Catalonia's capital and Spain’s second-largest city has it all – an effortless, cool vibe, history, culture, mesmerizing architecture, one of the world's biggest football clubs, beaches, and a local population with an unquenchable thirst for a night out.
Barcelona’s reputation as a must-visit city has made it an easy European locale to access; plenty of flights arrive here daily from all over the world.
Two artists define Barcelona’s artistic scene: Picasso, who lived in the city from his teenage years to his early 20s, and Antonio Gaudi, who was the mastermind behind the stunning Sagrada Familia, which was started in 1882 and is famous for its long-unfinished state. The Picasso Museum features 3,500 of the artist's works, from sketches to paintings and collages.
The Gothic quarter has some of the best-preserved medieval streets and the area around Montjüic hill, offers spectacular panoramic views of the city.
The tree-lined Las Ramblas sweeps down from the Plaza de Catalunya to the water, a lively area of cafes, market stalls and street performers.
Barcelona is one of Spain’s major cities and a popular destination for tourists from around the world. It's one of the most economically powerful cities in the European Union and is constantly developing, with new businesses and industries flourishing.
The city has a rich history dating back to Roman times, and its cultural heritage makes it an important site for people interested in European history and architecture -- from Roman ruins and Gothic cathedrals to the masterful buildings of Antoni Gaudí. The natural landscape offers stunning sights as well, with nearby beaches perfect for soaking up the sun.
Well known for hosting the Summer Olympics in 1992, Barcelona continues to be a popular destination for competitive sports. People with an interest in arts and crafts can also enjoy a variety of trade exhibitions and artisan markets in addition to museums exhibiting classical artwork. The city also boasts a vibrant night life, with a variety of clubs, theaters and music venues.
Situated along the shores of the Mediterranean, Barcelona is warm from May through October, and cool from November through March. July and August are the hottest months with the temperatures occasionally pushing 98 F. January is the coolest month when temperatures are usually around 50 F. May and June are sunny and warm, and the heat typically starts to decrease in September.
Best Time to Fly to Barcelona
Barcelona is Spain’s most popular tourist destination, and July and August are the peak months for travelers. Many of the locals depart for the beach in August and leave the city to the visitors.
Visit in May, June or September when the weather is warm but not sizzling hot.
Between tourists and business travelers, Barcelona is busy year round, but September typically features fewer crowds, and October sees significant rainfall. January and February are fairly mild, but you’ll still want to make sure your room is heated.
Getting around Barcelona
There are several transportation options for visitors, including trains, buses and an extensive highway system. The public transportation system is extensive and includes a bus network, a metro, several tram networks and aerial cable cars. The metro has 11 lines and will take visitors nearly anywhere in the city.
Visitors who prefer to drive will find that Barcelona is well connected with neighboring areas. Three international routes cut through the city, and an extensive network of highways and smaller roads help connect major sights within the city.
Public transportation is efficient and it's a great way to get around Barcelona. Once you’re in a certain area, walking is a nice way to explore. The metro is best and buses will take you to the airport and out from the center of town.
A double-decker bus also makes stops at popular tourist destinations in the summer. Buy multiple-ride tickets to save some money. The Barcelona Card gets you discounts at various restaurants and tourist attractions. You can also rent mopeds and bicycles, or grab a taxi to get around.
Taxis are reasonably priced, but it’s always a good idea to make sure the meter is running. Note that fares are more expensive at night.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport is located 7 miles southwest of central Barcelona.
Barcelona Travel Information
- There are so many major tourist attractions in the city that you may feel like getting off the beaten track and seeing something a little different. If so, the Museu del Calcat, or shoe museum, is a perfect pick. The museum showcases the cobbler’s craft from Roman times to modern day.
- The catamaran Orsom is moored at the port and is a great way to head out to sea or to parts of Costa Brava. Jazz cruises set out in the evenings. To book, just head to the port at the bottom of Las Ramblas.
- As with most major tourist attractions, it’s best to visit the Sagrada Familia in the very early morning if you want to avoid the crowds. More than 1 million people come here every year, so unless you enjoy being jostled, arrive first thing in the morning to see it in (relative) peace and quiet.
- For a more relaxed Gaudi experience, head for the Parc Guell. Buses stop right outside, or you can take a short walk from the metro. The UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with Gaudi’s stunning sculptures, but there is plenty of room just to sit back and enjoy the views of the city, too.
- If you want to visit the beaches of Barcelona, the closest to the city center is Barceloneta. However, this is, understandably, extremely busy. A short bus ride away is Nova Icaria, near the Olympic marina, and bustling bars and restaurants. To experience the sea in a bit more solitude, take a train to the north and stop at Ocata, where you'll find a long sandy beach with plenty of space and beautiful, clean water.