F (12º C).
As Barcelona’s position on the Mediterranean coast makes it a haven for swimming and sailing, the sea temperature is of interest to many tourists. The average annual mean of seawater near Barcelona is 68º F (20º C). In January, the mean is 55º F (13º C), and in August, it is 79º F (26º C).
Temperatures tend to be relatively steady in Barcelona, rarely going through drastic fluctuation during the day- and this is especially the case in the summer. During winter, the warm seawater prevents most frosts, temperatures almost never drop below freezing and snow only falls once or twice in a decade.
Barcelona receives 25 Inches (640 mm) of rainfall per year, with the rainiest season being autumn and the least-rainy season being the summer. A typical year has 55 rain days, meaning days during which rainfall is one millimeter or greater. The important things for tourists to note are that September and October see a good deal of rain, June and July are very dry and the rest of the year has moderate to light rainfall.
Humidity, Fog and Sunshine in Barcelona
Relative humidity averages 72% across the year, with July being the least-humid month (69% humidity) and October being the most-humid month (75% humidity). While fog is relatively infrequent in Barcelona during most of the year, in early springtime sea fog often lingers in the area as warm African air masses move in over significantly colder sea water.
There are over 2,500 sunlight hours per year, and there is great seasonal fluctuation. December has the fewest sunshine hours at 138 and 4.5 per day, and July gets the most sunshine at 310 hours and 10 hours per day.
Wind and Storms
Overall, Barcelona is not a particularly windy city, but sea breezes are not uncommon in the summer, and they can occasionally bring storms that flood the coastline. During the summer and fall, thunderstorms are common and occasionally quite severe. Winds blowing from the Atlantic and across the Iberian Peninsula usually arrive in Barcelona with little humidity and no rain.
Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million within its city limits and 5.3 million within its metropolitan area, making it the second-most populous city in Spain. Its also one of the most densely populated cities in all of Europe, having over 40,000 residents per square mile. Furthermore, since half the city’s territory contains only 10% of the population, the other half has nearly double the density of the city as a whole.
Sixty-two percent of Barcelona’s people are native to Catalonia, and another 24% moved there from some other part of Spain. Thus, a large majority of the population are of Spanish descent. However, 17% of residents hail from another country — up from only four percent in 2001. The foreign-born populations consists of Arabs, Italians, Chinese, Ecuadorians and Bolivians among others. There is also a Jewish community of 3,500 — the largest in Spain — and a small Japanese community.
Spanish is spoken almost universally in Barcelona, but the Catalan language has also made a comeback due to intensive efforts in the school systems in recent years. Catalan is understood by 95% of residents, spoken by 72% and written by 53%.
While a majority of Barcelona’s people have historically been Roman Catholic, a 2011 survey found that just 49.5% identify as Catholic. There are a number of other religious groups in the city that have sizable followings. First, there are over 300,000 Muslims, which is the largest Muslim population in all of Spain. The Jewish community of 3,500, as one could well guess, continues to follow Judaism. Finally, there are a good number of Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Buddhists present in Barcelona.
Economically, Barcelona’s people are fairly well off. The nominal GDP of Barcelona’s metro area was €151.1bn in 2016 according to Eurostat. Meanwhile, GDP of the city itself is estimated at about €50bn or €28,510 per capita.
Ever since the 18th Century, when Barcelona and Catalonia were among the first parts of Europe to industrialize, manufacturing has been a major occupation of the city’s residents. Commerce has an even longer history in Barcelona, and that tradition continues to the present day. Trade fairs, media outlets, fashion centers, educational institutions and scientific endeavors are also all prevalent in the city. Tourism, however, is one of the biggest industries. Specifically, Barcelona is the tenth-most visited city on the planet and the third-most visited in Europe, seeing over eight million tourists every single year.”
As the capital and main cultural center of Catalonia, Barcelona is also the central “literary hub” of works produced in the Catalan language. Under the long rule of the Franco dictatorship, Catalan was systematically suppressed and discouraged, but in recent decades, it has emerged with new life. It is being taught once again in Barcelona’s school system, and most of the city’s people now understand it. Spanish works are also, of course, important in Barcelona’s literary tradition, and is the vehicle through which the city interacts with the rest of Spain and much of the world.
Some of the most popular literary works of Barcelona, both in Catalan and in Spanish (and often with an English translation) are as follows:
- The City of Marvels (La Ciudad de los Prodigios) is a 1986 Spanish-language novel by Barcelona-native Eduardo Mendoza. It describes the social changes that took place in Barcelona between 1888 and 1929 during a period of great urbanization. It was later adapted into film form in 1999. Mendoza also authored a Catalan-language work called Restauracio in 1990 and later translated it into Spanish.
- The 13 titles of the Detective Pepe Carvalho series by Barcelona-born author Manuel Vazquez Montalban are very popular among lovers of murder and crime mysteries. His 1999 Murder in the Central Committee is set in Barcelona and is one of his best-loved works. He also published a book of poetry called Memory and Desire, which contains poems he wrote across a 19-year period.
- The Gray Notebook is an firsthand account by Josep Pla of his experiences in Barcelona as a young man in 1918. It was only published in 1966, however, after Pla revised and expanded it. The original was written in Catalan, translated into Spanish by Dionisio Ridruejo and then translated into English by Peter Bush. Josep Pla also authored many other well received works, all in Catalan, including the political chronicle Madrid: the Advancement of the Republic and the narrative account Life Embitters (La Vida Amarga).
- The Diamond Square, by highly acclaimed Catalan novelist Merce Rodoreda, is considered by many to be the best novel ever published in the Catalan language. It has been translated into over 30 languages, but be aware that the English title was changed to The Time of the Doves. It is the story of an ordinary lady who goes through the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War, and it gives you a taste of what it might really have been like to live through that momentous event.
- O’Clock, an anthology of 16 short stories, written in Catalan by Catalonian native Quim Monzo, won the Catalan Critics’ Prize in 1981. It has a wide range of works inside, including satires on South American society, a study of the AIDS epidemic and portraits of life in Barcelona.
- Homage to Catalonia, a 1938 classic by George Orwell, tells the story of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War — it is one of the few works by foreigners that makes the list of important Catalonian literature.
When to visit Barcelona
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 has decent enough beaches but the locals will really appreciate it if visitors do not consider it a beach resort and don’t wear beachwear when visiting churches, restaurants, etc.
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. During these months the city is not too cold averaging between 9-10°C with sunny and blue skies. Given the high humidity, 19-23°C is considered comfortable weather, which is normally the temperature between April and June and between late September to November. This is the best time to visit the city. Anything warmer than this can feel too hot.
Easter week, as well as Christmas to New Year’s Eve are very busy times. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, don’t come during those dates. Also, avoid visiting during the Mobile World Congress or the Formula 1 racing, unless you are ready to pay extremely expensive hotel rates.
Toddler happiness is considered a public responsibility in Spain: in any public place people around you put every effort into making your toddler happy: whenever he or she looks bored or is crying, everyone does their best to entertain or to calm them.
Barcelona Tourist information
Barcelona’s Visitor Information office can be reached on +34 932 853 834 M-Sa 08:00-20:00, Su/Holidays 08:00-14:00 and offers tourist information, hotel bookings and more.
Tourist Offices are located at:
- Plaça de Catalunya, 17 google map
- La Rambla, 115 google map
- Barcelona-Sants Train Station google map
- Aeroport del Prat – Terminals 1 and 2 google map
- Port de Barcelona – Terminals A,B,C and D. Also Terminals “Nord” and “Sud” of the World Trade Center. google map
- Pl. Portal de la Pau
- Ciutat, 2 google map
Low cost carriers include: Norwegian, Air Berlin, Monarch Airlines, Jet2.com, Vueling (a discount subsidiary of Iberia), Wizz Air, easyJet, Ryanair , Blue Air, Transavia, Germanwings, TUI Fly among many others.
Trick: You can also take a Ryanair carrier to an inner city like Zaragoza and then use the train to reach Barcelona one hour and 30 minutes later. Those flights are usually much cheaper (around 35 euros from Paris, London or Brussels).
Barcelona International Airport
Barcelona-El Prat International Airport (IATA: BCN, ICAO: LEBL), is a major transport hub and flights land from all over Europe and beyond.
- Duty-free shops. Open c. 06:30-21:30 (a few until 22:00). Shops are numerous and some are hard to find elsewhere in the city. After security check, most shops are before the passport control; there are only one or two afterwards.
- Tax-free shopping refund. Office closes at 22:00 without fail. After that time cheques can be processed only by mail: complete your tax-free forms with your passport data and addresses, have them stamped by the customs office (a window next to arrivals gate door; they don’t ask to see your purchases); put them into the envelope you were given in the shop–and wait for several months.
- Cafes, pre-security check. Limited options, sub-standard fare. Food at Ars is awful and not cheap. Pans & Company have almost no hot meals. For more options in Terminal 1 go to 3F better food and restaurants, but more expensive.
- Cafes, post-security check. Numerous options, all close c. 22:00
- Parking: Costs €1.35/hr, €9.45/day, €6.75/day from the 6th day.
- Luggage lockers: At the airport, there is a baggage storage service on the ground floor of Terminal 1 that costs €4.60 per day for a large locker that easily fits 2-3 large suitcases (there are no luggage lockers or storage rooms in Terminal 2).
In the city centre (Vila Olímpica), there is a service offering Lockers designed for Hand-Luggage and Suitcases. These Lockers worked with a system of RFiD Card. This store called “ChillZone Lockers Barcelona” is located on Carrer Salvador Espriu, 61 (Local 39) 08005 Barcelona, in the comercial center EL CENTRE DE LA VILA, 2 minutes away from the Beach of Nova Icaria. Additionally, you have the possibility to use their changing rooms and charge your smartphone by using the plug installed in each locker. Prices start at €9 per day for a Medium Locker allowing to store up to 3 hand-luggage. More information on ChillZone Lockers Barcelona.
In the city centre, there is a baggage storage service with keypad-based lockers on Carrer Estruc, 36 (right next to Plaça Catalunya) called “Locker Barcelona”. Their prices start from €3.50 per day for a medium locker that stores 1 luggage bag.
There is also a collecting service from Barcelona Airport and from your accommodation in Barcelona delivered by different companies. They are responsible for collecting your luggage at the airport on arrival or at the hotel / apartment when leaving and deliver it at the agreed location and time (airport or hotel / apartment, respectively). The price is very interesting: 10 € for the first bag and 5 € for each additional bag. You can also ask for 5 € per suitcase, plasticizing it, thus protecting from bumps on the plane. The price includes insurance value of € 3,000 for the content of the suitcase.
