View of La Rambla, Barcelona
- Barcelona is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Barcelona is Spain's second largest city, with a population of nearly one and half million people (nearly five million in the metropolitan area) and the capital and largest city of Catalonia.
This city, located directly on the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, has a rich history dating back at least 2,000 years when it gained prominence as a Roman town under its old name, Barcino.
In 1992, Barcelona gained international recognition by hosting the Olympic games which brought a massive upturn in its tourism industry.
This had the effect of changing the city in ways that are still felt today with neighbourhoods renovated (and in some cases levelled) and the intense focus of modern design permeating all aspects of life in Barcelona from public buildings to something as simple as a park bench or an event poster.
For visitors, this has translated into the very modern, yet incredibly old city you see now in the 21st century, where the new elements work to both preserve and celebrate the ancient.
This beautiful city is full of what European cities are known for (outdoor markets, restaurants, shops, museums and churches) and is fantastic for walking with an extensive and reliable Metro system for more far-flung destinations. The core centre of town, focused around the Ciutat Vella ("Old City") provides days of enjoyment for those looking to experience the life of Barcelona while the beaches the city was built upon provide sun and relaxation during the long periods of agreeably warm weather.
|| Ciutat Vella |
Barcelona's old town, including the pseudo-medieval Barri Gotic, La Rambla, El Raval, and El Born (also known as La Ribera)
|| Eixample |
Modernist quarter, noted for its art nouveau buildings
|| Gràcia |
Formerly an independent town, it joined the city in the 20th century. Narrow streets and a cosmopolitan and young atmosphere with not too many tourists
|| Sants-Montjuïc |
Around the Plaza of Spain there are always great fairs and exhibitions. In 1929 Universal Exhibition was held. Of great interest to tourists, which brings together museums, monuments and festivals.
When to visit
August is probably the busiest time in Barcelona; at the same time about 10% of shops and restaurants can be found closed from mid-August to early September, when the owners go on vacations. In the centre of Barcelona you will find most shops and restaurants open. However there will still be plenty of tourists. Barcelona has decent enough beaches but the locals will really appreciate it if visitors do not consider it a beach resort and don't wear beachwear when visiting churches, restaurants, etc.
Barcelona is great off-season and is a lovely city even in winter months of January and February as long as the possibility of rain is low. During these months the city is not too cold averaging between 9-10°C with sunny and blue skies. Given the high humidity, 19-23°C is considered comfortable weather, which is normally the temperature between April and June and between late September to November. This is the best time to visit the city. Anything warmer than this can feel too hot.
Toddler happiness is considered a public responsibility in Spain: in any public place people around you put every effort into making your toddler happy: whenever he or she looks bored or is crying, everyone does their best to entertain or to calm them.
Barcelona's Visitor Information office can be reached on +34 932 853 834 M-Sa 08:00-20:00, Su/Holidays 08:00-14:00 and offers tourist information, hotel bookings and more.
Tourist Offices are located at:
Low cost carriers include : Norwegian, Air Berlin, Monarch Airlines, Jet2.com, Vueling (a discount subsidiary of Iberia), Wizz Air, easyJet, Ryanair , Blue Air, Transavia, Germanwings, TUI Fly among many others.
Barcelona International Airport
Barcelona-El Prat International Airport (IATA: BCN, ICAO: LEBL), is a major transport hub and flights land from all over Europe and beyond.
- Duty-free shops. Open c. 06:30-21:30 (a few until 22:00). Shops are numerous and some are hard to find elsewhere in the city. After security check, most shops are before the passport control; there are only one or two afterwards.
- Tax-free shopping refund. Office closes at 22:00 without fail. After that time cheques can be processed only by mail: complete your tax-free forms with your passport data and addresses, have them stamped by the customs office (a window next to arrivals gate door; they don't ask to see your purchases); put them into the envelope you were given in the shop--and wait for several months.
- Cafes, pre-security check. Limited options, sub-standard fare. Food at Ars is awful and not cheap. Pans & Company have almost no hot meals. For more options in Terminal 1 go to 3F better food and restaurants, but more expensive.
- Cafes, post-security check. Numerous options, all close c. 22:00
- Parking: Costs €1.35/hr, €9.45/day, €6.75/day from the 6th day.
- Luggage lockers: At the airport, there is a baggage storage service on the ground floor of Terminal 1 that costs €4.60 per day for a large locker that easily fits 2-3 large suitcases (there are no luggage lockers or storage rooms in Terminal 2). In the city centre, there is a baggage storage service with keypad-based lockers on Carrer Estruc, 36 (right next to Plaça Catalunya) called "Locker Barcelona" (www.LockerBarcelona.com). Their prices start from €3.50 per day for a medium locker that stores 1 luggage bag.
- Departure gates: For T2, poorly conditioned at ground level (at least gate #57, sector 2A, after 23:00). T1 is hyper-modern and comfortable.
- Wi-Fi: Available throughout the airport, operated by KubiWireless. 15 min for free if you click in the blue option. or €7.50 for 45 min, €9 for 1 hr, €15 for 24 hr. You must provide a valid cell phone number, to receive the password via text message.
There are now two terminals, T1 and T2, the latter with A, B, and C subdivisions. T1 and T2 are linked by a bus shuttle (every 5-7 min, travel time 12 min).
T1, the newer terminal, hosts Iberia, Air Europa and a variety of major international airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Qatar, Pakistan Intl., Emirates, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, American Airlines, Air Canada, Avianca, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Alitalia, CSA, SAS, TAP, Lufthansa, Austrian, Air France, KLM, British Airways, LOT, Tarom, etc.
Sectors A, B and C of T2 are all within fairly easy walking distance of each other.
- T2 B is used by a large number of smaller carriers and low cost airlines.
- T2 C is smallest and hosts EasyJet.
- T2 A is now only for some charter flights.
Please be aware that you can check in for your flight only at the respective terminal T1 or T2 and, since they are 7 km apart and there is little information available at the train station and bus stops, it's good to know which terminal you need before arriving at the airport! AENA provides information about the allocation of airlines to terminals.
The airport is only about 12-14 km away from the city centre.
Aerobús is the city's shuttle bus service that connects the Airport (both terminals) with the centre of Barcelona (Plaça Catalunya), leaving every 5 minutes, every day of the year. The "A1" line takes you to/from Terminal 1 and the "A2" line takes you to/from Terminal 2. The shuttle bus service is available everyday from 5:30am to 1am, and the journey lasts about 30 minutes (although it can take considerably longer during rush hour). From the Airport, the shuttle bus makes a total of 4 stops: Plaça Espanya, Gran Via - Urgell, Plaça Universitat, and finally Plaça Catalunya. To the Airport from Plaça Catalunya, the shuttle bus only makes a total of 3 stops: Sepúlveda - Urgell, Plaça Espanya, and finally the Airport. A one-way ticket to/from either Terminal costs €5.90 or you can buy a return ticket for €10.20 which you must use within 9 days (you can pay by either credit card or cash). Buses are heavily air-conditioned in Summer, so consider having something extra to wear during the journey. Aerobús stops running after 1am, but you can catch a Nitbús night bus service instead (line N17 to T1 or line N16 to T2, 22.00-05.00 every 20 min. The ride from Plaça Catalunya to the Airport takes about 40-50 min).
