Barcelona City Guide
The vivacious Spanish city of Barcelona that was immortalized forever in Woody Allen’s 2008, hit movie Vicky Christina Barcelona is a truly magnificent destination and a year round tourist magnet. Barcelona, which is located in the autonomous Spanish community of Catalonia, is largely regarded as a gateway to the famed Spanish coastal region of Costa Brava.
It is estimated that five million people reside in Barcelona proper and another five million visit this exciting city every year making it the fourth most visited city in Europe. If you have never visited Barcelona but have always wanted to visit the city famously associated with legends like Antonio Gaudi and the Barcelona Football Club, then you should perhaps consider taking advantage of the various Barcelona hotel deals and cheap air flights that we at Fare Buzz perennially have to offer.
Where to stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is home to nearly 90,000 diverse hotels but since the city receives a constant influx of year round visitors, it is often a struggle to get a hotel room in the city. However, if you plan to do your hotel bookings through Fare Buzz, you needn’t worry for we can secure cheap air tickets as well cheap hotel rooms for your visit to Barcelona whenever you decide to make your trip.
Ciutat Vella (Barri Gòtic, El Raval & La Ribera--The Ciutat Vella (Old City)
The old city of Barcelona which encompasses historic neighborhoods like the Barri Gòti, El Raval, El Born and La Ribera is the heart and soul of Barcelona. The area is home to several landmarks like Les Ramblas, Passeig Nacional, Plaça de Sant Jaume and more.
Ciutat Vella also hosts several discount hotels and many budget accommodation options and is best suited for those visitors who want stay in the midst of all the action but also need cheap hotel rates for their stay in Barcelona.
This neighborhood offers modern and somewhat expensive hotels, wide avenues, excellent restaurants, 19th century moderniste architecture and designer stores galore. So if you have a passion of any of these then L’Eixample is where you should base yourself for your visit to Barcelona.
Sants and Plaça Espanya
These Barcelona neighborhoods are home many business hotels and are convenient for MICE events as these areas contain the FIRA de Barcelona ( the trade fair and exhibition grounds of Plaça Espanya) and the World Trade Center which is located at the bottom of Paral.lel. Moreover these neighborhoods are within close reach of the Barcelona airport which is easily accessible via a twenty minute taxi ride. Given all these business-centric conveniences, these neighborhoods are largely favored by business travelers.
The Barcelona seafront is increasingly becoming popular with hotel developers and now hosts several upscale hotels. These seaside hotel properties are popular with visitors who like to be based far from the tourist hordes during their vacations in Barcelona.
Depending on your individual tastes and preferences, Fare Buzz can locate suitable hotel rooms at the best hotel prices for your vacation in this exciting Catalan city.
Places to see in Barcelona
Barcelona is almost always associated with the world renowned, rather fanciful and outlandish creations of its native son, the world famous architect: Antonio Gaudi. Several weird and wonderful Gaudi creations dot Barcelona’s cityscape and provide great sight-seeing opportunities.
La Sagrada Familia
The magnificent unfinished cathedral of Sagrada Familia is one of Antonio Gaudi’s most famous works located in Barcelona. Work on this imposing structure began in April 1882 and it continues until today. The work is being completed according to the guidelines laid down by this great architect. The Sagrada Familia is a huge tourist attraction, which has been funded entirely from donations. Gothic towers, stone reliefs and figures are all a part of this cathedral, which is expected to be completed in the next twenty years. 22 varieties of stones have been used until date for the construction of this famous structure.
The Parc Guell
The Parc Guell is located on Camel Hill and is filled with Gaudi’s whimsical works like flights of stairs, columns, a plaza that affords great views of the city and a pink colored house. The last mentioned attraction, la Torre Rosa, which was once occupied by Gaudi and his niece and is today a museum housing Gaudi-designed furniture and other artifacts.
Barcelona’s famed Las Ramblas is a promenade that extends from within the Barcelona port at Placa Catalunya to Port Vell and is filled with lively restaurants, bars and shops. La Ramblas also traverses through the old Gothic quarter of Barcelona, the Barri Gòtic. The Barri Gòtic was once a fortified Roman settlement, which today is a maze of narrow streets that has within its boundaries several attractions like the magnificent Cathedral le Seu.
Montjuic and Tibidabo
To get a bird’s eye view of the city, you may also want to head out to the two hills that overlook Barcelona; namely Montjuic which overlooks the city center and Tibidabo; which is located four miles to the northwest of the city. Both these elevations are filled with an assortment of attractions like the Joan Miro museum and the National Art Museum of Catalonia, both of which are located on Montjuic and the Parc D’Attraccions (an amusement park) and the Torre de Collserola (a telecommunications tower with an observation deck); which are located on Tibidabo, accessible by funicular.
Barcelona offers a plethora of attractions for culture loving tourists as it is equipped with various museums like Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, which has displays of the subterranean Roman settlement of Barcino, the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), which is housed in a Richard Meir designed building and has displays of numerous magnificent 20th century contemporary works, the Museo Picasso, which has exhibits of the artist’s early works and the FC Barcelona Museum and Stadium, which chronicles the history and achievements of one of Europe’s most beloved soccer clubs, FC Barcelona affectionately referred to by its of legions its fans as ‘Barca’.
Best time to visit Barcelona
The port city of Barcelona is blessed with a year round Mediterranean climate that features mild humid winters and warm dry summers. The city is usually inundated with tourists in the blazing hot summer months of July and August when daytime temperature range from 25 to 31 °C (77 to 88 °F) during the day to about 20 °C (68 °F) at night.