- Departure gates: For T2, poorly conditioned at ground level (at least gate #57, sector 2A, after 23:00). T1 is hyper-modern and comfortable.
- Wi-Fi: Available throughout the airport, operated by KubiWireless. 15 min for free if you click in the blue option. or €7.50 for 45 min, €9 for 1 hr, €15 for 24 hr. You must provide a valid cell phone number, to receive the password via text message.
There are now two terminals, T1 and T2, the latter with A, B, and C subdivisions. T1 and T2 are linked by a bus shuttle (every 5-7 min, travel time 12 min).
T1, the newer terminal, hosts Iberia, Air Europa, Vueling and a variety of major international airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Qatar, Pakistan Intl., Emirates, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, American Airlines, Air Canada, Avianca, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Alitalia, CSA, SAS, TAP, Lufthansa, Austrian, Air France, KLM, British Airways, LOT, Tarom, etc.
Sectors A, B and C of T2 are all within fairly easy walking distance of each other.
- T2 B is used by a large number of smaller carriers and low cost airlines.
- T2 C is smallest and hosts EasyJet.
- T2 A is now only for some charter flights.
Please be aware that you can check in for your flight only at the respective terminal T1 or T2 and, since they are 7 km apart and there is little information available at the train station and bus stops, it’s good to know which terminal you need before arriving at the airport! AENA provides information about the allocation of airlines to terminals.
Barcelona Airport Transfers
The airport is only about 12-14 km away from the city centre.
- Taxileader.net (airport taxi transfers with English speaking private driver), ☎ +44 20 3239 1595 (firstname.lastname@example.org), [link]. 24hs. Taxileader.net offers a pick up at airport with driver waiting with your name on a signboard.
- Transworldhotel.com (Private airport taxi transfers in Barcelona), ☎ +44 (0) 20 3769 0198 (email@example.com), [link]. 24hs. Transworldhotel.com offers a private pick up at airport with driver with standard, premium, VIP and Minivan (up to 8 people).
- Barcelona Welcome Pickups (Private airport tranfers), ☎ +1 (855) 665-6225 (firstname.lastname@example.org), [link]. 24hs. Book a trusted local driver to pick you up and introduce you to the destination, pre-order travel essentials, and get all your questions answered before or during the trip.
- KiwiTaxi (Airport tranfers: economy, comfort, premium, minivan, minibus, shuttle), (email@example.com), [link]. 24/7. On Kiwitaxi.com you can book a transfer from airport in advance, the driver will meet you and take you to your destination, with no troubles. from €44.
- KnopkaTransfer (Airport tranfers: economy, minivan, bus, premium), ☎ +39 0294751669 (firstname.lastname@example.org), [link]. 24/7. On KnopkaTransfer.com you can book private driver without credit card or make a reservation for 16 pax van, economy or business class sedans. Free 1h waiting in airport and free safety seats.from €68.
Aerobús is a shuttle bus service that connects the Airport (both terminals) with the centre of Barcelona (Plaça de Catalunya), leaving every 5-10 minutes (A1), every 10-20minutes (A2), every day of the year. The “A1” line takes you to/from Terminal 1 and the “A2” line takes you to/from Terminal 2. The shuttle bus service is available everyday from 5:30am to 1am, and the journey lasts about 30 minutes (although it can take considerably longer during rush hour). From the Airport, the shuttle bus makes a total of 4 stops: Plaça Espanya, Gran Via – Urgell, Plaça Universitat, and finally Plaça de Catalunya. To the Airport from Plaça de Catalunya, the shuttle bus only makes a total of 3 stops: Sepúlveda – Urgell, Plaça Espanya, and finally the Airport. A one-way ticket to/from either Terminal costs €5.90 or you can buy a return ticket for €10.20 which you must use within 15 days. You can pay by either credit card (machine only) or cash (machine/ticket agent). Buses are heavily air-conditioned in Summer, so consider having something extra to wear during the journey. Aerobús stops running after 1am, but you can catch a Nitbús night bus service instead (line N17 to T1 or line N16 to T2, 22.00-05.00 every 20 min. The ride from Plaça de Catalunya to the Airport takes about 40-50 min).
The cheapest, but slower option than Aerobús, is a bus 46 serving both T1 & T2. Its last stop in Barcelona is Plaça Espanya reached in 25-30 minutes. The one-way ticket costs €2 and can be purchased from the driver. Even cheaper is to buy a T10 Travelcard from the machine located at the train station outside Terminal 2; this offers even greater value and convenience if further transfer by metro, bus, tram etc. will be needed as the T10 Travelcard journey is valid for 75 mins – see the Transfer by Train section for details. Between 11 pm and 6 am the 46 bus service is replaced by N16/17 buses; they take a diversion adding some ten minutes to otherwise a very rapid journey ending at the same Plaça Espanya.
A cheap and fast option is the half-hourly RENFE R2 Nord suburban train line calling at Sants (travel time is 18 min), Passeig de Gràcia (24 min), El Clot-Aragó (30 min) and more stations beyond Barcelona city limits. Please be advised that this airport train has changed, and no longer terminates at Estació de França (it now goes through the centre of Barcelona and into the suburbs, so it is important to know at which station you should get off). The train terminates next to T2 by section B, with a connecting green coloured bus service to T1 (plan for an extra 15 min of travel). The airport train station has got facilities for disabled people: escalators, lifts, etc. A single ticket for the train is €6.30 (January 2018), but you can also buy a T10 travelcard (€10.20 for ten trips over any period of time; each of those trips includes 3 bus, metro, train or tramway transfers made within 75 min) instead. You can buy a T10 from the ticket vending machine at the airport station and at the tobacco shop in front of Terminal 2B; you can buy a T10 travelcard at Terminal 1 in the tobacco shop just outside the arrival lounge exit.
If you arrive at T1, you’ll need to catch the free airport transfer bus (it goes from T1 to T2B then T2C then loops again to T1) and stops right next to the Aerobus stop. The ride is at least 10 minutes long. Get off the bus, head into the terminal, follow the sign to Renfe, go up the escalators, leave the terminal building, go through the overhead pass until you get to the train station. About a 10-20 minute walk. Buy the T-10 pass and use it to access the station.
Don’t rely on trains if your flight arrives after 11 pm: the last suburban train’s departure time is 23:38 (January 2018).
The airport is linked to Barcelona by Line 9 of the Barcelona Metro with a station in each terminal, the Aeroport T1 station situated directly underneath the airport terminal T1 and the Aeroport T2 station close to the Aeroport rail station at the terminal T2. The line connects with several Barcelona Metro lines to the city center. Going to the airport Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 stations is charged with an extra of 4.5 euros if you are traveling with a single ticket or with a T-10 pass. The airport charge can be paid before exiting the metro. No need to pay the fee if you are traveling with daily, monthly, quarterly or Hola BCN! tickets.
Airport transfers can be arranged for groups, taxis are available but expensive (€30-40 to the city centre). Taxis and Minibuses can be pre-booked on-line:
Some low-cost carriers, notably Ryanair, use airports in Girona, nearly 100 km to the north, or Reus, around the same distance to the south, instead. Since Ryanair recently started operating at Barcelona El Prat (airport code BCN) check using the three-letter airport codes where your flight actually goes. Girona’s airport code is GRO and Reus’s airport code is REU.
For Girona Airport, the Barcelona Bus service runs a shuttle bus from Estació del Nord (which is walking distance to the Arc de Triomf metro stop) in Barcelona to Girona Airport and this ties in with various flight times. A one-way ticket costs €16 and a return ticket costs €25. The journey takes approximately one hour and ten minutes. Timetables are available on-line.
For Reus Airport, the easiest way to get there is to take the bus run by Hispano Igualadina from the Barcelona Sants bus station to the airport. Bus departures are synchronized with Ryanair plane departures/arrivals. One way ticket costs €13 and a return ticket costs €24. The journey takes c. 100 min, depending on the traffic on the motorway. Timetables are available on-line. A slightly cheaper, yet longer option is to take a train from Barcelona Sants station to Reus and then the local bus no. 50 to the airport. The train costs €8.40 (Regional) or €9.55 (Regional Express) and then the bus costs €2.10. This takes roughly about two and a half hours. Train timetables can be checked at Rodalies de Catalunya website. The bus timetable is available at the website of Reus public transport.
Several trains per day (including overnight hotel trains) from other parts of Europe (via France) are regular and reliable.
Main train stations:
- Barcelona-Sants (to the south west of the centre).
- Barcelona-Passeig de Gràcia (near Carrer d’Aragó on Passeig de Gràcia, in the center of the city).
- Barcelona-Estació de França, Avinguda Marquès de l´Argentera (on the edge of the old town next to the seafront district of Barceloneta).
From Estació de Sants and Passeig de Grácia there are several, but very slow, connections per day to Cerbère (France), connecting there on trains towards Marseille and Nice. There are no longer any “Talgo” trains from Sants to France as these have been replaced by the High-Speed AVE trains.
Overnight Trenhotel trains operated by Elipsos runs daily from Paris-Austerlitz while depatures from Milan and Zurich are every second day. All trenhotels trains terminates at the Estació de França station. Prices starts at €74 for second class.
There is also a less-well-known rail line over the Pyrenees to Toulouse. There are four trains per day to La Tor de Querol (Latour-de-Carol), where it is possible to transfer to a French train bound for Toulouse. The journey takes 7-8 hr (including transfer) and costs roughly €30 one way.
The high-speed line between Barcelona and Figueres finally opened in early 2013. The new SNCF and RENFE cooperation offers service between cities in France and Barcelona. Paris to Barcelona is 6 hours, 25 minutes. Barcelona to Lyon takes just under 5 hours. Barcelona to Marseille is about 4 hours, 17 minutes. Barcelona to Toulouse is just over 3 hours.
The AVE high-speed train line to Madrid opened in February 2008. Travel time is 3 hr with intermediate stops (11 trains a day) or 2.5 hr non-stop (6 trains a day during morning and evening peak hours).
The city’s port is one of the busiest on the Mediterranean, with nine passenger terminals, seven for cruise liners and four for ferries. Large cruise ships dock 1-2 km to the southwest. Many offer bus-shuttles to points near the south end of La Rambla.
You can arrive to Barcelona by boat from the Balearic Islands, Genoa, Rome, Livorno, Sardinia, Tangier, and Algiers. From Rome (Civitavecchia) it is actually cheaper than the bus. The ferry docks almost directly on the Ramblas.
- Barcelona Nord, ☎ +34 902 260 606, [link]. Contact for all bus connections, national (e.g. 18 buses per day from Madrid) and international.