A cheap and fast option is the half-hourly RENFE R2 Nord suburban train line calling at Sants (travel time is 18 min), Passeig de Gràcia (24 min), Eln Clot-Aragó (30 min) and more stations beyond Barcelona city limits. Please be advised that this airport train has changed, and no longer terminates at Estació de França (it now goes through the centre of Barcelona and into the suburbs, so it is important to know at which station you should get off). The train terminates next to T2 by section B, with a connecting green coloured bus service to T1 (plan for an extra 15 min of travel). The airport train station has got facilities for disabled people: escalators, lifts, etc. A single ticket for the train is about €3.15, but you can also buy a T10 travelcard (€9.45 for ten trips over any period of time; each of those trips includes 3 bus, metro, train or tramway transfers made within 75 min) instead. You can buy a T10 from the ticket vending machine at the airport station and at the tobacco shop in front of Terminal 2B; you can not buy a T10 travelcard at Terminal 1!
Also bus 46 runs every 20 min from both terminals (downstairs at T1) to Plaça Espanya (35-45 min).
Taxis and transfer services
Airport transfers can be arranged for groups, taxis are available but expensive (€30-40 to the city centre). Taxis and Minibuses can be pre-booked on-line:
Some low-cost carriers, notably Ryanair, use airports in Girona, nearly 100 km to the north, or Reus, around the same distance to the south, instead. Since Ryanair recently started operating at Barcelona El Prat (airport code BCN) check using the three-letter airport codes where your flight actually goes. Girona's airport code is GRO and Reus's airport code is REU.
For Girona Airport, the Barcelona Bus service runs a shuttle bus from Estació del Nord (which is walking distance to the Arc de Triomf metro stop) in Barcelona to Girona Airport and this ties in with various flight times. A one-way ticket costs €16 and a return ticket costs €25. The journey takes approximately one hour and ten minutes. Timetables are available on-line.
For Reus Airport, the easiest way to get there is to take the bus run by Hispano Igualadina from the Barcelona Sants bus station to the airport. Bus departures are synchronized with Ryanair plane departures/arrivals. One way ticket costs €13 and a return ticket costs €24. The journey takes c. 100 min, depending on the traffic on the motorway. Timetables are available on-line. A slightly cheaper, yet longer option is to take a train from Barcelona Sants station to Reus and then the local bus no. 50 to the airport. The train costs €7.25 and then the bus costs €2.10. This takes roughly about two and a half hours. Train timetables can be checked at Renfe's website. The bus timetable is available at the website of Reus public transport.
Several trains per day (including overnight hotel trains) from other parts of Europe (via France) are regular and reliable.
Main train stations:
- Barcelona-Sants (to the south west of the centre).
- Barcelona-Passeig de Gràcia (near Carrer d'Aragó on Passeig de Gràcia, in the center of the city).
- Barcelona-Estació de França, Avinguda Marquès de l´Argentera (on the edge of the old town next to the seafront district of Barceloneta).
From Estació de Sants and Passeig de Grácia there are several connections per day to Cerbère (France), connecting there on trains towards Marseille and Nice. There are also one or two direct "Talgo" trains a day from Sants to Perpignan, Beziers, Narbonne and Montpellier in France.
Overnight Trenhotel trains operated by Elipsos runs daily from Paris-Austerlitz while depatures from Milan and Zurich are every second day. All trenhotels trains terminates at the Estació de França station. Prices starts at €74 for second class.
There is also a less-well-known rail line over the Pyrenees to Toulouse. There are four trains per day to La Tor de Querol (Latour-de-Carol), where it is possible to transfer to a French train bound for Toulouse. The journey takes 7-8 hr (including transfer) and costs roughly €30 one way.
After very long delays, the high-speed line between Barcelona and Figueres finally opened in early 2013. Previously, it was necessary to take a 100 minute train to Figueres and then change for a TGV service. However, now the high-speed line is open, the journey is just 53 minutes with one intermediate stop in Girona. It is intended that direct TGV services to Barcelona will soon be introduced.
The long-delayed AVE high-speed train line to Madrid finally opened in February 2008. Travel time is 3 hr with intermediate stops (11 trains a day) or 2.5 hr non-stop (6 trains a day during morning and evening peak hours).
The city's port is one of the busiest on the Mediterranean, with nine passenger terminals, seven for cruise liners and four for ferries. Large cruise ships dock 1-2 km to the southwest. Many offer bus-shuttles to points near the south end of La Rambla.
You can arrive to Barcelona by boat from the Balearic Islands, Genoa, Rome, Livorno, Sardinia, Tangier, and Algiers. From Rome (Civitavecchia) it is actually cheaper than the bus. The ferry docks almost directly on the Ramblas.
You can have your luggage picked up and stored or transferred to the airport  and 
- Barcelona Nord, ☎ +34 902 260 606, . Contact for all bus connections, national (e.g. 18 buses per day from Madrid) and international.
There are several main roads leading to Barcelona from France and Spain and traffic is usually relatively light outside of peak hours. It is possible to find free parking spaces a few metro stops from the centre of the city.
Blue parking spaces must be paid for M-Sa 09:00-14:00 and 16:00-18:00. At some crossroads the free time ends at 08:00. Anyone can use a blue space but they aren't that easy to find. You pay at the meter and put the ticket on the dashboard. Green parking spaces are for residents only. White parking spaces are free at all times but there aren't any in the city centre.
The city car parks have some special offers for tourists.
The department store El Corte Ingles publishes a helpful (and free) street map for tourists. You can pick a copy at the store, or from most hotel front desks. They're also available at the tourism information offices (including one at each terminal at Barcelona El Prat Airport).
By public transport
- The Barcelona Bus Turístic  links all of the Barcelona tourist sites you could possibly want to visit. It has three routes (map provided as you board), including a northbound and a southbound line that leave from opposite sides of the Plaça de Catalunya. Each takes 1-2 hours. The hop-on/hop-off format lets you get-off risk-free at any interesting stop, see what interests you, then get back on any later bus at that or any other stop. One approach is stay on for an entire route, then continue while getting off at locations that interested you earlier. Buses are double-decked, with the open-air upper deck offering much better views...sunscreen essential in summer months, jackets in winter/early spring/late fall. As you first get on, you are offered earphones. Outlets near every seat let you choose among many languages and playback volumes. As you approach each significant location, you receive audio describing it. You can buy tickets at the bus stops and elsewhere (e.g., better hotels) valid for one day (€23) or two consecutive days (€30). Barcelona City Tour  offers the same services.
