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 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.

currency

Euro, €1=100 cents

phone

Emergency call: 112

newspaper

La Vanguardia
El Periódico
El País
El Mundo

hours

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.

population

1.81 million

info

Turisme de Barcelona
Plaça de Catalunya 17 - basement
+34 932 853 834

Park Guell by architect Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain MarinaDa/Shutterstock.com

The City

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.

Young woman visits Barcelona, Spain Kemal Taner/Shutterstock.com

Do & See

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.

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Casa Vicens

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La Sagrada Família

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La Rambla

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Casa Mila

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Park Güell

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Casa Batllo

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Picasso Museum

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Poble Espanyol Architectural Museum

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Plaça Reial

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Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site

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Camp Nou

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MACBA

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Palau de la Música Catalana Concert Hall

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Santa Maria del Mar

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Aquarium de Barcelona

Jerzy Kociatkiewicz

CosmoCaixa

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Parc de la Ciutadella

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Gaudí Experiència

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El Born Cultural Centre

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Barcelona Segway Tour

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Cardona Castle

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Sitges

Dinner Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock.com

Dining

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.

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Cal Pep

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Banna Restaurant

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Due Spaghi

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Toto Restaurant

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El Filete Ruso

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La Cantina Mexicana

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Poble Espanyol: the richness of traditional Spanish cuisine

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Uma

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Blavis

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Accés

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Carlota Akaneya

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Café Manila

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Piazze D'Italia

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Viana Barcelona

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Restaurant MIAN

Set empty and full cups of coffee. On black rustic background. Artem Shadrin/Shutterstock.com

Cafes

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.

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Café de l'Òpera

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Satan's Coffee Corner

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Café Salambó

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Cafés El Magnífico

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Granja M. Viader

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Caelum

Outdoor restaurants at Placa Reial in night. Barcelona Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock.com

Bars & Nightlife

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.

Marcin Sylwia Ciesielski/Shutterstock.com

Icebarcelona

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Marula Café

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Sidecar Factory Club

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Jamboree

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Sala Apolo

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Harlem Jazz Club

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Kaelderkold

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Carpe Diem

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La Terrrazza

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Mojito Club

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Casino Barcelona

Barcelona, La Rambla shopping woman. Female shopper walking happy away with shopping bags raised up. From the famous landmark street in Catalonia, Spain. Maridav/Shutterstock.com

Shopping

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.

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Mercado La Boquería

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Carrer d'Avinyó

Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock.com

El Born

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Passeig de Gràcia

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Poble Espanyol Crafts and Shopping Center

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La Maquinista

Happy couple in casual clothes with trunk and backpack outdoor Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock.com

Tourist Information

Best Time to Visit

Barcelona, second largest city in Spain, is the first tourist destination of the country, ahead of its rival Madrid. The city is particularly appreciated for its climate because it enjoys beautiful and sunny days eight months per year. It is popular with tourists from around the world during the two summer months because of its high temperatures, up to 37 °C. The many nearby beaches are perfect for a swim after a long day of sightseeing, but expect a busy crowd.

Spring and autumn are therefore the ideal seasons to enjoy the city in good conditions so that you can enjoy the sun and the beautiful and shining days away from the holidaymakers of July and August. Besides, the prices are more affordable and so it is easier to find a place to eat and to sleep.

It is also possible to explore the Catalan capital during the winter because the climate is cool but the temperatures are still mild. You will not find negative temperatures or frosts at this time of the year.

Several days are necessary to discover Barcelona as it is full of must-see tourist sites and typical places to see. However, avoid driving in the city and prefer public transport, bus, metro or tram that serve all tourist areas.

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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.

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Barcelona El Prat Airport

Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN), Barcelona’s main 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. A one-way Aerobus ticket costs 5.90€ (10.20€ for a round trip) and the trip takes about 25 minutes to reach the city center.

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 and the ticket costs 4 €.

Taxis are available just outside the terminals. Price depends on traffic, luggage, day of the week and time. The average price is around 35 €.

Consult the airport website to learn more about other public transport routes servicing the airport.

Address: Barcelona El Prat Airport

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Website: www.aeropuertobarcelona-elprat.com

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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. Prices for a one-way ticket start from 16 €.

A taxi to Barcelona city centre may cost around 125 €, 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 but you will have to find a solution to get from Girona train station to the airport.

Address: Girona-Costa Brava Airport

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Phone: +34 913 21 10 00

Website: www.girona-airport.net

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Public Transport

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.

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Website: www.tmb.net

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Taxi

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.
Most known taxi compagnies:

Barnataxi: +34 933 22 22 22
www.barnataxi.com

Fonotaxi: +34 933 00 11 00
www.fonotaxi.net

Ràdio Taxi: +34 933 03 30 33
www.radiotaxi033.com

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Phone: +34 933 22 22 22

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Post

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

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Phone: +34 934 86 80 50

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Pharmacy

Pharmacies in Barcelona take turns at operating the after-hours service. The nearest pharmacy that is open at night will be posted on the door of an adjacent pharmacies. Pharmacies with 24-hour service are:

Farmàcia Clapés
La Rambla 98
+34 933 01 28 43

Farmàcia Torres
Carrer d'Aribau 62
+34 934 53 92 20

Address: La Rambla 98, Barcelona

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Phone: +34 933 01 28 43

Website: www.farmacias.com/barcelona

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Telephone

Country code: +34

Area code: 93

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Electricity

220 volts (125 volts in some older buildings), 50 Hz

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