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Buzzing Barcelona

Stylish and full of beautiful people determined to have a good time, Barcelona is like the French Riviera only without the haughty arrogance. Synonymous with fashion and food, architecture and art, Barcelona leaves you overwhelmed and thrilled with energy, passion and culture. A visit is like mainlining culture – and it’s easy to become addicted.

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain. Pronounced ‘Barthelona’ by the locals, there’s a long-held desire to be different, to stand out not only from the rest of the country but the rest of Europe. Mixing Gothic architecture with surreal modernism, Barcelona embraces styles so diverse that they almost work.

That contrast is everywhere in Barcelona, from the beaches to the mountain ranges that both lie just outside the city’s boundaries. It’s also in the attitude of its inhabitants. Barcelonians work hard and play harder. If they’re not filling up the bars, clubs and restaurants, they’re getting their sport fix at the Spanish Grand Prix or, more significantly, by worshipping FC Barcelona, whose Camp Nou stadium is one of the most famous in the football world (and also home to the El Museu del Barca).

If it’s not sport, it’s shopping providing the buzz for locals and visitors alike. Upgrade your sense of style at Passeig de Gracia in Eixample. Luxury shops line Spain’s most expensive street, where you can stock up on D&G (if you’ve got excessive amounts of cash to burn). For less up-market chaos, head down Las Ramblas for busy food bazaars, street performers and ice cream stands.

So much to do, so much to see… the question is whether you’ll be able to give it up when it’s time to leave.

Barcelona's Top 10

10. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art Pretty self-explanatory: museum exhibiting contemporary art, both Catalan and international.

5. Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia: This wondrous Gaudi creation will give your binoculars a workout. The church is actually incomplete, but still one of the most famous buildings in Barcelona.

9. Museu d’Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona reveals Barcelona’s history. The museum reaches over various locations around the city.

4. Los Tarantos: See what real flamenco is all about at this celebrated small theatre.

8. Barri Gothic: Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is a must-see, containing the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, vintage clothing stores, and fountains.

3. Picasso Museum: See Picasso’s relationship with Barcelona for yourself. The artist himself donated 2500 of the artworks.

7. Palace of Catalan Music: Take a guided tour at this modernist concert hall, designed by Muntaner.

2.Las Ramblas: Don’t miss the famous pedestrian street, where you can shop at markets or inspect the bird park by day, and pick up birds of a different sort at night (you have to pay for them, though).

6. Tibidabo: View the city from the highest hilltop.

1. Parc Guell Take in the beautifully colourful mosaic artwork by Gaudi in this park.

Barcelona History

  • Casa Batllo – A stunning architectural building that is the subject of many tourist's holiday photographs.
  • Barri Gotic - The largely intact medieval centre of Barcelona, perfect for exploring with friends or relatives in sunny weather.
  • Sagrada Familia – The magnificent unfinished church that Gaudi devoted 18 years to constructing. Guided tours are available to interested parties.
  • Casa-Museu Gaudí – Gaudi’s place of residence from 1906 to 1926.
  • Arc de Triomf – A beautiful arch built in the 1800s.

Barcelona Art & Culture

  • Fondació Joan Miró – This museum features the works of a famous Catalan artist.
  • Picasso Museum – A top art attraction renowned for its large collection of artwork by Picasso.
  • Museum of Natural History – A popular spot that draws tourists from far and wide.
  • CosmoCaixa: Museum of Science – An amazing educational museum suited to children and adults alike.
  • Teatre del Liceu – Catch a stunning evening performance at this much-loved Barcelona theatre.

Barcelona Shopping

  • La Boqueria – A large public market selling a diverse selection of goods, including fresh fruit and juices.
  • Bulevard Rosa – Barcelona’s original shopping mall, home to an estimated 100 stores, including those selling designer goods.
  • Centre Comercial Barcelona Glories – A large shopping centre featuring a large selection of popular high-street chains, delicious restaurants, chilled-out bars and a huge cinema complex.
  • El Corte Ingles – A large department store popular with locals and tourists alike.
  • El Mercadillo – A small complex of shops, ideal for those who want to avoid large shopping malls.