- The metro can take you to many places. Stations are marked <M> on most maps; every station has a detailed map of exits to the city. A one-journey ticket cost €2, so it's best to buy a multi-person 10-ride ticket for €9.80 for Zone 1 which includes most tourist areas (called a T-10) or a personal 50-ride monthly ticket for €37. These tickets are also valid on the buses, trams, FGC (Catalan Railway Network) and on the main Spanish Trains (RENFE). 1- to 5-day public transport tickets are available that allow unlimited travel on the metro and bus networks (€7.25 for one day). These are an excellent value. Be sure to look after them well as bent or damaged cards will not be read by the ticket machines (such cards can be replaced at one of TMB's customer service centers). Metro operating hours are: Sunday and M-Th 5:00 to 24:00, Fri 5:00 to 2:00, Saturday 24 hr (continuous service from Saturday at 5:00 until Sunday at 24:00). Trains are fast, often coming in two minute intervals. Announcements are made only in Catalan, though signs and ticketing machines are generally trilingual in Catalan, Spanish and English.
- Pay attention to the fact that to get from metro lines operated by TMB (1,2,3,4,5, 9/10 and 11) to the ones operated by FGC (6,7 and 8), or vice versa, you need to exit and then enter through a new pay-gate. In this case, if you had a one-journey ticket, you need to get a new one. If you used a multiple journey ticket (such as the popular 10 rides T-10 ticket -the one that locals use the most-) you won't be charged for a second time when changing lines (as long as you are within the stated travel time for a single journey). To be clear, you get 10 journeys on a T-10 ticket, and once a journey begins, you have a certain amount of time (stated on the card) where you can use the pay gates the TMB metro, the FGC metro (6/7/8), TMB bus, tram, and local RENFE lines up to once on each journey.
- Unusual features are: all cars are air conditioned; there are large screens for video advertising between lanes (e.g. at Universitat).
- 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 of between 2 and 5 days, costing €37.00 for a 2-day card and €62.00 for a 5-day card. But you will get an online discount of 10% if you are booking in advance. If you don't plan to see lots of museums every day, then it is cheaper to buy transport-only tickets (see above).
- But there are many things that you will want to do in Barcelona that are not eligible for discounts. You can't use the Barcelona card on fun transport options like cable cars, funiculars (except to Montjuic), for example.
- The Barcelona ComboPass®  is a combo pass deal available for periods from 2 to 5 days and includes the benefits of the Barcelona Card described above, Hop on/off Bus Turistic and Montjuic cable car.
- Baja Bikes. Guided bike tours in English, Dutch, German and English. A 3 hr bike tour which includes all the highlights of Barcelona!
- Barceloneta Bikes. One of the cheapest places to rent a bike in the city. Very close to the harbour and the beaches, this company has different kinds of bikes you can choose to rent, but it doesn't organize tours.
- Barcelone à vélo Visits in English and French. They offer an original and friendly guided tour on bike.
- Bicimetrobike. Barcelona Sants Train Station is the perfect starting point for your cycling trip. Prices start from €3.
- Bicing. Barcelona's bike-sharing program, started in March 2007, is another option for an environment-friendly in-city transport. Unfortunately, it is just for residents.
- Biking in Barcelona. Backed by Biciclot, a co-operative that promotes the use of bicycles in Barcelona. They offer high-quality tours for groups (from 12 to more than 100 people), private groups or individuals, as well as bike rentals.
- Bornbike Rental & Tours. Bikes for €6. They offer guided city tours such as the Gothic to Modernism Tour, Beach Tour, Montjuïc Tour, and the Tapas Tour.
- Budget Bikes. With top quality Dutch bicycles on hire, Budget Bikes offers good group reductions as well.
- Deviant Bikes. Bike rental in Gracia, they specialise in fixed gear and single speed bikes and longboards. Bikes cost €20 per day and boards €15 per day. GoPro video cameras are included with the rentals.
- e-bikerent. Electric Bike rental €7-20 per day. Tours to highest points of Barcelona from €30 for about 4 hr.
- Fat Tire Bike Tours. You can either rent a bike from them or take one of their tours. The tour charge is around €22.
- Terra Diversions. Bicycle hire in Barcelona city center: You can rent a bike or do a tour. Big selection of city bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, road bikes and children bikes in different sizes.
- Telefèric de Montjuïc  links the city to the top of Montjuic, with 3 stations (Parc de Montjuïc, Miramar and Castell de Montjuïc). Costs: €10.30 for two-way trip.
- Tramvia Blau  is an old tram (beginning of the 20th century) connecting Av. Tibidabo metro station and Funicular station at the foot of Tibidabo. Costs: €4.50 for a two-way trip.
- Mattia46 50cc, 125cc, 150cc, 200cc scooters for rent for a cheap price to enjoy Barcelona.
- GoCar is a two-seater, 3 wheeled vehicle that runs with a 49cc size scooter engine. It is legally classified as a scooter to drive on the roads. The GoCars were created with the purpose of being rented to tourists as a different way to see a city.
- Scooters for singles or couples are a great way to explore Barcelona at their own speed. If you are coming as a group you can get a personal tour of all the places you like to see.
- Vesping, Passaje Simo, 24 - Next to Sagrada Familia, ☎ +34 626 773 361 ([email protected]g.com), . 10:00-20:00. Explore the city on a GPS guided Vespa. Choose from the tours or go explore on your own.
- Barcelona Segway Tour, . Barcelona Segway Tour connects the narrow streets and squares of the old city with the modern seafront. Get the most out of Barcelona and let the city’s Official Segway Tour be the highlight of your stay.
Parking around all major tourist destinations is expensive (€3/hour, €20-36/day) and the spaces are difficult to navigate, as there are several classes of public parking spaces, with complicated rules for each class. Barcelona is plagued with the same problems that plague other major European cities; massive traffic jams and extremely narrow streets in some areas, coupled with a very complicated road system. As such, driving yourself around is not recommended for tourists, especially those with no driving experience in large cities. Public transport will get you to all the major areas, and you should use that as your main mode of transport.
Having a driving map is essential - plan your route before you set off. Navigating with an average tourist map is frequently misleading: many streets are one-way; left turns are more rare than rights (and are unpredictable). As an example, Gran via de Les Corts Catalanes is technically two-way, but in one direction supports only minor traffic: after every crossroad you'll find the traffic light on the next crossroad turns red by the time you reach it.
