Welcome to Barcelona

First things first: Barcelona isn’t Spanish, it’s Catalonian. Ok, strictly speaking it is Spanish, of course: but the country’s second largest city is first and foremost the capital of an autonomous region with its own language and culture, a fact that is key to understanding its boisterous, independent spirit (not to mention the menus in more traditional bodegas).

That’s not to say that one needs an in-depth knowledge of Catalan mores to appreciate the city. Barcelona’s joys are obvious and accessible: almost year round sunshine, a flourishing foodie scene, beautiful and bizarre Modernist buildings, world-class beaches, high culture, a dynamic, down and dirty underground scene and an obsession with fiestas that means that, during summer, every day is a party.

And, more than in many cities, each neighbourhood has an individual, defined character. Promenade the broad, tree-lined avenues in the upscale L'Eixample, home to Gaudi's extraordinary architecture, or prowl the atmospheric dark alleys of El Born, checking out cozy restaurants, bars and shops along the way. Take in the rich Medieval history of the Gothic quarter, touching the remains of the Roman wall, before heading to Gracia or Montjuic to rub tanned shoulders with the cool kids. Even the tourist-clogged Ramblas has its charms – not least in the form of the Boqueria, one of the world’s greatest food markets.

Put simply, whatever your tastes, interests and temperament, Barcelona delivers - and it does so with a creativity, exuberance and tolerance not found elsewhere in Spain - or Catalonia.

Editor's picks


Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Spain:
    45.5 millions
  • Inhabitants in Barcelona:
    1.6 millions
  • Official language
    Spanish, Catalan
  • Currency
  • Time zone
  • Emergency number
  • Constitution
    Monarchy: Regent John Charles I, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
  • Country phone code
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Bus, Subway, Train
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