The most impressive and interesting city in Spain, unsurprisingly Barcelona, is the most common destination for first-time visitors to Spain. Art nouveau, Gothic and modernist architecture of the fantastical kind combine to make Barcelona one of the world’s most fascinating places to experience.
Like Madrid, Barcelona is a useful base for day trips. The stunning scenery of the Costas, the surreal world of Dali in Figueres, and intriguing towns such as Montserrat and Tarragona, are all easily visited on day trips from Barcelona.
Barcelona is the proud capital of the Catalan region (Catalunya), where Catalan is spoken as well as Spanish (but sometimes only Catalan!) Wealthy and ferociously independent, its old quarter and its museums dedicated to Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro are must-see destinations.
The name Barcelona comes from the Roman settlement Barcino, which was founded in the 2nd century BC. In Catalan it means ‘new town.’
The sheer number of Antoni Gaudi buildings has come to define the unique nature of Barcelona. In all seven of his Barcelona buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one, the astonishing Sagrada Familia, is one of the most visited monuments in the world.
Perhaps Barcelona’s best know site, Sagrada Familia is the most famous church in the world. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí and built between 1882 and 1926. It is located in the Eixample district of the city.
Accommodation in Barcelona is for all budgets and is as quirky as the city itself! The loveliest accommodations are where powers have lovingly restored centuries-old buildings in light and airy (air-conditioned!) stays in central locations.
The accommodation prices are very seasonal – if it’s peak season or a major event, there isn’t anything called ‘cheap’ outside of a hostel, so the trick is, like all wonderful summer European destinations – book six months ahead!
The city of Barcelona is a major transport hub for visitors to Spain with high-speed trains and domestic flights across the country. It has excellent public transport, with an extensive metro system, buses, trams, and taxis.
The city center is compact and easy to navigate on foot. There are also plenty of cycle paths and you can hire bicycles from many locations.
Getting around Barcelona is easy. There are two main ways to get around Barcelona: by bus or by metro. Buses run frequently throughout the day, while the metro runs every few minutes during peak hours (6 am-11 pm) and less often at other times.
Tickets cost €1.50 per journey. A single ticket valid for one-hour costs €4.20. You can buy tickets from machines near the entrance to each station.
There are several different types of bus routes within the city. Some go straight through the city center, while others serve outlying areas such as El Prat de Llobregat, Sant Cugat del Vallès, and Badalona.
El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto is 15 km outside the city center and within 120 km there is also Girona and Reus. These regional airports are simple to get to and from using public transport.
The average time travelers spend in Barcelona is between one and five days, and you will find the best Barcelona itineraries here.
Where to go next
Continue your holiday travels in Spain. After Barcelona, the most popular destinations are Madrid, Granada, and Córdoba.