- Megabus, [link]. run coach services between Barcelona Estacion del Norte and London Victoria Coach Station, via Paris and Toulouse. They also connect to Amsterdam, Cologne, Brussels and many UK cities. They can be very cheap, but be prepared for a 24-26 hour coach ride from London! Also note the 50p booking fee. They nominally provide UK plug sockets (one shared between two people – they also have a USB port for charging phones) and free wifi on board, but the plug sockets are unreliable and wifi only works while in the UK and Spain. Passengers should be at departure point at least 30 minutes before departure time (except London Victoria where you are required to arrive 60 minutes before departure).
There are several main roads leading to Barcelona from France and Spain and traffic is usually relatively light outside of peak hours. It is possible to find free parking spaces a few metro stops from the centre of the city.
Blue parking spaces must be paid for M-Sa 09:00-14:00 and 16:00-18:00. At some crossroads the free time ends at 08:00. Anyone can use a blue space but they aren’t that easy to find. You pay at the meter and put the ticket on the dashboard. Green parking spaces are for residents only. White parking spaces are free at all times but there aren’t any in the city centre.
The city car parks have some special offers for tourists.
Get around in Barcelona
The department store El Corte Inglés publishes a helpful (and free) street map for tourists. You can pick a copy at the store, or from most hotel front desks. They’re also available at the tourism information offices (including one at each terminal at Barcelona El Prat Airport).
At the Tourism Information Offices they also sell “official city maps”, but they aren’t that worth. Ask instead for the free “Barcelona Hotel Map”, which contains a pretty good blow-up of the Old Town alleys.
By public transport
- Smartphone apps are the best option to navigate inside the city. They provide bus information in real time and routes to destionations with train, metro, tram and bus. Some aplications for Android and iPhone are Google Maps, Citymapper and Adif, the last provides real time for Renfe trains (Rodalies de Catalunya). Only some station of bus and FGC (Plaça Catalunya and Provença) provides free WIFI.
- The Barcelona Bus Turístic [link] links all of the Barcelona tourist sites you could possibly want to visit. It has three routes (map provided as you board), including a northbound and a southbound line that leave from opposite sides of the Plaça de Catalunya. Each takes 1-2 hours. The hop-on/hop-off format lets you get-off risk-free at any interesting stop, see what interests you, then get back on any later bus at that or any other stop. One approach is stay on for an entire route, then continue while getting off at locations that interested you earlier. Buses are double-decked, with the open-air upper deck offering much better views…sunscreen essential in summer months, jackets in winter/early spring/late fall. As you first get on, you are offered earphones. Outlets near every seat let you choose among many languages and playback volumes. As you approach each significant location, you receive audio describing it. You can buy tickets at the bus stops and elsewhere (e.g., better hotels) valid for one day (€27, April 2015) or two consecutive days (€38, April 2015). At least in March 2015, it’s cheaper to buy tickets online.
- Red Line: Estació de Sants- Creu Coberta- Plaça d’Espanya – CaixaForum Barcelona – Poble Espanyol – MNAC – Anella Olímpica – Fundació Joan Miró – Telefèric de Montjuïc – Miramar – World Trade Center – Colom/Museu Marítim – Port Vell – Museu d’Història de Catalunya – Port Olímpic – Platja de Bogatell/Cementiri del Poblenou – Parc de la Ciutadella/Zoo – Pla de Palau – Barri Gòtic – Plaça de Catalunya – Casa Batlló/Fundació Antoni Tàpies – Passeig de Gràcia/La Pedrera – Francesc Macià/Diagonal.
- Blue Line: Monestir de Pedralbes – Palau Reial/Pavellons Güell- Futbol Club Barcelona – Francesc Macià/Diagonal – Eixample – MACBA/CCCB – Plaça de Catalunya – Casa Batlló/Fundació Tàpies – Passeig de Gràcia/La Pedrera – Sagrada Família – Gràcia – Park Güell – Tramvia Blau/Tibidabo – Sarrià
- Green Line: Fòrum – Port Olímpic – Platja de Bogatell/Cementiri del Poblenou – Poblenou – Parc Diagonal Mar.
- The metro can take you to many places. Stations are marked <M> on most maps; every station has a detailed map of exits to the city. A one-journey ticket cost €2.15, so it’s best to buy a multi-person 10-ride ticket for €10.20 (2018) for Zone 1[link] which includes most tourist areas (called a T-10) or a personal 50-ride monthly ticket. These tickets are also valid on the buses, trams, FGC (Catalan Railway Network) and on the main Spanish Trains (RENFE (Rodalies de Catalunya)). 2- to 5-day public transport tickets are available that allow unlimited travel on the metro and bus networks (€14 for two days, €32 for five (March 2015)[link]). These are an excellent value. Be sure to look after them well as bent or damaged cards will not be read by the ticket machines (such cards can be replaced at one of TMB’s customer service centers). Metro operating hours are: Sunday and M-Th 5:00 to 24:00, Fri 5:00 to 2:00, Saturday 24 hr (continuous service from Saturday at 5:00 until Sunday at 24:00). Trains are fast, often coming in two minute intervals. Announcements are made only in Catalan and Spanish, though signs and ticketing machines are generally trilingual in Catalan, Spanish and English. In case of temporal break on the line -for example, power failure-, a announcements are made in Catalan, Spanish, French, Japanase, and other many languages.
Pay attention to the fact that to get from metro lines operated by TMB (1,2,3,4,5, 9/10 and 11) to the ones operated by FGC (6,7 and 8), or vice versa, you need to exit and then enter through a new pay-gate. In this case, if you had a one-journey ticket, you need to get a new one. If you used a multiple journey ticket (such as the popular 10 rides T-10 ticket -the one that locals use the most-) you won’t be charged for a second time when changing lines (as long as you are within the stated travel time for a single journey). To be clear, you get 10 journeys on a T-10 ticket, and once a journey begins, you have a certain amount of time (stated on the card) where you can use the pay gates the TMB metro, the FGC metro (6/7/8), TMB bus, tram, and local RENFE (Rodalies de Catalunya) lines up to once on each journey. The number of rides left will be indicated on the back of the card as well as the fact that the T-10 has been fully used up. The text that appears in the ticket when you use the 10 travels is “Titol esgotat”, below 10 lines of times used. The bus map may also be downloaded, this allows you to plan your route and make connections.Usual features are: all cars are air conditioned; there are large screens for video advertising between lanes (e.g. at Universitat).
- The RENFE trains are not the same that metro. Please use the correct word to avoid wrong indications, metro is subway/underground and train is RENFE. Renfeisn’t the correct name, the real is Rodalies de Catalunya and outside Catalonia is Cercanias. You can referer using the previous names without problem. The trains can be very chaotic and no information or contradictory information. If you are lost, ask locals. Younger people in particular are more fluent in English and will be of better help. Indications are rarely in english, and public address system only in catalan and spanish. Civia trains, provides free spanish sockets in every entrance shared for 2 doors. That’s mean exists 3 sockets for each car.
- Although the metro is the best option to visit tourist zone, the’re others transports integrated into ATM. ATM is the system that allow you use train, bus, metro… and only pay once. The following public transports are integrated inside ATM: bus, metro, [www.tram.cat/en/ TRAM], Rodalies (Renfe) and FGC
- The Barcelona Card [link] features unlimited free travel on public transport and free admission and discounts at around 100 visitor attractions. The card is available for purchase for periods of between 2 and 5 days, costing €46.00 for a 2-day card and €61.00 for a 5-day card. But you will get an online discount of 10% if you are booking in advance. If you don’t plan to see lots of museums every day, then it is cheaper to buy transport-only tickets (see above).
But there are many things that you will want to do in Barcelona that are not eligible for discounts. You can’t use the Barcelona card on fun transport options like cable cars, funiculars (except to Montjuic), for example.
- The Barcelona ComboPass® [link] is a non-Official combo pass available for periods from 2 to 5 days and includes the benefits of the Barcelona Card described above, plus the Hop on/off Bus Turistic and the Montjuic cable car. However, it will not necessarily save you money compared to buying each ticket separately.
- The Barcelona City Pass is another option that includes free entry and discounts to around 100 attractions, museums, shops and bars as well as free and unlimited use of the public transport. A highlight of this pass is the included admission to the famous Sagrada Família with skip the line priorities and the free use of Hop on/off Bus Turistic. The Barcelona City Pass is available for periods from 2 (€ 109,90) to 5 days (€ 139,90) and it always comes with a map of Barcelona and a practical travel brochure.
Due to the demands of bicycle hire companies, the city’s bike share system ‘Bicing’ is not available to tourists. Therefore maybe consider walking instead.
- Barcelona eBike Tours. Passeig Lluís Companys, 10, right next to the arc de triompf. Enjoy Barcelona relaxing on an ebike. Learn about the cities most important sights and where to eat, drink and have fun. Call us directly at +34 931 890 040 or reserve your tour online, without risk, payment after the tour.
- Barcelona Ciclo Tour. Located in Carrer Tallers, at 50 mts from Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona Ciclo Tour offers daily guided tours both for individuals and for groups. The tours last 3 hours and include a free drink at a beach café. Price per person: 22€. Also night tours available. Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 09:30-20:00.
- Born Bike Tours Barcelona. Bikes for €6. They offer guided city tours such as the Gothic to Modernism Bike Tour, Beach Bike Tour, Montjuïc Bike Tour, and the Tapas Bike Tour.From 24€ rent a bike from 6€ Carrer marquesa nº 1 metro Barceloneta More info:www.bornbikebarcelona.com
- Barcelona Rent a bike. Bicycle rental which allows to choose among classic Dutch bikes, family bikes, tandems and electric bikes. Prices from 6€. Three locations available: Plaza Catalunya, Barceloneta beach and Arco de triunfo. Opening hours: 9:00-20:00.
- BCN Rent a Bike, close to the Palau de la Música and the Cathedral, rent classic bikes, the iconic Flying Pigeon, and provides tours guided by architects with a detailed knowledge of the city and its monuments.
- Rent-A-Bike, very cheap and comfy Dutch bikes for only 9 Euro per day, located in the nice Gracia/Eixample district. Carrer del Perril 31, opened: 9:30-20:00
- Biking in Barcelona. Backed by Biciclot, a co-operative that promotes the use of bicycles in Barcelona. They offer high-quality tours for groups (from 12 to more than 100 people), private groups or individuals, as well as bike rentals.
- Budget Bikes. With top quality Dutch bicycles on hire, Budget Bikes offers good group reductions as well. They also offer a 24/7 booking option through www.donkey.bike so that riders don’t have to worry about complying with opening hours of rental shops. Once they made their booking online, riders use the Donkey Republic app to locate and unlock their bike – by connecting to its smart lock through Bluetooth (works offline).
