They say imitation is the highest compliment, so as a compliment to Wikitravel I've created a guide to Barcelona in their style. As with Wikitravel, you'll get all the basics about Barcelona on a single page, but all the information has been collated either by me or Paul Cannon, About.com's former Contributing Writer for Barcelona.
- 100 Things to Do in Barcelona
Madrid Wikitravel-Style Guide
UnderstandBarcelona is Spain's second biggest city, with a population of around two million people, but Spain's most visited. It has a lot more 'wow-factor' than Madrid, but it is debatable which is the better city for a visitor. Why not visit both?
See also: Madrid or Barcelona?
Location Barcelona is tucked up in the north-east of Spain, about an hour and a half's drive from the French border. Its location makes it more difficult to access other parts of Spain than central Madrid.
However, the high-speed AVE train makes it quick and easy to connect with Madrid and from there to the rest of the country.
Climate Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate, with very warm summers and cool winters. Its location to the north of the country and its coastal position means it doesn't get as hot as Andalusia or land-locked Madrid. In the summer, Barcelona's temperatures often reach 30ºC (86ºF). Read more about Weather in Spain.
Culture Barcelona is the capital of the region of Catalonia. Catalans see themselves as a different nation to the rest of Spain. 'Catalonia es diferente', they might say, which is not dissimilar to what the Spanish say - 'España es diferente' - when talking about Spain's relationship with the rest of Europe. Most visitors to Barcelona won't notice a big cultural difference between it and the rest of Spain. In an attempt to distance itself from the rest of Spain, the Catalans recently banned bullfighting in Barcelona.
Catalans speak Catalan, a language that has a lot in common with French and Spanish. A speaker of either one of those languages should have no problem reading Catalan, but understanding it spoken could prove more difficult.
Though all Catalans (at least all those who live in Barcelona) speak Spanish, some restaurants have the irritating habit of only putting the menu in Catalan.
By Plane Barcelona has one large international airport with flights from all over Spain and the rest of the world. Read more about Barcelona Airport Transfers
Catalonia has two more international airports, in Girona and Reus, but they are 100km from Barcelona. Ryanair calls these airports 'Barcelona airports'. No-one else does.
By Train The high-speed AVE train connects Madrid to Barcelona in just over two hours. There are also trains from Valencia to Barcelona and from France to Barcelona. All of these trains can be booked from Rail Europe (book direct).
Most national trains arrive at Barcelona Sants station, while international trains arrive at Franca station, though many stop at both. Read more about Barcelona Bus and Train Stations.
By Bus Spain's bus network is more extensive than that of the trains and it's cheaper, but it is also usually a lot slower.
By Car As Barcelona is only an hour and a half from France, driving to Barcelona from France is quite doable. Perpignan to Barcelona only takes two hours. However, if taking this journey by car, I'd suggest a quick stop in Figueres to go to the Salvador Dali museum on the way to Barcelona.
Get AroundYou will spend most of your time in Barcelona in the old town (Ciutat Vella in Catalan), which encompasses the Gothic Quarter and the Raval (which sit either side of Las Ramblas) and El Born. The only way to get around this area is on foot. To reach other parts of the city, take the metro.
By Public Transit
-Metro Barcelona's metro is a cheap and efficient way to get around the city. Buy a ten-journey ticket (which will get you from the airport to the city for the price of a normal metro ticket), which can be shared among several users. Read more about Barcelona Metro.
-Bus The bus map is a little harder to get your head around than the metro, so it's less likely you'll want to use the buses in Barcelona.
-Train The Cercanias (Rodalies in Catalan) is the regional train network in Spain. Usually you'll use it to get from Barcelona to Sitges. There is also the FGC service that cover both city and suburban lines. For city routes, you can use the same tickets as the metro, but they have different stations.
By Taxi Taxis are reasonably priced and are worth it for a trip across the city, especially if you can fill the taxi, but in general the metro is better.
By Car It is not recommended to hire a car if you'll only use it to get around the city. However, for some Barcelona Day Trips a car is a good idea.
By Bicycle Barcelona has good cycle lanes. The locals can use the Bicing public bicycle system, but tourists are not allowed to use them, a move intended to protect the local bicycle hire industry. Go figure.