But if you have to take a rent a car there are several companies there to get great car rental rates like Sixt rent a car , Hertz, Europecar and more
Some free parking spots reported by travelers are:
- Near Moll de Sant Bertran (which is south-west from Museu Maritim) - driving at B-10, exit to WTC and make a complete round at roundabout, heading to warehouses - and park next to its employees cars.
- Somewhere near Guell Park.
- Near Font Màgica, in Plaça Espanya.
Getting around by car makes sense if you plan to spend much more time driving outside the city borders than inside it - and ideally if you don't plan to park overnight at all. Otherwise, for purely in-city transportation, consider renting a scooter, or using public transportation instead.
- See also: Catalan phrasebook, Spanish phrasebook
Barcelona's official languages are Catalan and Spanish. However, most signs are indicated only in Catalan because it is established by law as the official language. Yet, Spanish is also widely used in public transport and other facilities, though announcements in the Metro are made only in Catalan. As in most other cities, any attempt by visitors to use the native languages is always appreciated. Most locals are bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, and instinctively address foreigners in Spanish. Catalan is a language, not a dialect, and sounds closer to Italian, Portuguese, and French in many ways. Avoid referring to Catalan as a dialect, which will offend Catalans.
These issues regarding language, national identity, and politics are like politics anywhere, and there's no way to summarize here. 60% of the people in Catalonia use Spanish as their first language whereas 40% use Catalan.
In tourist areas, almost all shops and bars have some English speaking staff. People will generally make an effort to try to help you if you speak in English. If you are a native English speaker you will not have any problem as Barcelona is a very touristic city.
What to see in the dark
The most spectacular sights in the night are:
- Musical fountains, in Plaça d'Espanya. From Th-Su, May to October, 9:00PM. Each session lasts 30 minutes, with the last one starting at 11PM.
- Casa Batlló.
- Torre Agbar office tower, highlighted F-Su 7-11PM.
- City views from Montjuic hill
Mosaic lizard at Parc Guell
Walk around the winding streets and hidden squares, fountains and palaces in the Barri Gòtic (Ciutat Vella).
If you are thinking of visiting several museums, an "articket" will save you some money. It is a combined ticket costing €30 and covering admission to seven museums.
Attractions spanning several districts
- Harbour Cable Car. Jun-Sep: 11AM-8PM. The 1450 metre long harbour aerial tramway with red cars connects Montjuic and Barceloneta. It starts in Barceloneta on the top of the 78 metre tall Torre San Sebastian tower, which has also a restaurant at its top accessible by an elevator. It has an intermediate stop at Torre Jaume I tower (close to Columbus monument), which can be reached by elevator from ground--107 metre tall tower, the second tallest aerial tramway support tower in the world. The final point of the tramway is Montjuic. Overall, the tramway is quite old (built in 1929), and the car is packed with tourists during the daytime--particularly sensitive for a stroller or a wheelchair. Plan your route wisely as the capacity is limited. It can be up to 1-1.5 hours from the moment you join the queue to the moment you get in the car. Currently, the Torre Jaume I tower in Barceloneta is temporarily closed for renovation, while two other stops work as usual. The facility doesn't accept credit cards, it's cash only. One-way €10, round trip €15.1.
- "Montserrat"A little ways outside the city of Barcelona (roughly an hour and a half), lies the beautiful Montserrat mountain range. Today there are a handful of newer buildings that have been built on the range, but upon visiting, it is easy to slip back into the past to imagine what the mountain range must have been like hundreds of years ago. A beautiful monastery stands at the center of the mountain range where visitors can attend masses that include wonderful live church quires of young men who live at the monastery. The range is home to many rock climbers who venture to the high altitudes to challenge the vertical limits of Montserrat. It is also affords visitors an excellent hiking experience through scenic paths, all of which over look the surrounding cities, including Barcelona.
- The beauty of Montserrat speaks for itself. It is a must see and will provide a full day of sightseeing. For the most full experience possible, it is encouraged to seek out a travel guide who will bring you there for the day and show you every nook and cranny of the mountain range, providing exceptional background and knowledge on the ancient and beautiful structures that still stand strong today.
Gaudi architecture and Modernist Barcelona
Gaudi architecture includes the Parc Güell in Gràcia, the still unfinished (as of 2011) Sagrada Família in Eixample and the houses La Pedrera/Casa Milà and La Casa Batlló both in Eixample. The Ruta del Modernisme  run by Modernisme Centre (Pl. de Catalunya, 17, subterráneo; phone +34 933 177 652): guidebook and discount voucher book for €12. Takes you round all the best Modernisme (art nouveau) buildings in Barcelona. The main part of the route can be walked in a couple of hours, providing you don't stray too far from the main routes. The Tourist Offices offer a pack that includes discounted tickets to many attractions such as La Pedrera and La Casa Batlló. All can be seen from the outside for free.
La Sagrada Familia
One of the most famous and breathtaking locations to visit in Barcelona is the most famous building in the entire city and its landmark, La Sagrada Familia. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. From the outside, visitors are astonished by the sheer height and intricacy of the design of the church and although it is not completed yet, the progress that has been made is incredibly impressive. The project began nearly a century ago and was designed by one of Spain’s most well known and respected architects in Spanish history, Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi was born a Catalan (ethnic group in Spain) and produced some of the most moving building and works of art that are still standing and praised by the Spanish people. Undoubtedly, his most famous work is La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada familia is a masterpiece in the center of the city of Barcelona. The height of the church is exactly equal to the height of the largest mountain in the nearby hills, the reason being because Gaudi felt that no man-made creation should ever rise above God’s natural creations. The height of the church is overwhelming when standing at its base and the inside is even more impressive.
Upon first walking into the church one cannot help to feel their stomach drop as they witness one of the most impressive and beautiful creations known to man. Visitors first gaze up at the height that the ceiling extends to, supported by beautiful hand shaped columns, which were hand-shaped to resemble the trunks of trees. As a lover of nature, Gaudi included many elements of God’s natural beauty within his work. As visitors move towards the center of church they cannot help but to twist their head in a full 360 to admire all of the stained glass windows that line the walls of the church. During the day these windows produce incredible natural light (a personal favorite of Gaudi) that illuminates the sheer beauty of the inner monastery.
The church is absolutely breathtaking. La Sagrada Familia is an absolute must see for every visitor in Spain and the Barcelona. It is truly a masterpiece and is sure to please visitors of all ages. Images of this majestic church can be found here.
- Museum of Natural History - in the Forum - Museu Blau
- CosmoCaixa: Museum of Science - Amazing museum for kids from 4-5 onwards. Adults will really enjoy it also.
