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Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in the Kingdom of Spain, as well as the country's second most populous municipality, with a population of 1.65 million within city limits. Its urban area extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 4.7 million people, being the seventh-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area, Berlin, and Milan. It is the largest metropolis on theMediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres (1,680 ft) high.
Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economic and administrative center of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural center and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.
Barcelona is one of the world's leading tourist, economic, trade fair and cultural centers, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. It is a major cultural and economic center in southwestern Europe, 24th in the world (before Zürich, after Frankfurt) and a financial center. In 2008 it was the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with GDP amounting to €177 billion. In 2012 Barcelona had a GDP of $170 billion; it is leading Spain in both employment rate and GDP per capita change. In 2009 the city was ranked Europe's third and one of the world's most successful as a city brand. In the same year the city was ranked Europe's fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year, but it has since been in a full recession with declines in both employment and GDP per capita, with some recent signs of the beginning of an economic recovery. Since 2011 Barcelona is a leading smart city in Europe. Barcelona is a transport hub with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe's principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles above 40 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network and a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe.
|POPULATION :||• City 1,604,555|
• Urban 4,693,000
• Metro 5,375,774
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||101.4 km2 (39.2 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||12 m (39 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||41°23′N 2°11′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.5%|
• Female: 50.5%
|AREA CODE :||93|
|POSTAL CODE :||080xx|
|DIALING CODE :||+34 93|
Barcelona is Spain's second largest city, with a population of nearly two million people, and the capital of Catalonia. A major port located on the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, Barcelona has a wide variety of attractions that bring in tourists from across the globe. The many faces of Barcelona include the medieval Old Town, the unique street grid resulting from 19th-century urban planning. The city has both long sandy beaches and green parks on the hills, pretty much side-by-side. Barcelona is also famous for a number of prominent buildings, of which perhaps the most-known are by the architect Antonio Gaudi, including his Sagrada Familia, which became Barcelona's symbol to many.
Founded more than 2,000 years ago as the ancient Roman town Barcino, Barcelona is thus as historic as it is modern, with a constant flow of projects changing the face of the city and long-standing penchant for design and innovation. Thanks to the wealth of attractions, a very well-developed accommodation base, a lively nightlife and a robust transportation system, Barcelona has become one of Europe's, and pretty much the world's, most popular tourist destinations.
Barcelona was the 20th-most-visited city in the world by international visitors and the fifth most visited city in Europe after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome, with 5.5 million international visitors in 2011. By 2015, both Prague and Milan had more international visitors. With its Rambles, Barcelona is ranked the most popular city to visit in Spain.
Barcelona as internationally renowned a tourist destination, with numerous recreational areas, one of the best beaches in the world, mild and warm climate, historical monuments, including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 519 hotels as of March 2016 including 35 five star hotels, and developed tourist infrastructure.
When to visit
August is probably the busiest time for tourists in Barcelona. That said, a very large percentage of the shops and restaurants can be found closed from early-August to early September. During this time, you will find the most expensive hotel rates (outside of conference times such as the World Mobile Congress) and the city is devoid of locals as the vast majority of residents go on vacation in August and leave the heat and humidity to the hordes of tourists who come. This also happens to be one of the highest periods of home break-ins as criminals know that many places are unoccupied for an entire month.
It is important to note that, while Barcelona has decent, albeit crowded beaches, the locals will be very appreciative if visitors do not consider Barcelona a beach resort and absolutely do not wear beachwear when visiting churches, restaurants, etc. If you only want a beach, and a good beach at that, head south to Costa Daurada, north to Costa Brava or out to sea for the Balearic Islands.
Barcelona is great off-season and is a lovely city even in the winter months of January and February, as long as the possibility of rain is low. Given the high humidity, 19–23 °C (66–73 °F) is considered comfortable weather, which is usually the temperature between April and June and between late September–November. This is the best time to visit the city. Anything warmer than this can feel too hot.
Barcelona Card. This card gives an opportunity to visit more than 25 museums and other sites in Barcelona without an extra charge. For another 70 plus sites it offers various kinds of discounts during a validity period of the card. It also includes a travel pass for public transport in Barcelona . The card is available for purchase for periods of between 2 and 5 days. Bear in mind that if you don't plan to see lots of museums every day, then it may be cheaper to buy transport-only tickets . They cannot be used on the cable cars or funiculars (except for Montjuïc) From €20 for a Barcelona Card Express (2-day), up to €60 for a 5-day card (10% discount if bought online in advance); a version for children is available as well.
- Tourist office at Plaça de Catalunya, Plaça de Catalunya, 17-S (Metro: L1, L3. Bus: 9, 22, 28, 42, 47, 58, 66, 67, 68. Train: R4). 8:30am-8:30pm. This is the main tourist office in the city.
The other tourist offices can be found at Plaça de Sant Jaume, Ciutat, 2 Ajuntament de Barcelona. (City Hall.) Opening time: Monday to Friday: 8.30am-8.30pm. Saturday: 9am-7pm. Sunday and public holidays: 9am-2pm.; Estació de Sants, Plaça dels Països Catalans. How to get there: Metro: L5,L3. Bus: 63,68. Opening time: daily, 8am-8pm. and Aeroport del Prat. Terminal 1 and 2. Opening time: Daily, 9am-9pm. All are closed on 1st January and 25th December. For a full list of tourist information points check the link above.
The department store El Corte Ingles publishes a free street map for tourists. You can pick a copy at the store, or at one of the many hotels in the city. Turisme de Barcelona.
The origin of the earliest settlement at the site of present-day Barcelona is unclear. The ruins of an early settlement have been excavated in the El Raval neighborhood, including different tombs and dwellings dating to earlier than 5000 BC. The founding of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends. The first attributes the founding of the city to the mythological Hercules. The second legend attributes the foundation of the city directly to the historical Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who supposedly named the city Barcino after his family in the 3rd century BC, but there is no historical or linguistic evidence that this is true.
In about 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum (Roman military camp) centered on the "Mons Taber", a little hill near the contemporary city hall (Plaça de Sant Jaume). Under the Romans, it was a colony with the surname of Faventia, or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Pomponius Mela mentions it among the small towns of the district, probably as it was eclipsed by its neighbour Tarraco (modern Tarragona), but it may be gathered from later writers that it gradually grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour. It enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. The city minted its own coins; some from the era of Galba survive.