- Deviant Bikes. Bike rental in Gracia, they specialise in fixed gear and single speed bikes and longboards. Bikes cost €20 per day and boards €15 per day. GoPro video cameras are included with the rentals.
- e-bikerent. Electric Bike rental €7-20 per day. Tours to highest points of Barcelona from €30 for about 4 hr.
- Terra Diversions. Bicycle hire in Barcelona city center: You can rent a bike or do a tour. Big selection of city bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, road bikes and children bikes in different sizes.
- Pedals Barcelona. MTB and Roadbike Tours. In a 1 to 5 days tour you will pass through some of the most beautiful Natural Parks around Barcelona. The route is self-guided although you can choose to have a guide. Pedals adapt to your needs. You can contact them by email at email@example.com
- Plan Bike Barcelona Cool beach cruiser bikes for rent. You can find them near Plaça d’Espanya
- Ajo Bike Barcelona Ajo Bike is a budget bike shop in El Raval, a vibrant district in central Barcelona. You can rent a bike for as little as 4 euro for 2 hours. The price for 24 hours is 10 euro and if you are more people, every extra person pays 9 euro. On Monday a bike could be rented for 48 hours on the price of only 10 euro.
- Easyin city From 09am till 09pm, every day of the week in the center of Barcelona, rent your bike from 3€ different style of city bike, 4 carrer bertrellans at the front of decathlon.
- Bike Day Barcelona – Renting electric Bike: offering a guided electric bike renting services tours to explore the city of Barcelona. adress: en Rull 2-2 08002 Barcelona. Tel:+ 634 622 122
- Telefèric de Montjuïc [link] links the city to the top of Montjuic, with 3 stations (Parc de Montjuïc, Miramar and Castell de Montjuïc). Costs: €12.70 for two-way trip.
- Tramvia Blau [link] is an old tram (beginning of the 20th century) connecting Av. Tibidabo metro station and Funicular station at the foot of Tibidabo. Costs: €4.50 for a two-way trip.
- Funicular del Tibidabo connects the foot of Tibidabo with the view point. Costs: €9 for two-way trip.
Offers different routes through Barcelona city and most visited spots. Also offers open routes up to clients preferences, friendly and multilingual. The tour is fun, silent and smart, and 100% ecological. more info: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 93 5195700.
Barcelona by scooter
- Mattia46 50cc, 125cc, 150cc, 200cc scooters for rent for a cheap price to enjoy Barcelona.
- GoCar is a two-seater, 3 wheeled vehicle that runs with a 49cc size scooter engine. It is legally classified as a scooter to drive on the roads. The GoCars were created with the purpose of being rented to tourists as a different way to see a city.
- Scooters for singles or couples are a great way to explore Barcelona at their own speed. If you are coming as a group you can get a personal tour of all the places you like to see.
- Vesping, Passaje Simo, 24 – Next to Sagrada Familia, ☎ +34 626 773 361 (email@example.com), [link]. 10:00-20:00. Explore the city on a GPS guided Vespa. Choose from the tours or go explore on your own.
- Barcelona Moto Rent Barcelona Moto Rent, your scooter rental, gives you the opportunity to travel and visit the city for a cheap price. Carrer Roger de Lluria, 31 – Next to Plaça Catalunya – +34 935 325 925 – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rental Moto Barcelona Scooters for rent in Barcelona. Rent, your scooter at the best price, the best way to discover Barcelona. Carrer Mallorca 1-23, – Next to Sants Station – +34 931 81 50 50 – email@example.com
Barcelona by Segway
Explore highlights the of Barcelona by segway in hours. Several tours give you the opportunity to Get to know the history of Barcelona from professional tour guides also get advice for the best places for eating, going out and shopping.
Barcelona by car
Parking around all major tourist destinations is expensive (€3/hour, €20-36/day) and the spaces are difficult to navigate, as there are several classes of public parking spaces, with complicated rules for each class. Barcelona is plagued with the same problems that plague other major European cities; massive traffic jams and extremely narrow streets in some areas, coupled with a very complicated road system. As such, driving yourself around is not recommended for tourists, especially those with no driving experience in large cities. Public transport will get you to all the major areas, and you should use that as your main mode of transport.
Having a driving map is essential – plan your route before you set off. Navigating with an average tourist map is frequently misleading: many streets are one-way; left turns are more rare than rights (and are unpredictable). As an example, Gran via de Les Corts Catalanes is technically two-way, but in one direction supports only minor traffic: after every crossroad you’ll find the traffic light on the next crossroad turns red by the time you reach it.
But if you have to take a rent a car there are several companies there to get great car rental rates. Some free parking spots reported by travelers are:
- Near Moll de Sant Bertran (which is south-west from Museu Maritim) – driving at B-10, exit to WTC and make a complete round at roundabout, heading to warehouses – and park next to its employees cars.
- Somewhere near Guell Park.
- Near Font Màgica, in Plaça Espanya.
Getting around by car makes sense if you plan to spend much more time driving outside the city borders than inside it – and ideally if you don’t plan to park overnight at all. Otherwise, for purely in-city transportation, consider renting a scooter, or using public transportation instead.
Barcelona’s official languages are Catalan and Spanish. However, most signs are indicated only in Catalan because it is established by law as the administrative language. Yet, Spanish is also widely used in public transport and other facilities. As in most other cities, any attempt by visitors to use the native languages is always appreciated. Most locals are bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, and instinctively address foreigners in Spanish. Catalan is a language, not a dialect of Spanish, and sounds closer to Italian, Portuguese, and French in many ways. Avoid referring to Catalan as a dialect, which will offend Catalans.
These issues regarding language, national identity, and politics are like politics anywhere, and there’s no way to summarize here. The percentage of Catalan speakers is much lower In the city of Barcelona than in the rest of Catalonia. People here thus generally use Catalan with family members, close friends, and others that they are sure speak the language, and use Spanish, which is understood universally, with strangers. Spanish-speaking visitors will have no problems in Barcelona.
In tourist areas, almost all shops and bars have some English speaking staff. People will generally make an effort to try to help you if you speak in English. If you are an English speaker you will not have any problem as Barcelona is a very touristic city.
Barcelona by night
What to see in Barcelona
Walk around the winding streets and hidden squares, fountains and palaces in the Barri Gòtic(Ciutat Vella).
If you are thinking of visiting several museums, an “articket” [link] will save you some money. It is a combined ticket costing €30 (instead of €58) and covering admission to six museums.
Attractions spanning several districts
- Harbour Cable Car. Jun-Sep: 11AM-8PM. The 1450 metre long harbour aerial tramway with red cars connects Montjuic and Barceloneta. It starts in Barceloneta on the top of the 78 metre tall Torre San Sebastian tower, which has also a restaurant at its top accessible by an elevator. It has an intermediate stop at Torre Jaume Itower (close to Columbus monument), which can be reached by elevator from ground–107 metre tall tower, the second tallest aerial tramway support tower in the world. The final point of the tramway is Montjuic. Overall, the tramway is quite old (built in 1929), and the car is packed with tourists during the daytime–particularly sensitive for a stroller or a wheelchair. Plan your route wisely as the capacity is limited. It can be up to 1-1.5 hours from the moment you join the queue to the moment you get in the car. Currently, the Torre Jaume I tower in Barceloneta is temporarily closed for renovation, while two other stops work as usual. The facility doesn’t accept credit cards, it’s cash only. One-way €10, round trip €15.1.
- “Montserrat“A little ways outside the city of Barcelona (roughly an hour and a half), lies the beautiful Montserrat mountain range. Today there are a handful of newer buildings that have been built on the range, but upon visiting, it is easy to slip back into the past to imagine what the mountain range must have been like hundreds of years ago. A beautiful monastery stands at the center of the mountain range where visitors can attend masses that include wonderful live church choirs of young men who live at the monastery. The range is home to many rock climbers who venture to the high altitudes to challenge the vertical limits of Montserrat. It also affords visitors an excellent hiking experience through scenic paths, all of which over look the surrounding cities, including Barcelona.
The beauty of Montserrat speaks for itself. It is a must see and will provide a full day of sightseeing. For the most full experience possible, it is encouraged to seek out a travel guide who will bring you there for the day and show you every nook and cranny of the mountain range, providing exceptional background and knowledge on the ancient and beautiful structures that still stand strong today.
What to see in the dark
The most spectacular sights in the night are: Musical fountains, in Plaça d’Espanya. From Th-Su, May to October, 9:00PM. Each session lasts 30 minutes, with the last one starting at 11PM.Casa Batlló.Torre Agbar office tower, highlighted F-Su 7-11PM.City views from Montjuic hill
Temple of August
The Temple of the Roman colony of Barcino date of the first century BC, was dedicated to the imperial cult. The building was located on the axis of the Forum, an arcaded square where the main public buildings clustered in the city, the church or the bar, where he met the Ordo Decurionum or municipal senate, there was the market on all products sold arriving anywhere in the Mediterranean. The temple overlooking the city, which rises on a podium which is accessed by a staircase, but had also built a small hill’s highest point, known as Mons Taber on which built Barcino. Today the remains of the Temple is located inside a building which houses four columns and Corinthian fluted shaft, and architrave of the podium. Address: Paradís street, 10 [link]
- F.Cervera Ancient Art Gallery– In F.Cervera Gallery you will find a premier collection of ancient art pieces. You can check the Etruscan and Roman antiquities.
Gaudi architecture and Modernits Barcelona
Gaudi’s masterpieces are the Parc Güell in Gràcia, the still unfinished (as of 2017) Sagrada Família in Eixample and the houses La Pedrera/Casa Milà and La Casa Batlló both in Eixample. Other Gaudi works open to the public are Palau Güell and Torre Bellesguard, while Casa Vicenç” is expected to open in autumn 2017. The Ruta del Modernisme [link] run by Modernisme Centre (Pl. de Catalunya, 17, subterráneo; phone +34 933 177 652): guidebook and discount voucher book for €12. Takes you round all the best Modernisme (art nouveau) buildings in Barcelona. The main part of the route can be walked in a couple of hours, providing you don’t stray too far from the main routes. The Tourist Offices offer a pack that includes discounted tickets to many attractions such as La Pedrera and La Casa Batlló. All can be seen from the outside for free. Outside of Barcelona you can also visit the Cripta Güell (accessible by FFCC train) and the Artigas Gardens (accessible by Alsa buses).