- Tibidabo Amusement Park - Located on the Tibidabo hill overlooking the entire city of Barcelona, this is an amusement park focused on kids with priceless views.
Named the #1 Beach City in the world by National Geographic, Barcelona's beaches are world-renowned. Although locals prefer that you do not stroll through the city in beachwear, the beaches themselves have a very open and relaxed atmosphere. As with many other European beaches, you will find topless (and even nudist) beach-goers. Unlike many European beaches, however, you will find fun and friendly "chiringuitos" common on Spanish beaches that offer you a place to sit down and listen to music while you have a drink and grab a bite to eat directly on the sand as you watch beach-goers strolling by.
The Barcelona beach season starts around March 15th and goes until around November 15th. The High Season for beach-goers is usually from the end of May until the end of September.
Barcelona's Beaches (click to enlarge)
- Stroll along the following famous streets in Ciutat Vella:
- Las Ramblas or La Rambla, a gorgeous tree-lined pedestrian walkway, the busiest and most lively street of the city. Mostly occupied by tourists, expect to pay higher prices for lower-quality food and drink. Avoid the groups of people supposedly betting on a game played on a cardboard table, they are thieves. Head off into some of the side streets for a cheaper, more local, and authentic experience of Barcelona. Often called Las Ramblas, because it is actually a series of several different streets each called 'Rambla de ____', the sections also have distinct feels. As you get closer to Plaça Catalunya, you find more street performers doing stunts. In the middle, you'll find street performers in costumes. Towards the pier, there are artists who will do pencil drawings, paintings, etc.
- La Plaça Catalunya. The epicenter of the city and main transportation hub connecting all the major streets, the Plaça is known for its fountains and statues, plus the shops that surround it. A favourite meeting spot for locals.
- El Portal de l'Àngel. This large pedestrian walkway is one of the most expensive streets in all of Spain and offers visitors many new and stylish shops to browse.
- Cruise miles of beachfront boardwalk starting from Barceloneta or get a tan on the beach.
- Sit on a wooden bridge to Maremagnum in Ciutat Vella and cool your toes at the water's edge: with a book, sandwich or just for a short rest.
- Wander the Barri Gotic in Ciutat Vella, the largely intact pseudo-medieval center of the city.
- Enjoy your Sangria at La Plaça Reial in Ciutat Vella, near the La Rambla Street. Great place to sit,relax and drink. While visiting La Placa Reial
- Walk in Born in Ciutat Vella, a very popular area with great restaurants and places to have a few drinks. If your accommodation is on Rambla, Born is a great place to escape the crowds, enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and meet off-the-beaten track travellers and non-tourist-industry locals--especially in the evenings.
- Visit a Flamenco Show in a real tablao. Although the dance is not local to Catalunya, one of the best Flamenco Shows in the city is Tablao de Carmen in Sants-Montjuïc. A cheaper alternative is in the jazzclub Jazz Si in Ciutat Vella.
- Ride the Cable Way to get from the sea front to Montjuïc mountain in Sants-Montjuïc
- Sit and sip on a coffee in Plaça dels Àngels in Ciutat Vella, while admiring the whiteness of the MACBA and the best street skate tricks in town.
- Catch a performance at the beautiful Teatre del Liceu or the Palau de la Musica Catalana both in Ciutat Vella.
- Rent a bike or join a Biketour and get to see the highlights of the city in a different way. Ride from the magic beaches of the Mediterranean, to Gaudí's modernist buildings through the medieval atmosphere of the Old Quarter.
- Sail 3 hours to see Barcelona from the sea.
- Mail boats serve almost all populated in Barcelona, and are amongst the cheapest way to reach many areas, though far from the fastest or most comfortable. The government has a mailboat schedule of mailboat routes online  which may or may not reflect reality.
- Join a Barcelona photography walk or masterclass in English with www.Meetup.com/BarcelonaPhotography
- mapadearte.com (mapadearte.com), barcelona, . Go see some of the famous or small unknown galleries or some mueseums in your neighbourhood. This website has an easy to use map with all places, their websites, openinghours or just show the places which are open per day.
- Sail on a classic yacht, . Enjoy a day trip sailing along the Barcelona coastline on a classic yacht.
Festivals and events
Barcelona hosts a number of annual fiestas, many of which are unique to Catalonia and offer an insight into its distinctive culture.
- Cavalcada de Reis. (January 5) This float parade of the Three Wise Men is majestic and held on the evening of January 5 every year. Although geared towards families and kids, the various colourful and decorative floats can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
- Sónar. A annual three-day music festival. It is described officially as a festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. Music is by far the main aspect of the festival. The festival runs for three days and nights, usually starting on a Thursday in the third week of June.
- Monegros Desert Festival The most famous and biggest one day/night electronic music festivals in Spain is in desert of Fraga 200km from Barcelona. More than 40,000 people gather every July to celebrate the electronic music with the best DJs representing styles from house, electro, minimal, techno, to drum&bass, dubstep and hiphop. 20hours nonstop, unique desert experience.
- Festes de Gràcia. The Festes de Gràcia is a Catalonian celebration, held around the 15th of August each year to commemorate the Assumption. During the week of festivities that mark one of Barcelona's most important fiestas, the city of Gràcia explodes with fun, excitement, color and fireworks. Many streets are decorated by the neighbours, live music, food in the street, and the parties continue all night.
- Festes de Sants. Similar to Gracia's event, but smaller and later on in August. If you can't go to the Gracia's, try to go to this festival instead.
- Sant Jordi. (April 23) Considered to be like Valentine's Day. People give roses and books around the streets. Traditionally men give women roses and women give men books. It is one of the most popular and interesting celebrations in Catalonia.
Casa de l'Ardiaca during Corpus
- 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 center: 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). During this time, in front of the Cathedral, Christmas objects are sold. Some places sell Christmas trees, but most of them sell elements for making the pessebres (Nativity scenes). These include small sculptures, wooden pieces and moss used to simulate grass.
- December 13th is the feast day of Santa Llucia, patron saint of fashion designers and blind people, who gather at the Santa Llucia chapel in the cathedral to pay their respects.
- Revetlla de Sant Joan. (June 23) This is the midsummer solstice celebration. It is celebrated on 23rd June every year and is signified by the fireworks (note that there are frequent and loud amateur fireworks all night long, which may make it hard to sleep) that are permanently on display during this time.
- La Mercè. (September 24): The annual festival of the City of Barcelona dating back to the 17th Century, it is an official holiday established to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. It offers a lot of activities, with the main event being the parade of gigantic papier maché figures. Also worth noting are the group of 'castellers' who compete to see who can form the highest human tower, live music events, and the Magic Fountain and Fireworks show at the base of the Montjuic hill. All the days events are accompanied by a heavy consumption of Cava, the national drink of Catalonia.