Important Roman vestiges are displayed in Plaça del Rei underground, as a part of the Barcelona City History Museum MUHBA; the typically Roman grid plan is still visible today in the layout of the historical center, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral, also known as the Basilica La Seu, is said to have been founded in 343. The city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early 5th century, becoming for a few years the capital of all Hispania. After being conquered by the Arabs in the early 8th century, it was conquered in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis, who made Barcelona the seat of the Carolingian "Hispanic March" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zoneruled by the Count of Barcelona.
The Counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia, although on 6 July 985, Barcelona was sacked by the army of Almanzor. The sack was so traumatic that most of Barcelona's population was either killed or enslaved. In 1137, Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged in dynastic union by the marriage of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla of Aragon, their titles finally borne by only one person when their son Alfonso II of Aragon ascended to the throne in 1162. His territories were later to be known as the Crown of Aragon, which conquered many overseas possessions and ruled the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories in Naples and Sicily and as far as Athens in the 13th century. The forging of a dynastic link between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile marked the beginning of Barcelona's decline. The Bank of Barcelona, probably the oldest public bank in Europe, was established by the city magistrates in 1401. It originated from necessities of the state, as did the Bank of Venice (1402) and the Bank of Genoa (1407).
The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 united the two royal lines. Madrid became the center of political power whilst the colonization of the Americas reduced the financial importance (at least in relative terms) of Mediterranean trade. Barcelona was a center of Catalan separatism, including the Catalan Revolt (1640–52) against Philip IV of Spain. The great plague of 1650–1654 halved the city's population.
In the 18th century, a fortress was built at Montjuïc that overlooked the harbour. In 1794, this fortress was used by the French astronomer Pierre François André Méchainfor observations relating to a survey stretching to Dunkirk that provided the official basis of the measurement of a metre. The definitive metre bar, manufactured from platinum, was presented to the French legislative assembly on 22 June 1799. Much of Barcelona was negatively affected by the Napoleonic wars, but the start of industrialization saw the fortunes of the province improve. Urban planner Ildefons Cerdà designed the largeEixample district in the 1850s when the medieval city walls around Barcelona's old town were torn down.
During the Spanish Civil War, the city, and Catalonia in general, were resolutely Republican. Many enterprises and public services were "collectivized" by the CNT and UGT unions. As the power of the Republican government and the Generalitat diminished, much of the city was under the effective control of anarchist groups. The anarchists lost control of the city to their own allies, the Communists and official government troops, after the street fighting of the Barcelona May Days. The fall of the city on 26 January 1939, caused a mass exodus of civilians who fled to the French border. The resistance of Barcelona to Franco's coup d'état was to have lasting effects after the defeat of the Republican government. The autonomous institutions of Catalonia were abolished, and the use of the Catalan language in public life was suppressed. Barcelona remained the second largest city in Spain, at the heart of a region which was relatively industrialized and prosperous, despite the devastation of the civil war. The result was a large-scale immigration from poorer regions of Spain (particularly Andalusia, Murcia and Galicia), which in turn led to rapid urbanization. The city gained vitality in 1992 when it hosted the Summer Olympics.
According to the Köppen climate classification, the city has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa), with mild, relatively wet winters and hot, relatively dry summers. However, the relative winter drought and the significant summer rainfall are not typical of a Mediterranean climate and would put Barcelona in a transitional zone between the semi-arid climate (both BSk and BSh) to the west and southwest (on the coast, Tarragonabeing borderline) and the humid subtropical (Cfa) in Serra de Collserola to the north, where the Fabra Observatory receives just enough summer precipitation near or over 30 mm (1.2 in) to be classified as borderline.
Its average annual temperature is 21 °C (70 °F) during the day and 14 °C (57 °F) at night. The average annual temperature of the sea is about 20 °C (68 °F). In the coldest month – January, the temperature typically ranges from 7 to 17 °C (45 to 63 °F) during the day, 4 to 10 °C (39 to 50 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is 13 °C (55 °F). In the warmest month – August, the typical temperature ranges from 26 to 32 °C (79 to 90 °F) during the day, about 23 °C (73 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is 26 °C (79 °F). Generally – the summer / "holiday" season lasts about six months, from May to October. Two months – April and November – are transitional; sometimes the temperature exceeds 20 °C (68 °F), with an average temperature of 18–19 °C (64–66 °F) during the day and 10–13 °C (50–55 °F) at night. December, January and February are the coldest months, with average temperatures around 14 °C (57 °F) during the day and 7 °C (45 °F) at night. Large fluctuations in temperature are rare, particularly in the summer months. Because of the proximity to the warm sea, frosts are very infrequent in the city of Barcelona. In fact, only 1 day in the last 30 years was recorded with a temperature under the freezing mark. Snow is infrequent, but it snows lightly once or twice in a decade.
Barcelona averages several rainy days per month (≥ 1 mm), and annual average relative humidity is 72%, ranging from 69% in July to 75% in October. Rainfall totals are highest in autumn and lowest in early summer. Sunshine duration is 2,524 hours per year, from 138 (average 4.5 hours of sunshine a day) in December to 310 (average 10 hours of sunshine a day) in July.
Climate data for Barcelona
|Average high °C (°F)||14.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||8.8|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
Barcelona is located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing theMediterranean Sea, on a plain approximately 5 km (3 mi) wide limited by the mountain range of Collserola, the Llobregat river to the southwest and the Besòs river to the north. This plain covers an area of 170 km2(66 sq mi), of which 101 km2(39.0 sq mi) are occupied by the city itself. It is 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of the Pyrenees and the Catalan border with France.
Tibidabo, 512 m (1,680 ft) high, offers striking views over the city and is topped by the 288.4 m (946.2 ft) Torre de Collserola, a telecommunications tower that is visible from most of the city. Barcelona is peppered with small hills, most of them urbanized, that gave their name to the neighbourhoods built upon them, such as Carmel (267 metres or 876 feet), Putget (181 metres or 594 feet) and Rovira (261 metres or 856 feet). The escarpment of Montjuïc (173 metres or 568 feet), situated to the southeast, overlooks the harbour and is topped by Montjuïc castle, a fortress built in the 17–18th centuries to control the city as a replacement for the Ciutadella. Today, the fortress is a museum and Montjuïc is home to several sporting and cultural venues, as well as Barcelona's biggest park and gardens.
