The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona is situated in the heart of the Catalonia region and owes its booming tourist trade to the attractions of classic architecture (from Roman to gothic, medieval and even Art Nouveau), rich culture, cuisine and sizzling nightlife.
To this day, Barcelona preserves such glorious landmarks as its historic palaces, treasure-filled museums and centuries-old churches. Much of the old architecture in Barcelona is open to the public. Tourists who prefer to seek their pleasures in open-air Barcelona will enjoy the city's 68 municipal parks, which include 12 historic parks, 5 botanical parks, 45 urban parks and 6 forest parks. Adventurers can opt to board a rack rail to the Montserrat Mountain ridge, which rises 4,280 feet in the air and offers breathtaking views of the city. Another feature of Barcelona's natural beauty can be experienced at sea level-at one of its 7 world-famous and well-frequented beaches.
Places to Explore
- Las Ramblas
Shaded by trees, explore one of the most romantic streets in the entire world. Shops, restaurants and venues hum with activity at all hours.
- La Sagrada Familia
World-renown architect Antoni Gaudi began construction of this basilica in 1881, and it is not expected to be completed until 2026. When finished, it will feature 18 soaring towers-several expected to be among the tallest church towers in the world.
This European treasure provides massive displays of different marine habitats from all the oceans of the world.
- Montserrat Mountain
The mysterious jagged peaks of this mountain range have attracted admiration for centuries. Nestled amongst its crags is the ancient Benedictine abbey, the Santa Maria de Montserrat, which some speculate is the location of the Holy Grail. Travel to the abbey by way of the Aeri de Montserrat cable car or the Montserrat Rack Railway.
- Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum)
Visit a museum that proudly exhibits the masterpieces from Pablo Picasso's famed "blue period," among others.
- Chocolate Museum
A tasty showcase of Barcelona's local confectionary guild. Learn about the history of chocolate during your visit.
- The Gothic Quarter
An island city within the city surrounded by the remains of Roman walls. Visit the Cathedral complex, containing three medieval palaces which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries and is dedicated to Eulalia, patroness of the city, who is buried here in a crypt.
Catalan is the official language of Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is located. Most public signs are written in Catalan. However, Spanish is the official language of Spain as a whole, and most residents speak Spanish as well as Catalan.
The Euro is the main currency. Major credit cards are accepted at many shops, stores and restaurants. Payments under 10 Euros are customarily made with cash.
- How to Get Around
Taxis are a quick way to get around. Cabs are easily recognizable by their black and yellow coloring. If the green light on top of the vehicles is on, the taxi is empty and looking for a customer. Many taxi drivers will offer a flat rate for certain trips. It is advisable to use metered cabs, instead of a flat rate. Most taxis will only accept cash for payment.