A City Guide To Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona city, or Barcelona Cuidad, is one of the most popular cities in the world. Gaudi, festivals, museums, beaches, perfect weather, Barcelona has it all. Cobblestone streets, Vineyards, Michelin star restaurants, world-class shopping, F1 racing, Barcelona has something for everyone. If you want to party, shop until you drop, tan on the beach, or get pampered at a spa, Barcelona has you covered. Above all, this colorful, cosmopolitan capital city of Catalonia in North East Spain, exudes life and living! At the center of the Costa Brava area, Barcelona is unsurprisingly one of the most visited cities in Europe.

Barcelona tourism is constantly growing. In 2017 over 50 million people arrived in Barcelona via the El Prat Airport and cruise ships. The number does not include trains, buses, or other motor vehicles. Barcelona is also commonly called Barco and Barka.

Barcelona History At A Glance

Barcelona_Sagrada_FamiliaBarcelona has a long and somewhat unclear history. It is completely understandable considering the estimated age of the city.

Ruins from early settlements dating back to pre-5000 BC have been discovered during an excavation in the neighborhood of El Raval. Remains for early Chalcolithic and Neolithic periods have been discovered near the city on the coastal plain. Retracing its roots to Roman times, the city thrived through the medieval period and later as a commercial and cultural center. Although, it also faced hard times with political and economic struggles from the 15th to 18th centuries.

Some important dates in Barcelona history:
2nd century BC, the Roman village of Barcino was known.
988 independence begins
1640 – 1659 is the Reapers’ War (Catalan Revolt or Guerra dels Segadors)
1888 Barcelona hosted the first World Exhibition
1929 Barcelona hosted the World Exhibition again
1936 – 1939 is the Spanish Civil War
1992 Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympic Games
2011 the last traditional bullfight, where the bull is killed, happened in Catalonia on Sept. 25th.
2010 Sagrada Familia was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI on November 7th. The church is now a Basilica.

Where is Barcelona

Barceona_Sea_ViewsThe location of Barcelona city is in the Northeastern part of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea. It is the Barcelona Catalonia region of Spain. It is 620 km (385 miles) northeast of Madrid Spain, 350 km (217 miles) north of Valencia, and 977 km (607 miles) north of Malaga. The European countries that border Spain are Portugal to the east, France to the North, and the tiny country of Andorra; which is located between Spain and France.

 

 

 

Barcelona Spain Climate

“We love the weather; Barcelona Spain is perfect”. It is a statement made by countless tourists and locals.

The metropolitan area of Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate. The city is located on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and has hot humid summers and mild winters.

The average Barcelona temperature of 21°C (70°F) as a daytime high and 15°C (59°F) as an evening low can be a little misleading. These are the average yearly temperatures in Barcelona; however, it gets a lot hotter and colder throughout the year.

Generally, August is the hottest month of the year with high humidity. Daytime temperatures can vary from 28 to 32°C (82 to 90°F). Although, Barcelona’s temperature during the summer has reached 37.4°C (99.3°F). It was the hottest day on record on August 27th, 2010.

Subsequently, the temperature during the coldest months of January and February averages 6 to 12°C (43 to 54°F). However, record lows have brought the temperature to a bone-chilling -8°C (17.6°F) on December 27th, 1962. Although these temperatures don’t seem too cold compared to other countries, Barcelona is a humid climate, making the temperature feel a lot colder than it is. Average humidity ranges from 69% in July to 75% in October

Sunshine

Barcelona has about 3 times the amount of sunshine hours than the Northern half of Europe. It averages 2,524 hours of sunshine per year. The longest day of the year has 14:59 hours and the shortest day of the year has 9:00 hours of sunshine. Thus, makes the summer days almost 6 hours longer between the longest and the shortest days and the best time to visit Barcelona.

Rainfall

Barcelona does not receive a lot of rain due to its northeastern location. In an average year, the city will receive about 620 Millimeters (24.5 inches) of rain. Rainfall in October is the highest with about 100 mm (4 inches). It is the lowest in July with only about 20 mm (.08 inches). Thunder and lightning storms are also very rare in Barcelona.

