Catalonia’s capital and the second-largest city in Spain has it all – an effortless, cool vibe, history, culture, mesmerizing architecture, exciting cuisine, 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.
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 also has a very 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.
Barcelona also has a rich history in the arts. Two artists define its scene: Pablo Picasso and the aforementioned Antoni Gaudi. Picasso lived in the city from his teenage years to his early 20’s. The Picasso Museum features 3,500 of the artist’s works, from sketches to paintings and collages. To see Gaudi’s work, look around the streets of Barcelona. He was the mastermind behind the stunning Sagrada Familia, a large Roman catholic church famous for its long-unfinished state. Another is Park Guell, a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements.
There are also many beautiful areas and neighborhoods in the city which deserve exploration. 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 La Rambla sweeps down from the Placa de Catalunya to the water, a lively area of cafes, market stalls and street performers.
Well known for hosting the Summer Olympics in 1992, Barcelona continues to be a popular destination for competitive sports, especially soccer (or futbol as its known outside of the United States). 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 and is home to some of the most enthusiastic party-goers on the planet, with a variety of clubs, theaters and music venues found all over the city. There is so much to see and do in Barcelona that you may end up sticking around longer than you planned for. No matter how long you are planning to stay in the city, here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip.
Situated along the shores of the Mediterranean, Barcelona is warm from May through October, and cool from November through April. July and August are the hottest months with the temperatures occasionally pushing into the high 90’s (Fahrenheit). January and February are the coolest months when temperatures are usually around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit). May and June are sunny and warm, and the heat typically starts to decrease in late September. Late summer and into the early fall also happens to be the rainiest months of the year.
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, and thus you may find some cheap flights during this time. Spring time (May and June) and towards the end of summer (September) is the best time of year to book your flights into Barcelona. The temperatures are less intense than the other summer months and during June there are fantastic carnivals going on that you can enjoy. Sant Joan is a great festival to attend for a night of fireworks and beach celebrations. Book your cheap flights to Barcelona early on in the year to secure the best prices.
Barcelona is busy all year-round but you can normally find the best deals on flights to Barcelona towards the middle to the end of September and during October. You will find more rain at this time of year but you will find typically fewer crowds and can save a lot of money on your flight tickets. You will probably find the cheapest flights to Barcelona between January and April, and although the temperatures are a lot cooler than the summer months, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights more as flocks of tourists won’t be at every corner.
To save more money when you purchase your flight tickets, being flexible with the day you travel and trying to book at least a few months in advance will certainly work to your advantage. Overall the best time of year to travel in regards to the cheapest flights to Barcelona is in November. However, you can also steal cheap flights to Barcelona in January, February and even at certain points in December so it’s always good to search around first. Christmas is usually more expensive than other periods of the year, but because Barcelona is so popular there are always cheap flights available.
Most flights from the United Sates will arrive at Barcelona–El Prat Airport, the city’s largest international airport. Flights coming from New York City take approximately eight hours, from Chicago take about nine and a half hours, from Houston take about eleven hours, and from Los Angeles take about twelve and a half hours. Flights that aren’t direct generally have a stopover in Madrid or London.
Many airlines fly into Barcelona, so you will have plenty of options. The three main U.S. carriers are Delta, American, and United Airlines. Spain’s main airline, Iberia Airline, also serves many cities in the U.S. Other international airlines include British Airways, Lufthansa, and Air France.
Barcelona is a southern coastal city that enjoys a subtropical climate year round, so you will want to pack plenty of lightweight, comfortable clothing. Shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses are perfect for walking around the city, and comfortable shoes are a must. Pack some light jackets and pants for when the temperature drops, or for when you are touring some of the more conservative churches. The weather remains warm through October, so pack a swimsuit if you plan on visiting the beaches. Include a nice outfit or two in your luggage for when you plan a night out at an elegant restaurant.
It normally takes around twenty to thirty minutes to travel from Barcelona-El Prat Airport to the city center, which is a little less than 10 miles away, regardless of what transport option you decide on. One of the most common ways is to catch a RENFE train from the airport to Estacio De Sants. If you purchased a T10 ticket at the airport you can change here and jump onto the metro at no extra cost to get to your final destination. If you arrive at terminal 1 then you can get a free shuttle bus to the station to catch the RENFE train. There is also the TMB airport bus (number 46). This normally takes a little longer as it makes a few stops but you can use your T10 ticket to get on and off easily. You can also arrange a minibus or a driver in advance to pick you up from the airport.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore the city, you’ll realize that 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. It’s also efficient and a great way to get around Barcelona. The metro has numerous lines and will take visitors nearly anywhere in the city. 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.
Once you’re in a certain area, walking is a nice way to explore. 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. Visitors who prefer to rent a car of their own and drive will find that Barcelona is well connected with neighboring areas. A few different international routes cut through the city, and an extensive network of highways and smaller roads help connect major sights within the city.
Colorful Barcelona is a vibrant city filled with tons of history, culture, nightlife, and art; it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular European destinations for tourists. The heart of the city is La Rambla, a broad street that stretches from Placa de Catalunya in the city’s center, to the water’s edge. Walking down this street you will find plenty of street vendors, performers, cafes, restaurants and night entertainment. Just off of La Rambla is Barri Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter. This medieval district has winding streets where you will find small cafes, shops, museums, and restaurants to explore.
Antoni Gaudi was a major architect in Barcelona, and his influence is felt throughout the city. His most famous work is Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, a basilica commissioned in 1883 and is still unfinished today. Sagrada Familia has 18 soaring towers, bright stained glass windows, and is one of the best examples of Art Nouveau architecture. Several other buildings by Gaudi are in the Eixample district. Spend the day touring the Casa Mila, resembling a stone quarry, and Casa Batllo, which resembles a fairytale castle. Another must-see site by Guadi is Park Guell, a cheerful, whimsical park filled with gardens, winding staircases, grottoes, and sculptures.
For a spectacular view of the city and Mediterranean Sea, head to Montjuic. This hilltop park features several museums, gardens, fountains, and the Tibidabo Amusement Park. The park was the site of the 1992 Olympics, and you can still see the stadium here. Be sure to wander the Poble Espanyol, a recreated village that was built for the 1929 International Exhibition.
A great day trip form Barcelona is the Salvador Dali Museum in his hometown of Figueres. Less than two hours away by high-speed train, this museum houses the largest and most diverse collection by Dali, including many pieces from his own private collection.
Barcelona is a wonderful city to visit, but you may also want to explore elsewhere. Cheapflights can help you plan a great vacation at an affordable price. Most flights will leave Barcelona-El Prat, but Girona-Costa Brava Airport will also have domestic flights to other cities in Spain. Visit https://www.cheapflights.co.uk for the top flight deals for routes out of Barcelona. Flights are available from carriers such as Iberia and other European airlines, and many more.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport is 7 miles from Barcelona, and is easily accessible by bus, train, or taxi. The Aerobus runs daily every ten to twenty minutes from Placa de Catalunya. The Aeropuerto train runs every thirty minutes from Barcelona stations Sants, Passeig de Gracia and Clot, and arrives at the airport in eighteen minutes. You will want to arrive early to avoid lines through security, especially during the peak times of July and August.
Once you choose a destination, be sure to check out our Barcelona airport guides for more detailed travel information and helpful tips.