Learn About Barcelona
Barcelona is a modern yet ancient city, where the new elements work to both preserve and celebrate the old. Full of outdoor markets, restaurants, shops, museums and churches, the city is a great place to explore.
Barcelona features many great sights, including the Rambla Boulevard, Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Placa de Catalunya, the Montjuic Castle and Park, Maritime Museum, Picasso Museum and many more parks, museums and modernist monuments.
Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean Sea, on the Costa del Maresme. To the north is the Costa Brava and in the south the Costa del Garraf, and it has an important port. The town is 160 kilometers from the Pyrenees. In the city live about 1.6 million people and the metropolis of Barcelona has a population of over 5 million. This bustling metropolis is the second largest city in Spain and is the capital of Catalonia. The first official language is Catalan and the second language is Spanish. These two languages are quite diverse but most Catalans speak "just" Spanish. Barcelona annually receives between seven and eight million tourists and business travelers. That's why it's been put in the top 10 most visited cities in Europe.
If you look at the numbers of only foreign visitors, than Barcelona is even listed in the top five in Europe and has been for years now one of the top destinations for a citytrip. Which is not so strange. This unique Spanish city is has a great climate, over four kilometers of beach and mountains at your doorstep. But also a historic city center with narrow streets to wander around, lots of great museums, nice shop areas, beautiful restaurants, a hip nightlife and of course not to forget, Gaudi's masterpieces. Be surprised by the diversity of the city and enjoy the wonderful Spanish ambiance.
Barcelona has a long, rough and often violent history. Only after 1960 Barcelona experience economically better times, especially with the help of a large number of northern European tourists. They did not focused only on Barcelona, but also went to the former fishing villages, and those extra jobs in the area was also in favor of the people of Barcelona.
In 1975 Franco died, which made an end of 36 years of oppression and isolation. Spain got a king, Juan Carlos I, and Barcelona got the chance to develop. The Catalan language and culture were free to use again.
Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate. This means long summers and mild winters, with few extremes. In March you'll notice the first few days with temperatures above 20 degrees, while these temperatures may persist until the end of November. The hottest months are July and August, when it is often warmer than 30°C. In these months the temperature at night seldom go below 20°C Celsius. That's why many residents escape the city heat in those months. The winters are generally mild, with mild temperatures, low rainfall and relatively much sunshine. The precipitation is typically Mediterranean, this often consists of concentrated downpours who create in a few number of days per year the total annual rainfall.
Shopping in Barcelona
Gothic Quarter, is together with the Ramblas the most popular place in Barcelona for shopping. In these streets you can find many shops selling tourist curiosity. In most of these stores they sell the same T-shirts and souvenirs. But also in these same streets are some of the finest shops of the city located! Especially on the Ramblas and his side streets. But, as a warning, always be careful with street venders, although today Barcelona is a relatively safe city, but certainly as a tourist, you are an easy target for pickpockets, muggers and crooks who do their best to steal people's money, phones, cameras, documents and other valuables. They work very fast and smart, so sometimes you only discover later to you've been robbed.
No one has left a mark on the appearance of printed Barcelona as the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí i Cornet. The buildings and objects designed by this architect are icons in the contemporary streets of Barcelona. The grandest example is the cathedral Sagrada Família. He was not able to finish this huge project himself, cause he died after he was hit by a tram on the way to what should had been a normal working day at his Sagrada Familia. Still today people work on Sagrada Familia to finish this huge peace of art. Because the cathedral must be fully funded by entrance fees, the project lasts longer than was necessary. The vision and signature of Gaudí however, are fortunately all beautifully visible from both outside and inside the cathedral...
Tips to visit
- Visit Barcelona's most touristic street La Rambla. This is the place to go if you want to score souvenirs, get a portrait of yourself, grab a drink or simply stroll around.
- The concert hall Palau de la Música Catalana is both inside and outside a particular building.
- The Sagrada Familia is one of the most remarkable churches in the world. The Gaudí building is still unfinished. They started in 1882 with the construction. By visiting Sagrada Familia you'll see that there is still plenty of construction work to be done, hopefully, the church will be finished around the year 2026 ...
