Caught between azure sea and hills overgrown with juicy verdure, Barcelona is rightly considered to be a highlight of Spain and of the whole Mediterranean. It is a city with a centuries-old history, rich traditions, sandy beaches, impressive architectural heritage, open-hearted and well-wishing people.
All these aspects provide for constantly growing flow of tourists who come to see amazing natural, cultural and architectural riches of the Catalan capital with their own eyes.
Over more than two thousand years of its history Barcelona experienced many ups and downs, periods of prosperity and oblivion. Tough historical peripeteias formed its inimitable appearance and freedom-loving character, which is most vividly reflected in its variegated architecture that bears no resemblance to the rest of the world.
Imposing Gothic cathedrals tower over the narrow and twisting streets of the Old Town, and modernistic works by Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner adorn wide and straight streets of the new quarters. And the green slopes of the Montjuic hill, which hosted the Olympics of 1992, harmonically neighbor with ultra-modern skyscrapers that spring up all over Barcelona.
The token riches of the Catalan capital include the tender Mediterranean Sea and mild climate. Five kilometers of golden beaches with modern infrastructure are a perfect supplement, or rather an alternative, to informative tourism. A traveler will hardly stint oneself of an opportunity to luxuriate on a sandy beach and to bath in the warm sea water.
Barcelona’s geographical location is also reflected in its cuisine, which is a typical Mediterranean diet combining gifts of the sea, mountains and fertile valleys. It is based on seafood, meat, rice, vegetables and olive oil seasoning. Being combined in an unusual way, they create matchless dishes that strike city’s guests with amazing tastes and aromas. It is impossible to visit Barcelona and not to taste wonderful Spanish and Catalan wines, which have won the world fame.
To touch Barcelona’s rich culture and to visit at least one of the grandiose festivals that are celebrated in a big way by the locals must be also included in tourist’s obligatory itinerary. The January procession of the Magi, the September celebration of the National Day of Catalonia, and how castles of people are built are definitely worth seeing. And, of course, you should also dance the typical Catalan dance sardana.
Barcelona is a large stage for vivid shows, art and photo exhibitions, as well as for world stars’ concerts. All this will definitely add many bright emotions and sensations to the baggage of your tourist experience and will remain in your memory for a long time.
It is important to note that Barcelona’s locals take care of their guests. Thus, you can safely say that Barcelona is a city without borders, which offers all conditions for full-blown recreation for people with disabilities.
Barcelona is a city with a proud historical, political and cultural history and is the capital of the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia. Catalonia is a truly unique area of Spain and many of the locals still consider themselves as being Catalonian before being Spanish.
Until the late fifteenth century, when Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabel of Castile, Catalonia was an independent state. Before that, Catalonia was an extremely successful state in its own right – a fact that is demonstrated by the Gothic quarter and old port of Barcelona.
Catalonia was swallowed up by the imperialistic Spain, which was a true world power in the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries; however, the heritage and pride of the locals was never forgotten. During the second republic, the democratic government in place just before Franco’s revolution, Catalonia gained independence very briefly.
Once Franco had defeated the Republicans, nowhere in Spain was affected more by the change in government than Catalonia. Franco banned the Catalan language and changed area and street names from Catalan to Castilian. After Franco’s death, Catalonia and particularly Barcelona, has regained much of its identity and is very much a bilingual area.
Places to Visit in Barcelona
No visit to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to the world famous Sagrada Familia. This catholic Cathedral was started in 1882 and it still isn’t finished! The architect, Antoni Gaudi, is responsible for this massive structure, which divides opinion amongst residents and tourists alike. Many believe it detracts from the traditional Barcelona Cathedral, La Seu, which can be found in the Gothic quarter of the city.
The Barcelona Aquarium can be found in Port Vell, the Barcelona port area. This is a hugely popular attraction in the city and kids in particular love it.
