There is too much too see and experience! It's very difficult to advise what to prioritize, want are the “must sees”, as each one have it's own tastes, preferences, budget…
When planning your trip to Barcelona, I suggest you doing a little research at these sites:
- Barcelona City Council webpage: www.bcn.cat
You'll find there a complete guide to the city events, you can search at the "diary" . You can look for events in a given date, do specific searches, or just see the highlights.
In addition you have loads of interesting info about places, itineraries, etc in the "turisme" section.
- Another good website with tourist info: Barcelonaturisme
- TMB , Barcelona public transports services: TMB.net , there you have also links with suggestions of routes around the main sites of interest, transport cards, prices, etc.
You have several TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES: where are provided all kind of services you may need such as tourist information, maps, brochures, money exchange, gift shop, etc.
Tel. 807 117 222 (From Spain), +34 93 285 38 34 (International calls)
- Plaça de Catalunya, 17-S. Open every day of the year from 9 to 21 h. Closed on 25th December and 1st January. LOcated underground, in front of El Corte Inglés department store, near the corner of Portal de l'Angel/carrer de Fontanella
- Sants Railway Station. Plaça dels Paisos Catalans s/n. Opening hours: from Monday to Friday 8-20 h, Saturday, Sunday and holidays 8-14h, Summer, daily 8- 20 h. Closed on 1st Janary, 25th and 26th December.
- Plaça Sant Jaume. C/ Ciutat, 2. Opening hours: from Monday to Friday 9-20 h, Saturday 10- 20 h, Sunday and holidays 10-14 h.
CATALONIA TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE "PALAU ROBERT"
To get info about Catalonia, daytrips from Barcelona, local events, etc. have a look at Palau Robert webpage
Palau Robert is physically located at the top of Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, and there is the "Centre de Informacio de Catalunya". You will find a tourist office, a youth information point, exhibitions, etc.
- Tel. Tourist office: Tel. 93 238 80 91 Fax. 93 292 12 70
- Tel. Youth Information Point: Tel. 93 238 40 07
Address: Passeig de Gracia, 107. Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday 10 to 19h, Sundays and Holidays 10 to 14h.
You may like to read a fiction book happening in Barcelona before, while or after your visit... Here you have a few ideas:
- "Cathedral of the Sea" ("La Catedral del Mar") by Ildefonso Falcones. I love Historic novels, provided these are well documented. This is one I really enjoyed reading. The plot takes place in 14th century, during the construction of Santa María del Mar church. You'll follow the life of an imaginary character, Arnau Estanyol, born as servant, he managed to become a wealthy man, then... (you have to read it to know!!)
- The best novel placed in Barcelona I've read so far: "The Shadow of the Wind" ("La Sombra del Viento") by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It was a real phenomenon: the novel most sold in Spain (from a Spanish author) during two consecutive years, and well sold in other countries after translation. It is a mystery story, the action happens in Barcelona during the Franco's regime. It can be very instructive about our recent history. Most of the places that appear at the book do still exist (even there are touristy tours based on the book).
- "City of Marvels" ("La ciudad de los prodigios") by Eduardo Mendoza is quite interesting too, and it happens at the changing Barcelona at the beginning of the XX century.
- "Murder in the Central Committee" ("Asesinato en el Comite Central") by Manuel Vazquez Montalban: I don't remember much of this book as I read it too many years ago. But the adventures of the private detective Pepe Carvalho are always a pleasure to read, and you'll learn quite a lot about our eating and drinking culture!
Fondest memory: .
And a couple of classics now:
- "The Time of the Doves (Diamond's square)" ("La Plaça del Diamant") by Merce Rodoreda. To know the Barcelona during and after the Civil War. The history took place at the Gracia district, around the Plaça del Diamant (Diamond Square). This one can be a bit depressing, but really good literature.
- "The gray book" ("El Quadern Gris") by Josep Pla. Autobiographic history, from the youth years of Pla (who later became one of the best Catalan authors)
And you may like to see a film that happens in Barcelona:
"l'Auberge Espagnole" ("Una Casa de Locos", the Spanish title :) , a French film about foreign students in Barcelona. It shows quite well the authentic contemporary Barcelona. Not to be missed by anyone planning to study in Barcelona or to stay there for a while... even it's so fun that's highly reccomendable in any case.