The city borders on the municipalities of Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Adrià de Besòs to the north; the Mediterranean Sea to the east; El Prat de Llobregat and L'Hospitalet de Llobregat to the south; and Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Just Desvern, Esplugues de Llobregat, Sant Cugat del Vallès, and Montcada i Reixac to the west. The municipality includes two small sparsely-inhabited exclaves to the north-west.
The Barcelona metropolitan area comprises over 66% of the people in one of the richest regions in Europe – Catalonia, with a GDP per capita amounting to €28,400 (16% more than the EU average). The Barcelona metropolitan area had a GDP amounting to $177 billion, equivalent to $34,821 in per capita terms (44% more than the EU average) making it the 4th most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world in 2009. Barcelona city had a very high GDP of €80,894 per head in 2004, according to Eurostat. Furthermore, Barcelona was Europe's fourth best business city and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year as of 2009.
Barcelona is the 14th most "livable city" in the world according to lifestyle magazine Monocle. Similarly, according to Innovation Analysts 2thinknow, Barcelona occupies 13th place in the world on Innovation Cities™ Global Index.
Barcelona has a long-standing mercantile tradition. Less well known is that the region was one of the earliest to begin industrialization in continental Europe, beginning with textile-related works from the mid-1780s but really gathering momentum in the mid-19th century, when it became a major center for the production of textiles and machinery. Since then, manufacturing has played a large role in its history.
Borsa de Barcelona (Barcelona Stock Exchange) is the main stock exchange in the northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula.
Barcelona was recognized as the Southern European City of the Future for 2014/15, based on its economic potential, by FDi Magazine in their bi-annual rankings.
Since 1987, the city has been divided into 10 administrative districts (districtes in Catalan, distritos in Spanish):
- Ciutat Vella
- Les Corts
- Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
- Nou Barris
- Sant Andreu
- Sant Martí
Barcelona's old town, including the medieval Barri Gotic, La Rambla, Raval, and El Born (also known as La Ribera)
Modernist quarter, central hub of the city, and the area to go to find Antoni Gaudí's work.
Formerly an independent town, it joined the city in the 20th century. Narrow streets and a cosmopolitan and young atmosphere with not too many tourists
Plaça Espanya and Montjuïc have been the focus of several great fairs and exhibitions. They have left behind museums, monuments and festivals for travellers to explore.
More beaches along the coast, but generally fewer tourists and tourist attractions.
Mostly residential, but there are some sights if you want to explore. It includes Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona; Tibidabo, the highest point in Barcelona; and more Gaudí architecture.
- Barcelona WiFi. M-Su 8am-1am. An internet service provided by the city council. There are more than 700 Wifi hotspots in the city, located mostly at various municipal buildings. The speed is limited to 256 Kbps, VoIP applications are filtered. No registration is required. A control page: https://control.barcelonawifi.cat Free.
Prepaid portable WiFi Hot spot service is now available in Barcelona, and whole Spain (provided by local tripNETer [www]) which allows the connection to any WiFi device: Smart-phones, Tablets, PCs…
Prices in Barcelona
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.90|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€5.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€24.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€39.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€55.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€7.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€3.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€2.50|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€9.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€11.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.16|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€5.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.10|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€82.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€31.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€83.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€|
50 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
174 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Some low-cost carriers, notably Ryanair, use the airports of Girona (IATA: GRO), nearly 100 km to the north, or Reus (IATA: REU), around the same distance to the south, instead. Since Ryanair recently started operating at Barcelona El Prat (IATA: BCN), you should check carefully where your flight actually goes. The three letter IATA code should be part of your booking process and at the very least it will be printed onto your luggage tag.
Barcelona International Airport
Barcelona International Airport (IATA: BCN), also known as El Prat, is a major transport hub and fields flights from all over Europe and beyond.
The Barcelona airport is only about 12–14 km away from the centre of Barcelona. It has two terminals:
- T1. It is the newer terminal hosting all arrivals and departures of Spanish carriers Iberia, Vueling and Air Europa, as well as all other Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance members.
- T2. It is the older terminal. It is mainly used by low-fare and charter airlines, and some non-allied carriers. There are 3 sections there: T2A, T2B, and T2C. T2C is used exclusively by EasyJet, all other airlines use T2B. T2A is not in use for scheduled traffic as of 2014. Notably the building features a mural by Joan Miró.
Please be aware that you can check in for your flight only at the respective terminal T1 or T2, and since they are 7 kilometres 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.
Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, Barcelona Airport sees many direct intercontinental flights. All three major US carriers (American Airlines, Delta and United) fly directly to Barcelona, as do Canadian airlines Air Canada Rouge and Air Transat. Local flag carriers fly to Buenos Aires and Bogota. On the Asian front, Singapore Airlines has a direct connection from Singapore, obviously, while Emirates sends a whole Boeing 777 or Airbus A380 from their hub in Dubai and Qatar Airways competes with a direct connection to theirs in Doha. You can continue from either of those to destinations across Asia, as well as to Australia.
Barcelona rivals Madrid for the number of intra-European connections, with many flag carriers serving both. Barcelona is also one of the European airports best served from the countries of the former Soviet Union (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan etc.), with direct flights to even less frequented airports, operated mostly by local carriers from those countries. There are also many connections to countries of North Africa.
Low-fare carriers operating connections to Barcelona include Vueling, Norwegian and Ryanair, who all have bases there and offer a wide network of connections across Europe. EasyJet does not have aircraft based in Barcelona, but flies there from most of their other bases in Western Europe, while WizzAir provides connections to Eastern European countries.
Germanwings flies from every major German city (with connections to Lufthansa and other Star Alliance flights) and Transavia to Paris and airports in the Netherlands (where you can connect to AirFrance-KLM flights). Monarch and Jet2 complement that with flights from airports in the UK. There are also many charter flights to Barcelona, especially in high season, for which you can increasingly buy tickets independently of a package holiday you may not wish to take.
