Barcelona  is the capital of the Region of Catalonia in Spain, Europe. It is also a magical city of fanciful buildings, neverending nightlife and home to tasty tapas.
Barcelona has many quarters, but the most important and interesting for the visitors are:
- Ciutat Vella -- Barcelona's old town, including the medieval Barri Gotic.
- Eixample -- Modernist quarter, noted for its art nouveau buildings
- Gràcia -- Historically a working class neighborhood, now rather gentrified, and very lively
- Barceloneta -- Historically a fisherman's quarter
When to come
- Festes de la Mercè Around the 24th of September, the main celebrations in the city. Live music during all the day and night, theatre, life in the streets, castellers, and most of it for free!
- Festes de Gràcia Around the 15th of August, the celebrations from the Gràcia quarter. Many streets are decorated by the neighbours, live music, food in the street, party all night long. They have a website
- Festes de Sants Similar to Gracia's ones, but smaller and a bit later in August. If you can't go to the Gracia's, try these! They have a website
- Sant Jordi 23rd of April. Is like Saint Valentine's in many places. People give roses and books around the streets. Is one of the most popular and interesting celebrations in Catalonia.
- Corpus. Late in May (Corpus Christi day). An egg is put over the fountains (most of them in the churches, and decorated with flowers), and "magically dances" over the water. Most of the churches are in the city centre: Cathedral's cloister, Santa Anna, Casa de l'Ardiaca, Museu Frederic Marés, and over 10 more fountains.
- Fira de Santa Llúcia From December 2nd/3rd to December 23rd, to commemorate Sta Llúcia (December 13th). In front of the Cathedral, is where the Christmas objects are sold. Some places sell Christmas trees, but most of them sell elements for making the pessebres, the representions of the birth of Jesus that people uses to put at home. You can find from the small sculptures to the wooden pieces to the moss used to simulate grass. By far the star of every year's Santa Llúcia is the caganer, a uniquly Catalan addition to the birth of Jesus. It is a very charismatic figurine of someone squatting, butt exposed, taking a dump, turd included. What's special about them is that they are a great thermometer of fashion and current events WikiPedia:Caganer.
Barcelona's official languages are Catalan and Spanish. Most signs are indicated both in Catalan, Spanish and English. Most inhabitants speak Catalan and Spanish though, some speak English or French, but as in most european countries any attempt by visitors to use the native language, it is, Catalan, is always appreciated. Some inhabitants may feel reluctant to speak Spanish instead of Catalan, since language is the strongest sign of identity of Catalans.
- The Bus Turistíc links all of the Barcelona tourist sites you could possibly want to visit. It has three routes, including a northbound and a southbound line which leave from opposite sides of the Plaça de Catalunya. You can buy one day (18€) or two consecutive days (22€) tickets.
- The metro can take you to many places. A one jouney ticket cost 1,2€, so it's probably best to buy a multiperson 10-ride ticket for 6,65€ or a personal 50-ride monthly ticket for 27,55€. These tickets are also valid in the buses. More information
- The Barcelona Card features unlimited free travel on public transport and free admission and discounts at around 100 visitor attractions. The card is available for purchase for periods between 2 and 5 days, costing 23€ for a 2 day card and 34€ for a 5 day card.
- Stroll on La Rambla (a tile-covered tree-lined pedestrian walkway, the busied and most lively street of the city), La Plaça Catalunya (emotional centre of Barcelona) i El Portal de l'Àngel (a commercial pedestrian road).
- Stroll along miles of beachfront boardwalk starting from Barceloneta or get a tan on the beach.
- Wander the Barri Gotic, the largely intact medieval centre of the city.
- Enjoy the nightlife in the city's 200 or so squats.
- Walk in Born, a very popular area with great restaurants and places to have a few drinks.
- Gaudi architecture, including the Parc Güell, the still unfinished Sagrada Família and the houses; La Pedrera/Casa Milà and La Casa Batlló.
- La Rambla is the most famous boulevard in Barcelona.
- The Gothic Quarter , with the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia and the Gothic Church of Santa Maria del Pi. Also worth the visit is the Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, near the Picasso Museum.
- La Plaça Reial is located next to La Rambla and is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Also look at the Guadi streetlights!