Gay & Lesbian Barcelona

  • Atame – A modern gay club featuring laid-back music in the evening and live dance beats into the early hours.
  • Sala Apolo – This club hosts its gay night every Sunday
  • Dietrich – Features Barcelona's best drag artists, acrobats, singers, dancers and trapeze artists for a spectacular night out.
  • Bar Lola – The perfect place to start or end your night.
  • Sweet Café – Plays downtempo and electropop music while you enjoy a well-earned drink or two with newfound friends.

Barcelona Outdoor

  • Harbour Cable Car – This 1,450m-long aerial tramway connects Barceloneta to Montjuic and offers tourists a great way to see the main sights of Barcelona from the sky.
  • Musical Fountains – A spectacular sight at night, available for your enjoyment from Thursday through to Sunday in May to October.
  • Montjuic Hill – Find the energy to climb this hill to delight in stunning, scenic city views.
  • La Rambla – Walk one of the world's greatest boulevards before taking a break to enjoy traditional Spanish cuisine.
  • Gothic quarter – Take a stroll through Barcelona's intriguing Gothic quarter.

Barcelona Sport

  • Catch the famous Barcelona Marathon when visiting the city in March.
  • Watch the ATP World Tour 500 Series tennis tournament at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona.
  • Take a trip to the Palau de Gel and find out when the FC Barcelona Ice Hockey team are playing.
  • Time your visit to see a Formula One World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona.
  • Visit the museum of FC Barcelona.

Barcelona Local

Ciutat Vella

Catalan for ‘Old City’, Cituat Vella contains the Barri Gotic, Barceloneta, La Ribera, and Raval. Start exploring the Old City by roaming Passeig del Born, where you’ll find the Santa Maria del Mar church. For shopaholics, the Born Market will keep you entertained. In the Middle Ages, Passeig del Born was the location for jousting matches and knighting ceremonies. Nowadays, the only jousting is likely to be over a pair of half-price boots, while men are generally given handbags to mind rather than knighthoods.

Eixample

Developed in the 19th Century, tourists often seem to lose themselves in this rectangular district – literally in many cases. So take a map and ask directions to the Segrada Familia, and other works by Gaudi. Casa Batllo is an Art Nouveau building with a dragon for a roof, while La Pedrera is tamer, but still suitably bizarre. If you’ve had enough of Art Nouveau or Gaudi, then take your tastebuds on a trip at Cacao Sampaka, a chocolate factory and museum.

Gracia

The most authentically Catalan of Barcelona’s neighbourhoods, Gracia is home to the famous Park Guell, as well as Casa Vicens. Gaudi’s first important work, Casa Vicens is a private residence, which means you’re not allowed to see the interior (no matter how much you beg and plead with the owner). The luxurious Passeig de Graciadraws money from near and far – and generally keeps it while you totter off on painfully pricey new shoes.

Barcelona Eats

Barcelona is persistently scrambling to the top when it comes to gastronomy. See for yourself – Michelin stars are thrown at restaurants all over the place!

Botafumeiro Stuff yourself with seafood at this Galician restaurant. If the King of Spain has been here, it’s probably safe to say it’s worth a try! Gracia.

Drolma Awarded with one Michelin star, Drolma’s Mediterranean food is the height of haute cuisine.

Sant Pau In a little town outside Barcelona, but worth the trip. This three Michelin-star restaurant serves Catalan cuisine.

La Dama Another restaurant with a Michelin star. Catalan cuisine at its finest.

Can Fabes For those seeking Mediterranean fine dining, this is the place. With three Michelin stars, you’re bound to be impressed – with the quality if not the price.

Con GraciaFind out what all the fuss is about. Con Gracia is a traveller’s favourite because of its fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.