Snow

It is rare for the city to receive snow. The hills surrounding the city will see frost in the winter months, especially in February. If there is going to be any snow in the area, chances are, as it has happened in previous years, it will be in February.

 

Famous Catalan Artists

Gaudi_buildingThe work of Antoni Gaudí, whose omnipresent fantastical architecture is represented throughout the city. It includes the world-famous Sagrada Família church, which reflects the spirit of this amazing city.

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech called Salvador Dalí for short, Lluis Domènech i Montaner, and Joan Miró i Ferrera are also famous Catalan artists. Their works can be found in Barcelona and throughout the Catalan region.

 

 

Barcelona Neighborhoods (Barrios)

Barceona_barrioBarcelona has many neighborhoods that you can spend an entire day in. Some of the most popular are listed below.

El Born is close to the beach and is well known for bars and restaurants. You will want to walk through the cobblestone streets of this area admiring the architecture and culture here. You need to see the Palau de la Música Catalana in this area.

Gothic Quarter is the original part of the city. Marvel in the architecture dating back to medieval times as you stroll through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets. This area is full of shops, cafés, restaurants, and museums.

La Rambla or Las Ramblas is not a neighborhood, but one of the most popular areas in Barcelona Ciudad (city) for tourists. It is also the highest area for pickpockets, so be careful. It divides the Gótic and El Raval areas into the north and south sides of the famous street.

El Raval is the more ‘shady’ or darker part of the city center. However, it is always bustling with people throughout the day with a variety of budget shopping options. It is also not the cleanest part of the city. Ravel also has its own atmosphere which should not be avoided or overlooked.

Eixample District is known for the best shopping in Barcelona. It is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations including Sagrada Familia, La Pedera, and Gaudí’s Casa Batlló. Eixample is also known for its lively nightlife with many trendy bars and restaurants.

Plaza_EspanyaPlaça Espanya is home to the Magic Fountain and Museum of Catalan Art. Here you will also find La
Monumental, the old bullring, which is now a commercial center.

Montjuïc offers stunning views of the city and ocean at the top of the ‘mountain’. It’s not really a mountain, but rather a big hill. It also offers museums and beautiful buildings. Take the cable car and get a birds-eye view of the city and ocean.

Grácia has become a trendy area in Barcelona since becoming part of the city in the late 19th-century. Spend some time in the area and go to Gaudí’s Park Güell. Every year it holds a week-long festival in August that locals prepare for all year long.

Poble Sec and Sants neighborhoods are more residential areas that don’t have much for tourist attractions. You will find hotels at a cheaper price and easy access to the city center and beaches.

Les Corts area is the financial and business district. It is out of the tourist areas, but you will find many shopping options, hotels, and restaurants.

Bogatell and Ciutadella are a short metro ride out of the city center. They offer great access to the Port Olympic area and Bogatell Beach.

Port Olympic is a great area for walking along the boardwalk. You will find numerous restaurants here as it is the gateway to Barcelona’s beaches.

Barceloneta is a very popular beach area. It is closest to the city center and full of tourists and families going to the beach and many restaurants in the area.

 

Barcelona Beaches

barcelona_beach-w_hotelBarcelona beach is actually 10 beaches or beach areas. Most of them connect, so people don’t realize they are walking through several beaches. With a coastline that stretches 4.5 km, the beaches are complete with various amenities and people. From the tranquil Caldetes beach to the (nudist) Mar Bella and the busiest Barceloneta. There is also Nova Icaria beach, Sant Sebastiá, Playa del Bogatell, along with several others inside and outside the city.

 

 

Barcelona and Spanish Wine

Most people think of going deep into the country to get to vineyards. Surprisingly within ninety-minutes from Barcelona, you can visit several vineyards. One is a short twenty-minute drive from the city. If you’re not driving, you can still reach a few of the vineyards with public transportation. There are several Barcelona tours related to the vineyards and wine tasting. If you don’t want to go to the vineyards, you can still try the local and regional wines. Several wine tastings are available in various locations throughout the city.