La Sagrada familia
One of the most famous and breathtaking locations to visit in Barcelona the most famous building in the entire city and its landmark, La Sagrada Familia. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. From the outside, visitors are astonished by the sheer height and intricacy of the design of the church and although it is not completed yet, the progress that has been made is incredibly impressive. The project began nearly a century ago and was designed by one of Spain’s most well known and respected architects in Spanish history, Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi was born a Catalan (ethnic group in Spain) and produced some of the most moving buildings and works of art that are still standing and praised by the Spanish people. Undoubtedly, his most famous work is La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada familia is a masterpiece in the center of the city of Barcelona. The height of the church will be, once it’s finished, exactly equal to the height of the largest mountain in the nearby hills, the reason being because Gaudi felt that no man-made creation should ever rise above God’s natural creations. The height of the church is overwhelming when standing at its base and the inside is even more impressive.
Upon first walking into the church one cannot help to feel their stomach drop as they witness one of the most impressive and beautiful creations known to man. Visitors first gaze up at the height that the ceiling extends to, supported by beautiful hand shaped columns, which were hand-shaped to resemble the trunks of trees. As a lover of nature, Gaudi included many elements of God’s natural beauty within his work. As visitors move towards the center of church they cannot help but to twist their head in a full 360 to admire all of the stained glass windows that line the walls of the basilica. During the day these windows produce incredible natural light (a personal favorite of Gaudi) that illuminates the sheer beauty of the inner church.
The church is absolutely breathtaking. La Sagrada Familia is an absolute must see for every visitor in Spain and the Barcelona. It is truly a masterpiece and is sure to please visitors of all ages. Images of this majestic church can be found here.
To avoid the queue, tickets may be booked online and collected at Sagrada Familia itself. You will need to indicate the time of visit. If you plan visit either the Passion Tower or the Nativity Tower. You can stay in Segrada Familia for as long as you want after descending the Tower. The Passion Tower has elevator both ways. The Nativity Tower option means you to take the elevator up and walk all the way down. You enjoy the view of the city as you climb down, not the external wall of the Tower.
Barcelona with children
- Kids & Family Walking Tour – interactive and fun walking tour of the Gothic Quarter for families with children
- Museum of Natural History – in the Forum – Museu Blau
- Can Framis Museum – Catalan Modern Art with activities for kids and guided visits.
- CosmoCaixa: Museum of Science – Amazing museum for kids from 4-5 onwards. Adults will really enjoy it also.
- Tibidabo Amusement Park – Located on the Tibidabo hill overlooking the entire city of Barcelona, this is an amusement park focused on kids with priceless views.
Named the #1 Beach City in the world by National Geographic, Barcelona’s beaches are world-renowned. Although locals prefer that you do not stroll through the city in beachwear, the beaches themselves have a very open and relaxed atmosphere. As with many other European beaches, you will find topless (and even nudist) beach-goers. Unlike many European beaches, however, you will find fun and friendly “chiringuitos” common on Spanish beaches that offer you a place to sit down and listen to music while you have a drink and grab a bite to eat directly on the sand as you watch beach-goers strolling by. Please be aware that the sand at the main beaches is quite rough – may have small stones and shells as well.
The Barcelona beach season starts around March 15th and goes until around November 15th. The High Season for beach-goers is usually from the end of May until the end of September.
What to do in Barcelona
Despite having 1.6 million people within its city limits and nearly five million in its metropolitan area, Barcelona is a relatively compact city, with many of its top tourist attractions within walking distance of each other.
Things to do in the Ciutat Vella
The Ciutat Vella, meaning “Old City,” is the oldest, most central and most tourist-visited neighborhood of Barcelona. Some of its famous streets and their attractions are:
- Las Ramblas is the liveliest pedestrian walkway in town and is spelled in the plural because it is actually a series of streets (each one a “rambla”). Though crowded with tourists, Las Ramblas is tree-lined and beautifully laid out. All along the way, you will meet with interesting street performers, some of them doing stunts, some of them costumed and some of them offering to do pencil sketches.
- Placa de Catalunya is a square located in the very center of the city. It is the city’s transport hub and a favorite rendezvous point. The square is famous for its many fountains and statues, and it is lined by shops on every side.
- The Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is at the very heart of the Ciutat Vella. Here, you can see numerous buildings that date from medieval times as well as a few that go back to the Roman Period.
- In various parts of the Old City, you will find literally miles of beachfront boardwalks. These are worthwhile just to walk along- but you can also get in the water to swim or lay down for a tan on the sand.
- El Portal de L’Angel is a spacious pedestrian walkway lined by some of the most expensive and most in-style shops in all of Barcelona.
Things to Do in Other Barcelona Neighborhoods
- In Sants Montjuic, you can ride high in the sky on a cable car that takes you from the sea coast all the way up to the mountain known as Montjuic.
- Also in Sants Montjuic, you can see a Flamenco Show, which is a traditional Spanish performance with guitar music, song and dance, at the Tablao de Carmen.
- Coastal tours of Barcelona can be had by sail boat [link] and motor boat. The duration can be from 1 hour to a full-day coastal tour by “classic yacht.”
- Take a bike tour of Eixample to see its imposing Modernista architecture, some of it mimicking medieval style, and also stop of at the Japanese Library.
- Attend a football (soccer) match at Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona and the largest-capacity stadium in all of Spain, seating over 99,000. Besides football matches, concerts are also occasionally held there.
- Cruise miles of beachfront boardwalk starting from Barceloneta or get a tan on the beach.
- Sit on a wooden bridge to Maremagnum in Ciutat Vella and cool your toes at the water’s edge: with a book, sandwich or just for a short rest.
- Wander the Barri Gòtic in Ciutat Vella, the largely intact pseudo-medieval center of the city.
- Enjoy your Sangria at La Plaça Reial in Ciutat Vella, near the La Rambla Street. Great place to sit, relax and drink. While visiting La Plaça Reial.
- Walk in Born a very popular area with great restaurants and places to have a few drinks and uncover amazing history. If your accommodation is on Rambla, Born is a great place to escape the crowds, enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and meet off-the-beaten track travellers and non-tourist-industry locals–especially in the evenings.
- Ride the Cable Way to get from the sea front to Montjuïc mountain in Sants-Montjuïc
- Sit and sip on a coffee in Plaça dels Àngels in Ciutat Vella, while admiring the whiteness of the MACBA and the best street skate tricks in town.
- Catch a performance at the beautiful Teatre del Liceu or the Palau de la Musica Catalana both in Ciutat Vella.
- Visit a Flamenco Show in a real tablao. Although the dance is not local to Catalunya, one of the best Flamenco Shows in the city is Tablao de Carmen in Sants-Montjuïc. A cheaper alternative is in the jazzclub Jazz Si in Ciutat Vella.
- Rent a bike or join a Biketour and get to see the highlights of the city in a different way. Ride from the magic beaches of the Mediterranean, to Gaudí’s modernist buildings through the medieval atmosphere of the Old Quarter.
- Sail 3 hours to see Barcelona from the sea.
- Join a Barcelona photography walk or masterclass in English with [www.Meetup.com/BarcelonaPhotography]
- Camp Nou (FC Barcelona stadium). If you are football fan, it is a must see attraction.
- mapadearte.com (mapadearte.com), barcelona, [link]. Go see some of the famous or small unknown galleries or some museums in your neighbourhood. This website has an easy to use map with all places, their websites, opening hours or just show the places which are open per day.
- Sail on a classic yacht, [link]. Enjoy a day trip sailing along the Barcelona coastline on a classic yacht.
Festivals and events in Barcelona
Barcelona hosts a number of annual fiestas, many of which are unique to Catalonia and offer an insight into its distinctive culture.
- Cavalcada de Reis. (January 5) This float parade of the Three Wise Men is majestic and held on the evening of January 5 every year. Although geared towards families and kids, the various colourful and decorative floats can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
- Fira de Santa Eulalia. (February 12): This festival commemorates the martyrdom of the ancient patron saint of the city with activities for the young ones and for the not so young. It lasts for the whole weekend and it is getting bigger every year becoming known as the winter festival.
- Sónar. A annual three-day music festival. It is described officially as a festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. Music is by far the main aspect of the festival. The festival runs for three days and nights, usually starting on a Thursday in the third week of June.
- Festes de Gràcia. The Fiestas de Gràcia is a Catalonian celebration, held around the 15th of August each year to commemorate the Assumption. During the week of festivities that mark one of Barcelona’s most important festes, the city of Gràcia explodes with fun, excitement, color and fireworks. Many streets are decorated by the neighbours, live music, food in the street, and the parties continue all night.
- Festes de Sants. Similar to Gracia’s event, but smaller and later on in August. If you can’t go to the Gracia’s, try to go to this festival instead.
- Sant Jordi. (April 23) Considered to be like Valentine’s Day. People give roses and books around the streets. Traditionally men give women roses and women give men books. It is one of the most popular and interesting celebrations in Catalonia.
- Corpus. Late in May (Corpus Christi day). An egg is put over the fountains (most of them in the churches, and decorated with flowers), and “magically dances” over the water. Most of the churches are in the city center: Cathedral’s cloister, Santa Anna, Casa de l’Ardiaca, Museu Frederic Marés, and over 10 more fountains.
- Fira de Santa Llúcia. From December 2nd/3rd to December 23rd, to commemorate Sta. Llúcia (December 13th). During this time, in front of the Cathedral, Christmas objects are sold. Some places sell Christmas trees, but most of them sell elements for making the pessebres (Nativity scenes). These include small sculptures, wooden pieces and moss used to simulate grass.
December 13th is the feast day of Santa Llucia, patron saint of fashion designers and blind people, who gather at the Santa Llucia chapel in the cathedral to pay their respects.
- Revetlla de Sant Joan. (June 23) This is the midsummer solstice celebration. It is celebrated on 23rd June every year and is signified by the fireworks (note that there are frequent and loud amateur fireworks all night long, which may make it hard to sleep) that are permanently on display during this time.
- La Mercè. (September 24): The annual festival of the City of Barcelona dating back to the 17th Century, it is an official holiday established to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. It offers a lot of activities, with the main event being the parade of gigantic papier maché figures. Also worth noting are the group of ‘castellers’ who compete to see who can form the highest human tower, live music events, and the Magic Fountain and Fireworks show at the base of the Montjuic hill. All the days events are accompanied by a heavy consumption of Cava, the national drink of Catalonia.
- Fira de Barcelona. There are trade events all year round [link] in Barcelona, including the annual Mobile World Congress which sees more than 70,000 visitors to the city.
During festivals and especially during mobile world congress which is a major trade show at the Fira, accommodation in Barcelona and especially near the Fira is much more difficult to find and more expensive than usual.