- Camp Nou, the stadium of FC Barcelona. Specially for fans of FC Barcelona, this is a holy place within the city to visit.
- Font Magica is situated at Montjuic. This magical fountain is at it's most beautiful at night when the available light shines through the water jets, which is indeed something very special.
- Go eat tapas at the traditional tapas bars in Barcelona, unfortunately there are fewer today because tourists often choose mostly for cheap and familiar. A place where you can still eat traditional tapas is Bar del Pi in the Gothic Quarter.
- Port Vell, this is the old port of Barcelona. Here you can enjoy a pleasant walk along the waterfront and enjoy the many boats moored.
- For a day at the beach you go to the beach of Barceloneta. Apart from a fine sandy beach, all the facilities are available that you need for a day at the beach.
Further great places to visit include Casa Mila, The Arc de Triomf, Gothic Quarter, Plaza Real, Montjuïc, Park Güell, Casa Vicens, Hospital de Sant Pau, Plaza de Catalunya, Parc Zoologique, and the Museum of Catalan Art...
Catalonia has, like the rest of Spain, 4 meals a day. Breakfast usually consists of strong coffee (cortado) with something sweet like Churros or Cañas. Lunchtime in Mediterranean cities is mostly around 2pm. A large part of the restaurant visitors then eat the "Menú del Mediodía", or the lunch menu, which includes a starter, main course and dessert. Dinner (El Sopar) normally doesn't start before 7.30pm. and in weekends at 10pm, even for kids!
The Catalan cuisine is purely Mediterranean, with influences from the Italian and French cuisine. The main ingredients are local products such as olive oil, fish, legumes, garlic, rice, seafood and a large number of Mediterranean region vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and onions. Surprisingly even foie gras and pasta belong to the Catalan cuisine, especially at macarrons, cannelloni and lasagna are consumed often, unlike the rest of Spain.
Barcelona features many restaurants, ranging from the traditional Mediterranean cuisine to sushi, and from Catalan haute cuisine to the exotic cuisines of Thailand and Brazil. Especially in the districts of Eixample, Gracia, Sant Gervasi and El Born you will find many better restaurants. The good tapas bars are located not only in the Eixample and Sant Gervasi, but also in the center, around the "Rambla de Catalunya" and "Passeig de Gracia". Furthermore, Catalonia is one of the major wine regions of Europe. The most famous Catalan wine regions are Penedes, Priorat and Alella. Another specialty is Catalan cava, a champagne-like sparkling wine, but from Catalonia. Freixenet and Codorniu are the biggest producers of cava.
The city has a busy and varied nightlife, which is spread throughout the city. The Gothic Quarter and El Raval, the districts of El Born, Gracia and Eixample are full of bars and nightclubs. There are a few clubs at the beach. Chic bars and trendy nightclubs are mainly found at the top of the Diagonal Avenue and the district of Sant Gervasi around Plaça Francesc Macia. Some big names of the nightlife in Barcelona are La Paloma, Space BCN, The Sutton Club, Otto Zutz and Razzmatazz. Also in the area around La Rambla one can find plenty of bars and nightclubs, but these focus primarily on guiris, the nickname for tourists who look alike and behave as such.
Barcelona has an extensive public transport network with about 130 city buses, 40 night bus lines, four tram lines, and underground subway network, the Barcelona metro, which consists of nine city lines and six lines that extend far beyond the city. Also, the yellow-black taxis, especially in the evening and at night, a good way of transportation.
Barcelona has several train stations, of which the largest is the Estacio de Sants. From here trains leave for almost every city in Spain. As of December 15, 2013 Barcelona has direct high-speed trains to the French cities of Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon and Paris.
Barcelona has its own international airport in El Prat de Llobregat, about 15 kilometers outside the city center.
The airport is accessible from Barcelona by private transport, taxi, bus (Aerobus and Nitbus) and train (Rodalíes) from the station "Sants Estacio", "Passeig de Gracia" and "Estacio de França".
Do not try to see everything in a few days, but make a selection of sights and try above all to enjoy the atmosphere of the city by watching the people and relax with a nice glass of wine on a sunny terrace under the embrello.
Watch this video to learn more...