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Barcelona is a vibrant city full of history, culture, and art. From the Sagrada Familia to La Rambla, this is a must-see destination for travelers looking to explore the best of Spain. But with so much to do and see, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive Barcelona travel guide. Inside you’ll find all the best places to visit, top tips for exploring the city, advice on the best foods, where to stay, and more. Let’s get started!
Phoenicians as well as Carthaginians are the founders of Barcelona. Barcino was the original name of the city. The Romans were the first to arrive. First Tarraco and then Barcelona was chosen as the capital. The Romans invaded the city, and the Visigoths took over the title of Barcinona. In the 5th century A.D., Barcinona changed to Barcinona. In the 8th century, Barcinona was taken over by the Moors. They remained in control of the city for 100 more years.
Barcelona was prohibited from trading with American colonies. In the 17th century, Catalonia declared independence from Spain with the help of France and went to war against Spain. Spain lost the Roussillon region and other areas of Catalonia, which were then French territories. This was a scenario that would repeat in Catalonia's history when Napoleon invaded it. However, Spain got back the territories following the fall of France's Empire.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century saw Catalonia regain its prominence. It was also the seat for the 1888 World's Fair. Catalonia gained its political authority under Franco and Barcelona. The city of Barcelona is now a cultural hub, bustling with tourists year after year.
Barcelona's best season is May-June, when the city experiences balmy temperatures of the low to mid-70s and a frenzy of festivals to celebrate the arrival of summer. However, summertime is a little sticky and humid. Locals often leave their city to find a cool breeze elsewhere. They return to their hometown in the fall.
Winter temperatures are milder than other Spanish destinations. Highs hover around the 50s. However, while it may seem smart to avoid crowds by visiting in spring, April can see frequent showers which can put a damper on your sightseeing plans. No matter when you visit Barcelona, there will always be tourists.
These are some of the best activities and attractions to take part in, in Barcelona.
This is a must-do for tourists. Summer will see you under the shade of tall trees, stumbling through the crowds passing living statues and bird-sellers. Sometimes you might smell gofres (waffles) baking. You can continue along the boards until you reach the water.
This apartment block is one of Antoni Gaudi's creations. It is a renovation done at the beginning of the 20th century. The building's roof is easily recognizable even if you have never been to Barcelona. Casa Batllo interior and exterior have the same sinuous quality as his other work. There are few straight lines and great attention to detail. Besides, the noble floor's mushroom-shaped fireplace is a cozy grotto created for couples.
Barcelona has a coastline of approximately 4.5 km, so you have plenty to choose from and can spend as much time at the beach as you like. Perhaps you are looking to get in touch with nature, play volleyball, swim, or surf.
Many beaches have beach bars, called chiringuitos. Here you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail and cool snacks while taking a break from the heat. These bars can transform into small party venues with great music at night.
This is Antoni Gaudi, Catalonia's most famous architect. Barcelona's contrasting facades, intricate details, and stained-glass windows are a must-see. Even though you can walk past the building, it will still give you a sense of wonder. Go inside to see all the progress made over the past couple of decades. You can also visit the crypt where they buried Gaudi.
This street is easily the most popular in Barcelona. It begins at Placa de Catalunya and ends at Christopher Columbus' statue by the port. A monument has been placed at La Rambla since March 2019 to honor the victims of the August 2017 terrorist attack. It's just next to the Joan Miro mosaic.
Barcelona has its very own Pablo Picasso collection with nearly 4,000 pieces. Besides, you can see Picasso's early work. You will find everything, from his drawings as a student to his early explorations into cubism. These temporary exhibitions are creative and stimulating.
Both Catalan and Spanish are the official languages of Barcelona. It is important to remember that Catalan does not refer to Spanish as a dialect. This language is a derivative of Latin, which was used during the Roman occupation thousands of years ago. Moreover, you'll find street signs and road signs in Catalan and Spanish while you are in Barcelona.
The people of Barcelona are often bilingual. You should also know that Catalonia, a Spanish autonomous province, is home to many Catalans. You will also see the Catalonia flag all over Barcelona.
The official currency of Barcelona is the euro (EUR). However, tipping is not a common practice in Barcelona, as it is elsewhere in Spain. You may also have to pay a service fee depending on where you dine. Catalans eat late and party later than in other areas of Spain.