Take a walking tour in Barcelona
For those visitors who wish to get a real taste of Barcelona, you can join a group of English-speaking local guides for free sightseeing tours. In addition to exploring major landmarks and famous streets, you will also get stories, recommendations and tips that only a local could provide. These professional guides are passionate about their city and offer tours which are both educational and fun. These walking tours are based on a tip supported service.
There are also tours run by the City Council starting from the Tourist Information Point in Plaça Catalunya. Their fees are around €15/person.
Another option to discover the local Barcelona side is to contact a local person, who is willing to show you the city around. You can select a travel guide according to your travel activity preferences. The local travel guide can pick you up from your location, take great travel pictures, go shopping or show the non-touristy places if you wish to see them. The average fees are ranging from totally free services to 30 eur/h and more.
Cooking classes in Barcelona
- Cookly-Learn the Insights of Mediterranean Cuisine with Santa Caterina Market Tour, Carrer dels Mirallers, 9 – El Born, (firstname.lastname@example.org), [link]. Born to Cook Barcelona is a culinary space focused on new trends in gastronomy, located in a privileged heritage site, at the heart of “El Born” in Barcelona. This premises date back to the 15th century and, according to historical records, the building was the domicile of Christopher Columbus’ family in Barcelona. It’s stoned walls and original arches create an exceptional atmosphere, unique in the city of Barcelona. The first step will be a visit to the one of the oldest markets in Barcelona, the Santa Caterina, where the locals go for buying fresh ingredients to come and prepare the dish. During the tour, there will be specialties, like olives, Iberian ham, tomato, olive oil, chorizo, manchego cheese, tomatoes available to taste. Back to Cooking school, more insights of Mediterranean cuisine with hands-on experience is provided. 101 Euros.
For those wishing to make a real attempt at learning the language, there are plenty of Spanish language schools in Barcelona, as well as universities/schools which offer degree courses in English.
- The University of Barcelona [link]. Tel: +34 952 222 998. A public university with 75 undergraduate programs, 353 graduate programs and 96 doctorate programs to over 63,700 students, UB was considered to be the best University in Spain in the 2011 QS World University Rankings.
- UAB [link] Tel: +34 93 581 13 25. A public university mostly located in Cerdanyola del Vallès, near the city. As of 2012, it consists of 57 departments in the experimental, life, social and human sciences, spread among 13 faculties/schools. All these centers together award a total of 85 qualifications in the form of first degrees, diplomas, and engineering degrees.
- Pompeu Fabra University [link] Tel: +34 93 542 20 00. Founded in 1990, it is named after the Catalan philologist Pompeu Fabra and offers 19 undergraduate degrees, 37 official masters, and 9 PhD programs, as well as around 60 UPF masters. In 2010, it was awarded the distinction of International Excellence Campus by the Spanish Ministry of Education and it is widely considered to be one of the best universities in Spain.
- Abla Lenguas [link] Tel: +34 934 519 797,C/de Balmès 129 bis(planta principal). Spanish courses, Cursos de inglés. An effective way to learn to speak and understand foreign languages rather than just reading comprehension . Based on “one to one” teaching, so you can start any time and choose when you want your lessons, which makes its really flexible.
- Babylon Idiomas [link] is an award winning Spanish Language school situated in Eixample, walking distance to the central Plaça Catalunya. A range of Intensive courses are available and all are taught by native Spanish teachers.
- Academia Guiu [link] is a spanish academy in Barcelona, Aragó 233.
- BCN Languages [link] In Barcelona: Gracia, Sants, Eixample, Sagrada Família and Palma de Mallorca.
- C-2 Barcelona [link]. Tel: +34 932 72 16 34
- Don Quijote [link] You can take 4-6 hours of courses a day. All courses including beginner courses are taught entirely in Spanish.
- Idiomas 247 [link] Tel: +34 932 314 034, email: email@example.com, Gran via de les Corts Catalanes 751a. Individual lessons taught by native teachers. Learn Spanish and Catalan, and other languages such as English, French, German,Italian, Chinese or Arabic, for all levels and ages.
- Linguaschools Barcelona [link] organizes Spanish courses for foreigners. The school is open all year round and wheelchair accessible. Great building with a front yard. On 5 min. from Plaça Catalunya.
- Merit School [link] Spanish courses for foreigners. More than 35 years of experience and 9 schools in Barcelona (and surroundings). You can also learn Japanese, Russian, Italian, French, German, Portuguese and Chinese Maragall: +34 93 243 15 24 / UPC Campus Nord: +34 93 413 79 20
- Olé Languages Barcelona [link]. Av Mistral 14-16 Local 6, Tel: +34 93 185 15 18
- Oxford House Barcelona [link]. A highly reputable language school and teacher training centre located 2 minutes from Plaça Catalunya. Intensive Spanish courses offered all year round. C/Diputació, 279, Local, Tel: +34 93 174 00 62
- Nativos Language Consultants, C/Méndez Nunez 4, ☎ +34 93 167 25 80, [link] Spanish, Catalan and English courses.
Barcelona has an astounding 35,000 shops for tourists to explore, but since no one could hope to exhaustively shop Barcelona, a “buyers guide” is in order. First of all, you will want to walk the three-mile (five-kilometer) “shopping line” that stretches along the Las Ramblas pedestrian pathway. There is very little vehicle traffic along this run, though there will be plenty of other tourists to navigate around. Along the route, you will find plenty of shops selling “big-name” items along with many specialty designer shops selling Spanish-made apparel, shoes, jewelry and more.
Most shops and malls in Barcelona will be closed for business on Sundays (by force of law), but there are exceptions- especially in the Ciutat Vella. There, you will find fashionable clothing outlets, small souvenir shops and local supermarkets open all week long.
Some of the best specific shopping opportunities that await the visitor to Barcelona include the following:
- Excellent antiques can be picked up in Barcelona if you know where to look. On the street called Passeig de Gràcia in Eixample district is lined with antique shops. There are also many to be found along Carrer del Consell de Cent (also in Eixample) and along Carrer de la Pallanearby the Cathedral.
- Two flea markets are worth checking out: the one held every Saturday morning next to the Colum (Christopher Columbus) monument at the end of Las Ramblasand another one in the square outside of Barcelona Cathedral, which is open on Thursday mornings.
- The El Corte Inglés department store has a number of locations all over the city, including in Eixample, Ciutat Vella’ and the Inland Suburbs. In the city center, two El Corte Ingles locations are within easy walking distance of each other, and the Fnac department store is also in the vicinity. These stores are very large and have virtually everything you are likely to shop for, all under one roof.
- La Boqueria is a gigantic public market located in Ciutat Vella. It is worth exploring for its wide range of both produce and goods, and you can stop off for some fresh-squeezed fruit juice or other refreshments as you shop. Be aware that the market closes down on Sundays. Also, be careful while touching chocolate produce here or you they will force you to pay for it.
- Jamon Iberico, a Spanish-style cured ham with a rich, nutty flavor is a very popular buy among tourists and locals alike. This ham is made from the Pata Negra, an ancient breed of pig exclusively native to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
- La Gauche Divine is a unique, multifaceted store in the Ciutat Vella district that combines high-fashion, designer, musical and artistic fare.
Eat in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city with more than 20 Michelin stars in all its restaurants. The Catalans pride themselves in great food, which is anchored in centuries of history and the us of fresh products. However, Barcelona’s cuisine is inconsistent in quality, as with all highly touristic cities, but good food does exist at reasonable prices. The golden rule of thumb applies well in Barcelona; to save money and get better food, look for places off the beaten track by fellow travellers and seek out cafes and restaurants where the locals frequent. A good idea is to avoid restaurants with touts outside.
Where to eat during migdiada (Catalan)/siesta (Spanish)
Majority of restaurants and cafes are closed between 4PM and 8PM for migdiada. If you failed to plan for that, here are some places you can eat during this period:
- tapas in bars (not too healthy nor cheap to substitute a full meal)
- international chains
- selected restaurants who are flexible enough to cater for tourists all day long: Origen 99.9%, Udon, Vegetalia.
Set menus (menú del dia) Most restaurants (and some bars) offer a menú del dia (menu of the day), which usually means a simple and unpretentious two course meal (one salad, main dish and a drink; plus a dessert sometimes), 3 or 4 options each, with a drink and a dessert, for €8 to €15-20, depending on a restaurant. Keep in mind these are not going to be huge portions. Typically you will get all of the items listed, but they will be one or two mouthfuls at most (i.e., all of the food will fit on one standard sized plate). During the week, some smart restaurants offer lunch specials from 2PM to 4PM. The savvy traveler will try the hip places for a fraction of the price during the day.
If you’re looking for a place where everyone can choose their own meal, ask for restaurants that serve platos combinados, which is the closest thing to an American/Northern European meal.
Smoking: Is not permitted in restaurants anymore.
You can get food from any part of the world in Barcelona, but make sure you try some Catalan food.
The selection of seafood is consistently great, although not a lot of it is local (this part of the Mediterranean is pretty well fished-out).
A treat to try that no travel guide mentions is waffles sold at street stands. They will tempt you with their mouth watering smell and taste.
Even though tapas restaurants are now all over the city, tapas itself originated in Andalusia in the south of Spain and is NOT native to Catalan cuisine. Catalans generally eat three course meals (appetizer, main dish and dessert) and would more likely go for a pre-dinner drink and pintxos (Basque counterpart for tapas) at a Basque taverna than for a meal consisting entirely of the new trend in tapas-only dining. As you travel to smaller towns in Catalonia outside of Barcelona, it is less likely that you will find tapas and more likely to see restaurants serving traditional Catalan food in three courses.
Food Tours in Barcelona
If you are looking for a quick introduction to Barcelona’s cuisine, you could consider going on a food tour – wine tour, tapas tour, cooking classes, market tour… options are plentiful and the hard part is to choose one.
Foodie&Tours [link] is a local company that is catered towards foodies traveling in Spain. They have consolidated more than 40 food tours in Barcelona, offering a wide variety of culinary experiences – Spanish food tours, Catalan food tours, Penedes winery day trips, paella cooking classes, Boqueria visits, and more.
Barcelona Eat Local Food Tours [link] is a small business dedicated to showcase the best of Catalan Gastronomy. It works only with family own local business in non-touristy areas of the city, where the curious traveler get immerse into the tapas tradition, wine and cava worlds and the culture of distinct neighborhoods of the city. Their food tours have been praised among the top 10 walking tours of Barcelona.