- Fira de Barcelona. There are trade events all year round  in Barcelona, including the annual Mobile World Congress which sees more than 70,000 visitors to the city.
During festivals and especially during mobile world congress which is a major trade show at the Fira, accommodation in Barcelona and especially near the Fira is much more difficult to find and more expensive than usual.
Take a walking tour
For those visitors who wish to get a real taste of Barcelona, you can join a group of English-speaking local guides for free sightseeing tours. In addition to exploring major landmarks and famous streets, you will also get stories, recommendations and tips that only a local could provide. These professional guides are passionate about their city and offer tours which are both educational and fun. These walking tours are based on a tip supported service.
- Orange Donut Tours - Free Walking Tours of the Gothic Quarter, ☎ +34 688 999 200, . Specializing in the oldest part of Barcelona, they offer highly-qualified 1.5 - 2 hour Free Walking Tours of the Gothic Quarter everyday Monday to Saturday at 11am and 3pm all year round. Reserve your spot on their website: www.OrangeDonutTours.com
- Runner Bean Tours - Barcelona Free Walking Tours, ☎ +34 636 108 776, . They offer highly recommended Free Walking Tours of Gaudí's buildings and the Gothic Quarter everyday at 11am (from October 15th to March 31st) and 11am & 4:30pm (from April 1st to October 14th). Meeting point: Plaza Real (by the water fountain). www.runnerbeantours.com.
- Barcelona Walk and See, c perú 118 ☎ +34 932 684 040, .contact: [email protected] Personalized tours to visit Barcelona. They pick you up at your hotel, airport... wherever you want. What to do in barcelona? They offer a 2 hours tour (SEE Tour) and a 4 hours tours (WALK and SEE Tour). The fastest way to discover the city. Visit the website: www.barcelonawalkandsee.com
- Travel Bound Barcelona Free Gothic Walking Tours, at Travel Bar, Carrer de la Boqueria 27 ☎ +34 933 103 747, . Discover the magic and mystery of Barcelona's famous Gothic Quarter. Free Walking Tours last about 2 hours commencing at 11am, 1pm and 3pm all year round.
- Discover Walks, 18 Carrer de Balmes ☎ +34 931 816 810, . Several tours to choose from everyday.
- 360 Running Barcelona, . Offers running tours in Barcelona and trial tours in Collserola Mountains near Barcelona. You can see sea and the mountain at the same with a 360º view. Or you can also visit the most touristic places in Barcelona as Montjuïc Mountain, Park Güell, the beaches or the Passeig de Gràcia and modernism tour.
For those wishing to make a real attempt at learning the language, there are plenty of Catalan and Spanish language schools in Barcelona.
- The University of Barcelona . Tel: +34 952 222 998. A public university with 75 undergraduate programs, 353 graduate programs and 96 doctorate programs to over 63,700 students, UB was considered to be the best University in Spain in the 2011 QS World University Rankings.
- UAB  Tel: +34 93 581 13 25. A public university mostly located in Cerdanyola del Vallès, near the city. As of 2012, it consists of 57 departments in the experimental, life, social and human sciences, spread among 13 faculties/schools. All these centers together award a total of 85 qualifications in the form of first degrees, diplomas, and engineering degrees.
- Pompeu Fabra University  Tel: +34 93 542 20 00. Founded in 1990, it is named after the Catalan philologist Pompeu Fabra and offers 19 undergraduate degrees, 37 official masters, and 9 PhD programs, as well as around 60 UPF masters. In 2010, it was awarded the distinction of International Excellence Campus by the Spanish Ministry of Education and it is widely considered to be one of the best universities in Spain.
- Abla Lenguas  Tel: +34 934 519 797,C/de Balmès 129 bis(planta principal). Spanish courses, Cursos de inglés. An effective way to learn to speak and understand foreign languages rather than just reading comprehension . Based on "one to one" teaching, so you can start any time and choose when you want your lessons, which makes its really flexible.
- Babylon Idiomas  is an award winning Spanish Language school situated in Eixample, walking distance to the central Plaza Catalunya. A range of Intensive courses are available and all are taught by native Spanish teachers.
- BCN Languages  In Barcelona: Gracia, Sants, Eixample, Sagrada Família and Palma de Mallorca.
- C-2 Barcelona . Tel: +34 932 72 16 34
- Don Quijote  You can take 4-6 hours of courses a day. All courses including beginner courses are taught entirely in Spanish.
- Idiomas 247  Tel: +34 932 314 034, email: [email protected], Gran via de les Corts Catalanes 751a. Individual lessons taught by native teachers. Learn Spanish and Catalan, and other languages such as English, French, German,Italian, Chinese or Arabic, for all levels and ages.
- Linguaschools Barcelona  organizes Spanish courses for foreigners. The school is open all year round and wheelchair accessible. Great building with a front yard. On 5 min. from Plaza Catalunya.
- Olé Languages Barcelona . Av Mistral 14-16 Local 6, Tel: +34 93 185 15 18
Most shops and shopping malls are closed on Sundays because of law restrictions, but not all. In Ciutat Vella you will find plenty of small fashion shops, souvenir shops and small supermakets open on Sundays. The souvenir shopping scattered throughout the Barri Gotic and all along La Rambla are tourist traps, none of them sell Catalan or Spanish products but the typical array of Chinese general souvenirs, they should be avoided. Moreover on the the Port Vell, right at the end of The Ramblas there is Maremagnum, a shopping mall that stays open all Sundays.
- Secondhand English books in Grácia.
- Design lovers head for Grácia.
- La Boqueria. In Ciutat Vella. Large public market with a diverse range of goods and produce. Enjoy freshly squeezed organic fruit juices for €1.5 per cup. If you go near closing time (20h, 8PM) sellers will make you a special price (2 or 3 for 2€). Closed Sundays.
- Stamps are actually sold in 'Tabacs' or tobacconists. Once you know what they look like, you'll notice them on every block or so. To post your mail, you need to find one of the yellow letter box located rather infrequently along the sidewalks.
- La Gauche Divine. in Ciutat VellaA multi-functional space that combines fashion, music, art and design.
- Camper, multiple locations, . (10AM-10PM; vacation from mid-Aug to Sep 5).
Barcelona's cuisine is inconsistent in quality, as with all highly touristic cities, but good food does exist at reasonable prices. The golden rule of thumb applies well in Barcelona; to save money and get better food, look for places off the beaten track by fellow travellers and seek out cafes and restaurants where the locals frequent. A good idea is to avoid restaurants with touts outside.