- Olympic stadium and village on Montjuïc hill, including the Montjuic Castle with his beautiful sightseeing.
- Tibidabo is located on the mountains of Barcelona and offers a spectacular view of the city.
- Olympic Port. It has a large number of restaurants, bars and other establishments which have made Barcelona's nightlife even more intense.
- FC Barcelona. If you're a football freak then you can't miss a visit to Camp Nou, the home ground for Barcelona's biggest and most popular team, and one of Europes greatest footballing 'cathedrals'. FCB are the only major football club in the world that doesn't sell advertising space on it's strip, and this is because the club is about more than just making money. During the Franco era, FCB were the only way that supressed Catalans could vent their anger against his dictatorship, and because of this it became a symbol of Catalan identity. Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 98,600 people, and it also has shops and a museum of the club's history. Match tickets are relatively cheap (25-35 Euros) and games hardly ever completely sell out, unless it's a match against the hated rivals Real Madrid, or one of the other top teams (currently Valencia or Deportivo la Coruna.) With the quality in the current team, there's always a few goals, and it's nearly always a resounding win for Barca! Stadium tours aren't fantastic, but for a quick recent history of matches played there, consult the backs of the doors in the cubicles - most have alot of graffiti championing their team that played here!
- Zoo-Barcelona It is located in Parc de la Ciudadella. This zoo once was famous for its white gorilla "Snowflake". Unfortunately he died. But still this zoo has many other features including a science museum inside the zoo.
- Poble Espanyol. A fake village with replicas of characteristic buildings in Spain (like the Avila walls, the Vall-de-roures town hall, etc). The village hosts the Fondation Fran Daurel, where you can enjoy an intresting Modern Art collection boasting Miró, Picasso, Tapiès and other, mostly Spanish and Catalan, nowaday's artists.
- Palau de la Música Catalana Modernist desing by Lluís Domènech i Montaner is in the UNESCO World Heritage since 1997, a masterpiece of Catalan's Modernist Architecture.
- MHI Museu d'Història de Catalunya (Catalonia's Museum of History). In Catalan and English. A must in order to understand the troubled (and sad) history of the Catalans.
- MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) in the Palau Nacional has the single best collection of Romanesque art in the world, and a fine Gothic collection as well. Includes the Pantocrator from the Taüll Romanesque church.
- The Museum of the City of Barcelona includes access to underground Roman ruins and a complex of historic buildings in the centre of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), as well as being a reasonably good historical museum.
- MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.
- CCCB Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.
- The Picasso Museum has a lot of art from his first period, before the cubism.
- Caixa Fòrum located at Plaça Espanya, this place hosts great exhibitions (at the time of writing: Dalí - Culture for the masses) and entrance is free!
- Fundació Antoni Tàpies This abstract artist has a great Museum close to Passeig de Gràcia. It is a good size, has great architecture and good international exhibits. Not to mention the Tapies!
- Joan Miró Museum This museum is on the Montjuïc accessible by the metro (L3 Paral·lel and then the funicular). It is a great treasure,maybe the best museum about Joan Miró. It always has interesting temporary expositions.
- L'Aquarium is the second biggest aquaurium of Spain. Watch thousands of fishes, pinguins and sharks in this interactive sea-life museum. Located at the Port Vell leisure centre, next to the IMAX cinema.
- The Museum de l'Eròtica de Barcelona on La Rambla, just in front of the market IS a huge tourist trap (for the more open Western cultured tourist). For the more conservative Asian folks, this can be an eye opener. The tour isn't worth it, unless you wish to see (or never seen) old paints of kamasutra. The only interest is the huge phallus in the hallway, makes funny pictures! Side note, phallus worship is a traditional though no longer mainstream belief system in Japan.
Harbour aerial tramway
The 1450 metre long harbour aerial tramway of Barcelona is a very interesting aerial tramway. It starts on the top of 78 metre tall Torre San Sebastian, which has also a restaurant on its top, which is accessible by an elevator. Harbour aerial tramway Barcelona runs over 107 metre tall Torre Jaume I, the second tallest aerial tramway support tower in the world. Torre Jaume I has an intermediate stop, which can be reached by elevator from ground. The other terminal of harbour aerial tramway Barcelona is Montjuic.