Since February 2016, L9S runs from both terminals to the very south edge of Barcelona. Trains run every 7 minutes but there is no direct connection to the city centre nor any Barcelona highlight, so you should sum up the 25-30 minute trip to an interchange, 5 more minutes for changing lines as L9S runs very deep underground, and at least 15-20 more minutes to get to the city centre. You should expect an hour ride from most of the city.
For further aggravating things, metro have a special fare for both airport stations: 4,50€ single fare, no 10 ticket travelcards (T-10) allowed at all. Beware, if you reach the airport coming from Barcelona with the wrong ticket, you'll be forced to pay the full fare regardless of whatever you've already paid. Travelling by metro between terminals also costs 4,50€ while there is a free bus connection between T1 and T2.
So, unless you're going to the Fira, the metro is your worst option as it'll be more expensive and slower. And even if you're going to Fira, you might consider taking the train for just one stop and then change to L9S, as doing that way you can use T-10 travelcards and you'll end up paying just 0,99€ for the trip.
R2 Nord suburban train service (departures 05:42-23:38 every 30 minutes) connects terminal T2B with the Barcelona centre: Barcelona Sants station (travel time is 22 minutes to the airport), Passeig de Gràcia station (27 min), El Clot-Aragó station (30 min). It is generally a cheaper and, sometimes, a faster option to reach the airport.
NB: Do not confuse it with R2 and R2 Sud trains, which do not have a stop at the airport. Also this service does not terminate at Estació de França as R2 Sud does, instead it goes through the center of Barcelona and into the suburbs, so it is important to know at which station you should get off.
- Aeropuerto (train station). The airport train station has facilities for disabled people: escalators, lifts, etc.
It is quite counterintuitive, but the newer and busier T1 does not have a direct railway connection to the city. To get a train from T1 you first need to reach T2B by an airport shuttle bus (runs every 5-10 minutes), so plan for an extra 15 minutes of travel.
The airport is inside zone 1 of Integrated Fare System . You can buy a single-ride on the R2 Nord to and from the airport, however, if you buy a multi-ride pass to use during your stay , then this pass allows you to ride the R2 Nord to and from the airport.
- Line #46 (Plaza España - Airport). This bus line runs every 20 minutes from either of terminals (downstairs at T1) via El Prat de Llobregat to Plaça Espanya. The journey takes 35–45 minutes.
- Aerobus. A shuttle bus service between Barcelona Airport (terminals 1 & 2) and Barcelona's city center: all along Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes to Plaça Catalunya, city center (beside El Corte Inglés). Buses depart every 5–10 minutes dependings of the terminal. A journey takes aprox. 35 minutes. The buses are adapted for persons with reduced mobility (PRM) and dispose over a wide space especially designed for luggage, also offer free wifi on board and they give you a Free Barcelona map with the purchase of your ticket. Buses are heavily air-conditioned in the summer: have something extra to wear during the journey.Single €5.90, return €10.20; cash, credit card, or online.
- Line A1 (Terminal 1). to: 05:00-00:30; from: 05:35-01:05.
- Line A2 (Terminal 2). to: 05:00-00:30; from: 06:00-01:00.
- Nitbús lines N16, N17 (Plaza Catalunya (Ronda Universidad) - Airport) (N17 is for T1, N16 is for T2; the later one terminates at Castelldefels!). 22.00-05.00 every 20 min. Aerobuses stop running at midnight, but you can catch a Nitbús night bus service instead. The ride from Plaça Catalunya to Airport El Prat takes about 40–50 minutes). The buses stop at several important points of the city on its route: Plaça Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Plaça Universitat and Plaça Catalunya.
- Line PR1 (El Prat de Llobregat - Airport) (to the railway station at El Prat de Llobregat).
- Line L77 (Airport - Sant Boi - Cornellà). Rapid bus connecting the airport with the Sant Boi station (L8, FGC lines to Martorell, Igualada and Manresa, including Montserrat) and Cornellà Centre (Metro L5, tramway and Renfe R4) 2,15€ single fare, 0,99€ if paid with T-10 travelcard.
Travelling by taxi is a convenient, but expensive, way to get from the airport to the city centre, especially if you have a family or a lot of luggage.
You will find a taxi rank outside any of the main terminal exits Terminal 1 (T1) or Terminal 2 (and of the 3 buildings of Terminal 2 - T2A, T2B or T2C). Look for the sign pointing to the nearest taxi rank. The taxis operate all night and there are several hundred of them so you don't have to worry about not being able to catch a cab.
The journey to the city centre will take you between 25 to 40 minutes depending on road conditions. If you are travelling from Terminal 1 rather than Terminal 2, this will add an extra 4 km to your journey and take approximately 5 minutes more. Children under the age of 12 must be seated in the back seat of the car and supervised so that they do not distract the driver. Eating, drinking and smoking are not permitted during the ride, even if the driver and passenger agree otherwise. The taxi is required to admit blind passengers accompanied by seeing eye dogs (Law of the Parliament of Catalonia 10/1993).
If you have special needs (i.e. wheelchair, special luggage, travelling 5 or 6 people) is better to book in advance your taxi from Barcelona Airport to your destination. There are a lot of local companies that provide pre-payed booking services. You can see the list at Institut Metropolità del Taxi website, Barcelona Tourism Bureau, myDriver Barcelona Private Airport Taxi Book Taxi Barcelona website.
Expect to pay (by normal traffic conditions in a workday) around €30.00 for the journey into the centre from T2 and €40.00 for your journey from T1. There will also be an additional surcharge charge for each bag you're carrying and additional surcharge for Barcelona Cruise Port destination. You'll find the rates displayed inside the cab. Final price will depend on time and road conditions.
All official Barcelona taxis are black and yellow. The taxi service in Barcelona is generally very good, clean and reliable.
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 online.
The easiest way is 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 from 1:30 to 1:45 hours, depending on the traffic on the motorway. Timetables are available online. 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 €7.25 and then the bus costs €2.1. This takes roughly about two and a half hours. Train timetables can be checked at Renfe's website and the bus timetable is available at the website of Reus public transport.