"All about my mother" ("Todo sobre mi madre") You may love or hate Almodovar's films, but you'll see many parts of Barcelona at this film.
"The burned city" ("La ciutat cremada") Film about the events from 1899, which were later known as the "tragic week". It's difficult to imagine now, from this cosmopolitan and peaceful city, that we had such a bloody past. Really disturbing film, I'll only recommend it if you're very interested on these historic events.
It is a convenient way to make the visit easier.Barcelona card include free travel on public transport and also offers over 100 discounts at museums, theatres, shops, restaurants, nightlife and other attractions.The guide provided with the card gives information about places to visit and discounts ,a city map and a metro map.The prices varies ,depending the lenght of its validity:1-3 days.
Points of sale : tourism information offices -Pl.de Catalunya,airport (terminal A and B ),City Hall (Ciutat,2 )
In the 15th century AD, the town of Barcino was founded by the Romans. It was a prime location for trade throughout the Mediterranean, and by the 4th century, thousands of Christians and Jews had settled here. Great stone walls were built to fend off the many enemies of the Roman Empire.
Taken over by first the Visigoths, then the Moslems, Barcelona went through many stages of neglect and government rule. After Frankish control at the turn of the first millenium, the independent state of Catalonia was finally recognized.
Between 1500 and1700 Barcelona fought for its independence, but became part of Spain by 1714.
Fondest memory: Much of the original town of Barcino still exists. You can follow the ramparts, built in the 4th century, throughout the Barri Gotic. Many of the buildings standing today were built directly on top on the Roman foundations.
A close eye and attention to detail will reveal the history of this city.
There is a fascinating City History Museum at the King's Palace where yo can witness the ongoing excavation of the Roman village beneath the streets. Please see my "must-see" tip.
That really depends on three factors: how much time you've got, what you plan to do, and last but not least - your tastes and inclinations.
The area of Barrio Gotico and Las Ramblas is preferred by tourists, but I don't know anyone living in Barcelona who would want to live on Las Ramblas. Lively during the day and the center of nightlife, this neighborhood attracts tourists and pickpockets alike, so you always have to watch your belongings. In this sense, the area is dangerous, but it's highly unlikely that you'll get physically assulted here, or anywhere else in Barcelona. Having said that, I must warn you that the old town is more dirty and noisy than it is dangerous.
If you are here for just a few days and want to see as much as you can, then you should consider staying in Barrio Gotico. It would save you a lot of time on transportation. You can catch up on sleep when you get back home! :)
Barceloneta is another authentic picturesque neighborhood not far from the old town, but almost as dirty. It is close to the beach and known for seafood. If you are just two people travelling, you are most likely to find accommodation in this area because apartments here are smaller.
Fondest memory: Don't forget that Bcn is not such a big city (its fame is much bigger than its size), so what is important, in my opinion, is that the area is centric and well communicated by bus and metro to other parts of the city. Eixample, Gracia, and Vila Olimpica are such areas.
Eixample is a wider center of the city, and some parts of it are nicer than others. I like the areas of Paseo de Gracia, Sagrada Familia, and Parc de la Ciutadella.
Gracia is a popular area located above Eixample, and populated mainly with younger generation. It's relaxed atmosphere can be enjoyed on one of its many plazas with bars, restaurants and shops. Artsy and original, this neighborhood is lively but not wild.
Vila Olimpica is a posh area, located by the beach. With well-trimmed parks and recreational facilities, swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking paths, large shopping center and cinema in English, it is close to the Zoo and Barcelona Aquarium, and thus ideal for family holidays. It is an elite neighborhood with night clubs and casinos, also recommended to those who seek glamour, because that's as fancy as Barcelona gets!