TalkMany of the locals, especially the more nationalistically inclined, prefer to speak Catalan rather than Spanish, though they all speak Spanish. However, less than 50% of the city speaks Catalan, as many have moved to Barcelona from elsewhere in Barcelona and Spain. The government offers free Catalan lessons to those wishing to humour the locals. There is a thriving Spanish language learning industry in Barcelona, but the fact you will here so much Catalan spoken in the streets takes away some of the advantages of learning Spanish in Spain. See also: Where Should I Learn Spanish in Spain?
SeeBarcelona has some of the most iconic sights in Spain, particularly the Modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi and his contemporaries.
Landmarks and architecture The most famous building in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia, the as-yet unfinished basilica (not cathedral) designed by Gaudi. See also: Best Modernist Buildings in Barcelona.
An often-seen but usually-overlooked sight is the Columbus statue at the bottom of the Ramblas. Many don't realise that for a couple of euros, you can climb the thing! The view is great.
Barcelona has three world-class parks that are all vastly different from each other.
Ciutadella Park is your city center park, with its ornate Arc de Triomf (far better than the Paris version), is the place for the kids to run around.
Then there's the Collserola Park, which is the one for the cyclists and hikers.
Flamenco Shows Flamenco is traditionally an Andalusian thing, but as the country's second largest metropolis, Barcelona has attracted a fair number of flamenco artists, and they're not only there to play to tourists. Tarantos, in Placa Reial, is the most famous venue. Read more about Flamenco in Barcelona.
Concert Venues Venues where you might find international concerts include Sala Apolo and Razzmatazz. The best place to find tickets is at FNAC in Placa Catalunya.
Classical and Opera Information coming soon.
Sports Probably the most popular soccer team in Europe today is FC Barcelona. Their rivals in the city are Espanyol, but the big enemy is Real Madrid. The two teams play each other several times a year in what is referred to as 'el clasico'.
Bullfighting Bullfighting has been banned in Barcelona, so there are no longer any bullfights in the city.
Movies and Film Movies in Spain tend to be dubbed, though there are some places that show films in 'version original'. You'll see 'V.O.' if a film is shown in the original. It might be too obvious to point out, but a film in 'V.O.' might not have have been in English in the first place, so beware! One good movie theaters that shows movies in V.O. is Cine Verdi. Others can be found here: English Language Movies in Barcelona.
There are also movies shown outdoors in July at Sala Montjuic.
Film Festivals Information coming soon.
Music Festivals Perhaps the finest alternative music festival in Europe is the Primavera Sound festival that takes place at the end of May and the beginning of June.
The Benicassim festival is in Castellon, a couple of hours from Barcelona.
Culture Festivals The Grec festival from mid-June to late July is Barcelona's biggest cultural festivla.
Language Schools Barcelona is a popular place to learn Spanish in Spain and there is a large number of language schools to guide your learning. Bare in mind that a lot of the locals prefer to speak Catalan in the street, which partially defeats the purpose of learning a language abroad. Read more about Where to Learn Languages in Spain.
Every man and his (Spanish-speaking) dog has advice on an excellent school where you should learn Spanish. But schools are only as good as their teachers and teachers come and go. The best guarantee of a good language-learning experience in Spain is to go with a big school. That way if you don't like your class, there might be another one you can move to. Another thing worth bearing in mind is where your fellow students are from and the effect this has on the pace of your class. Italian and Portuguese speakers find learning Spanish incredibly easy: a class full of these nationalities will move very quickly. Conversely, a class full of Chinese students who need words such as 'diferencia', 'comunicación' or 'tomate' explained to them may frustrate. Again, a large school that manages its classes properly will allow find the right class for you - a small school, no matter how highly recommended it comes, will put you in the only class at your level that it has.
One of the most popular large language schools in Barcelona is International House Barcelona.
Cooking Information coming soon.
Photography Information coming soon.
Shopping Districts Barcelona is a shopping district! The Gothic Quarter and Eixample is the home of Barcelona's biggest shops, with international brands (including Spanish brands that have become international, such as Zara), particularly along Avinguda Portal de l'Àngel and Passeig de Gracia. The smaller, windy streets of the Gothic Quarter have the more interesting shops, as do the El Born and Raval districts, both of which are close by. Beyond that, the Eixample and, after that, Gracia, have more shopping.
Cuisine As Spain's second largest city, Barcelona is beaten only by Madrid for variety and quality of food on offer. Tapas and paella are of course available, but neither is traditionally Catalan. True Catalan cuisine is inventive with a high emphasis on sauces. Read more about Catalan Cuisine.