Poble Espanyol, or the Spanish Village, is another of Barcelona’s great attractions and consists of different living quarters designed in styles from all over Spain.
There are also a number of workshops and craft stores to browse authentic Spanish goods and souvenirs. It is also the location of the famous Flamenco show at Tablao de Carmen.
Antoni Gaudi’s influence can be seen all over Europe and La Pedrera is one of his most popular creations. The English translation is ‘quarry’ and the multi-colored tiles with wavy brickwork make for a wacky, yet interesting building.
The Picasso museum is another of Barcelona’s gems, pulling in many thousands of visitors every year. The works of Pablo Picasso are arranged in chronological order which gives visitors an idea of how he developed as both a man and an artist over the years.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuic is one of the most fun attractions in Barcelona and consists of a water and light show played out to music. Performances take place in the evenings all through the year making it one of Barcelona’s most visited sites.
In many ways, the epicentre of Barcelona’s social scene is Las Ramblas. This is a promenade which is over a kilometre long! It is lined with fantastic shops, cafes, restaurants and attractions like the Wax Museaum and the Christopher Columbus monument.
This is a very busy area of Barcelona during both the day and night and is a great place to head to for an evening of dining and entertainment. People should be wary of the south end of Las Ramblas however, as this is considered a more seedy area of Barcelona during the evenings.
Situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona brags about many kilometers of sandy beaches, which receive up to seven million vacationers from all over the world per year. It is hard to imagine, but up until recently the city hardly had a beach zone. Now Barcelona’s coastline features modern infrastructure, necessary for full-blown beach recreation, including facilities for people with disabilities. Barcelona’s beaches have a good public transport connection to all parts of the city.
Playa de St. Sebastian y de St. Miquel
These are ones of the oldest beaches in Barcelona. Thanks to the fortunate location in the center of the city, not far from its main sights, they enjoy popularity among Barcelona’s locals and guests.
Numerous cafes, restaurants and sports clubs work on the wide, more than 1.5-kilometer-long sand stripe. The beaches have cloak-rooms, showers, Wi-Fi zone, rental points of deck chairs and beach umbrellas.
Getting there. Take a metro train to the station Barceloneta (L4). The building of the Hotel W, shaped as a sail, serves as a good reference point.
Playa de la Barceloneta
Situated behind the namesake city quarter, Barceloneta is one of the most popular beaches in the Catalan capital. It has wonderful sporting infrastructure: volleyball ground, gymnastics area, children’s playgrounds are equipped there. Barceloneta features cafes and restaurants with a wide selection of seafood dishes.
Getting there. Take a metro train to the station Barceloneta (L4).
Playa de Somorrostro
Playa de la Barceloneta is followed by the half-kilometer-long beach zone of Somorrostro, which was also named after the namesake quarter. The beach is famous in the first place for its sporting and spa infrastructure. Catalonia’s first center, where therapeutic properties of the sea water and the Mediterranean climate are used for treatment, is situated there.
Getting there. Walk from the metro station Barceloneta or Ciutadella (L4).
Playa de la Nova Icària
Playa de la Nova Icària is situated to the north from Somorrostro. It is seen as the most tranquil one and therefore perfectly suits for family recreation. The same as all other beaches in Barcelona, it offers all conditions for comfortable recreation: shower, cloakrooms, sporting infrastructure, Wi-Fi zone, kiosks with food and ice-cream, numerous cafes and restaurants.
Getting there. Take a metro train to the station Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica or Bogatell (L4).
Playa del Bogatell
It is one of the youngest beaches in Barcelona. It appeared during coast’s upgrading within the framework of city’s preparation to the Olympic Games of 1992. Playa del Bogatell is quite crowded, but still less popular than Barceloneta. It has everything necessary for full-fledged recreation: shower stalls, cloakrooms, Wi-Fi zone, volleyball grounds and ping-pong tables.
Getting there. Take a metro train to the station Poblenou or Llacuna (L4).
