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Basic information

  • Area: 101.4 km² (39.2 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +3493
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • Population (EST): 1,673,075
  • Official language: Spanish
  • Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)

Barcelona – Overview

Barcelona is Spain’s second city located in the north east of the country on the Mediterranean coast it is the capital of Catalonia and home to a population of 1.5 million. The city is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations with its mix of gothic history, beautiful city beaches and lively and entertaining nightlife.

Culture lovers feel right at home in this wonderful city with an abundance of fine museums and galleries, spectacular architecture and a full programme of theatre and music. The world famous architect Antoni Gaudí hailed from Catalonia and many parts of the city of Barcelona are a testament to his genius, from the stunning Park Güell to the buildings lining Passeig de Gràcia, Gaudí is responsible for much of the way the city looks to this day. There are several companies that offer guided walks around modernist Barcelona, taking in all of the architecture designed or inspired by the great artist.

If the hustle and bustle of the city becomes too much then Barcelona has many outdoor spaces in which to relax. The site of the 1992 Olympic Games, Montjuïc hill has many fine landscaped gardens overlooking the sea and perfect for a lazy stroll. Home of many of Barcelona’s museums and the city’s botanical gardens there is much to see in this beautiful park. If the weather is good, head to one of the city’s five beaches for sunbathing and swimming. Easily reached from the city centre by metro or bus the sandy beaches are popular with locals and visitors and there are some good bars and restaurants open late into the night if staying in the Barceloneta area.

Barcelona is a city made for shopping and there are excellent shops to be found in all of its four main districts. For high street and up-market fashion head to Plaça de Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia where many international brands can be found as well as the huge El Corte Inglés department store. The streets off La Rambla are home to small quirky boutiques where one off pieces and unusual items can be found. The district of Barri Gòtic and its narrow lanes is where old curio stores such as candle-makers and milliners are located. Many shops are closed on Sundays due to restrictions on the law so check before heading out.

Traditional Spanish fare can be found all over the city with a huge range of restaurants catering for all budgets, from eat all you want tapas to fine dining. The area around La Rambla has the highest concentration of eateries however with such high volumes of tourists the quality is not always the best. For a tastier meal try the areas of Barri Gòtic, El Raval and l’Eixample. Nightlife in Barcelona doesn’t get going until at least 10pm, but once it does the atmosphere is buzzing. Bars of all descriptions can be found at the lower end of the Barri Gòtic and El Born but for the more traditional atmospheric bars head to the cobbled streets of El Raval.