Barcelona is well-connected to the Spanish railway network, as well as to the rest of Europe, with high speed trains running frequently from Sants station (in the southwest of the city) to Madrid, Seville and Malaga. In addition, there are regular long-distance connections that partially use high-speed infrastructure to all major Spanish cities.
Direct regular high-speed train service with destinations in France started in January 2013. In addition to two daily TGV services from Paris (travel time c.a. 7h to Barcelona), there is a daily service from Toulouse (3h), a daily service from Lyon (5h), and a daily service from Marseille (4h). Prices start at €39, so even though the train could take longer than a flight, it is often a cheaper and more relaxed alternative. The former Talgo trains from Montpellier to Barcelona and Cartagena via Portbou ceased to run the same day direct high speed services started. It is still possible to travel via Cerbère/Portbou using local trains, but it's cumbersome, painfully slow and timetable coordination at the border is awful; however it may be the only alternative if all TGVs are fully booked. Also, if booked in advance, TGV can be way cheaper than using these local trains.
There is also a less-known rail line over the Pyrenees to Toulouse. There is roughly one train every 3 hours on the Spanish side and one every two or four on the French side, including an sleeper train from Paris (with a branch to Portbou which splits at Toulouse: check all timetables to see whether route is faster, it greatly depends on waiting times at the border). Purchasing tickets for this route can be tricky. The Spanish line is considered a commuter line despite being far away from Barcelona and does not appear in any global European timetable, so it is impossible to get an international CIV ticket, every portion must be purchased separately. Also, for southbound travel, the Latour-de-Carol station only sells SNCF tickets so the Spanish portion must be bought directly at the ticket inspector, cash only. The journey takes 7–8 hours (including transfer) and costs roughly €30.
The launch of the high-speed service spelled the end of the overnight sleeper-car service called Trenhotel between Barcelona and Paris. Trenhotels still do, however, run between Barcelona and Granada, A Coruña and Vigo.
Contact Barcelona Nord for all bus connections, national (e.g. 18 buses per day from Madrid) and international.
- Megabus. Megabus 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. There may or may not be plug sockets or wifi on board. One customer's experience on a megabus from London to Paris is that there was slow wifi while in the UK, and it didn't work at all in France. There were plug sockets but they didn't work on either the outward or return journey - the driver saying that there was an electrical fault which they weren't qualified to fix. Megabus recommend that you be at your 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 center of the city.
Blue parking spaces are paid between 9AM and 2PM and between 4PM and 8PM Monday to Saturday. At some crossroads the pay time starts at 8AM. 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.
City car parks are located throughout the city.
The city's port is one of the busiest on the Mediterranean.
Large cruise ships dock 1-2 kilometers to the southwest, many of them offer bus-shuttles to locations at the south end of La Rambla. The ferries dock almost directly on the Ramblas.
There are regular ferry connections with the Balearic Islands (Alcúdia, Ciutadella de Menorca, Ibiza City, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Mahón, Palma de Mallorca), Italy(Savona, Genoa, Livorno, Porto Torres and Civitavecchia for Rome), Morocco(Tangier). From Rome (Civitavecchia) it is actually cheaper to take a ferry than a bus.
Transportation - Get Around
By Public Transport
The public transport in the city and the surrounding area managed by Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM) consortium. The whole area is covered by the Integrated Fare System, which is divided into 6 zones. This system includes the most of the public transport in the area: metro, city and intercity bus, tram and commuter trains.
The city limits of Barcelona are completely located inside zone 1. The public transport in the city itself is mostly managed by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB). They have a separate site dedicated for tourists. The other two operators in Barcelona are Rodalies de Catalunya and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC).
Tickets and travel cards available:
- Single ticket. A non-integrated ticket is valid only for single mode of transport of a specific operator: either bus, metro or funicular, etc. €2.15.
- Hola BCN! cards by TMB. for unlimited number of journeys for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days. They are valid for TMB metro and bus, tram, FGC and regional trains in the city and metropolitan area. 2-day card €14.
- Integrated for a fixed number of journeys. T-10, T-50/30, T-70/30. These cards are multi-person for 10, 50 or 70 single journeys respectively. During each journey it's possible to make up to three transfers. The whole duration of a journey must be no more than 1h15m and within zone 1. T-10 for Zone 1 €9,95.
- Integrated for an unlimited number of journeys for a number of days. T-Dia (1 day), T-Mes (30 days), T-Trimestre (90 days). These cards are non-transferable, i.e. they must be used by a single person. T-Dia for Zone 1 €7,60.
Travel cards are excellent value in comparison with a single ticket. 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 centres.
- Metro. M–Th 5:00–24:00, F 5:007ndash;2:00, continuous service from Saturday at 5:00 until Sunday at midnight). Stations are marked <M> on most maps; every station has a detailed map of exits to the city. Trains are fast, often coming in two minute intervals. However, on holidays and weekends trains only run every 6-8 minutes and can get easily packed. Announcements are made only in Catalan, though signs and ticketing machines are generally trilingual in Catalan, Spanish and English.
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 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. Also, you can't repeat operator, so you can't use a FGC ride to make a shortcut. For instance: changing to L9S to L1 via L8 using Fira and Espanya will charge you with two journeys, you should go via Torrassa instead although its way longer. All trains are air-conditioned.
Take also care when travelling to the airport: while the T-10 is valid for Renfe services, it is not accepted at Metro. If you get to the airport by metro using a T-10, you'll be forced to pay the full fare, which is 4,50€, and the ticket you've used will not be refunded.
- Bus. The bus network in Barcelona is pretty extensive. Perhaps the best option in planning your route is to consult with one of the route planners mentioned above.
- Mattia46, [www]. 50cc 125cc 150cc 200cc scooters for rent.
- 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 want to see.
- Cooltra Motos Scooter rental. You can rent a moped for 1, 2, 3 days and up to 1 month. You can also take part in private or group tours.
- BornBike Experience Tours Barcelona, [www]. Takes you to the heart of Barcelona's culture through these Bike tours: The Gothic to Modernism bike Tour, Beach Bike Tour, Montjuïc Bike Tour (from €22), Tapas Bike Tour (from €30). Also offers bike rentals from 6 €. Close to Métro station "Barceloneta" (L4), Marquesa nº1, +34 93 319 00 20.