Barcelona Slow Travel [link] is one of the city’s most unique tourism companies as it’s all about authenticity and sustainability. The 2 young Barcelona locals that run the company created truly authentic experiences allowing travellers to deeply immerse themselves in the Barcelona lifestyle. All their offerings must comply with strict sustainable tourism guidelines, such as respecting the local people, supporting family-run businesses, keeping Catalan culture and traditions alive and preserving the environment. They offer food tours and cooking classes both in and out the city, wine tours to small, organic family run wineries, a cooking day trip to meet with local farmers, pick and cook a traditional Catalan lunch, a tour of the fishing port, and more..
Wanderbeak Tours Barcelona [link] is run by locals who love sharing their passion for the city. Being prestigious members of Barcelona Turisme Premium and TripAdvisor certificate of excellence winners – ensures the best experiences for small group food tours, tapas tours and wine tastings. They curate private VIP tours for the more discerning and day trips into the countryside for the more curious. Far more than just a food tour, they share their passion for the history and stories behind the food, the traditions, the neighborhoods and the people who live here. They uncover the local secrets and hidden gems of this medieval and contemporary city, to give travelers a truly memorable experience.
Cookery classes in Barcelona
- Cookly Grandma’s Cooking Class (Cookly Punto de Encuentro Gastronomico: PEG BCN), Carrer dels Escudellers Blancs 12, Barcelona, Spain, ☎ +(34) 605 371 792 (firstname.lastname@example.org), [link]. This cooking class based on tradition is a unique experience. Rather than learning how to make a standard paella, you will be able to learn about the traditional Spanish and Catalan cuisine and take that knowledge back home to share with family, friends, and guests. Book online or by phone. Advance booking recommended. € 101.
- The Paella Club, Carrer Doctor Dou 5, Barcelona, Spain, (email@example.com). The Paella Club offers unique fully-immersive culinary experiences in the heart of El Raval, just steps away from La Boqueria Market. The Paella Club advocates for the principles of the slow food movement and works with local ingredients in order to provide a farm-to-table experience. The hands-on educational cooking experiences allow guests to learn how to make authentic Paella, pan tomaquet, and a variety of other traditional Spanish dishes at their own individual cooking stations. Book online or by phone. Advance booking recommended. Call +(34) 672 272 276. € 49-79.
Areas to eat in Barcelona
Depending on where you are in the city, there may be restaurants galore, or none at all. The following areas tend to be restaurant “hubs”, with a large variety of restaurants to choose from:
- Barceloneta: A popular quarter for locals, where you can try fish based dishes, such as Paella (a name that may hide many different kinds of rice concoctions) or Arròs negre (Black Rice), that takes its colour because it is made using squid ink. It’s a very good place to eat tapas as well.
- Eixample Esquerra (between Gran Via and Mallorca)
- Barri Gòtic (especially for tapas)
- “El Born” (next to Barri Gòtic)
- Carrer de Blai: this street in Poble Sec (and close to the Metro stop) is wall-to-wall tapas and pintxos (a Basque bar snack food, similar to tapas) bars. Very cheap and popular, it’s a good place to start bar-hopping, with each tapas/pintxos piece often costing no more than 1-1.50 EUR each.
Around Plaça Catalunya there are dozens of restaurants serving excellent tapas.
For budget eating you may choose “menu del dia” in small bars on the Avinguda del Parallel for €9-€11 per person. Be aware that sometimes the menu and the staff are only in Spanish.
The large cafes that line the Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla Catalunya, just north of the Plaça Catalunya, offer a variety of acceptable tapas. This part of the town is quite touristy and a bit expensive.
In several supermarkets you can find a wide stall with a great selection of ready-to-eat dishes. You can get a two-course lunch for less than €5.
€10 is the lowest price for a standard menu del dia; for less it can be only canteen or budget-style eating–or fast food.
- Kebab: There is no shortage of Durum or Shawarma stands in Barcelona, offering tasty beef or chicken and salad in toasted flatbread for around €3.50. Gyro is the Greek name and version of the Turkish doner-kebab and it is delicious! You could live on these things for a week!
- Barcelona Wok – Comte d’Urgell 46 – 48. €9 per head all you can eat – great sea food.
- Also you can consider the Asiatic offer, with a lot of Chinese, Japanese and Indian restaurants.
- Comer y no Bombas (location variable) shares free vegan food.
- Maoz [link] offers excellent vegan falafel (including unlimited salad) for around €4. There are several around Barcelona including one on 95, La Rambla, about 10 minutes walk from Pl Catalunya.
- More organic restaurants Check out the independent Bio Barcelona site [link] for more organic options.
Traditional catalan cuisine
- El Glop [link]. Three locations, in Eixample and Gràcia. Excellent Catalan meals. Allow about €20 per person, although you could get out of there for half of that if you let the price dictate your choice of dishes.
- Origen 99.9% This place appears to be closed (February 2016), Several locations. 12:30PM-1AM Mon-Sun (”’no break for siesta”’). Eco-friendly chain of Catalonian-cuisine restaurants; organic only in some of products. Good choice of specialty liquors. Two tapas tasting menus (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) at €20. . main courses: fish €5.5-6; meat: 5.85.
- Les Quinze Nuits, Plaça Reial 6, ☎ 93 317 30 75. Good typical paella in a beautiful location, but below average service. [link]
Other Spanish cuisine
- Orio (Pinchos, Gastronimia Basca), Ferran 38, ☎ 902 520522 (firstname.lastname@example.org), [link]. dinner is around 80 Euro for two people with wine.
- Udon, Four locations, [link]. A chain of inexpensive noodle restaurants inspired by a Japanese chain Udon Ya, serving tasty Japanese cuisine. No reservations.
- Asian Food in Barcelona, [link]. Asian tapas bars and restaurants are located all over the city and some offer amazing food which is worth to try.
- Dine with locals, in homes all around Barcelona, [link]. There are several web platforms, like BonAppetour and EatWith, that offers authentic home-cooked meals in the homes of locals in Barcelona. Prices vary from $29 to $60+ for lunches, brunches and dinners at the homes of locals with other international guests.
- Cafe 1907, Calle Císter, 25, ☎ +1 93 418 49 98, [link]. Wed – Sun, Lunch: 1pm – 3:30 pm, Dinner 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm. A traditional restaurant in Barcelona where you will find Catalan cuisine prepared with organic produce and local raw materials .
Barcelona’s nightlife options are endless. There are clubs and bars lining every single street, and you can even find people enjoying a drink outside either on the street, in a plaza, or on the beach. The noteable club scene is what brings many partiers to the city. Places like Opium and Pacha are two major spots, especially notorious for their beach side location. However, this is not the only club hot spot. Head to Gracia to find places like Bling Bling and Sutton, boasting a more exclusive atmosphere. The best neighborhoods to find a bar are El Born, El Gotico, and El Raval.
Try a “cafè amb gel” an espresso with a drop of milk served with a glass of ice cubes on the side at any local ‘cafeteria’
Bars in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city with a longstanding heritage of locally produced beers and wines. In fact, it has some unique drinks of other kinds as well, such as orxata which is a drink made from chufa (papyrus) juice, sugar and water as well as granizados, which consist of sweetened orange juice, lemon juice or coffee poured over crushed ice. As to alcoholic beverages, however, those most commonly consumed in Barcelona include:
- Cerveza (beer), Spanish style. Be aware that, if you ask for “una cerveza,” you will be handed a bottled beer. For a draught beer, you must request “una caña.”
- Vermuth al grifo, an herbal wine that is stored in small-sized barrels and mixed with aerated water before drinking.
- Cava, a semi-sparkling variety of champagne that is somewhat fruitier and “greener” than French champagne. Major brands include: Codroniu, Freixenet and Raimat.
- Moscatel, a naturally sweet wine with a floral aroma that is at least 85% from the Moscatel de Alejandria type of grape. It is best served slightly chilled and drizzled over various Catalonian/Spanish desserts along with fruit and ice cream.
Barcelona has a large number of both beer bars and wine bars, and there are some establishments that cross the line and double as both. The fact that the wine vineyards of Penedes lie within only a couple miles of Barcelona explains, in part, why wine bars are such a common sight in this city.
Some of the most popular places to go for a taste of Catalonian beer and wine include:
- ‘La Vinya del Senyor, located near the famous Santa Maria del Mar Church, offers a wide array of Spanish and international wines. Local snacks like specialty cheeses and Spanish olives are also to be found here.
- Viblioteca, set in the heart of the Gracia district, is a boutique wine bar and romantic restaurant wrapped into one. You can match Spanish wines and tapas to menu items like fresh tuna, steak tartar and “pan con tomate” (tomato bread).
- Lo Pinyol, also in Gracia, serves both wine and beer, tapas and vermouth being particularly popular. The prices are reasonable, and the ambiance is often described as “cozy but stylish.”
- The Raimon Social Club, located in the Gothic Quarter and not far from the Las Ramblas walkway, is well known for its Cuban Cocktail bar. Such drinks as fresh fruit mojitos and piña coladas are very popular there, and free salsa lessons are even offered.
- Espit Chupitos has multiple locations throughout Barcelona, including one in the beachfront Barcelonita area. This bar is known for its shot-drinks, such as the cinnamon-sprinkled Harry Potter and the flaming-hot Monica Lewinsky. There are literally hundreds of different shots to choose from, and live entertainment is also a regular feature of a night at Espit Chupitos.
- Raimon Social Club, best Cuban Cocktail bar for fresh fruit Mojitos, Daiquiris or Piña Colada, right in the heart of the Gothic, by Las Ramblas and plaça Reial, with free salsa lessons. Carrer Nou de Zurbano 8, Barcelona.
- Espit Chupitos, are located in several locations through out the city, including one in Barceloneta. Chupitos is Spanish for “shots” and offers hundreds of unique shots including the “Harry Potter” (a shot that sparks as cinnamon is sprinkled over it), and “Monica Lewinsky” (a variety of flaming shots) amongst others. As much a show as it is a place to get a drink, it’s a fun night out.
- Lo Pinyol, cozy and stylish Bodega with Wine, Wermouth, Beer and awesome Taps for reasonable prices in the Gracia district: Torrent de l’Olla 7
- SDiscounted entrance to clubs Most nightclubs in Barcelona tend to offer guests lists, offering free entrance or discounted drinks for tourists who arrive early. Such guest lists can often be found on facebook. In addition, various apps for that purpose exist as well.
Sleep in Barcelona
Barcelona offers an incredibly voluminous and diverse array of sleeping accommodations to the eight million or so tourists who visit the city annually. Knowing where to sleep among this plethora of options can be a bit bewildering, but there is something for everyone — one-star establishments all the way up to five.
