City Breaks Barcelona
A blend of modern design and honoured traditions, Barcelona is the vibrant capital of Catalonia in northeastern Spain. Its Mediterranean sunshine, high-quality food, unique architecture and buzzing nightlife make it one of Europe’s most popular destinations. The compact Ciutat Vella (Old City) has some of Europe’s best-preserved Gothic architecture, and Antoni Gaudi’s Art Nouveau buildings have now become icons of Barcelona.
Best time to visit: late spring and early autumn.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) is 13km southwest of the city centre.
This fiercely independent city welcomes visitors to experience its friendly atmosphere, innovative Catalan seafood and the many cultural festivals held throughout the year. Explore the ancient yet well-preserved city centre. The redeveloped waterfront offers a lovely boardwalk and several public beaches. Don’t miss Catalonia’s version of paella and the local beers.
Start your city break in Barcelona with a stroll down La Rambla, passing unique shops, florists, tapas bars, historic churches and the bustling La Boqueria food market. Wander the narrow streets of the nearby Gothic Quarter, one of Europe’s best preserved Roman and medieval neighbourhoods. Sit at an outdoor café and watch the world go by.
For a brief nature break, one of the best things to do in Barcelona is visit Tibidabo Mountain. After only a 10-minute train ride from the city centre, take the funicular or a gentle hike to the top where you can see two beautiful churches, enjoy the spectacular city views or take advantage of the amusement park.
A city break in Barcelona must include the delicious Catalan cuisine. This city takes food seriously, so excellent restaurants and bars are easy to find. Tuck in to fideuas, seafood paella served with short noodles instead of rice, or escudella, a Catalan stew. Butifarra is the region’s famous spiced sausage.
One of Europe’s best party cities, Barcelona is a destination that provides every type of entertainment, from an evening in a cosy cocktail bar to a themed nightclub that’s open for dancing till the sun comes up. Summertime activities in Barcelona include open-air cinemas, rooftop DJs and beachfront bars.
Families: Take an art class in Gaudi’s trencadis technique and you’ll make your own mosaic of broken ceramic tiles to take home.
Art fans: At the Picasso Museum, view the works of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists.
Foodies: Tuck into some traditional Catalan seafood at a restaurant in the Gothic Quarter
Language: The languages spoken in Barcelona are Catalan and Spanish
Currency: The currency used in Barcelona is the Euro (€)
Local time: Barcelona is 1 hour ahead of GMT/UK time
Fly: Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) is 13km southwest of the city centre
Flight time from UK: 2 hours
Tourist information: Further Barcelona tourist information can be found at www.turismedebarcelona.eu
Visa & Health: Before your holiday to Barcelona, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain for recommendations and advice on visas and health
Temperature: Average highs of 27-28 (°C) in summer, lows of 4-6 (°C) in winter
Best time to visit: late spring and early autumn
The Mediterranean city has a mild climate year-round. July and August are the hottest months. April-May and September-October are less crowded but still warm.
By foot: The historic centre is compact and pedestrian-friendly.
By tourist bus: The Barcelona Bus Turistic has three hop-on/hop-off routes that stop at all the tourist sites.
By metro: The extensive metro system is efficient, affordable and air-conditioned.
By bicycle: There are many cycle hire companies, some of which also give bike tours in the city centre.
By scooter: Rent a scooter/moped, Vespa or even a Segway.
Party Animals: For three days (and three nights!) in June, Barcelona hosts Sónar, one of the world’s best dance music festivals. Tickets must be purchased well in advance.
Saintly celebrations: On 24 September, Barcelona honours its patron saint by staging live music concerts in the plazas, Catalan folk dancing, a parade and a fireworks display.
Nadal (Christmas): December’s festivities include the Fira de Santa Lucia, a large open-air market in the streets around the main cathedral. Handmade crafts and local Christmas decorations are on offer; nativity figurines are especially popular.
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