Playa Mar Bella y Nova Mar Bella
Situated not far from the university buildings, they are reckoned among the most popular beaches among the youths. They feature volleyball, basketball and ping-pong grounds. A diving station works on the beaches’ territory.
Getting there. Take a metro train to the station Poblenou or Selva de Mar (L4).
Playa de Llevant
It is the youngest and the most distant from the downtown beach area of Barcelona. That’s why it is seen as the most tranquil and the least crowded one. Kiosks with food, drinks and ice-cream work there. The guests have an opportunity to rent deck chairs and beach umbrellas, take a shower.
Getting there. Take a metro train to the station Selva de Mar (L4).
The cuisine of Barcelona is generally more varied than in other parts of Spain. This is due to the many international influences found in Catalonia. The Romans, Arabians, Jewish and French have all played a part in the city’s history and it was inevitable that some of their culinary tastes would have been left behind.
There is still a very Spanish feel to Barcelona cuisine, however, with the tastes of traditional Mediterranean cooking coming through very strongly. Fresh vegetables, freshly caught seafood and lots of olive oil can be found all over the city.
One delicacy specific to the region is Faves a la Catalana which consists of the typical vegetables of the Catalonian region cooked and served in a clay pot with various meats and bolets, which are a type of mushroom.
Butifarra con mongetes is a very popular Barcelona dish which consists of the Catalonian sausage, butifarra de pages and string beans and is prepared with fresh garlic and parsley.
The famous local dessert, Crema Catalana is made from egg, milk lemon rind, corn flour and burnt sugar. This dessert is served all over Barcelona. These dishes and many more specific to the region can be found in the restaurants of Las Ramblas.
There are a wide range of options in Barcelona when it comes to accommodation. Ciutat Vella is in the medieval heart of the city and takes in the fantastic harbour at Port Vella. The amazing acrchitecture of Gaudi and many of the Barcelona visitor attractions are within walking distance.
Gracia is a more tranquil and sleepy option and is popular because of its quaint village feeling. The area’s attractive squares, bars and artisan workshops make this a very pleasant place to stay.
Les Corts is the university district of Barcelona and is overlooked by the Tibidabo mountain. The Camp Nou football stadium, many museums and gardens make this a popular choice to stay. There are a number of apartments in this area which offer tourist the chance to live like the locals. Barcelona has a number of fantastic hotels and apartments all over the city, with options for any budget.
Barcelona is situated in the north east of Spain and as a result is slightly cooler than some southern parts of Spain. Nevertheless, it can get very hot in the summer months, with the most pleasant months to visit probably being May to July.
The average temperature in July is around 25C but it can get much hotter than this. The average temperature in August is around 30C and it becomes very humid, making it feel even hotter.
October and November are also very good months to visit as the temperature is still a very pleasant 16C-20C and will probably be a lot more comfortable for those who don’t like the heat. However, it is worth noting that October is significantly the wettest month of the year in Barcelona, with July being the driest.
Generally speaking, the Barcelona climate is hot and dry in the summer, warm and wet in the autumn and dry and chilly in the winter. During the spring months of March and April, the average temperature will quickly rise to a pleasant 16C-18C.
Transport in Barcelona
The transport system in Barcelona is considered one of the most reliable, efficient and affordable anywhere in Europe. The metro system will reach most parts of the city along with the comprehensive tram and gas powered bus network. A one way trip on a bus, metro or tram costs around €1.45 but a T10 ticket can be purchased for between and and can be used for ten bus, tram or metro journeys within the city.
As in most of the cities and resorts in Spain, the taxi system in Barcelona is generally very good. Journeys within the city shouldn’t cost more than €7 and a taxi is definitely the best option when arriving at Barcelona airport. Cabs in Barcelona are yellow or black and a green light on the top of the car means it is free for hire. A fare tariff should be found on the rear passenger window although tourists should be aware that there are additional charges for airport journeys and for baggage.