Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, both in terms of area and population. Capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, Barcelona or Barca, is located on the north eastern part of the Mediterranean coast.
It is a calm breezy place and boasts of great art and architectural marvels. Effortlessly balancing the past with a quirky present, Barcelona is definitely the most popular travel destinations in Spain today.
Known forever as the city which produced the artistic geniuses of Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona is also famous for its many beaches, beautiful parks and gothic and medieval style architecture.
This is a city which is vibrant and bustling with life at all hours of the day or night. The various gastronomical delights available in this city are quintessentially Catalan, which makes them different from food available in other parts of Spain.
Barcelona also boasts of a pulsating and exciting nightlife. One of the liveliest cities that you will ever visit, Barcelona will ensure that you never get bored.
Plan Your Trip: Getting in and around
By plane: Barcelona is extremely well connected by both domestic and international airports. The main airport of Barcelona, El Prat, is situated around 16 km away from the city. There are three more airports, which are at located at slightly larger distances.
These are, the Girona Airport to the north, the Reus Airport to the south and the Lleida Airport which is to the west. The Girona and the Reus are around an hour away, while the Lleida Airport is approximately two hours drive.
The Barcelona-El Prat Airport has two terminals which serve a major bulk of its international air traffic. The airport is connected to the main city by an Aerobus service, as well as, by trains, buses and special night buses for those travelling on late flights.
All public transport services to and from the airport function daily and are quite frequent.
In order reach the Girona or the Reus airport, one has to take individual bus services, which leave from specific stations in the city. The Lleida Airport is connected both with trains and the buses.
One can also take a pre booked taxi service to reach the airports.
By bus: A major number of national and international buses coming into Barcelona go to the Barcelona, Nord Bus Station. Buses also leave from stations such as Rants Station.
You can reach Barcelona by bus from various parts of Spain, as well as, from other parts of North Africa and Europe.
By train: A high speed train service connects the Barcelona Sants station to Madrid and to other parts of Spain. Apart from this, Barcelona is extremely well connected to a number of important European cities, such as Paris, Rome, Milan and Zurich, to name a few.
The Sants station is considered the main terminal of the city. Most of the international trains arrive and depart from here. The other train stations include the Franca station, the Passeig de Gracia station and the Placa de Cataluniya station.
By boat: Located on the Mediterranean coast, it is no surprise that Barcelona soon developed an exquisite cruise ship harbor.
Connected with the Balearic Islands and a number of other Mediterranean islands, the Barcelona harbor is equipped with a total 9 terminals for passengers, out of which, four terminals are reserved for ferries and the remaining seven serve cruise liners.
Barcelona has an efficient network of public transport guaranteed to take you all over the city without burning a major hole in your pocket. Although it is always better to hire a car if you are a tourist, as a car offers you much more flexibility than any other mode of transport, driving in Barcelona has often been compared to hell.
The city streets are congested, parking is difficult to find, and if you do find a spot, it is ridiculously expensive. So, public transport is more feasible if you are travelling within the city limits.
Some of the means of transportation which you can use are given below.
By Metro and FGC: Barcelona has an extremely efficient network of underground railway or Metro. There are currently eight color coded Metro tracks which travel all over the city.
The Metro is the fastest way to go from one place to another in Barcelona.
Along with the metro, it also has an Urban Metropolitan Rail Network or the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat, better known by its acronym, the FGC. Run by the Government of Catalonia, this rail network has three lines, which supplements the existing Metro network. There are various types of travel cards and passes available for frequent travels, which drastically cut down the transportation cost.
By Trams: Trams in Barcelona were disbanded in the year 1971. In 2004, this fast, comfortable and ecological means of transportation was revived as an alternative to the Metro system. Currently, there are two tram lines in Barcelona which run through all the major city centers and residential zones.
By bus: A fleet of more than one thousand buses operate within the city limits of Barcelona. There are more than eighty routes connecting all the districts as well as the metropolitan area.
The buses plying in Barcelona are disabled friendly and have low floors which make it easier for old people to travel. Most bus services begin as early as 4.25 am.
The existence of an integrated fare system implies that a commuter can use the same travel cards in buses, trams, Metros and in FGC trains.
By two wheeler (cycles or motorbikes): Given the congested state of the city’s traffic, a two wheeler is often the fastest way to zip around in the city. A bicycle is a popular means of transport, for both tourists and locals.
Barcelona is an extremely bike friendly city, with clearly demarcated biker’s lanes and a lot of parks and open spaces. A motorcycle is also a fast and interesting way to tour the city.
By taxi: Barcelona has more than eleven thousand black and yellow taxis plying its streets. When a taxi is available, a green light shines on its top.
These taxis can be hailed off the road. For specific services, there is an extremely efficient telephone booking service for cabs.
For a more comprehensive tour of the city; a ho-on-hop-off bus service called the Bus Turistic is available. A day trip on this bus is advisable to discover the city better. Among tourism transportation, a ride in an old tram or Tramivia Blau is a must.
This service goes up to Tibidabo, which is a hill overlooking the entire city.
Things to see & do
Barcelona is a melting pot of various arts, cultures and people. This city offers so much variety that it is almost impossible to experience them all in one trip. However, there some sights of Barcelona which you would be a fool to miss.
First of all, a visit to the Parc Guell and the Picasso Museum should not be avoided at all costs. The Parc Guell is a serene park strewn with exquisite monuments crafted by the legendary Antoni Gaudi.
The Picasso Museum is an entire museum dedicated to the genius and the eccentricities of Pablo Picasso.
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A walk down the picturesque Les Rambles is a must. This quaint road goes into the center of the old city, or Barri Gotic. This part of Barcelona is known for its fine old churches and beautiful architecture.
Barcelona is known for the most beautiful dancing fountain show in the world. It is indeed a sin to miss the Magic Fountains of Monjuic.
For football fans no trip to Barcelona is complete without a visit to the majestic Nou Camp stadium.
One of the largest stadiums in the world and home to one of the best teams in club football, this has slowly developed into one of the must see tourist destinations of the city.
Shopping & Dining
Barcelona boasts of exquisite Catalan cuisine, which is not available in any other part of Spain. This city is well known for its tapas bars. Most restaurants serve a leisurely three course meal, usually accompanied by authentic Spanish wine.
This is one of Europe’s most fashionable cities and is also called a shopper’s paradise. One of the few cities in the world with a bus service catered exclusively for shopping enthusiasts, Barcelona is a haven for designer buyers and budget hunters alike.
Nightlife & Entertainment
Barcelona believes in partying through the night. From tiny and cozy Spanish bar to a pulsating modern discotheque, Barcelona has it all. Some of the most popular bars and pubs of the city are located on the La Rambala, which is the most happening street in town.
This boulevard sees a plethora of street entertainers, from mime artists to dancers as well as, many fun yet budget bars aimed at students and backpackers.
Post by Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an on-line and off-line digital marketing strategy that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.