Barcelona travel guide

Planning a trip to Barcelona

Why Barcelona?

Barcelona is the capital of the proudly independent region of Catalonia, a Mediterranean city that used the 1992 Olympics to come roaring out of a Franco-induced stupor.

In the process, Barcelona has transformed itself into a vibrant new capital of European commerce and tourism.

It's also a city of the arts. Home to Gaudí's whimsical Modernisme style of Art Nouveau architecture, Barcelona is also the hometown of the Joan Miró (Salvador Dalí is also from Catalonia).

Picasso trained in Barcelona from the age of 14, and the city's Picasso Museum is the best outside Paris, offering unique insight into the earliest works of one of the 20th century's greatest artists.

So take a stroll down the shady La Rambla promenade, explore the Gothic Quarter around the cathedral, haggle over fruit at the Boquería market, and ride the funicular up to the park on Montjuïc hill, with its museums and re-created Spanish village.

Or perhaps you simply want to relax with a drink in a tapas bar. Barcelona is a great town for just hanging out‚the perfect place to schedule extra time to relax without all the usual sightseeing pressures.

Tips & Links

How long should I spend in Barcelona?

If you're just passing through, I'd give Barcelona at least two full days.

It is a lovely place to relax, however, so you might be happier spending 3-4 days.

» Barcelona itineraries

Useful links & resources

SIGHTS

Barcelona tourist info: Barcelonaturisme.com (info office), Guiadelocio.com (events mag); Catalunya.com (regional info), Spain.info

Sightseeing passes: Barcelona Card (20+ sights; transport; discounts), Museum Pass (6 sights)

Tours & activities: Viator.com, ContextTravel.com, UrbanAdventures.com, City-Discovery.com, Intrepidtravel.com, Gadventures.com

LODGING

Hotels: Booking.com, Venere.com, Hotelopia.com, Priceline.comPartner, Hotels.com

B&Bs: Airbnb.com, Booking.com, Bedandbreakfast.com, Innsite.com

Apartments: Airbnb.com, Rentalo.com, Vrbo.com, Booking.com, Venere.com, Interhomeusa.com, Homeaway.comhomeaway

Hostels & campgrounds: Hostelbookers.com, Hostelworld.com, Hostelz.com, Booking.com

TRANSPORT

Airfares: Momondo.com, AutoEurope.com, Vayama.com, Cheapflights.com, DoHop.com, CheapTickets.com, CheapOAir.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Priceline.com, Hotwire.com

Airports: Aena.es

Trains: Raileurope.com (throughout Europe), Renfe.com (within Spain), Bahn.de (throughout Europe), Seat61.com

Public transport: Barcelona Card (free transport; sightseeing); Search all public transit: mou-te.gencat.cat; Metro/Bus: Tmb.cat; Tram: Trambcn.com; Light rail: Fgc.cat; Taxi: Taxibarcelona.cat

Car rentals: Autoeurope.com, RentalCars.com, Momondo.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, Kayak.com

Get a sightseeing / transport pass

Barcelona has two types of sightseeing passes:

  • Barcelona Card: Free entry to 20 sights, unlimited rides on all public transport, and discounts (usyally 20%) at numerous other sights, activites, shops, and shows. It comes with a guidebook, and in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-day versions (~ $45–$80).
  • Barcelona Museum Pass: Free entry to seven museums; one entry each (~$40).

There's a full description of both passes here, but in brief: The only museum covered by the Museum Pass that is not also covered by the Barcelona Card is the Museu Picasso.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2013.
All information was accurate at the time.


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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.