There are several cinemas where one can see movies in their original language. For exemple:
- Yelmo Cineplex Icaria, in the Centre de la Vila Mall, Salvador Espriu street, n 61. Next to the beach, metro Ciutadella Vila Olimpica. I reccommend you this one, which has 15 screens, so you can choose among many more movies. Phone: 902.22.09.22 www.yelmocineplex.com
- Verdi Cinemas, at Verdi street, n 32. Metro stop Fontana. Phone: 22.214.171.124 www.cines-verdi.com
- Renoir Les Corts, Eugeni d'Ors street, n 12. Phone: 93.490.55.10
- Renoir Floridablanca, Floridablanca street n 135. Phone: 93.426.33.37
- Malda, Pi street n 5. Phone 93.317.85.29
- Filmoteca de Catalunya. Av Sarria n 33. Phone: 93.410.75.90
Normally, the cheapest day is monday.
Whether you have a late flight or you're just passing through Barcelona, you may have the need to store your luggage for a period of time. Let me make your life easier by telling you that there are two places in Barcelona where you can store your luggage.
The first is the Estacio de Nord (Bus station). The website is http://www.barcelonanord.com/default_eng.asp
This website will give you the address as well as tell you how to get there by metro.
The second place you can store luggage is the Estacio de Sants Train & Metro Station. I do not have the exact address, but it's very easy to get to as it is also a metro stop. From this train station you can also get to the airport in 1/2 hour for about 2 euros.
Romans came to this place more than 2000 years ago, and founded the city of Barcino. They chose to build the city on a sandy enclave on the northeastern Iberian coast, situated between the mouths of two rivers, Llobregat and Besós, and protected by the Collserola mountainrange.
This was a very strategic position, well communicated by land and sea, and protected by the landscape and the citywalls. Over the centuries the city grew to become the capitol of Catalunya and Spains main tradingport.
If you're planning on doing the bus tour, do it before any other tourist activity. When you give your ticket to the bus driver they give you a coupon book. This book has discounts for Sagrada familia, the zoo, etc. It's perfect for your days around the city and the savings will save up.
Also, the bus meets up in Plaza Catalunya buy Cafe Zurich. You can purchase your tickets next to Sephora. (PS. Great clothes there!)
The history of Barcelona is closely linked to that of the Catalan nation and the Catalan language. The language is an evolution of Latin, and is more similar to Provencal French than Castilian Spanish.
There are also very strong Catalan traditions, cultures and identity, making the people feel much more like Catalans than spanish.
In the 13th and 14th centuries there was a great Catalan expancion throughout the Mediterranean area. Today you can still see the traces of both Catalan commercial and military, in places like Sicily, Malta, Sardinia and even Athens.
If you get the opportunity you should go and see a bullfight. (Unless you have a problem with seeing animals hurt, like I have. I can't even go to a circus, but that's me...) In bullfights they use a special kind of bulls, Toro Bravo, that are only conserved in Spain.
Many civilizations revered to them, the bull-cultus in Creta is quite well-known, and the Bible reports on sacrifices of bulls in honour to the divine justice. Also in the religious ceremonies of Iberian tribes living in Spain in prehistorical times, bulls played an important part.
The origins of the Plaza (bullring) are probably not the Roman amphitheaters, but the Celt-Iberian temples where those ceremonies were held. In the province of Soria, close to Numancia, one of them is conserved. It is believed to be a place where bulls were sacrificed to the Gods.
For its fans, La Corrida is a form of art, rather than a sport. And of course it's the challenge of the man fighting against the beast. It is an archaic tradition that has survived in Spain, just as the Toro Bravo has done.
There is an internet cafe by the University on Ronda d'Universitat. They charge by the time, It wasn't very expensive.
Another choice is to go to the Travel Bar in the Barri Gotic. C/Boqueria 27. They have internet access for a small fee. Have a drink while you email! :) And maybe meet some fellow travellers! They also have pub crawls. Organized trips around the area to some popular spots. Check out their website for more info on times, reservations ect.. www.barcelonatravelbar.com
In case, like me, you have to call someone to make arrangements for you room, you might need to use a pay phone, as most shops and restaurants won't let you use one.
Fondest memory: This is a simple process. You buy a phone card at any local shop. I tried to get two machines to take coins and, although they accepted, they did not allow me to make the call. The card goes into the slot on a payphone face up, with the arrow facing in. Don't dial +34, just dial the numbers following. Do NOT remove the card fromt he slot until you are done, otherwise it will terminate the call.