What To Do In Barcelona Spain

There are countless things to do in Barcelona. You can experience several Barcelona tours including walking, food, and bike tours. You will want to spend some time at Barcelona beach to relax or go on a boat trip. Alternately, you can get active with beach and water sports. The Barcelona Pass is great to get when you plan on visiting a lot of places and want to save some money. Here are some Barcelona sightseeing activities and places to visit in Barcelona you should not miss when you plan your trip.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada_FamiliaA Barcelona trip is not complete without visiting Sagrada Familia. It is one of the most popular Barcelona attractions. Gaudi’s modernist masterpiece has yet to be completed. The work started March 19th, 1882, and is planned to be completed in 2026. However, some say it will never be finished. Get your skip-the-line tickets here.

 

Casa Batlló

You can walk through the house Gaudi remodeled in 1904, but the Casa Batlló guided tour is the best way to get the most out of your visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site. Get your entrance and smart guide ticket here.

La Pedrera – Casa Milà

La Pedrera, known as Casa Milà is a large building that Antoni Gaudi designed with nature-inspired interiors. Get your skip-the-line and audio guide tickets here.

Camp Nou – F.C. Barcelona

Football fans must tour Camp Nou, especially if you are an F.C. Barcelona fan. See all the behind-the-scenes in the largest stadium in Europe. View the area where the teams prepare for games, walk through the famous tunnel to the field, and learn the history behind the building. Get your three-hour guided tour with tapas here.

Tibidabo Amusement Park

Barcelona’s_Tibidabo_Amusement_ParkHave a day of fun and excitement at the Barcelona theme park, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Situated on a hill towering over the city is Barcelona’s Tibidabo Amusement Park. Go for a ride on the Ferris wheel, climb aboard the carousels, and let the kids enjoy interactive games and rides. Visit their website for hours and admission here.

 

Botanical Garden

The gardens offer an oasis of beauty, peace, and tranquility. Plants are truly little miracle workers. Located on the hill of Montjuïc, this botanical garden was initially started in 1888. For more information visit their website here.

Estrella Damm Brewery Tasting

Take a tour of the Estrella Damm Brewery and taste some of the beer they have been making for over 140 years when you visit Barcelona. Learn how Spain’s largest brewery creates its beer using 100% natural ingredients of rice, malt, and hops. Get your tickets here.

Barcelona Aquarium

Barcelona Aquarium is home to 11,0000 animals. The 450 species are spread throughout 35 aquarium spaces including a 16 ft (5 m) deep one with a 260ft (80 m) tunnel. Get your aquarium tickets here.

 

Theatres and Venues

Palau_de_la_Musica_CatalanaIf you are looking for some other things to do in Barcelona, Spain, it has over 100 concert venues, theaters, and comedy clubs. It is a city that never sleeps. Here are just a few of the favorites in the city.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

The stunning building is a kaleidoscope of stained glass, mosaics, and carved roses. Built between 1905 and 1908, the modernista style was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Take a tour of the building to learn about its history and see behind the scenes. Then return to watch one of the performances. With over 500 performances and shows throughout the year, there is something for everyone. Get your guided tour tickets here.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Take a one-hour tour to hear about the history of the building. See the sculptures, furniture, and art nouveau decorations throughout the theatre. Come back another time to watch a performance. See the list of performances here.

L’Auditori L’Auditori

L’Auditori is the ideal place to go for classical music lovers. The 137,800 ft² (42,000m²) building opened in 1999. See their list of events here.

Teatre Nacional de Catalunya – TNC

The Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, or TNC for short, is considered a newer building in Barcelona. It was built between 1991 and 1996 by the Catalan postmodern architect Ricardo Bofill. Visit their website here for more information.

Teatre Apolo

The Teatre Apolo has been a classic Barcelona venue for well over a century. Throughout most of the Apolo’s history, it has been a variety of theatre, concentrating on a combination of musicals, reviews, comedies, and zarzuelas.

