- Discover Barcelona
The highlight of Spain is undoubtedly its second city Barcelona, a beautiful city, full of the work of the modernist artist Antoni Gaudi.
Take a tour bus to see the city. A full tour lasts 2 1/2 hours. There are stops for the tour all over the city and you can jump on and off at your leisure.
The Barri Gotic, a gothic Quarter, is worth visiting. It is the centre of old Barcelona. Some of the buildings here date back to Roman times. The streets are small and narrow and open up onto squares. (Beware of muggers at night).
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, from the 14th century is in La Ribera. It was built in the pure Catalan Gothic style. It is free to enter although donations are appreciated.
A must see is Gaudi's Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, an incredible cathedral which remains unfinished to this day. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Work continues on the site and it is hoped to be completed by 2026.
La Pedrera is another very famous Gaudi building. It has no straight lines and is a very impressive building. It too has become a world heritage site and is now a museum with various exhibitions of Guadi’s work.
The Museum is home to over 3500 pieces of original Picasso artwork, most of which is from his early years. The collections are arranged in chronological order. Tickets cost under €10.
La Ramblas is Spain’s most famous street. The tree lined pedestrian street stretches for over a kilometre from the centre to the Christopher Columbus monument. It can get crowded at times and you should be aware of pickpockets but it is quite safe and a great place to wander and catch some street performances.
The Nou Camp is home to Barcelona Football Club, one of the biggest football clubs in the world. If you can get a ticket you should definitely go and see a match. If not take a tour of the famous stadium.
Barcelona has over four kilometres of beaches with the warm waters of the Mediterranean sea on its doorstep.
Barcelona El Prat International Airport is only around 15km outside the city centre. There are two terminals. T1 hosts the major airlines such as Emirates, US Airways and British Airways. T2 hosts the low cost carriers. They are 7km apart so make sure you know which terminal you are flying from on your return to the airport.
Flight times to Barcelona
Dublin 2.5 hours | London 2 hours | Hong Kong 12.5 hours | New York 8 hours | San Diego 12 hours | Sydney 21 hours
Trains connect Barcelona with France, Italy, and Switzerland. There is also a high speed train to Madrid which only takes three hours.
Barcelona has an extremely busy port and you can arrive here on ferries from the Balearic Islands, Genoa, Rome and Livorno in Italy as well as Tangier in Morocco and Algiers in Algeria.
Getting from Airport
The Aerobus runs regularly from outside both terminals. Get off at either Placa Espanya or Placa de Catalunya where you can get on the metro to you r next destination. It costs €5.90 for a single or €10.20 for a return. To return get bus A1 to terminal 1 and bus A2 to terminal 2.
The RENFE train service runs every 30 minutes and takes around 25 minutes to get to the centre. Get off at Barcelona Sants, Passey de Gracia or Clot as they have metro stops.
There are taxi ranks outside all of the terminal exits. Journeys should take between 20 and 30 minutes and cost around €25 to €30. Thhe official Barcelona taxis are black and yellow.
Tickets for one off journeys cost €2.15. If you are in the city for a couple of days you should consider getting the T10 ticket, which will entitle you to 10 journeys on the metro, bus, tram and train. THe great thing about the T10 ticket is more than one person can use the same ticket. Once you are through the turnstile just pass it to your friend.
This card will give you free unlimited use of public transport as well as discounts on attractions, restaurants and shows.
Barcelona is generally a very safe city, but it has a problem with pickpockets and personal property theft in certain areas.
Remember the following:
If you must look at a map do it in a cafe or somewhere discreet. You don’t want to stand out too much as a tourist.
Leave your valuables and passports back in the hotel locker if possible.
Don’t keep your wallet in our bag. Keep it on your person.
Watch out for distractions. If you get approached by a group of people trying to get your attention just turn and walk away. If you stop to watch a street performance be very aware of your surroundings.
Keep an eye on your bags when you are in a cafe as they are a prime place to get your possessions stolen.
Bag snatching is very common and there is little that can be done about this so again it is very important that you leave most of your valuables back in your hotel.
Muggers and pickpockets operate at the lower end of Barri Xines as well as on La Rambla.
The beach is another place where thieves target. Don’t leave your belongings unattended when you go for a swim.