However, if you want to avoid long queues at Barcelona’s many museums and other attractions, you should try and book a vacation to Barcelona before the crowds arrive in late May or early June or then towards mid- September when the city celebrates its most popular festival, the Festes de la Mercè which features the immensely popular parade of the Gegants (giants) and the fire runs or Correfocs.
In fact Barcelona like various other cities in Spain has a yearlong event calendar that is filled with feasts and festivals. If you wish to experience the true character of this vibrant city, you should try and coincide your visit to Barcelona with a prominent Catalan festival like the Dia de Sant Joan( the annual feast which is celebrated in honor of Saint John in mid- June) or the Fira de Santa Llucia which is the annual Christmas fair of Barcelona.
Getting around in Barcelona
Barcelona is served by its El Prat de Llobregat Airport (BCN), which is located seven miles (12km) to the southwest of the city center. The Barcelona airport welcomes a whole host of global full service and European low cost carriers, which make getting to Barcelona infinitely easy. We at Fare Buzz offer numerous cheap flight deals to Barcelona all year long. We even have last minute flights covered should you decide on a spur of the moment visit to Barcelona.
Barcelona has a well developed and efficient public transport system made up of metro, buses, trains, funiculars and cable cars. The best way for you to access Barcelona’s public transport is by investing in a Barcelona City Card that offers free travel on public transport as well as discounts on various popular Barcelona attractions.
If you are comfortable with driving in Europe, you can even consider a renting a car for the duration of your stay in Barcelona. Fare Buzz offers a good selection of affordable car rentals for Barcelona, which can be booked at the very same time that you make your hotel and flight bookings for your visit to the invigorating Catalan city.
Where to shop in Barcelona
Barcelona with its abundant shopping options is a shopper’s paradise. The Paseo de Gracia (Passeig de Gracia) is Barcelona’s equivalent of Madison Avenue, for this wide avenue which stretches from Plaza Catalunya to Metro Diagonal, hosts several outposts of the world’s most luxurious brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Desigual and so forth.
For more reasonable shopping options in the city center, head to the Portal de L’Angel, a retail strip extending from the Barcelona’s famed Corte Ingles department store in Plaza Catalunya to the cathedral. The street is lined with more affordable brands like Massimo Dutti, H&M, Zara, Mango and many more. More on trend apparel and lifestyle finds are to be found in Barcelona neighborhoods, like El Borne and Gracia. For vintage wares try stores located within El Raval neighborhood, home to the famous Lailo vintage store and many others.
If big malls and department stores are more suited to your shopping pursuits, then you will be happy with Barcelona’s offerings in the form of the expansive Diagonal Mar and L’Illa shopping centers and the gargantuan El Corte Ingles department store, which also hosts a supermarket and is situated in Plaza Catalunya.
For more affordable finds and budget shopping, try locales like La Roca Village, a designer goods outlet village located on the outskirts of the city, which hosts a multitude of stores offering brand name products at discounts up to 60%. A direct bus service departs periodically from Fabra i Puig station in Barcelona and provides easy access to the mall for visitors. Another shopping locale worth visiting is the Encants Mercat, Barcelona’s largest open air flea market populated by several vendors of antiques, furniture, books, records and much more. The market which covers an entire block is held on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and draws tourists and locals alike.
Few points to remember while embarking on a shopping expedition in Barcelona, shop hours typically are 10 am until 9pm, though many stores do shut shop for the siesta hours from 2pm until 5pm. Additionally, visitors from outside the EU are eligible to avail of tax free shopping in Spain wherein they can get back the 18% VAT paid on bills exceeding €90 in a single spend. However, the goods have to be transported outside the EU and the tax rebate forms have to be stamped by Spanish customs after inspection on departure from Spain.
Where to eat in Barcelona
The city of Barcelona is renowned for its plentiful ‘good eats’. Innovative tapas, fresh seafood, traditional Catalan cuisine, the many restaurants that line the streets of Barcelona offer them all. Even the city’s famed fruit and vegetable market, la Boqueria is a gastronomic hotspot which hosts highly regarded restaurants and cafés, like Pinotoxo and El Quim de La Boqueria, a quintessential family owned restaurant offering an abundance of traditional eats like Boquerones(marinated anchovies), arroz negro(black rice), chipirones(squid) and so forth.
Creating a list of ‘best’ restaurants is quite difficult and a highly subjective affair for no two diners has the same taste. However based on current estimates and reviews some of most highly ranked restaurants in Barcelona currently include eateries like Tickets, Moments, Roig Robí, Dos Palillos, Arola, Passadís del Pep(fresh seafood), Can Vallès, El Noti, Can Majó, Barceloneta, Café Zurich and Alba Granados. Most of these cafes and restaurants offer traditional Catalan fare though some eateries which are headed by celebrated Catalan chef Ferran Adria’s disciples present this cuisine with a decidedly international twist.
Nightlife in Barcelona
Barcelona’s ever buzzing nightlife scene draws hordes of visitors to its shores. Whether it’s a beachfront bar, a sleek cocktail lounge, or even a thumping nightclub, Barcelona’s nightlife scene has every type of reveler covered. Moreover, the city is home to hundreds of amazing venues, though at present some of its most popular nightlife haunts include joints like Bikini(live music and a nightclub), CDLC(a nightclub with an Oriental twist), Opium Mar, Up and down Barcelona, Sutton, Sala Razzmataz(live music and more), Sala Apollo(Indie music space), and Jamboree(a popular jazz bar).