Tablao Flamenco Cordobes

Here you will start your evening enjoying a delicious feast of tapas. Then you will move into another room for the flamenco performance. The intimate setting adds to the excitement of the flamenco dance, costumes, and singers. The show lasts approximately one hour. Visit their website for more information and tickets here.

Museums In Barcelona

Barcelona_MNAC_Museum

 

There are over 55 museums in Barcelona covering a plethora of subjects. They include art, architecture, cannabis, chocolate, history, maritime, science, sports, and war. Below are seven museums you should visit. You should keep in mind most museums are closed on Mondays in Spain.

 

Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona is an arts center in the Raval barrio. The core theme is the city and urban culture. Visit their website here for hours and admission.

 

Chocolate Museum

Museu de la Xocolata is a private museum owned by the Gremi de Pastisseria de Barcelona. It opened in 2000 on the ground level of an old barrack. They also host themed dinners and workshops. Check out their website here for more information.

Erotic Museum of Barcelona

The small Erotic Museum a unique journey through erotism’s history. Taking a stroll through the erotica proves that pornography is timeless. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum

The museum oversees and displays a unique collection that embodies all aspects of cannabis. It facilitates scientific research, functions as a knowledge center, and plays an important informative role. Check out their website here.

Museu Marítim de Barcelona

The Maritime Museum is located in the royal arsenal of Barcelona building by the port. It is dedicated to shipbuilding between the 13th and 18th centuries. For more information about hours and admission visit their website here.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), is the national museum of Catalan visual art. The beautiful building is home to 290,000 items. Visit their website for more information on admission and hours.

Museu Picasso

The Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Within the museum, you will see over 4,250 pieces on display by the painter. The museum has one of the most comprehensive permanent collections of his works. Visit their website here for information about hours and admission.

 

Monuments To See In Barcelona

Barcelona_Cascada_MonumentalBarcelona has many monuments and landmarks you can visit. Below are a few of my favorites.

Cascada Monumental

Cascada Monumental is my favorite water fountain in Barcelona. The classical 2-tier fountain & monument has an arch & central Venus statue. It is located in a 19th-century park, Ciutadella Park.

Barcelona Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, commonly called Barcelona Cathedral, was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, a co-patron saint of the city and a martyr. For hours and admission visit their website here.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe was built as the gateway to the Universal Exposition of 1888. It is located on the promenade that leads to the Parc de la Ciutadella where the exhibition center was. You can read more about the Arc on the Barcelona Tourism website here.

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. its singular architectural and artistic beauty should not be missed. It is also the hospital where Antoni Gaudi died in 1926. Visit their website here for hours and admission.

 

 

Festivals In Barcelona

Barcelona_castelletsLife in Barcelona is anything but dull. There are always festivals going on in the city, especially during the summer months. Below are just a few:

January
Epiphany – The three wise men, also known as Spain’s 2nd Christmas (5th/6th January)

February
Santa Eulalia Festival
Carnival (February/March)

March
Rally Barcelona

April
Dia de Sant Jordi (23rd April)
Catalonia April Fair
Barcelona Comic Fair
Barcelona Film Festival
World Press Photo

May
Formula One Spanish Grand Prix
Cuitat Flamenco Festival
Automobile Barcelona
International New Roses Competition
International Record Fair
Night of the Museums
Primavera Sound Festival (May/June)

June
Sonar Festival – www.sonar.es
Pride parade and festival
Taste a La Rambla
Ou Com Balla
The Historic Centers Local Festival
Modernist Fair of Barcelona
San Juan Night (23rd/24th)
Hotel Terrace Week
Jardins Pedralbes Festival (June/July)
Grec Festival (June to August)
Cinema on the Beach (June – August)

July
Sonar Festival
Cruilla Festival
Montjuic de Nit
Vespres Inedits Festival
Poble Sec’s Local Festival
El Raval’s Local Festival
Els Vespres De La UB
Cap Roig Festival (July/August)
Sala Montjuic (July/August)