-Budget The Champañeria in Barceloneta (not the one in El Born) is a popular destination with extremely cheap cava ('Spanish champagne', just don't tell the French I said that) and an assortment of meats and fish (which you must purchase to get the cheap champagne!).
Another popular cheap eat is La Jaica.
-Splurge Botafumeiro (Calle Mayor de Gracia, 81, Barcelona) is renowned for seafood. Modern cuisine from Andaira (Vila Joiosa 52-54, Barceloneta, Barcelona).
Tapas Tapas isn't as much a Catalan tradition as it is a part of Basque or Andalusian culture, but there are a couple of good places for tapas, such as Tapaç 24 (C/ Diputació, 269, 08007 Barcelona) and Adria Ferran's Tickets Restaurant Barcelona, both in the Eixample district.
Beer Hall For a cheap beer hall-style experience, check out the big Ovella Negra at Zamora 78 in the Poble Nou district. They also have a smaller venue in the city center.
Craft Beer Bars Barcelona is showing a growing interest in craft beers. Check La Cerveteca (Carrer d'En Gignàs, 25), George and Dragon (Diputacio 269) and 2D2Dspuma (C/ Manigua, 8).
Gin and Tonic Bars Like much of Spain, Barcelona is in the grip of G&T fever. Read more about Gin and Tonics in Spain. An interesting G&T can be had at Bobby Gin (c/Francisco Giner 47, Barcelona), Ohla's Boutique Bar (Via Laietana, 49) and San Telmo (c/Buenos Aires, 60).
- Pub Crawl Barcelona
- London Bar, Barcelona
- Bar Marsella, Barcelona
- Els Tres Tombs, Barcelona
- Bosc de les Fades
Clubs For cheesy pop, dance and RnB, head to the Port Olimpic. For rock, pop and electronica, my favorite destination is Razzmatazz.
Budget Barcelona has a vast number of backpackers' hostels, most of which have private double and twin rooms for those who require a little privacy. With so much competition, standards are generally high, but some are not. Book in advance, especially in high season, if you want to get the really good places. Book through Hostelworld.
Mid-range The best priced hotel on the Ramblas is Hotel Inglaterra.
Close to Gracia, an area of Barcelona more people would visit if only their hotel was close enough! The aptly titled Hotel Next To is, ahem, next to Gracia, at the north-western end of the Eixample.
Splurge Ohla Hotel is central (between the Gothic Quarter and El Born), but the best thing about it in my opinion is the excellent cocktail bar!
Apartments If you're traveling in a group of four or more, renting your own apartment is usually the best option. The hassle of booking apartments has gone with new services like Airbnb, which allows people to rent out their own spare rooms and apartments to visitors.
ContactFor a quick phone call home, the best place to go is to a locutorio, a small business with a few telephone booths and normally some internet terminals. Walk in, make it obvious you want to make a phone call and they'll direct you to your booth. When you have finished, go back to the counter and pay.
For more frequent calls, you'd be better off buying a local SIM card. Small corner stores are the best place to get one. The most famous is Lyca, though there are others.
U.S. Consulate General Barcelona
Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23
British Consulate, Barcelona
Avenida Diagonal, 477, 13a planta
Phone: (+34) 902 109 356
Alternative number: (+34) 91 334 2194
Fax:(34) 93 366 6221
Office hours: Monday to Friday 08:30 to 13:30
Canada Consulate, Barcelona
Plaça de Catalunya, 9, 1º, 2ª
08002 Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: (34) 932 703 614
Fax: (34) 933 170 541
Consular assistance and Trade services: Monday to Friday: 09:00 - 12:30
Emergency Consular services: Monday to Thursday: 08:30 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 17:30; Friday: 08:30 - 14:30
Australian Consulate, Barcelona
The Australian consulate in Barcelona closed in December 2011, until further notice.
South African Consulate General in Barcelona, Spain
Parc Empresarial Mas Blau II
Alta Ribagorza 6-8
08020 Prat de Llobregat, Spain
Telephone (+34) 93 506 91 00
Telefax (+34) 93 506 91 97
Get OutThere aren't as many essential Barcelona Day Trips as there are Madrid Day Trips.
Montserrat is so close, it hardly counts as a day trip. Visit it in half a day.
The Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres is a long way to go for just a museum, but this isn't any museum. If the trip feels like too much hard work, consider taking a tour, which also takes you to Girona, also worth a few hours' visit.