Barcelona has some of the best restaurants and cafes in Europe. For starters, you might try any of the large cafes that line the Passeig de Gracia and the Rambla de Catalunya, just north of the Plaça de Catalunya: nearly all offer a variety of excellent tapas (appetizers), although a bit expensive. A good idea is to avoid restaurants with people outside encouraging you to come in - if they were good enough they probably wouldn't need to do that.
You can get food from any part of the world in Barcelona, but make sure you try some specifically Catalan food. The great Catalan staple is pa amb tomàquet: toasted bread smeared with tomato (and sometimes with garlic too) and the seasoned with olive oil.
The selection of seafood is consistently great, although not a lot of it is local (this part of the Mediterranean is pretty well fished-out).
The most popular quarter for the Barcelona's citizens is Barceloneta, where you can try fish based dishes, such as Paella (a name that may hide many different kinds of rice concoctions) or Arròs negre (Black Rice), that takes its colour because is made using squid ink. It's a very good place to eat tapas as well.
- Cafe de L'Opera, La Rambla 74, is a marvellous place to have a breakfast with fine strong coffee. The inside features 1920's decor.
- Les Quinze Nits, Plaça Real, is a place to get cheap, huge and delicious paella. The Gazpacho served here is also one of the finest in the world. The restaurant opens at 8pm, but come down earlier if you don't want to queue for hours before being able to enter.
- El Glop (four locations) offers excellent Catalan meals at a price within most budgets. Allow about 20€ per person, although you could get out of there for half of that if you let the price dictate your choice of dishes.
- Grupo Tragaluz have more restaurants in Barcelona. The type of meal that they offer is creative and mediterranean. You can visit the website to decide which restaurant you prefer http://www.grupotragaluz.com.
- Suzet A nice place with a modern environment. The best crêpes mixing modern and typical catalan ingredients. C/Tallers,69 T. 93 318 4724
- Restaurant Miria not to be confused with the cafe of the same name right next door. Plaça Rius | Taulet 11. Really good food and reasonable prices (in Gracia). 93 218 51 98
- Meson David A great place serving excellent hearty Galician fare. Try the Lacon pork joint, its amazing. The decor is basic but the atmosphere is great. Expect queues at peak times. You'll eat and drink loads of Sangria for €15. Calle carretes 63 in the Raval area. Near St Antoni Metro.
- Juicy Jones about 100 yards from Liceu L3 off side road and down some steps. A great vegan restaurant is hidden behind the juice and tapas bar frontage. Address: C/ Cardenal Casañas 7.
Comer y no Bombas (location variable) shares free vegan food.
If you are looking for a cheap lunch:
- Maoz offers excellent vegan felafel for around 4 euros. There are several around Barcelona including one on La Rambla.
- La Boqueria market: it's on the Rambla, and there you can find food at low prices, the only problem is that all that food is mostly raw food! Some stall sells stuff for you such as many kinds of well cooked ready to eat pasta, fresh fruit already sliced, ... La Boqueria
- Supermarket's Gastronomy: in several supermarket you can find a wide Gastronomy stall, with ready to eat dishes in a great selection. Differently from other countries you can have a two courses lunch with less than 5 euros.
- Any common bar offers menú del dia (menu of the day), which usually means a simple and unpretentious two course meal, 3 or 4 options each, with a drink and a dessert, from 8€ or so.
- McDonald's (or clones of that): plenty of them around in Barcelona.
- Dönor Kebap: There is no shortage of Döner stands in Barcelona, offering tasty beef or chicken and salad in toasted flatbread for around €3.50.
- Sidecar Factory Club, Plaça Reial 7 (map) Telfs.(+34) 93 302 15 86, (+34) 933 177 666. One of the best choices for drinks and music in Casc Antic. The Sidecar, as it's known, is the venue with most concerts in town. This underground club offers live music (4 or 5 nights a week, 10pm-00.30am) with some of the most influencing pop and rock acts; national artists as well as foreign. It also hosts dj sessions every night (Monday-Sunday 00.30am-4.30/5.00am.) with djs of many different styles and from the most important clubs making people dance until the wee hours.