August
Gandules (throughout August)
Gracia’s Local Festival
Circiut Festival
Girlie Circuit Festival
Sants’ Local Festival
Sant Roc Local Festival

September
Festa de la Merce (several days either side of 24th September)
Poblenou’s Local Festival
BAM Festival
La Barceloneta’s Local Festival
La Ribera’s Festival

October
Festes Del Roser
Octoberfest Barcelona
48-Hour Open House Barcelona
Barcelona International Record Fair
Auto Retro Barcelona
Mercat De Mercats
Manga Fair (October/November)

November
L’Alternativa – Barcelona Independent Film Festival
La Castanyada & All Saints Day

December
Santa Llucia Christmas Market
Sagrada Familia Christmas Market
The Espinelves Fir Tree Fair
Medieval Market of Vic
Fira De Reis (Christmas Fair)
Italian Film Festival
City of Dreams (Children’s Festival)

Festivals held throughout several months:
Brunch in the Park
Brunch in the City
Music in the Parks
Open Air Cinema
Dinner With the Stars
International Jazz Festival

Shopping In Barcelona

barcelona-shoppingFor the shopping tourist, there are several places to go in Barcelona. Everything from high-end shops to outlet stores is sprinkled throughout the city. The two most popular areas are Portal del Angel and Passeig de Gracia.

Portal del Angel is a 250-meter street from Plaça de Catalunya going down towards the sea. Here you will find cheap shopping in Barcelona. Stores like Bershka, Benetton, H&M, Massimo Dutti, Mango, Pull and Bear, Zara, local shoe shops, and more and.

Passeig de Gracia is known for its high-end shopping. From Plaça de Catalunya you will walk up towards Diagonal for all the luxurious shops located within the world-class architecture here. You will find jewelry and accessory shops including Bvlgari, Rolex, Cartier, Chanel, and Swarovski. Clothing and other shops including Armani, Burberry, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, and others are here.

If you prefer shopping malls, then you can go to the following malls:

Diagonal Mar
Hours: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (closed Sunday).
Address: Avinguda Diagonal 3.
Website: Diagonal Mar Shopping Mall.

Centro Comercial Glories
Hours: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (closed Sunday).
Address: Avinguda Diagonal 208.
Website: Glories Centro Comercial (Spanish only).

Las Arenas Shopping Center
Hours: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (closed Sunday).
Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 373.
Website: Las Arenas Shopping Centre.

With the amount of shopping that is available, you might want to come with an empty suitcase so you can fill it up while you are on your holidays in Barcelona.

Day Trips From Barcelona

Montserrat_SpainAlthough there are countless things to do in Barcelona, I know a lot of people also want to see more of Spain while they are here. Therefore, here are some great day trips from Barcelona that you should consider going on.

Montserrat

Montserrat means “saw mountain” in Catalan. The rock formations are visible from far away from the mountain. As you get closer, you will notice the strikingly pink conglomerate of the sedimentary rock. The three main peaks of the mountain are Agulles (2,962 ft / 903 m), Montgrós (3,675 ft / 1,120 m), and Sant Jeroni (4,055 ft / 1,236 m). Montserrat is well known for the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which is home to the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary. In 1987 it was designated as a National Park.

Book Montserrat Tour with Guide here.
Book an eco-friendly Montserrat hike here.
Book Montserrat Monastery Tour with Cable Car & Farmhouse Lunch here.

Girona

Located just 40minutes north of Barcelona via high-speed train, Girona rests along the river Onyar. The medieval city is known for its architecture, the Jewish quarter, the Roman remains of Força Vella fortress, and the Old Quarter (Barri Vell). Many scenes from Game of Thrones have been filmed here.

Book Girona Game of Thrones Tour here.
Book Girona, Figueres and Dalí Museum Day Tour here.
Book Girona and Costa Brava Tour here.