Most people who visit Barcelona wish to tour the major sites in city center first and foremost, and therefore it makes sense to be located downtown. With your “headquarters” in Old City areas like Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter or the inner-city beachfront zone known as La Barceloneta, you have immediate access to the city’s transportation hub and plenty of places to visit on foot.
A handful of the numerous hotels of Barcelona are listed below to give you a taste of what is available, but the options are nearly endless:
- Hotel 1898 Barcelona on Las Ramblas is only footsteps away from the city’s most lively pedestrian pathway, with its street performers, souvenir vendors and Catalonian cafes. It is also within short walking distance of ATMs, pharmacies and the Boqueria, a world-famous food market. The ambiance is luxurious and classic, and the darkwood and leather decor only reinforces the impression.
- Internacional Cool Local Hotel is a mid-level alternative also set up against Las Ramblas. It is only a few steps away from the Gran Teatre del Liceu. Despite being a more modest accommodation, it goes far beyond the basics and gives you air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, free Internet and an on-site bar.
- W Hotel Barcelona is a five-star hotel positioned along the coastline at the tip of Barceloneta Beach. It is shaped like a gigantic sail and shines like a flashing mirror. W Hotel is a relatively new hotel, but it already is in competition for the status of “most prestigious hotel in Barcelona.” Its Bliss Spa, seasonal pool and cocktail bar contribute to its “international and hip” atmosphere.
- Pullman Barcelona Skipper Hotel is another new five-star hotel in the city. It looks rather like an office block when you first see it, but it is in fact a very “modern” hotel. Inside, there are two swimming pools, a spa, a rooftop gymnasium and numerous specialized business facilities. Services include yacht rental and baby sitting.
- Renaissance Barcelona Hotel is located in the middle of Eixample, the most upscale district of Barcelona. It is near to many popular tourist sites and yet is on a street that allows for peace and quiet. It offers a pool, gym and in-house restaurant.
- Casa Fuster Hotel is a five-star establishment in Vila de Gracia with a century-old, fully restored building. It is near Gracia’s main shopping zone and has a pool, a spa and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city.
- Catalonia Hotel Barcelona in Montjuic hovers over the Placa d’Espanya and is near to Palau Nacional and its Catalan art exhibits. It’s also quite close to quick transportation to the city center.
- The Urban Suites in Sants-Montjuic is a building of rental apartments by days near Placa d’Espanya and Sants Station. Great connection to the city center and Barcelona airport.
- Black Swan Hostel, Carrer Ali Bei, 15, ☎ 932311369. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 11.00. Located just a ten minutes walk from the main square, and in between Born and Eixample district, this hostel has the perfect location. If you are looking for younger and more social place, here it is. This hostel has everything for you to feel cosy but also lots of activities that mostly come for free for you to meet fellow travellers and enjoy your stay in Barcelona. 10-45.
As of april 2016 there is free internet service provided by the city council with 591 spots available [link]. It’s slow connection and schedule limitation. City council provides a map with the position of the spots available.
One of the best options is rent a prepaid portable WiFi Hot spot. Service is available in Barcelona and whole Spain provided by some Telco companies, one of them is AlldayInternet which allows the connection to any WiFi device without roaming charges: Smart-phones, Tablets, PCs…
Telephone and mobile services
Visitors can pick up a Prepaid SIM which will allow them access to internet on their smartphone or device. There are many options to choose from, you can buy from the telephone companies or from the local shops or internet cafes. As an example, a Lycamobile prepaid card bought recently cost 8.50 and allows one to buy a 250mb plan for 30 days. Options run up to 2G for 30 days. Please note that your passport or ID is needed to register the prepaid SIM.
Stay safe in Barcelona
Barcelona is Europe’s pickpocketing capital. Never keep your wallet, cash or important documents in trouser pockets or in bag pockets: a money belt is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent being robbed. As always, be alert in crowded places, such as public transport, train and bus stations, La Rambla and Raval. People may approach you asking for change, or to change money. Just ignore them. If you are asked to change money, then official-looking police may approach you afterwards to ‘check’ your wallet for ID, etc. These are not police, so be at your most vigilant or you might find they have taken a few cards or cash upon returning your wallet.Pickpockets use the football trick as the local specialty. At certain tourist hotspots, there are people who will try to show you a ‘magic trick’. This involves tying a piece of string around your finger. While you are distracted (and your arm is effectively disabled), an accomplice will pickpocket you. It is also possible that criminals will pose as tourists and ask directions to approach their victims. Keep your distance and be careful in tourist places.
The subway is a hotbed for pickpocketing activity, which can range from simple opportunistic thefts to coordinated attacks. Be especially wary on the subway platforms at Sants train station and Sagrada Família. A group of men will come out of seemingly nowhere while you attempt to enter a subway car and block your entrance andexit in a coordinated manner, effectively pinning you against the doors while they close. They will act as if the car is just crowded and they are trying to get on as well, but, in reality, they have already gone through your pockets. Once they take stuff, they quickly return to the platform and walk off calmly while you are trapped in the departing subway as they make sure they exit just before the doors cannot be reopened. Violence in these situations is rare, and in most cases the goal of the thieves is to rob you undetected.
Stay vigilant: do not leave anything in a back trouser pocket (except maybe a map of the city). Hold on to your bag or purse at all times. Do not leave anything unattended while you sit in a cafe or restaurant. Traveling with another person or persons is a good practice. Have the others look out. The impression that you are paying attention is enough to deter most thieves. This makes someone else an easier target than yourself.
Scams are incredibly common, especially in very touristy areas. The number one thing to remember about a scam is that you should never speak with someone you don’t know who walks up to you in a crowded area. Do not sign their petition, give them directions, or help them with their problem. Being rude is actually your best defense against scams. You can’t be tricked if they don’t have time to speak with you.
A common scam in Barcelona involves fake police officers, usually claiming to be “undercover” who will ask to see your passport or identification, then take your belongings when they can and run away. Overall various scams happen in the city which seems always performed by a group of professional scam artists. When it happens, it’s pretty ok to just walk away instead of start any sort of conversations with them. Another trick is that one seemingly confused person will ask you for directions, diverting your attention and then suddenly fake police will appear asking for your ID. These are organized scams to steal things from you. If such incident happens, follow the advice above and just walk away, without listening to any of their conversation or speaking to them. Stay alert, especially in busy tourist areas near the Sants station and Plaça d’Espanya.
Another popular scam happens in the metro. A group of scammers (often middle-aged women) will surround a tourist, frantically asking for directions. Most tourists wont know what to say while one of the scammers empties their pockets. They will try to confuse the tourist while the metro stays in the platform, and will get out just before the doors are closed. When you realize you’ve been scammed, the train will have already left and they will be safely outside with your belongings.
The bird droppings scam is also common. One or more accomplices will secretly spray or throw a smelly liquid on you. When you look up thinking a passing bird has pooped on you, they will run up to you and tell you that they saw a bird poop on you. They will offer to help you clean up, and while you are cleaning they will go through your pockets and any bags you have set down. It is wise to beware of anyone who is attempting to touch a complete stranger.
A version of Three Card Monte is one of many common scams played on Las Ramblas. There are also people holding petitions to install a wheelchair lift in locations with a lot of stairs (or any other thing, usually very vague, that they think you won’t be in favor of, such as a petition “against drugs”). Once your signature is obtained they will then aggressively ask for a donation. Sometimes there can be crowds of children demanding money with hardly anyone else in the area, making it difficult to get away.
There is a flat tire scam that seems to be popular in Barcelona that targets rental cars or those with foreign license plates. There are a few varieties of this particular scam, but it involves distracting the driver and passengers by mentioning a flat tire. Sometimes they are pedestrians crossing the street, other times they are people on motorcycles, but they are almost always working in teams. Those in the car check to see if their tire is actually flat while someone reaches in to grab whatever they can. This can happen in traffic, but sometimes they’ll offer to show you a garage nearby where you can get it fixed or they will offer to help you. In some instances, there will be absolutely no damage to your tire and in other cases the thieves will actually knife your tire. Be sure to keep your doors locked while driving in the city and watch for any suspicious motorbikes stopping near your car.
Choose an ATM in a busy area and merge quickly into the crowd to avoid being targeted. Barcelona is particularly well-equipped with ATMs. Many offer a wide range of services (withdrawals, transfers, mobile credit recharges, ticketing, etc.) and accept credit cards of various banks.
Most ATMs will not charge you a fee to withdraw funds (though your bank still may, of course). Catalunya Caixa is an exception: they will charge a several euro fee, so avoid their ATMs.
Be careful in tourist areas. A variety of methods are employed, including the No Change trick. You can touch items in shops but do not touch chocolate in la boqueria. The woman there will force you to buy it.
Areas of caution
Women traveling alone should exercise caution while exploring the more isolated parts of Montjuïc. The city beaches, particularly the ones adjoining Barceloneta, have proven to be quite lucrative for bag snatchers. Anything that one would rather not lose is best left, locked, in one’s hostel or hotel.
Men traveling alone should expect the prostitutes on Las Ramblas in the early hours to be very aggressive and in league with pickpockets and robbers.
Also, people need to be careful when leaving the bars of the Olympic Port late as there are many pickpockets around.
Women should be wary of wearing exposed jewellery such as gold chains and necklaces. People walking down a street may be attacked from behind by a thief who may grab the necklace and try to rip it off the woman’s neck before quickly running away, often down a convenient side street. This can even happen in daylight hours and in the full sight of others on the street.
In the event of such a robbery, people will need to find the local police station to report the incident, especially if a travel insurance claim is going to be made.
Parts of Barcelona are covered by closed circuit TV surveillance, but only the more popular spots.
The area around Palau de la Música Catalana, while a must-see, is in an area which has become a hotbed of the infamous “Narcopisos” and the inhabitants. Hard drugs are consumed in the narrow streets surounding the Palau. Robberies are frequent, even in daytime. Be alarmed, these young men abuse heavy narcotics.
Try to stay away from suburban trains (cercanias or rodalies) late in the evening, as you may encounter offensive young lumpens that disturb other passengers, smoke, break windows and vandalize equipment. Don’t rely too much on the railway security staff that often patrol rodalies: in October 2017, an aggressive gang attacked the security personnel right in the subway.
Tourist drivers may attract special attention, such as Red light bag snatch or Flat tire scams
If you need to report a crime (for example, to claim on travel insurance), be prepared for the reality that is the downtown police station, officers may not speak English, despite that fact the official theft report form is in both English and Spanish. The police station most often used to report theft is the one underneath Plaça Catalunya beside the metro station, they have translators for English, French, etc.