Barcelona, located on the Mediterranean coast in Spain, is a cosmopolitan and lively city, bustling with life, architecture, shopping and beautiful beaches. Barcelona as a holiday destination offers something for everyone - from a Mediterranean climate, to good food, shopping and also various interesting places to visit.
Before you get there
Spanish is the official language. English is also widely understood. Catalan, Galician and Basque are also spoken in the relevant areas.
Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens require a passport valid for at least period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to three months. Those travelling to Spain for touristic purposes need to apply for a 'Carta de Invitacion' through a police station.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must hold a passport, but no visa is required for a maximum stay of three months for those holding a passport endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen, or British Subject. Other passport holders require a visa.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for at least period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to three months. Those travelling to Spain for touristic purposes need to apply for a 'Carta de Invitacion' through a police station.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require a passport valid for at least period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to three months. Those travelling to Spain for touristic purposes need to apply for a 'Carta de Invitacion' through a police station.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans should apply in advance for a Schengen visa to enter Spain. Passports should be valid for at least three months beyond expiry date of visa. Those travelling to Spain for touristic purposes need to apply for a 'Carta de Invitacion' through a police station.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the period of intended stay, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to three months. Those travelling to Spain for touristic purposes need to apply for a 'Carta de Invitacion' through a police station.
Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. Non-EU nationals must hold a return or onward ticket, all necessary documents for onward travel and sufficient funds.
New Year's Day, Epiphany (6 Jan), Maundy Thursday (Mar/Apr), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labour Day (1 May), Autonomous Community Day (2 May), San Isidro (15 May), San Antonio (13 Jun), Assumption Day (15 Aug), National Holiday (12 Oct), All Saints' Day (1 Nov), Feast of the Almudena Virgin (9 Nov), Constitution Day (6 Dec), Immaculate Conception (8 Dec), Christmas Day.
Barcelona has a typical Mediterranean climate with very hot, long summers and mild winters. Sea breezes moderate the summer heat and high humidity. Rain falls in the winter months, which are not very cold. Between September and October sudden brief thunderstorms are common in Barcelona. The best months to travel to Barcelona are between June and September, although those who find the heat and crowds daunting should avoid mid-summer (August).
Electrical current is 220 or 225 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
The international access code for Spain is +34. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, (0)93 for Barcelona.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change and major hotels, although banks give the best rates. ATMs are also widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money. All major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops.
GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
Getting Around – Transport
El Prat Barcelona Airport (BCN) - The airport is located seven miles (12km) southwest of central Barcelona.
Barcelona has an excellent transport system, which includes the metro, buses, trains, funiculars and cablecars. Tickets for all of these (except night buses) are transferable across the system. There are a number of economical tickets available, including the T-10 ticket, which is valid for 10 journeys, as well as three to five-day passes. One can also purchase the Barcelona Card, which combines transport tickets with discounts on selected tourist sights, shops, entertainment and restaurants.
Metro - The Metro is the fastest and most efficient way to get around the city.
Foot - The best way to explore the winding streets and narrow alleyways of the Gothic Quarter, El Raval and La Ribera in the Ciutat Vella is on foot. One can take a stroll along the busy pedestrianised Las Ramblas to see the city's shoppers and entertainers, or else enjoy a stroll along the promenade along Barcelona's beaches.
Bus - The main hub of Barcelona's bus network is on the Plaça de Catalunya. The bus network is extensive and easy to master. The regular service runs from 5.30am-11pm, while night buses operate from 11pm-4am, after the metro shuts down. The hop-on hop-off Bus Turistic links all main sights and tourist destinations.
Taxi - Yellow-and-black taxis are found along Barcelona's streets and fares are reasonable. Hail them in the street if their green light is on, or wait at one of the many ranks. During summer taxis are plentiful and inexpensive and are a good option especially late at night.
Funicular - The funicular begins at the Parallel metro station, and you can see Barcelona beneath you as you rise above the city in the Montjuïc funicular (lines 2 and 3).
Tram - The new tram system is a fast and scenic way of seeing the city, the most convenient route for most visitors running between Forum and Diagonal.
Transport Tips - You can save on public transport by investing in a one-, three- or five-day travel card, available from metro stations and valid for all TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona) bus and metro routes. The T-10 ticket is a cost effective way of using public transport in Barcelona.
La Sagrada Família
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
FC Barcelona Museum and Stadium
Joan Miró Foundation
Museum of Contemporary Art
The main shopping area in Barcelona is the popular Las Ramblas, which covers a three mile (5km) shopping area, from Las Ramblas through Placa de Catalunya along Passeig de Gràcia and up Avenue Diagonal. Most of it is pedestrianised and thus it is pleasant to walk this street, which is lined with shops on both sides. several big names such as Giorgio Armani, Burberry and Bally are represented in exclusive stores in Barcelona, and there are also local Spanish fashion stores like Zara, Mango and Adolfo Dominguez.
A visit to La Boqueria, which is a market crammed with fresh produce every day, is a must (Mon-Sat 8am-8.30pm).
The Tomb bus is a service specifically tailored for shoppers in the city, covering all the major retail centres, it departs every seven minutes from Catalonia Square and makes 28 stops up until Placa Pius XII.
Most of Barcelona's shops close for lunch between 1pm and 4pm. The big department stores and malls, however, normally open from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday.
Food and Drink
Barcelona's restaurants specialise in Catalan cuisine. The pa amb tomàquet, bread smeared in tomato and seasoned with olive oil and salt, is a signature Catalonian delicacy served with every meal in most restaurants. Tapas, which are nowadays popular worldwide, originated in Spain and are a favourite restaurants in Barcelona.
Barcelona restaurants open around 8am and typically remain open until midnight. Supper hours are very late with most residents opting to dine between 9pm and 10pm.
Considering Barcelona's climate, alfresco dining is very popular. During the Summer, bars open along the beaches in Barcelona, and these are popular with the locals and tourists alike. Popular spots for nightlife are the Las Ramblas and Barri Gòtic. Here one finds a great selection of bars and clubs. Port Olimpic has plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants. One can also enjoy a stroll along the promenade, which is bustling with life all day long.
Tossa de Mar
Barcelona Emergency Numbers