- Barceloneta Bikes, [www]. Close to the harbor and the beaches, this company has different kinds of bikes you can choose to rent.
- Biking in Barcelona, [www]. Backed by Biciclot, a cooperative that promotes the use of bicycles in Barcelona.
- Budget Bikes. Quality Dutch bicycles on hire. Offers group reductions.
- e-bikerent, [www]. Electric bike rental from €7 to 20 per day.
- Mattia46 bikes & motos hire, [www]. Bikes and motors, 1 day (24h) on bike for €6.
- Terra Diversions, [www]. Big selection of city bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, road bikes and children bikes in different sizes.
- Plan Bike Barcelona, [www]. Quality beach cruiser bikes from €6. Very comfortable and very cheap.
Note: Barcelona also has its own shared bike system, called BiCiNg. However, this appears to be only accessible for locals.
Barcelona is a very walkable city. It takes little over an hour to walk from Port Vell at the seaside to Park Güell at the foothills of the mountain range at the northeastern end of the city, and you can see a range of attractions, including La Rambla and Sagrada Familia, on your way. There are opportunities all around to sit down and enjoy a drink or a meal everywhere. If you are fit, you can pretty much explore the city by foot alone, unless the heat beats you in the warmer months (and then you can always resort to the air-conditioned metro).
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.
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.
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Barcelona beach was listed as number one in a list of the top ten city beaches in the world according to National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Barcelona contains seven beaches, totalling 4.5 kilometres (3 miles) (2.8 mi) of coastline. Sant Sebastià, Barceloneta and Somorrostro beaches, both 1,100 m (3,610 ft) in length, are the largest, oldest and the most-frequented beaches in Barcelona.
Photo by Nikos Roussos
The Olympic Harbour separates them from the other city beaches: Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. These beaches (ranging from 400 to 640 m (1,310 to 2,100 ft) were opened as a result of the city restructuring to host the 1992 Summer Olympics, when a great number of industrial buildings were demolished. At present, the beach sand is artificially replenished given that storms regularly remove large quantities of material. The 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures left the city a large concrete bathing zone on the eastmost part of the city's coastline. Most recently Llevant, is the first beach to allow dogs access during summer season.
Most shops and shopping malls are closed on Sundays because of law restrictions, but not all. In Ciutat Vella you will find plenty of small fashion shops, souvenir shops and small supermakets open on Sundays. The souvenir shopping scattered throughout the Barri Gotic and all along La Rambla are tourist traps, none of them sell Catalan or Spanish products but the typical array of Chinese general souvenirs, they should be avoided. Moreover on the Port Vell, right at the end of The Ramblas there is Maremagnum, a shopping mall that stays open all Sundays.
- Secondhand English books in Gràcia.
- Design lovers head for Gràcia.
- El Corte Inglés. Spanning several floors and several buildings, and in several locations around town, many in Eixample and Inland Suburbs and a couple also in Ciutat Vella. You can find anything and everything in this department store, from gastronomy to pneumatics. Tax return checks are made on a separate floor of the store. See review for the whole chain in the Spain article.
- La Boqueria. In Ciutat Vella. Large public market with a diverse range of goods and produce. Enjoy freshly squeezed organic fruit juices for €1.5 per cup. If you go near closing time (20h, 8PM) sellers will make you a special price (2 or 3 for 2€). Closed Sundays.
La Boqueria - Photo by antonf
- Stamps are actually sold in 'Tabacs' or tobacconists. Once you know what they look like, you'll notice them on every block or so. To post your mail, you need to find one of theyellow letter box located rather infrequently along the sidewalks.
- Records For vinyl records, try the wonderful shop Discos Revolver located at 13 Carrer dels Tallers.
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 siesta
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 Bar Barcelona - by sanfamedia.com
Set menus (menú del migdia) Most restaurants (and some bars) offer a menú del migdia (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 €20, depending on the restaurant. Depending on the restaurant, the portions may be quite generous, or rather small. 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 tapa restaurants are now endemic all over the city, tapas originated in Andalusia in the south of Spain, are NOT actually a meal, and most importantly are NOT native to Catalan cuisine. Catalans eat a more French style three course meal (appetizer, main dish and dessert) and would more likely go for a pre-meal beer/vermouth and some snacks (olives, chips, etc.) than a meal consisting entirely of the new trend in tapa-only dining. This pre-meal snack is actually called 'fer el vermut' or 'making the vermouth'. 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.
If you feel lost in the variety of food choices there are - Catalan, Basque, Spanish, and beyond, it may be helpful to do a food tour to quickly get oriented. Many independent tour operators run food and wine tours in the city.
- Foodie&Tours. A third party website that has selected and listed best gastronomic tours in the city, including cooking classes, tapas walking tours, and vineyard visits. Bookings are possible through their website.
Areas to eat
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)
Around Plaça Catalunya there are dozens of restaurants serving excellenttapas.
For budget eating you may choose "menú del migdia" in small bars on the Avinguda del Paral·lel 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.
- Kebap: 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. Gyros is the Greek name and version of the Turkish doner-kebab and it is delicious! You could live on these things for a week!
- Also you can consider the Asiatic offer, with a lot of Chinese, Japanese and Indian restaurants.
- Comer y no Bombas (Location is variable). Shares free vegan food.
- Maoz. 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.
- Juicy Jones (c/ Cardenal Casañas, just off Las Ramblas). A vegan restaurant & juice bar. Nice big meals and the best salads in Barcelona.Average price is €6.
- More organic restaurants. Check out the independent Bio Barcelona site for more organic options.
Traditional Catalan cuisine
- El Glop. 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.
- Les Quinze Nits, Plaza Real 6, . Good typical paella in a beautiful location, but below average service.
- La Esquinica, Passeig de Fabra i Puig, 296, .12:30PM-12AM Mon-Thu, 8AM-4PM and 6:30PM-12AM Sat, 8AM-4PM Sun. One of the best known tapas restaurant in Barcelona, there's usually a long queue outside. About 20€.
- Bar Pinotxo, Mercat de la Boqueria, 466-470 (Located on the Rambla entrance to the Boqueria Market), . 6:30AM-4PM.The best Catalan dishes. No reservations. Always full, don't be surprised if you aren't able to sit. About 20€.