Ca l’Isidre For an artsy dinner, you can enjoy a traditional Catalan meal, accompanied by works the likes of Dali. It’s just a question of what’s better – the lobster on the plate or in the picture.

Cinc Sentits Stimulate your senses at Cinc Sentits (Five Senses) with a choice of three-set menus of Catalan cuisine.

Casa Leopoldo has several colourful dining areas where you can chow down on seafood and Catalan food.

Torre d’Alta Mar used to be a watchtower. It now dishes up Mediterranean food with a modest 360-degree view of Barcelona 75 metres above sea level.

Barcelona Events

In March and April, a Carnival takes place before Lent ceremonies. Street parties, parades, and feasts abound.

The Catalan version of Valentine’s Day – Sant Jordi – is on 23 April. Men give women roses and women give men books (presumably to make them aware that there are other flowers in the world).

For sport fanatics, the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix is held each May at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Sonar is a three-day music festival in June. It’s best described as a festival of advanced music and multimedia art.

The Feast of St. John the Baptist in June is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires.

In June and July, the Barcelona Summer Festival showcases dance, theatre, and art – both modern and traditional.

One of Barcelona’s most important festivals, the Festes de Gracia takes place mid-August and lasts for an entire week. It commemorates the Assumption through parties, fireworks, live music and street food.

The Festes de la Merce takes place every 24 September. Watch the fireworks, parades and performances.

When To Go

Barcelona enjoys lovely year-round weather.

  • Spring (March-May) is mild, with temperatures of 13-18°C (55-64°F).
  • Summer can get very hot between June and August, with temperatures soaring up to 29°C (84°F) and above.
  • In autumn (September to October), Barcelona cools down to 18-22°C (64-72°F), with heavier rainfall.
  • Winter is from November to February. Temperatures fall to 10-16°C (50-61°F), with only sporadic rainfall.

Getting There & Around

Most people will fly into Barcelona International Airport, but travelling by rail or car is a pleasant, easy alternative.

Take your pick from a few transport options. The Bus Turistic will stop at significant sightseeing spots for €23 (one-day pass). The metro costs from €1.45, but you can purchase a 10-ride ticket for €8.25. These tickets can also be used for buses, trams and the FGC (Catalan Railway Network). Otherwise, rent a scooter, a bicycle or a car.

What To Miss

Barcelona is pickpocket central, so be very, very cautious. Tricks designed to distract you so someone else can steal your wallet include throwing a fake baby at you and having a team of pickpockets come in to nab your wallet when you (naturally) lift your arms to catch it.

Women who are travelling alone need to be extra-careful when in the more remote areas of Montjuic. Women should also avoid wearing flashy jewellery to avoid being ambushed.

As for the men, here’s a note: the prostitutes on Las Ramblas can be very aggressive or even try to rob you.

Barcelona Information

With its tropical weather, Barcelona is made for enjoying the outdoors. The remarkable architecture and the energy that pervades among locals you meet on the street exudes an atmosphere as warm as the climate.

It is unthinkable to imagine how Barcelona used to be, a sleepy industrial city. Seeing it now, always a step forward in arts, fashion and food! The city has a zest for being on the forefront of innovations in the modern world (some of the world's mod cons like electric light system and telephone exchange were first established here).

Barcelona occupies the administrative seat of Catalonia, a region of Spain which has its own language and culture. Since its success in hosting the 1992 Olympics, the city has carved itself a place in Europe's major capitals. It displays more of that Mediterranean gusto perhaps being influenced by nearby Marseille and Milan, thus there would not be a dull moment taking in the sights of this warm and vibrant destination.

Attractions

The best way to discover Barcelona is through your own two feet. Those comfy shoes can lead you right to the Gothic Quarter where 14th century buildings still occupy this historic area. Medieval buildings fill the streets but the focal point is the Cathedral, the epitome of gothic architecture in Spain.

Barcelona offers fine examples of some of the world's remarkable buildings. Who can dismiss the most important work of Gaudi, the unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral, which laid the groundwork for the quirky Art Nouveau style.

