Barcelona Travel Guide

Introduction to Barcelona

Barcelona is the Catalan capital and home to some of the world's most cryptic architecture and pieces of art that line the city streets. Catalan culture is explored through the museums, historic monuments, food and the arts. Each section of Barcelona boasts something a little different, from the architecture of the Gothic Quarter to the sandy beaches of Barceloneta, this is a city that offers it all.

Picasso Museum

Picasso Museum

Located in five medieval palaces in La Ribera, the Picasso Museum has the largest collection of Picasso works in the world, gifted by Picasso to the museum founder.

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter

The city's oldest neighbourbood, The Gothic Quarter is known for its spectacular Gothic architecture across cathedrals, churches and squares amongst the maze of narrow streets.

La Rambla

La Rambla

The colourful boulevard of La Rambla is lined with cafes, flower stalls, kiosks, unique street artists, the La Boqueria market and historic monuments such as the Font de Canaletes.

Other things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is ripe with activities and adventures all around the city. Its ground-breaking art and architecture is loaded with surreal spectacles, for example the seven of the works of Anton Gaudi are a fundamental part of the Barcelona landscape. You can take a walking tour around the city to see all the works. These are Park Guell; Palau Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicen, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and the crypt of the Church at Colonia Guell.

Parc de Montjuïc has been the focus of many key Barcelona events such as the 1992 Olympics and spreads over a hill concealing a myriad of green space, including the Historic Botanical Gardens. Montjuïc is home to many of Barcelona's attractions; Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) Barcelona's museum of visual arts, Montjuïc Castle a former prison, now a military museum, the CaixaForum which houses a contemporary art exhibitions, Poble Espanyol which is a purpose-built village of 117 buildings representing the variety of architectural styles in Spain, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, Olympic and Sports Museum, the Joan Miro Foundation and The Font Màgica which is a daily evening fountain show coordinated to music and lights are all located on the hilltop amongst gardens, restaurants and cafes which offer spectacular views across Barcelona.

Other museums dotted around the city of Barcelona include the Museum d' Història de Catalunya (Museum of Catalan History), Museu Maritim (Maritime Museum), and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

Barcelona has a vibrant night-life, with open air concerts and festivals, live music, Salsa shows, small late-night tapas bars, jazz lounges and clubs, all of which have led to its reputation of being a party city. Some of the best clubs are La Terrazza, and La Paloma which has a vintage modernist ballroom turn dance-floor that was originally built in 1903- known as Barcelona's most spectacular club.

There's lots in Barcelona to appeal to children of all ages: the Barcelona Aquarium holds over 400 species, the Barcelona Zoo in Parc de la Ciutadella has over 4000 animals and the Tibidabo Theme Park has a number of rides which overlook the city. If you don't mind travelling, then PortAventura, Spain's biggest theme park is located an hour outside of Barcelona.

For something a little different head to Torrelles de Llobregat, 17km from Barcelona to the Catalyuna en Minatura. This displays all the key Barcelona monuments including those created by Gaudi on a 1:25 scale.

Eating and drinking in Barcelona

To truly get a taste of Catalan culture sampling the cuisine is a must. Typical dishes in Barcelona include paella, clay cooked meat stews with broad beans and roasted red peppers, cannelloni, salted cod in tomato based sauces with vegetables and rice, and of course cured meats with a side of  Pa amb tomaquet. This is a simple, yet delicious crusty bread topped with garlic, tomatoes and olive oil.

When it comes to dessert, waffles and churros are a speciality with many small cafes serving freshly made Belgium style waffles topped with gelato, dulce de leche, or melted chocolate.The drink of choice for many in Barcelona is cava, a sparkling white wine which is produced in the region.

For fresh, authentic and colourful cuisine, head to some of Barcelona’s many food markets such as the well known Mercat de Boqueria just off La Rambla or the Mercat de Santa Caterina.

Barcelona climate

Barcelona has a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate which results in hot summers and mild winters, rainfall is heaviest during the autumn and winter months but you can still expect a few days of very low rainfall during the summer. Average summer temperatures are 25 °C, though July and August which are the hottest months can see temperatures reaching 32 °C. Winters are pleasant, even the coldest months have temperatures around 14 °C.

When to go to Barcelona

The peak summer months are incredibly busy, in part due to the hot temperatures. If you'd prefer an escape from the crowds and avoid the high summer temperatures then April to June and September to October can be the ideal time to go.

Flying to Barcelona

The main airport of Catalonia, and the second largest in Spain is situated 12km south-west of the centre of Barcelona - Barcelona El Prat Airport. A flight to Barcelona will take around 2-3 hours depending on where you depart from. Onward travel options from Barcelona Airport to the city centre include car hire, taxis or regular bus services.

 Barcelona Deals

Hotels in Barcelona

Car hire in Barcelona

Images by Flickr/somma1977