Other day trips from Barcelona:

Barcelona Wine, Cava, and Tapas 4WD Vineyard Tour. Get tickets here.
8-Hour Costa Brava Kayak and Snorkel Tour. Book your day here.
Wine Tasting Group Tour with Local Brunch. Get your tickets here.
Barcelona Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight with Breakfast. Get your tickets here.
Penedès Area: Half-Day Wine & Cava Tour. Book your half-day tour here.

 

Check out our other recommended 15 Best Day Trips From Barcelona.

How To Get to Barcelona

barcelona-train-stationDepending on where you are coming from, there are three ways to get to Barcelona city if you are not driving.

The Airport

Barcelona Spain flights will arrive at the International El Prat Airport. Over 37 million people use El Prat Barcelona every year. From the airport, you can take the metro, bus, taxi, or car rental into Barcelona city center.

Train

There are two main train stations in Barcelona. Of the two, the most popular one is Estació de Sants. The other, Estació de França is not used as often and is located in the city center.

Bus

Barcelona also has two main bus stations. Estació de Sants is the more popular station with more bus routes and times available. Estació de Nord is not as popular; however, it is located close to the Arc de Triomf. Both stations have metro stops next to them to bring you anywhere in the city.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Barcelona population?
The population of Barcelona is approximately 5,541,000.

What are the best things to do in Barcelona, Spain?
I have added some of the best things to do in Barcelona in this guide. There are hundreds of things to do in the city, so it is hard to choose, and everyone likes something different. I will be adding more things in other posts, so keep an eye out for new articles.

Where are the best places to stay in Barcelona?
I am working on an article about the best hotels in Barcelona. I will add the link to it here as soon as it is published.

What is the best area to stay in Barcelona?
The areas in Barcelona can vary greatly. So, it depends, do you want to be near the beach, nightclubs, in the heart of the city center. I will be writing more about the different areas in Barcelona soon.

What is the Barcelona Spain time zone?
Barcelona is Central European Standard Time – Time zone in Barcelona (GMT+1)

How many Barcelona Spain beaches are there?
Within Barcelona city, there are 10 beaches totaling 4.5 km of beach. However, the Barcelona province has approximately 160 km (100 miles) of shoreline and beaches.

How many Barcelona tourist attractions are there?
I don’t know the exact number, but I know it’s in the hundreds. There are so many things to do in Barcelona and surrounding the city, it could take years to see them all.

Is Barcelona in Spain?
Yes, the most famous city Barcelona is in Spain. However, it is not the only Barcelona in the world. There are five cities in the world with the name Barcelona.

Where is the Barcelona tourist office?
Barcelona tourism has several small offices and information centers throughout the city. You can visit their website here.

When is the best time to visit Barcelona?
It really depends on what type of weather you prefer and the number of crowds you can handle. The Barcelona summer is hot, humid, and very crowded. Temperatures are a lot cooler and it is less crowded in the winter months.

What colors are the Barcelona Spain flag?
The Flag of Barcelona contains the cross of Saint George (the patron saint of Catalonia) with the gold and red stripes of La Senyera.

 

10 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this – I visited Barcelona for 2 weeks a few years back and cannot wait to revisit and go skateboarding there (it’s amazing for skating) and also to take in all the history, art and creativity

    Laura x

    • Sally Pederson

      I’m glad to hear you loved your time in Barcelona. It is a great city. Hopefully, you can return someday soon.

  2. What an amazing compilation of information for Barcelona. It’s always been on my bucket list to visit spain and now I’d say Barcelona, Spain for sure

  3. Kim C

    Yes! Barcelona is a great place! I really love to visit this place. I am glad to know all these! Thanks for sharing

  4. We had planned to go there when visiting Lloret De Mar, but my son had hurt himself so we didn’t get there – I still am planning to go there though – maybe when Corona is over 🙂

    • Sally Pederson

      Sorry to hear about your son. It will be great if you get a chance to visit after Covid is finally over.

  5. Wow! I think you covered everything I saw in my research and more. Spain is definitely high on my bucket-list!!!

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