Known for its historical architecture and its thriving art scene, Barcelona has long been on every traveler’s list of “must-visit” when in Europe. The capital of Catalonia and the second-largest city in Spain doesn’t only boast of its beautiful Sagrada Familia Church but also has a diverse food scene, beautiful beaches, and an exciting nightlife.
Barcelona offers everything a tourist could ask for – beautiful sights, hospitable people, and the electrifying joy that fills people when they walk into its streets. There are also wonderful museums to explore. Enjoying wonderful weather and excellent outdoor life all year round, locals and tourists alike extremely adore all that the city has to offer and the vibe is contagious.
How to Get There
Your adventure in Barcelona begins the moment you arrive at the Barcelona International Airport also known as Barcelona Airport – El Prat. Located around 14 kilometers southwest of the city centre, it is the only main international airport in Barcelona.
The journey from the airport to the city centre takes around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the transportation you’ll be using. One convenient option is to book an airport transfer in advance, which is also the fastest way to get to the city. You can choose between a bus shared transfer, a private transfer, or a business class private transfer.
If you would want to get started on the adventure, ditch the private transfers and get on the many public modes of transport available. They are all clean, reliable, and safe. The first option would be the Barcelona Airport Taxis that are readily available from the moment you land. Unlike other European countries, the taxis in Barcelona are relatively low cost. A taxi rank is available just outside of the airport.
Another option would be the Aerobus – Express Bus Service. The service runs every five to 10 minutes and you can catch it outside Terminal 1 and 2. The TMB Airport Bus Number 46 takes you to the city centre as well but it takes a longer time to get there. Another option is the Airport Night Bus: NitBusN17. This is the bus to take if you arrive in Barcelona at night.
Barcelona’s RENF train is also accessible to the airport and runs every 30 minutes to and from the airport to the city centre. Travel via train takes about 25 minutes.
Exploring Barcelona, especially the city centre, is best done on foot. If you are eager to explore beyond the city, options are readily available.
The entire fare system of Barcelona public transport system is organized by “Autoritat del Transport Metropolita”. Part of its extensive and reliable networks is the Metro, the city buses of TMB, trams, and subway rail. One ticket will give you access to everything in the Metro, but you must be extra careful when you take the Metro since it is also known for its pickpockets.
Barcelona prides in offering the cheapest cab alternatives in Europe. So, if you have the budget for it then this is a better alternative and saves you a lot of time.
Lastly, there are bikes available all over Barcelona so another option would be walking and biking. It would be a great way to exercise and see its most famous sites in all its glory.
Things to Do
Barcelona is a stunning seaside city that has the best of both worlds. It has stunning architecture, beautiful cultural attractions that are filled with history, and of course, wonderful beaches.
Expect to see wonderful masterpieces when you explore. Antoni Gaudi's Avant-Garde Surrealist buildings have made it one-of-a-kind and a treat for anyone who visits.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is one of Europe’s most unconventional churches. This basilica is the city’s most famous sight and is UNESCO-listed. It stands in the northern part of the city and easily dominates surrounding area thanks to its 18 spindly towers soaring high above the other monuments. Gaudi designed this in 1993 and was originally tasked to design a neo-Gothic church. However, instead of following the plans, he created a signature example of his famous surrealistic Art Nouveau architecture.
The work was never completed and to this day, it remains just a shell which adds even more to its charm. The church is known for its lavish exterior and expressive Nativity façade that depicts the birth of Jesus along with the Passion façade that illustrates the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Meanwhile, the Gothic Quarter has been the spiritual and secular centre of the city. Relics of ancient Roman buildings still litter the city as well as other historic monuments that tell of the Middle Ages. There is a medieval cathedral that stands on Monte Tabor, which is the highest point in the town centre. It is also in the Gothic Tower that Christopher Columbus was received by Christopher Columns after his first voyage to the New World. Its delightful narrow cobblestone streets are something to discover.
And you can’t miss going to the famous street of La Rambla, which is the heart of Barcelona’s social life. It is a broad, tree-shaded avenue that divides the Old Town into two parts. La Rambla stretches from Placa de Catalunya down to the port and features shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Other notable areas are the Palau de la Musica Catalana, Parc Guell, Casa Batllo, and Camp Nou as well as art museums that liter that city.
What to Eat
The Mediterranean life can be felt throughout Barcelona as well as its cuisine. Must-haves in Barcelona include stinky cheeses, pickled anchovies, artisan vermouth, grilled squid, blood sausages, craft beers, and artisan gin and tonic. And if you’re tummy has room to spare, don’t forget the churros, tapas, seafood paella, and cava.
Indeed, there is an overwhelming list of restaurants to try in Barcelona but a few that you should not miss include Hetta and Cloudstreet Bakery.
Hetta is the fusion of executive chef Olof Johansson and chef de cuisine Alberto Sambinelli, both carry with them Michelin pedigrees. It’s the perfect experience if you wish to try something on the luxurious side in Barcelona. Meanwhile. try yummy pastries in Cloudstreet Bakery, a small independent shop in the Eixample neighborhood that offers everything from crisp baguettes to sobrasada sausage brioche.
Take note that lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Europe and people do not eat dinner until late at night, which is around nine to 10 PM.
Barcelona offers an exciting party for just about every type of traveler. Each district offers a different party scene that one must experience at least once. A night in Barcelona often starts during dinner and often ends at a club until the wee hours of the morning. One must start with the Boadas Cocktail Bar, the Wild Rover Irish Pub, and find their way to Tarantos for a fun Flamenco night, top it off at the famed Belushi’s Bar.
Where to Stay
Barcelona is divided into many different neighborhoods, with each one offering something new to the distinct traveler. There are many hotels in Barcelona in each neighborhood ranging from expensive to budget-friendly options.
Ciutat Vella or the Gothic Quarter is in the heart of Barcelona and features La Rambla. This is perfect for families because it takes you exactly where you need to go. It showcases a nice seafront and easy access to the city’s best tourist spots. There are many family-friend hotels in Barcelona in this area.
On the other hand, L’Eixample is located just outside the original city walls and is where the best modernist architecture can be found. This neighborhood is perfect for young travelers because it gives easy access to the many clubs and bars in the city. Hotels in this area are often marked by hostels.
Lastly, Gracia may be on the outskirts of town but it provides an ideal location for those who want to spend time relaxing and meditating. This area also offers generous options for hotels in Barcelona.
• Purchase the Barcelona Flexi Card. It’s a new type of tourist discount card that enables you to choose which tickets to include on your card so you can only pay for what you need.
• No need to pack bulky clothes as the climate is warm throughout the year, even in.
• Buy tickets to popular tourist attractions ahead of time. This gives you the option to get the ticket lines and save on time.