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Visit Barcelona, Spain - Travel Tips and Tourism Guide

By Alexis Sezar on May 10, 2015

Barcelona has the dynamic and open personality so typical of Mediterranean cities. It is the perfect city to relax in, stroll around and enjoy. Barcelona has its own way of life which makes it unique.

The first human settlements in Barcelona date back to Neolithic times. The city itself was founded by the Romans who set up a colony called Barcino at the end of the 1st century BC. The colony had some thousand inhabitants and was bounded by a defensive wall, the remains of which can still be seen in the old town.

For over 200 years, Barcelona was under Muslim rule, and, following the Christian reconquest, it became a county of the Carolingian Empire and one of the main residences of the court of the Crown of Aragon. The fruitful medieval period established Barcelona's position as the economic and political center of the Western Mediterranean. The city’s Gothic Quarter bears witness to the splendor enjoyed by the city from the 13th to the 15th centuries.

From the 15th to 18th centuries Barcelona entered a period of decline, while it struggled to maintain its economic and political independence. This struggle ended in 1714, when the city fell to the Bourbon troops and Catalonia’s and Catalans’ rights and privileges were suppressed. A period of cultural recovery began in the mid-19th century with the arrival of the development of the textile industry. During this period, which was known as the Renaixença, Catalan regained prominence as a literary language.

The 20th century ushered in widespread urban renewal throughout Barcelona city, culminating in its landmark Eixample district, which showcases some of Barcelona’s most distinctive Catalan art-nouveau, or modernista, buildings. The Catalan Antoni Gaudí, one of the most eminent architects, designed buildings such as the Casa Milà (known as La Pedrera, the Catalan for stone quarry), the Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Família church, which have become world-famous landmarks.

The freedoms achieved during this period were severely restricted during the Civil War in 1936 and the subsequent dictatorship. With the reinstatement of democracy in 1978, Barcelona society regained its economic strength and the Catalan language was restored. The city's hosting of the 1992 Olympic Games gave fresh impetus to Barcelona's potential and reaffirmed its status as a major metropolis.

In 2004, the Forum of Cultures reclaimed industrial zones to convert them into residential districts. An example of the renewed vigor with which Barcelona is looking towards the 21st century.

Climate
Barcelona’s warm, pleasant climate means that the locals spend a lot of time outdoors. The city’s location on the shores of the Mediterranean brings pleasant temperatures, allowing Barcelona to enjoy its 5km of perfectly equipped beaches all the year round, and a superb Olympic Marina which is ideal for lovers of water sports. Rainfall, which is occasionally heavy, averages 1,000 mm a year. This weather makes it possible to maintain the many green areas around Barcelona. Living with year-round sunshine makes it possible to have pleasant weather and to enjoy the city to the full: you can eat at open-air restaurants at any time of the year or enjoy a drink at one of its many pavement cafés, with the Mediterranean as its outstanding backdrop.

Hotels
Families, couples, globetrotters and businesspeople... You'll feel right at home at any of Barcelona's 300 hotels, whatever your budget or the reason for your visit.

Restaurants
The Catalan capital is also a culinary capital: prestigious chefs serve up our traditional cuisine and the flavours from around the world. Can you decide on one?

Top Barcelona Attractions

 

You can get a lot out of four days in Barcelona if you plan your visit carefully. Here are some suggestions which include the city’s main landmarks and even invite you to discover some of the areas outside Barcelona, so that you can really make the most of your trip.

Gaudí
Get a Barcelona Card and start the day with a visit to the impressive church of the Sagrada Família. It certainly won’t leave you indifferent. Afterwards, if you need some sightseeing tips, you can drop by the tourist information booth. Another good option is a walk up to the nearby neighbourhood of Gràcia, where you’ll be able to have lunch in one of its many charming squares. From Fontana metro station, line 3 will take you to Park Güell, where you’ll be able to continue admiring Gaudí’s spectacular works. And, as you’re in the northern part of Barcelona, you might like to go up Mount Tibidabo at dusk and have dinner while enjoying spectacular panoramic views of the city.

Walking Tours
The walking tours, Barcelona Walk, are the perfect way of seeing the city on foot, and you could dedicate your day to two of these themed itineraries. In the morning, we recommend you cover the waterfront area, you can visit Barcelona’s beaches and enjoy a trip on one of the typical Las Golondrinas pleasure boats from Barcelona harbour. Afterwards, you can end your morning with a maritime flavour as you sample a mouthwatering paella in the Barceloneta. In the afternoon, Barcelona Walking Tours Modernisme will ensure you fall under Gaudí’s spell when you visit La Pedrera and the Casa Batlló, his two architectural gems on the Passeig de Gràcia. You’ll also discover works by architects of the calibre of Puig i Cadafalch and Domènech i Montaner, which are sure to delight you. And, as you’re walking through the Eixample, why not let yourself be tempted by one of its restaurants. Mmmm… what about some tapas?

History Lesson
Every corner of Barcelona is steeped in history. In the morning, we invite you to discover the medieval and Roman past of the city in the Gothic Quarter and at the Museu d’Història de Barcelona, which is packed with surprises. Afterwards, you can lose yourself for a while among the mouth-watering stalls of the Boqueria Market, and from here, head down to the Columbus Monument, the Mirador de Colom: 60 metres up, La Rambla, which you have just walked down, takes on a whole new dimension. You could devote the rest of the morning to a spot of shopping in the area around the Portal de l’Àngel and Carrer Pelai, a retail paradise to suit all tastes. In the afternoon, the Funicular will take you up to Montjuïc and its Olympic Ring, an imposing witness to the famous 1992 Olympic Games, and also to the Fundació Miró and the Poble Espanyol. At night, round off your visit with dinner and a drink in the buzzing Born neighbourhood.

Catalunya Bus Turístic
There are so many interesting places waiting for you outside Barcelona, and it’s easy to visit them with the Catalunya Bus Turístic. One of the options is a trip to the mountain of Montserrat and its abbey, which have a special place in the hearts of all Catalans. The trip also includes a visit to Antoni Gaudí's Colònia Güell. If you prefer, you can opt for the trip to the north of Catalonia. Here Dalí’s hometown of Figueres awaits you, with its museum dedicated to the painter, and the fascinating city of Girona, with a guided tour included. These wonderful places certainly won’t leave you feeling indifferent.

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