Where to eat during siesta
Majority of restaurants and cafes are closed between 4PM and 8PM for migdiada. If you failed to plan for that, here are some places you can eat during this period:
- tapas in bars (not too healthy nor cheap to substitute a full meal)
- international chains
- selected restaurants who are flexible enough to cater for tourists all day long: Origen 99.9%, Udon, Vegetalia.
Set menus (menú del dia) Most restaurants (and some bars) offer a menú del dia (menu of the day), which usually means a simple and unpretentious two course meal (one salad, main dish and a drink; plus a dessert sometimes), 3 or 4 options each, with a drink and a dessert, for €8 to €15-20, depending on a restaurant. Keep in mind these are not going to be huge portions. Typically you will get all of the items listed, but they will be one or two mouthfuls at most (i.e., all of the food will fit on one standard sized plate). During the week, some smart restaurants offer lunch specials from 2PM to 4PM. The savvy traveler will try the hip places for a fraction of the price during the day.
If you're looking for a place where everyone can choose their own meal, ask for restaurants that serve platos combinados, which is the closest thing to an American/Northern European meal.
Smoking: Is not permitted in restaurants anymore.
A selection of butiffara, beans, and another meat from a typical Catalan country meal
You can get food from any part of the world in Barcelona, but make sure you try some Catalan food.
See Catalan cuisine section in the Catalonia article.
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).
A treat to try that no travel guide mentions is waffles sold at street stands. They will tempt you with their mouth watering smell and taste.
Even though tapas restaurants are now all over the city, tapas itself originated in Andalusia in the south of Spain and is NOT native to Catalan cuisine. Catalans generally eat three course meals (appetizer, main dish and dessert) and would more likely go for a pre-dinner drink and pintxos (Basque counterpart for tapas) at a Basque taverna than for a meal consisting entirely of the new trend in tapas-only dining. As you travel to smaller towns in Catalonia outside of Barcelona, it is less likely that you will find tapas and more likely to see restaurants serving traditional Catalan food in three courses.
Areas to eat
Depending on where you are in the city, there may be restaurants galore, or none at all. The following areas tend to be restaurant "hubs", with a large variety of restaurants to choose from:
- Barceloneta: A popular quarter for locals, 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 it is made using squid ink. It's a very good place to eat tapas as well.
- Eixample Esquerra (between Gran Via and Mallorca)
- Barri Gòtic (especially for tapas)
- "El Born" (next to Barri Gòtic)
Around Plaça Catalunya there are dozens of restaurants serving excellent tapas.
For budget eating you may choose "menu del dia" in small bars on the Avinguda del Parallel for €9-€11 per person. Be aware that sometimes the menu and the staff are only in Spanish.
The large cafes that line the Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla Catalunya, just north of the Plaça Catalunya, offer a variety of acceptable tapas. This part of the town is quite touristy and a bit expensive.
€10 is the lowest price for a standard menu del dia; for less it can be only canteen or budget-style eating--or fast food.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
|| Up to €10
|| €10 - €25
|| €25 and up
In several supermarkets you can find a wide stall with a great selection of ready-to-eat dishes. You can get a two-course lunch for less than €5.
- Kebap: There is no shortage of Durum or Shawarma stands in Barcelona, offering tasty beef or chicken and salad in toasted flatbread for around €3.50. Gyro is the Greek name and version of the Turkish doner-kebab and it is delicious! You could live on these things for a week!
Barcelona Wok - Comte d'Urgell 46 - 48. €9 per head all you can eat - great sea food.
- Also you can consider the Asiatic offer, with a lot of Chinese, Japanese and Indian restaurants.
- Comer y no Bombas (location variable) shares free vegan food.
- Maoz  offers excellent vegan falafel (including unlimited salad) for around €4. There are several around Barcelona including one on 95, La Rambla, about 10 minutes walk from Pl Catalunya.
- Juicy Jones c/ Cardenal Casañas (just off La Rambla) vegan restaurant & juice bar. Nice big meals and the best salads in Barcelona. Average price around 6€.
- More organic restaurants Check out the independent Bio Barcelona site  for more organic options.
Traditional Catalan cuisine
- El Glop . Three locations, in Eixample and Gràcia. Excellent Catalan meals. 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.
- Origen 99.9%, Several locations, ([email protected]), . 12:30PM-1AM Mon-Sun (). Eco-friendly chain of Catalonian-cuisine restaurants; organic only in some of products. Good choice of specialty liquors. Two tapas tasting menus (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) at €20. main courses: fish €5.5-6; meat: 5.85.
- Les Quinze Nuits, Plaza Real 6, ☎ 93 317 30 75. Good typical paella in a beautiful location, but below average service. 
- Udon, Four locations, . A chain of inexpensive noodle restaurants inspired by a Japanese chain Udon Ya, serving tasty Japanese cuisine. No reservations.
EatWith, Carrer Ausias Marc, 3, Barcelona, ([email protected]), . EatWith is a new web platform that offers authentic home-cooked meals in the homes of locals in Barcelona. Prices vary from $29 to $60+ for lunches, brunches and dinners at the homes of locals with other international guests.
Try a "café con hielo" an espresso with a drop of milk served with a glass of ice cubes on the side and any local 'cafeteria'
- Chupitos, are located in several locations through out the city, including one in Barceloneta. Chupitos is Spanish for "shots" and offers hundreds of unique shots including the "Harry Potter" (a shot that sparks as cinnamon is sprinkled over it), and "Monica Lewinsky" (a variety of flaming shots) amongst others. As much a show as it is a place to get a drink, it's a fun night out.
- Connect Club Discount Card, Pl. Urquinaona 11, ☎ +34 93 317 0474 ([email protected]), . The Connect Club Discount Card is a possibility to have an affordable stay in Barcelona. The discount card offers significant discounts and special privileges for nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. It costs only €18 and is valid for a whole year.
- Barcelona Bar Crawl, Cantina Pepino 44 nou de la rambla, . meet at 10pm. Barcelona pub crawl - includes 4 bars and a club - solid group. EUR 15.
Barcelona Accommodation Statistics
- 3 star and below price range: $35 - $295
- 4 star price range: $68 - $552
- 5 star price range: $133 - $412
Price in US Dollars.
Barcelona offers a great arrangement of accommodations, from cheap, decent apartments, hostels and guest-houses to five-star hotels.
See the district articles: Ciutat Vella (Gothic Quarter), Eixample, Gràcia, Sants-Montjuïc and Barceloneta for detailed listings of hotels, hostels and pensions, hostels and apartments.
Telephone and mobile services
There is a free internet service provided by the city council. . The password is "Barcelona WiFi". It's slow and with time and schedule limitation.