Coffe & Drink
Try a "café con hielo" an espresso served with a glass of ice cubes on the side and any local 'cafeteria'
Café con hielo by moverelbigote
Sights & Landmarks
What to see in the dark
The most spectacular sights in the night are:
Musical Fountain Barcelona - by Jackie.lck
Casa Batllo Barcelona - by Tokyographer
Torre Agbar, Barcelona - by Alvy
Montjuic hill, Barcelona
The old city
Walk around the winding streets and hidden squares, fountains and palaces in the Barri Gòtic (Ciutat Vella). Highlights include theCatedral, the Museu d'Història de Barcelona(formerly known as the Museu d'Història de la Ciutat), and Plaça Reial.
Barri Gotic, Barcelona - by Bevis Chin
Since 1984 seven buildings by the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona are listed as "Works of Antoni Gaudí" on the UNESCO World Heritage List: the basilica of Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló in Eixample, Palau Güell in Ciutat Vella, Parc Güell and Casa Vicens in Gràcia, the crypt of the Church in Colònia Güell.
Basilica of the Holy Family - Sagrada Familia, Barcelona - Photo by Haydn Blackey
The works by the Catalan art nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Palau de la Música Catalana in Ciutat Vella and Hospital de Sant Pau in Eixample.
The Ruta del Modernisme 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.
- Museum of Natural History in the Forum - Museu Blau
- CosmoCaixa: Museum of Science Amazing museum for kids from 4-5 upwards. Adults will really enjoy it also.
CosmoCaixa Barcelona - Photo by by Mark Huguet
Museums & Galleries
Barcelona has a great number of museums, which cover different areas and eras. The National Museum of Art of Catalonia possesses a well-known collection of Romanesque art while the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Artfocuses on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art. The Fundació Joan Miró,Picasso Museum and Fundació Antoni Tàpies hold important collections of these world-renowned artists, as well as Can Framis Museum, focused on post 1960 Catalan Art owned by Fundació Vila Casas. Several museums cover the fields of history and archeology, like the Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA), the Museum of the History of Catalonia, the Archeology Museum of Catalonia, the Barcelona Maritime Museum and the private-owned Egyptian Museum. The Erotic museum of Barcelona is among the most peculiar ones, while Cosmocaixa is a science museum that received the European Museum of the Year Award in 2006. The FC Barcelona Museum has been the most visited museum in the city of Barcelona with 1506022 of visitors in 2013.
Things to do
- Barcelona Bus Turístic. Take a tour at Barcelona Bus Turístic which 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 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 is essential in summer months, jackets in winter/early spring/late fall. Earphones are offered when you first get on so you can hear the commentary as you drive by significant locations. Outlets near every seat let you choose among many languages and playback volumes. 1 day ticket €27, 2 days €38; tickets can be bought at the bus stops, some hotels, etc. or online with 10% discount.
- Aeri del Port de Barcelona (Telefèric del Port), C/ Taquígrafo Garriga, 97 – Esc.B -2º9ª, , e-mail:[email protected]. Jun-Aug 11:00-20:00; Mar-May, Sep-Oct 11:00-19:00; Nov-Feb 11:00-17:30. Have a ride at Port Vell Aerial Tramway. Port Vell Aerial Tramway is 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 I tower (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 line is Miramar at the slopes of Montjuic hill. Overall, the whole system is quite old (built in 1929, albeit restored a couple of times), and the car is packed with tourists during the daytime — particularly sensitive for a stroller or a wheelchair. But if one starts from Montjuic side, there are fewer people waiting. single €11, return €16.50; it's not a part of Barcelona's integrated fare network.
- Torre Jaume I.
- Torre San Sebastian.
- Stroll along the following famous streets in Ciutat Vella:
- Las Ramblas or La Rambla, a gorgeous tree-lined pedestrian walkway, the busiest and most lively street of the city. Mostly occupied by tourists, expect to pay higher prices for food and drink. Avoid the groups of people supposedly betting on a game played on a cardboard table, they are thieves. Head off into some of the side streets for a cheaper, more local, and authentic experience of Barcelona. Often called Las Ramblas, because it is actually a series of several different streets each called 'Rambla de ____', the sections also have distinct feels. As you get closer to Plaça Catalunya, you find more street performers doing stunts. In the middle, you'll find street performers in costumes. Towards the pier, there are artists who will do pencil drawings, paintings, etc. Beware, you might find it boring.
- La Plaça Catalunya. Connecting all the major streets in the city, the Plaça is known for its fountains and statues, and the central location to everything in the city. A favourite meeting spot for locals.
- El Portal de l'Àngel. Large pedestrian walkway with many new and stylish shops to browse in.
- Football. Barcelona is home to of course, F.C. Barcelona and the somewhat less well known R.C.D. Espanyol. With a long history of politics behind it, the rivalry between F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid is by far the biggest in Spain, and one of the most intense in the world. As both F. C. Barcelona and Real Madrid attract many of the world's top players, matches between the two are guaranteed to feature star studded sides and world class football.
- 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 Gotic in Ciutat Vella, the largely intact 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 Placa Reial
- Walk in Born in Ciutat Vella, a very popular area with great restaurants and places to have a few drinks. 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.
- Visit a Flamenco Show in a real tablao. One of the best is Tablao de Carmen in Sants-Montjuïc. A cheaper alternative is in the jazzclub Jazz Si in Ciutat Vella.
- 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.
- Rent a bike or join a bike tour 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 Gothic Quarter.
- Sail 3 hours to see Barcelona from the sea.
- Mail boats serve almost all populated in Barcelona, and are among the cheapest way to reach many areas, though far from the fastest or most comfortable. The government has a mailboat schedule of mailboat routes online [www] which may or may not reflect reality.
- Sail on a classic yacht. Enjoy a day trip sailing along the Barcelona coastline on a classic yacht.
Festivals and events
Barcelona hosts a number of annual fiestas, many of which are unique to Catalonia and offer an insight into its distinctive culture.
- Sónar. An 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. There is a day and separate night location. €52 daypass, €76 night entry, €199 festival pass on internet booking, higher fees for entrance passes.