If you take the cable car up Montjuic or Tibidabo, priceless views are to be had. In Montjuic, you will find Fundacio Joan Miro, where materspieces of the famous Catalan artist are on display. Barcelona's main card remains to be the Picasso museum.

To experience some of the fervor running through Barcelona's daily activities, walk up to La Rambla, a pedestian street brimming with all kinds of stalls selling wares. The bird market, old opera house and Miro's signed mosaic are the other highlights in this section.

Events

As Spain is a Catholic country, the festivals are based on the religious calendar.

Preceeding solemn Lent ceremonies around March to April is the Carnival which brings revelries in all shapes such as street parties, parades, dances and endless feasting. The merry-making ends on Ash Wednesday paving the way for more sombre ceremonies all the way to Black Saturday then everything's back in party mood as Easter comes around.

In sports, the Spanish Grand Prix brings together top Formula One drivers to Barcelona's racing circuit.

One of the biggest art festivals in the world is held here sometime between June and July. The Barcelona Summer Festival serves up performances in dance and theatre with art exhibitions, both modern and traditional. Likewise in June, the festive mood lingers as the Feast of St. John the Baptist creates a buzz with fireworks and bonfires as fire is touted as a symbol of fertility. Catalan traditions are observed every September during the Festival La Merce, honouring the patron saint, Virgin of Mercy.

Climate

  • Winter (November to February) 10-16°C; occasional overcast or rain, coldest in January
  • Spring (March to May) 13 - 18°C; weather starts to be pleasant
  • Summer (June to August) 21 - 29°C; very hot especially in August
  • Fall (September to October) 18 - 22°C; still pleasant but starts getting cooler and rainfall is heaviest

Previous Barcelona city guide

Barcelona Information

With its tropical weather, Barcelona is made for enjoying the outdoors. The remarkable architecture and the energy that pervades among locals you meet on the street exudes an atmosphere as warm as the climate.

It is unthinkable to imagine how Barcelona used to be, a sleepy industrial city. Seeing it now, always a step forward in arts, fashion and food! The city has a zest for being on the forefront of innovations in the modern world (some of the world's mod cons like electric light system and telephone exchange were first established here).

Barcelona occupies the administrative seat of Catalonia, a region of Spain which has its own language and culture. Since its success in hosting the 1992 Olympics, the city has carved itself a place in Europe's major capitals. It displays more of that Mediterranean gusto perhaps being influenced by nearby Marseille and Milan, thus there would not be a dull moment taking in the sights of this warm and vibrant destination.

Attractions

The best way to discover Barcelona is through your own two feet. Those comfy shoes can lead you right to the Gothic Quarter where 14th century buildings still occupy this historic area. Medieval buildings fill the streets but the focal point is the Cathedral, the epitome of gothic architecture in Spain.

Barcelona offers fine examples of some of the world's remarkable buildings. Who can dismiss the most important work of Gaudi, the unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral, which laid the groundwork for the quirky Art Nouveau style.

If you take the cable car up Montjuic or Tibidabo, priceless views are to be had. In Montjuic, you will find Fundacio Joan Miro, where materspieces of the famous Catalan artist are on display. Barcelona's main card remains to be the Picasso museum.

To experience some of the fervor running through Barcelona's daily activities, walk up to La Rambla, a pedestian street brimming with all kinds of stalls selling wares. The bird market, old opera house and Miro's signed mosaic are the other highlights in this section.

Events

As Spain is a Catholic country, the festivals are based on the religious calendar.

Preceeding solemn Lent ceremonies around March to April is the Carnival which brings revelries in all shapes such as street parties, parades, dances and endless feasting. The merry-making ends on Ash Wednesday paving the way for more sombre ceremonies all the way to Black Saturday then everything's back in party mood as Easter comes around.

In sports, the Spanish Grand Prix brings together top Formula One drivers to Barcelona's racing circuit.