Prepaid portable WiFi Hot spot service is now available in Barcelona, and whole Spain (provided by local tripNETer) which allows the connection to any WiFi device: Smart-phones, Tablets, PCs…
Barcelona is Europe's pickpocketing capital. Never keep your wallet, cash or important documents in trouser pockets or in bag pockets: a money belt is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent being robbed. As always, be alert in crowded places, such as public transport, train and bus stations, La Rambla and Raval. People may approach you asking for change, or to change money. Just ignore them. If you are asked to change money, then official-looking police may approach you afterwards to 'check' your wallet for ID, etc. These are not police, so be at your most vigilant or you might find they have taken a few cards or cash upon returning your wallet.
Pickpockets use the football trick as the local specialty. At certain tourist hotspots, there are people who will try to show you a 'magic trick'. This involves tying a piece of string around your finger. While you are distracted (and your arm is effectively disabled), an accomplice will pickpocket you. It is also possible that criminals will pose as tourists and ask directions to approach their victims. Keep your distance and be careful in tourist places.
The subway is a hotbed for pickpocketing activity, which can range from simple opportunistic thefts to coordinated attacks. Be especially wary on the subway platforms at Sants train station and Sagrada Família. A group of men will come out of seemingly nowhere while you attempt to enter a subway car and block your entrance and exit in a coordinated manner, effectively pinning you against the doors while they close. They will act as if the car is just crowded and they are trying to get on as well, but, in reality, they have already gone through your pockets. Once they take stuff, they quickly return to the platform and walk off calmly while you are trapped in the departing subway as they make sure they exit just before the doors cannot be reopened. Violence in these situations is rare, and in most cases the goal of the thieves is to rob you undetected.
Stay vigilant: do not leave anything in a back trouser pocket (except maybe a map of the city). Hold on to your bag or purse at all times. Do not leave anything unattended while you sit in a cafe or restaurant. Traveling with another person or persons is a good practice. Have the others look out. The impression that you are paying attention is enough to deter most thieves. This makes someone else an easier target than yourself.
Scams are incredibly common, especially in very touristy areas. The number one thing to remember about a scam is that you should never speak with someone you don't know who walks up to you in a crowded area. Do not sign their petition, give them directions, or help them with their problem. Being rude is actually your best defense against scams. You can't be tricked if they don't have time to speak with you.
A common scam in Barcelona involves fake police officers, usually claiming to be "undercover" who will ask to see your passport or identification, then take your belongings when they can and run away. Overall various scams happen in the city which seems always preformed by a group of professional scam artists. When it happens, it's pretty ok to just walk away instead of start any sort of conversations with them. Another trick is that one seemingly confused person will ask you for directions, diverting your attention and then suddenly fake police will appear asking for your ID. These are organized scams to steal things from you. If such incident happens, follow the advice above and just walk away, without listening to any of their conversation or speaking to them. Stay alert, especially in busy tourist areas near the Sants station and Plaça d'Espanya.
Another popular scam happens in the metro. A group of scammers (often middle-aged women) will surround a tourist, frantically asking for directions. Most tourists wont know what to say while one of the scammers empties their pockets. They will try to confuse the tourist while the metro stays in the platform, and will get out just before the doors are closed. When you realize you've been scammed, the train will have already left and they will be safely outside with your belongings.
The bird droppings scam is also common. One or more accomplices will secretly spray or throw a smelly liquid on you. When you look up thinking a passing bird has pooped on you, they will run up to you and tell you that they saw a bird poop on you. They will offer to help you clean up, and while you are cleaning they will go through your pockets and any bags you have set down. It is wise to beware of anyone who is attempting to touch a complete stranger.
A version of Three Card Monte is one of many common scams played on Las Ramblas. There are also people holding petitions to install a wheelchair lift in locations with a lot of stairs (or any other thing, usually very vague, that they think you won't be in favor of, such as a petition "against drugs"). Once your signature is obtained they will then aggressively ask for a donation. Sometimes there can be crowds of children demanding money with hardly anyone else in the area, making it difficult to get away.
Choose an ATM in a quiet area to avoid being targeted. Barcelona is particularly well-equipped with ATMs. Many offer a wide range of services (withdrawals, transfers, mobile credit recharges, ticketing, etc.) and accept credit cards of various banks.
Most ATMs will not charge you a fee to withdraw funds (though your bank still may, of course). Catalunya Caixa is an exception: they will charge a several euro fee, so avoid their ATMs.
Be careful in tourist areas. A variety of methods are employed, including the No Change trick
Areas of caution
Women traveling alone should exercise caution while exploring the more isolated parts of Montjuïc. The city beaches, particularly the ones adjoining Barceloneta, have proven to be quite lucrative for bag snatchers. Anything that one would rather not lose is best left, locked, in one's hostel or hotel.
Men traveling alone should expect the prostitutes on Las Ramblas in the early hours to be very aggressive and in league with pickpockets and robbers.
Also, people need to be careful when leaving the bars of the Olympic Port late as there are many pickpockets around.
Women should be wary of wearing exposed jewellery such as gold chains and necklaces. People walking down a street may be attacked from behind by a thief who may grab the necklace and try to rip it off the woman's neck before quickly running away, often down a convenient side street. This can even happen in daylight hours and in the full sight of others on the street.
In the event of such a robbery, people will need to find the local police station to report the incident, especially if a travel insurance claim is going to be made.
Parts of Barcelona are covered by closed circuit TV surveillance, but only the more popular spots.
Tourist drivers may attract special attention, such as Red light bag snatch or Flat tire scams
If you need to report a crime (for example, to claim on travel insurance), be prepared for the reality that in the downtown police station, officers may not speak English, despite that fact the official theft report form is in both English and Spanish. The police station most often used to report theft is the one underneath Plaça Catalunya beside metro station, they have got translators for English, French, etc.
EU citizens can get free or reduced cost medical treatment on presentation of an EHIC card and passport.
- Hospital Clinic I Provincial De Barcelona, C/ Villarroel 170 (Metro Stn Hospital Clinic (Line 5)), ☎ +34 932 275 400.
- Abaden Dentistas Dental Clínic Abaden Dentistas . Dental Clínic in Barcelona
Day trips from Barcelona include:
- Figueres - Home of the most impressive Salvador Dalí 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. 30 miles from Barcelona.
- Sitges - A traditional beach side destination for the locals. Full of fashion shops open on Sundays. Is a popular gay destination too.
- Girona - A quiet town with an ancient Jewish section, narrow streets, imposing walls and plenty of cafes. See directions to the north airport above.
- Pyrenees - A mountain range around 150 km north from the city.
- Sant Cugat del Valles - Has one of the most interesting Romanesque cloisters in Catalunya, with many interesting carvings. The town itself is full of expensive vilas.
- Montseny - UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 40 km northeast of Barcelona. Go there by car or bus/train
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