Moreover, most restaurants are open from 1 to 4 p.m. for lunch and 8 to 11 for dinner. Barcelona is a tourist hot spot so it's not unusual to find restaurants that are open between lunch and dinner. Additionally, a Catalan may approach you to kiss you on the cheek if you are meeting them in a social setting.
Try Spanish classics like jamon iberico and manchego cheese, tortilla espanola, tomato espanola, gazpacho, and patatas Bravas. Paella is a must, especially considering that the city borders the Mediterranean Sea. Besides, try the Catalan version of paella when you're in Catalonia. Arrosa la catalana is another option. It has many of the same ingredients as paella, but it doesn't contain saffron which is a key ingredient in Spanish Paella. Fideua, a paella-like dish that uses rice instead of noodles, is another Catalan version.
Catalonian cuisine uses a lot of fish and meat. While this may sound similar to the traditional, meat-heavy Catalan cuisine, it is not. Catalans love to combine both fish and meat in one dish. So don't look surprised when you see a dish with shrimp and chicken on a plate in a restaurant. There are also many lighter options available. For a country that loves pork, grilled vegetables can be quite large. Sausage is another popular option. Try the butifarra sausage.
Escalivada is also one of the most popular Catalan dishes. It's grilled eggplant, red peppers, and olive oil with garlic and sometimes anchovies. They serve it with bread. The pa amb tomaquet snack is also a popular vegetarian option. This is bread sprinkled with olive oil, garlic, and crushed tomatoes. Besides, if you are visiting between December and May, consider a calcot barbecue. Calcots, a Catalan type of spring onion that is native to the province are charred on a grill and dipped in romesco sauce.
You can also wear bibs, often with calcots embossed on them, and eat outside where the grilled Calcots are spread amongst newspapers. It's similar to how they eat lobster and crab in the USA. And don't forget dessert! Catalan creme brulee is also known as Crema catalana. Here, cheese is also available as a dessert.
These are some of the best areas to stay in Barcelona.
Be aware that if you are used to getting up at midnight to go to bed, it is possible to be woken up in the middle of the night. El Born is the heart of the city's nightlife. El Born was once a popular spot for medieval jousts. Today, the place still reflects that same spirit. It has many art shops, cafes, and the Picasso Museum. At night, the cobblestone streets are alive with numerous clubs, bars, and discos.
This city center is the heartbeat of Barcelona. Placa de Catalunya is a district that separates the Ciutat and Vella districts. It is often recommended to first-time visitors as a starting point for their stay.
The plaza was made possible by Pere Falques and Francesc de Paola Nebot, architects, and Puig-i Cadafalch sculptors Clara. There are luxurious apartments and hotels in this area.
The Gothic Quarter, with its narrow street dating back to the middle ages. It has an enticing selection of shops and restaurants. The most visited attractions include the Gothic Cathedral. There are also beautiful plazas like Placa Reial and stunning landmarks like the Pont Gotic on Carrer Bisbe.
Besides, the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona displays artifacts dating back to the Roman settlement. It allows visitors to see the quarter's fascinating history. You will also find a variety of hotels, hostels, and private bed & breakfast accommodations in the Gothic Quarter. They range from the intimate to the extravagant.
Gracia is a family-friendly area in Barcelona. It was once a small village before they turned it into a city. You'll feel as if you have escaped the hustle and bustle of urban life, to a small community with friendly locals. You can also easily access the beautiful Park Guell, which is a great place for kids to get some exercise.
At La Barceloneta, you will find an easy way to get to the metro or a tour bus that can take you to the beach and around the city. There are also many tapas places along the streets and shore. These offer great food and, of course, paella.
Barcelona's main transport system operates the metro line as well as select bus routes. You can purchase tickets at all metro stations in the city.
Barcelona Sants is the main station on the railway network. FGC is a network that connects Barcelona to other Catalonia towns. It consists of trains from Barcelona and its surrounding suburbs. There are also buses that run throughout the city. You can buy tickets at stops or on the bus. Taxis are also easily accessible throughout the city, day or night.
Barcelona is a popular tourist hotspot. Pickpockets are well aware of this fact. So, when visiting the main attractions, be mindful of your surroundings. There is also a moderate amount of crime in the city. Besides, tourist areas and metros are most often main targets. When traveling by metro, men should keep their wallets out of reach and bring a backpack. Women should also secure their purses.
Your body is also important. Travelers can get sick from eating too much food and drinking too much wine. Prepare yourself for heat and sun, especially during the summer. Make sure to use sunscreen often and keep hydrated.