Fanciful architecture and hip restaurants have come together with the sunny Spanish climate and beaches. This has transformed Barcelona in just a few decades from a rough port city to one of Europe’s—if not the world’s—premier destinations. Stroll along La Rambla, admire the Casa Calvet’s façade or the Casa Mila designed by Gaudi, visit the Market of la Boqueria or shop at El Corte Inglés, and sample some of the many bars, cafés and late night haunts while you’re at it.
Euro, €1=100 cents
Usually Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 1:30pm and 4:30pm to 8pm with some variations. Many establishments have the same opening hours on Saturdays and some are open until lunchtime on Sundays. Shopping centres and many large stores do not close for lunch/siesta.
Turisme de Barcelona
Plaça de Catalunya 17 - basement
+34 932 853 834
Like many other cities on the Mediterranean, Barcelona was founded by the Romans. The original settlement, called Barcino, was a small port located on the same spot as today’s cathedral. The town was overshadowed by Tarragona, the capital of the province. Both the Visigoths and the Moors invaded Barcelona; however, their influence was not as important to the future of the city as the arrival of the Franks in the late 9th century. It was at that point that Barcelona and Catalonia started shaping their own identity, different from the rest of Spain.
This is most apparent in the language - Spanish, or Castilian, has many Arabic words, while Catalan has many French words instead. So Catalan is not a Spanish dialect, but a language in its own right, related to other Romance languages.
Barcelona’s history is seen everywhere in the city. The oldest areas are located by the sea, including the shopping enclave Barri Gotic. On the other side of the main boulevard, La Rambla, lies the legendary Raval district. Until the 1980’s this was the slum area, home to the city’s own Chinatown (Barrio Chino) and the red light district. Today, designer shops and cafés have moved in. Further north is fashionable Eixample, the area created as a result of the 19th century expansion of the city.
Much of the attraction of Barcelona is the city’s wide range of sights. The architect, the design nerd, the football fan, the art historian, the city planner - there is something for all of them in the most self-assured city on the Mediterranean. A visit to Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila and Casa Calvet is a must when visiting Barcelona.
PortAventura Park + Ferrari Land
Poble Espanyol Architectural Museum
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
Palau de la Música Catalana Concert Hall
The easiest thing is to divide Barcelona’s overwhelming range of restaurants into two categories: the new and the old. Some of the world’s most modern restaurants, managed by the world’s most innovative chefs (the most famous is Ferrán Adrià) can be found here, but there is also traditional Catalonian cuisine, which, despite being heavy on occasion, includes very good vegetable dishes (samfaina, a kind of ratatouille, escalivada, grilled, peeled peppers, aubergines and onions espinacs a la catalan, spinach fried with garlic, pine nuts and raisins). Best known is the simple rustic pa amb tomàquet: a slice of bread with olive oil, salt and freshly crushed tomatoes.
"The new ones" in particular may be expensive, but many of the best known chefs’ apprentices have now opened their own lower-priced restaurants. Generally speaking, "the old ones" provide better value for money, although even the traditional restaurants know how to charge. You should always reserve a table in Barcelona. Dinner is not served until 9pm.
Poble Espanyol: The richness of traditional Spanish cuisine
Barcelona’s café culture is half Italian, and comes with its own set of simple rules: café con leche (café amb llet in Catalan) is for breakfast, preferably with a croissant; mid-day, especially after a meal, the locals have an espresso, café solo (un café) or a cortado (un tallat), which is an espresso with milk (café Americano is what some would call watered down versions of the two first coffees); in the afternoon, or after dinner, order a café solo corto, a strong espresso, or a carajillo—a café solo with Spanish brandy.
Barcelona stays awake while the rest of Europe sleeps. Nightlife starts late, preferably at a bar. Spaniards believe it’s smart to eat while drinking, so most bars also serve tapas. Barcelona’s trendy nightlife is in a constant state of change, so the best advice is to ask around for the latest and greatest places.
Shopping in Barcelona offers lots of interesting browsing. Unusual shops can be found in most parts of the city, but those who want to be efficient should focus on Placa Catalunya and the Gothic Quarter. The gigantic department store El Corte Ingles is located by Placa Catalunya. Come here for the wares, but also for the people. Across the street is El Triangle, a grotesquely large shopping palace with a good perfumery and a Camper shoe store.
Poble Espanyol Crafts and Shopping Center
Passport / Visa
Spain can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.
Barcelona El Prat Airport
Aeropuerto de Barcelona (BCN), Barcelona’s airport, is located 13 km southwest of the city centre.
Aerobus serves both terminals every 5 minutes before leaving for the city centre with stops at Plaza Espanya, Plaza Universidad and Plaza de Catalunya Square. It takes about 25 minutes to reach the city.
Local trains leave for Barcelona every 30 minutes (from the train station next to terminal 2). From terminal 1 to terminal 2 there is a free connecting shuttle bus that takes around 10 minutes. The train takes about 30 minutes to Barcelona's Sants station.
Consult the airport website to learn more about other public transport routes servicing the airport.
Taxis are available just outside the terminals. Price depends on traffic, luggage, day of the week and time.
Address: Barcelona El Prat Airport
Girona-Costa Brava Airport
Girona airport lies about 100 km from the centre of Barcelona, and there are three ways of getting between the two places.
Buses will take you to Estacio d’Autobusos Barcelona Nord. They depart on a schedule based on the flights arrival times.
A taxi to Barcelona city centre may cost a significant amount, so a better option might be to stay overnight at Girona and travel by bus the next day.
There are also trains to and from Barcelona from central Girona.
Address: Vilobi de Onyar, Girona
Phone: +34 91 321 10 00
Tickets for the underground and trams can be bought from travel information booths and from stations. They are valid for one trip. Bus tickets are bought from the driver. There are also a selection of different travel cards to purchase if you know that you will be travelling a lot.
Barcelona’s black and yellow taxis can be hailed on the street, at stations or called by telephone. Standard fares apply between 6am and 10pm from Monday to Friday. At all other times, including public holidays, fares are higher. Remember that drivers often have minimal small change and do not take credit cards. Radio taxi companies:
Barnataxi: +34 933 22 22 22
Fonotaxi: +34 933 001 100
Ràdio Taxi: +34 933 033 033
The post offices in Spain are called "Correos" (Correu in Catalan). Stamps can be purchased from post offices and kiosks - "Estancos". The main post office at Plaça Antoni López is open Monday-Friday 8:30am to 9:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 2:30pm.
Address: Plaça del Antonio López, 1, Barcelona
Phone: +34 902 197 197
Chemist shops in Barcelona take turns at operating the after-hours service. The nearest chemist shop that is open at night will be posted on the door of an adjacent chemist shop. Chemist shops with 24-hour service are:
Passeig de Gràcia 26
+34 933 021 124
La Rambla 98
+34 933 012 843
Country code: +34
Area code: 93
220 volts (125 volts in some older buildings), 50 Hz