One of the biggest art festivals in the world is held here sometime between June and July. The Barcelona Summer Festival serves up performances in dance and theatre with art exhibitions, both modern and traditional. Likewise in June, the festive mood lingers as the Feast of St. John the Baptist creates a buzz with fireworks and bonfires as fire is touted as a symbol of fertility. Catalan traditions are observed every September during the Festival La Merce, honouring the patron saint, Virgin of Mercy.

Climate

  • Winter (November to February) 10-16°C; occasional overcast or rain, coldest in January
  • Spring (March to May) 13 - 18°C; weather starts to be pleasant
  • Summer (June to August) 21 - 29°C; very hot especially in August
  • Fall (September to October) 18 - 22°C; still pleasant but starts getting cooler and rainfall is heaviest

Hotels in Barcelona

392 hotels in Barcelona, ES

1 Expo Hotel Barcelona

4 stars
4.3 / 5 28 reviews

Mallorca, 1-23 Map

Expo Hotel Barcelona, which is well connected and boasting spectacular views of the city of Barcelona, offers excellent service, luxury and comfort for the most enjoyable stay. This hotel enjoys... More

2 Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel GL

5 stars
4.6 / 5 14 reviews

Moll de Barcelona, S/N Map

Offering quality accommodation and personalised services, Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel Barcelona is an ideal place to stay. Maremagnum, a famous shopping mall, is located just a few hundred metres... More

3 Hotel SB Plaza Europa

4 stars
3.0 / 5 1 reviews

Carrer de les Ciencies, 11-13, L'Hospitalet de LLobregat Map

Contemporary and chic, Hotel SB Plaza Europa makes for an ideal lodging for business and leisure travellers visiting Barcelona. From this sophisticated hotel, tourists venture to Palau de la Musica... More

4 Generator Hostel Barcelona

4.0 / 5 1 reviews

Corsega, 373 Map

Explore the heritage-rich and vibrant Barcelona with convenience by staying at the hip and centrally set Generator Hostel Barcelona. Vacationers at this cosy hostel can easily head to top-rated... More

5 Casa Gracia Barcelona Hostel

4.0 / 5 1 reviews

Passeig de Gracia, 116 Map

Travellers in a Barcelona trip find convenient base at the comfortable accommodations and central location of Casa Gracia Barcelona Hostel. Visitors at this cosy hostel can first stop by the famous... More

6 Hotel Barcelona Colonial

4 stars
4.5 / 5 2 reviews

Via Laietana, 3 Map

Once the impressive Hispano Colonial bank, today the BCN Hotel Colonial is a comfortable and modern hotel located in the Gothic Quarter. From here all the sights such as the Cathedral, Museu... More

7 Senator Barcelona Spa Hotel

4 stars
3.6 / 5 5 reviews

Cardenal Reig, 11 Bis Map

Maintaining its reputation for unsurpassed service, Senator Barcelona Spa Hotel with its contemporary accommodation provides the perfect as well as luxurious oasis in the heart of Barcelona. ... More

8 Royal Ramblas Hotel Barcelona

4 stars
4.2 / 5 5 reviews

Les Rambles, 117 Map

Known for its privileged location on Barcelona's most popular and well-known street of Las Ramblas, The Royal Ramblas Hotel Barcelona is just the place to make your vacation an enjoyable one. ... More

9 Hotel Granados 83

4 stars
4.0 / 5 1 reviews

Enric Granados, 83 Map

Offering luxury, design and comfort, Granados 83 Hotel Barcelona skilfully blends a superior quality of life with residential comforts of home, an ideal place to relax while in Barcelona. The La... More

10 Eric Vokel Boutique Apartments - Industria Suites

4 stars
4.7 / 5 3 reviews

Industria, 165 Map

Giving travellers an opportunity to experience the cosmopolitan city, Eric Vokel Boutique Apartments - Industria Suites stylish units welcomes guests with its contemporary architecture and... More