- Monegros Desert Festival. The most famous and biggest one day/night electronic music festivals in Spain is in desert of Fraga 200 km from Barcelona. More than 40 000 people gather every July to celebrate the electronic music with the best DJs representing styles from house, electro, minimal, techno, to drum&bass, dubstep and hiphop. 20hours nonstop, unique desert experience.
- Festes de la Mercè. Barcelona's main annual festival around the 24th of September, encompassing many events such as which group of 'castellers' can form the highest human tower, live music events, firework displays and processions involving wooden giants. All of this is accompanied by a heavy consumption of Cava, the national drink of Catalonia.
- Festes de Gràcia. The Festes de Gracia 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 fiestas, the city of Gracia 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. 23 April. 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 2/3 to December 23, to commemorate Sta. Llúcia (December 13). 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.
- Barcelona Jazz Festival. A brighter way to celebrate the colder Autumn days, the annual Jazz festival has been running for nearly 50 years now and runs roughly from the last week in October and all the way through November Tickets prices differ for each event.
- Revetlla de Sant Joan. This is the midsummer solstice celebration. It is celebrated on 23 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.
- Fira de Barcelona. There are trade events all year round in Barcelona.
- La Mercè. (few days before Sept 24): Another day that is famous, but not that important. It is a holiday and the city offers a lot of activities to have fun. Enjoy a fountains and fireworks show at the base of the Montjuic hill.
During festivals and especially during mobile world congress [www] 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.
- Connect Club Discount Card, Pl. Urquinaona 11, , e-mail: [email protected]. The Connect Club Discount Card is a possibility to have an affordable stay in Barcelona. The discount card offers significant discounts and special privileges for nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. It costs only €18 and is valid for a whole year.
Things to know
Barcelona's official languages are Catalan and Spanish. However, most signs are indicated only in Catalan because it is established by law as the first official language. Yet, Spanish is also widely used in public transport and other facilities. Regular announcements in the Metro are made only in Catalan, but unplanned disruptions are announced by an automated system in a wide variety of languages including English, French, Arabic and Japanese. On the other hand, FGC announcements -either regular or disruptions- will be made only in Catalan, and disruption announcements on RENFE's network will usually be broadcasted only in Spanish. 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, and sounds closer to Italian, Portuguese, and French in many ways. Avoid referring to Catalan as a dialect, which will offend Catalans.
The main cause of Spanish and Catalan social bilingualism in modern Catalonia is a large scale immigration process from the rest of Spain which occurred over the 20th century, as Catalonia started a significant industrialization which demanded an increased workforce from elsewhere. Nowadays, 60% of the people in Catalonia use Spanish as their first language whereas 40% use Catalan.
These issues regarding language, national identity, and politics are like politics anywhere, and there's no way to summarize them here. Some Catalans feel Spanish and some not, and there is a portion who are anti-Spanish (and feel opposed to Spain and the Spanish language), as there are Spaniards who are not very fond of Catalans or Catalonia in general.
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 a native English speaker you will not have any problems as Barcelona is a very touristic city.
Safety 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. If you are in a crowd of spectators watching street entertainment, beware of anyone getting suspiciously close to you.
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 entranceand exit 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.
One guy acts like reading a newspaper and is about to go into the subway gate (he's scanning his target). While you insert your subway card to enter and before the gate opens, that guy immediately enters his subway card also, which causes the gate to jam and alarm sound. Immediately 3-4 other people appear and, while acting like trying to help, (pointing to the gate telling you 'the door is jam') will try to snatch your backpack or wallet while you are still surprised. Check and make sure no one tailgates on you, or, simply, just let the guy go first.
While you are at an outdoor table of a café, don't leave your smartphone on the table. Someone will try to steal it. For example, a guy babbling for change with an unreadable poster in his hands, getting closer and closer to the smartphone until he eventually picks it up, passes it to a second guy that will run away with it.
People in Barcelona are often very friendly and love to practice their English, so don't be unfriendly. That said, you should, of course, be suspicious if someone approaches you in a touristy area speaking your language and asking you for help. This should put your guard up immediately. Do not be tempted to sign their petition, give them directions, or help them with their problem. You don't know anything about where you are, since you're a tourist, so you won't be able to help them in any case.
Professional scam artists exhibiting a high degree of coordination are active in many areas of the city. Be careful in tourist areas. A variety of methods are employed, including the No Change trick. A common scam involves fake cops who will show up ask to see your passport, then take your belongings at the first opportunity. The story varies, but they are almost certainly not real ones. When it happens, the best strategy is to just walk away instead of starting 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. This is a co-ordinated move to divert the attention and steal whatever is possible. If such incident happens, just walk away, without listening to any of their conversation. Stay alert, especially in busy tourist area near the Sants station and Plaça d'Espanya.
Another popular scam happens in the metro. A group of scammers (often middle-aged women) will take advantage of the fuss while people are entering the metro and surround a tourist, frantically asking for directions. Most tourists won't 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 excrement 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 Les Rambles. There are also people holding petitions to install a wheelchair lift in locations with a lot of stairs. 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.
Barcelona offers ATMs in many locations. Many provide a wide range of services (withdrawals, transfers, mobile credit recharges, ticketing, etc.), and most accept ATM/debit/credit cards of various banks. Choose an ATM in a secure or highly-public space (e.g., in a bank lobby or airport terminal) to avoid machines modified by criminals to skim/video your card data or where you might be robbed after use. Ensure early in usage that the ATM supports a language you understand. For a full discussion of safe/effective charge/debit/ATM card usage and their cost trade-offs.
Areas of caution
Be very careful in the Barcelona Sants train station where thieves prey on new arrivals, even on the platforms.
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 Les Rambles, St. Antoni, and Raval 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 jewelery 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. Be especially careful of seedy looking men on bicycles as there have been many grab and snatch assaults in recent years.
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. Don't expect any police action beyond the report though as these types of events are par for the course and arrests, even when made almost never lead to prosecution due to a slow, antiquated, and overburdened legal system.
Parts of Barcelona are covered by closed circuit TV surveillance, but only the more popular spots.
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 in the downtown police station, officers generally do not speak English, despite that fact the official theft report form is in English, Spanish, and Catalan. The police station most often used to report theft is the one underneath Plaça Catalunya beside metro station, where they have some translators for common world languages.