- RiBborn, carrer Antic de Sant Joan 3 (map) Tel.(+34) 93 310 71 48. A hip bar in the heart of the Casc Antic , a vibrant section of Barcelona's Ciutat Vella with a variety of bars and restaurants. RiBborn offers "Funk you till you drop" hiphop jazz reggae and soul with dj Chocolito + guests, Tuesday-Sunday 10pm-3am. Live music until 1am on most Sundays and the odd weeknight.
- La Paloma is a very popular night club. In the evening they have shows, but late night it turns to the most crowded party place packed with young people.
- Catwalk is one of the most visited nightclub. Gets busy at around 2 am. They offer 2 different floors with R&B and hip-hop styles mixed with House or Techno.
- Shoko is -just like Catwalk- also down at the beachfront. Shoko offers you a true Feng Shui experience. Depending on the night they play house or Hip Hop music. One of the nicest decorated nightclubs in Barcelona.
- Maumau is a chilled out lounge bar with groovy tunes with an irregular programme of state of the art artistic intervention ranging from performance via shortfilm nights to installations and concerts. It's near the clubs of Paral.lel. It is worth looking at their webpage for the bar's and Barcelona nightlife upcoming events. 
- La Gauche Divine, an incredible multiconcept store near La Rambla. An example of the catalan design is the decoration of the shop with an exclusive combination of furniture from the sixties and paintings and sculptures all around. The shop includes a little corner where you can have a drink while watching the latest trend publications and an inner patio with plants and sculptures They have a lot of clothes and accessories for men and women, the most original pieces you can find in Barcelona Don't miss the courreges mini dresses brought from Japan and the catwalks and special events they organize every month.
- El Corte Inglés It's a "Harrod's Like" store, multiple buildings, several floors, you can find anything in a wide range and stocks. It sells almost everything, from gastronomy to pneumatics.
Barcelona offers a great arrangement of accommodations, from cheap, decent "hostel" rooms with the bathroom down the hall to five-star hotels. Here are some that are notable in their price range:
- Hotel Cuatro Naciones, La Rambla 40, Barcelona 08002 , Tel: (+34) 93 317-36-24. Hotel ** on the Barcelona's most characteristic avenue (La Rambla), the nerve centre of the city. This historic area is very close to the Cathedral, the Gothic quarter and the harbor, as well as Barcelona's best shopping streets. Rooms varying from single to Quad size. Prices are very modest - starting at 80€ for a double. http://www.h4n.com
- Hotel Catalonia Albinoni, Avd Portal De L'Angel 17, Tel. (+34) 93 23 60 00. Central, on a pedestrian street just south of Plaça Catalunya. Rooms of varying sized, but quiet, well maintained and in an excellent location in the Barri Gòtic. About €130/night for a double room with ensuite bathroom.
- Hotel Gran Via, Gran Via Corts Catalanes 642, Tel. (+34) 933 181 900. Very central, and originally a palace, the public spaces of the hotel live up to that history. The rooms are large, but otherwise relatively modest. About €80 per night for a double room with bath.
- Pensión Norma, up 3 flights of stairs at C. Gran de Gràcia, 87, Tel. (+34) 237 44 78. Modest rooms, some with bath, in the relative quiet of Gràcia, about a kilometre north of the centre of town. About €25 per night.
- HCC Covadonga, Avda Diagnal 596, Barcelona 08021, Tel: (+34 93) 2095511. The HCC Covadonga Hotel is situated on the main avenue, in the heart of downtown Barcelona, near key attractions, shopping and the business district. Recently renovated, this hotel offers all the modern conveniences. It's also only 2 km to Barcelona City Centre and only 1 km from Sants Rail Station.
Hotel, Hostal, or Pension?
There are three different names given to hotel-like accommodation in Barcelona they are Hotel, Hostal and Pension. It is important not to confuse a Hostal with a Hotel. A hostel offers backpacker-type accommodation with shared rooms. However a hostal is very similar to guest house and is generally cheaper than a hotel.
As the price of hotels rise in Barcelona a lot of people are turning to the alternative of tourist holiday apartments. Holiday apartments are a refreshing change to the hotel scene. For one thing they are 25 - 30 % cheaper. But the real reason is the convenience and privacy. All tourist apartments have a kitchen and refrigerator which means breakfast, snacks and meals and diners with great wine can be organized at the fraction of the cost of a restaurant. Apartments are generally more comfortable and larger than hotels too. Hotels, sensing a threat to their business, have complained and City Hall has duly complied with new regulation, so you may find that the apartments that were formerly rented are now closed. Before to book an apartment please verify that it is though a registered company (check the "about us" or "contact" page of the rental site).
- Destination BCN Apartments is a small apartment rental company with conveniently located flats in the city centre. The apartments are decorated with a personal touch and a sense of style offering an exciting and affordable accommodation alternative.
- Residencia Australia and Hostal Central are located on different floors of Ronda Universitat No 11. Clean, friendly and good value, just off the Plaça de Catalunya. They belong to different owners. En-suite double rooms for around €60. Residencia Australia is more family orientated, tey also offer ensuites with kitchenettes , small Barcelona Apartments starting at around 75 euros per night.
- Alberg PALAU carrer Palau, 6 - Tel.(+34) 93 412 5080 and Hostel NEW YORK carrer d'en Gignas, 6 - Tel.(+34) 93 315 0304 are two youth hostels in the gothic quarter of Barcelona's Ciutat Vella. Clean and friendly, both hostels include breakfast, internet access, kitchen facilities, and a common room; all for under 20€ per person.
- Hostal Levante Baixada de Sant Miquel, 2 - Tel.(+34) 93 3179565 has clean, simple and good private rooms. Renovated bathrooms. Very good location, one block from the Plaça Reial, two from the famous La Rambla. Very good price, but breakfast not included.
- The Welcome INNcarrer Hospital, 93 Tel.(+34)664 127 664 is an alternative to the typical 'dorm bed' hostel. It offers private rooms (single, doubles,triples,quads)in a large hostel-apartment with a kitchen and living area. ideal for backpackers/tourists that want privacy at affordable prices. Very good prices under 20 Euros per person per night.
Be aware . We went to check out this hostel and local authorities consider it illegal so careful.
- Gothic Point is very centrally located in Barcelona. There's lots of activities, the guided City Tour is great! The crowd is very international. Be careful, although the prices are good (€17 for one night + breakfast), there's extra charges for almost everything. Make sure to be in time for breakfast :-) Overall, the stay was great, and I met some great people.
- Infoespai, Plaça del Sol. A free Internet cafe, and social centre. Infoespai is in the Gràcia quarter.
Barcelona is a friendly city, there are few violent crimes. However, many tourists and experienced travellers get pickpocketed in Barcelona. Crowded places and metro/busses and areas such as Raval and the famous "La Rambla" are still the most likely places to get pickpocketed, but if you are just arriving be aware of pickpockets at Estació Nord. Take particularly care of your backpack and handbags. Also be very careful at internet cafes and whenever you see roving groups of Gypsy children. This high rate of pickpocketing and bag snatching is in large part due to the fact that there is absolutely no punishment for non-violent petty theft, no matter how many times a person is caught stealing.
Other places in the city are less secure than the average: Plaça Real and Barrio Xino (the triangle from Colom Monoument to Calle Nou de la Rambla) above the others. Strictly avoid these places at night.
Lone women should exercise caution in exploring the more isolated parts of Montjuic. The metro can present a theft hazard at night so be cautious of travelling alone after 2300. The city beaches, particularly the ones adjoining Barceloneta, have proven to be quite lucrative for bag-snatchers. Anything that one would rather not chance losing is best left in ones hostel or hotel.
There have also been incidents of bag snatching while stopped at the traffic lights whereby the thieves open the car doors and take what they can. Please make sure that you always have your car doors locked during both the night and the day.
Day trips from Barcelona include:
- Figueres home of the impressive Salvador Dali museum
- Montserrat - visit the monastery nestled high in the mountains to see the Black Madonna or hike to the peak to earn a fantastic view of the surroundings.
- Sitges a traditional beachside destination for the locals.
- Madrid An hour by air
- Girona A quiet town with an ancient Jewish section, narrow streets, imposing walls and plenty of cafes. See directions to the north Airport above.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!