Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain, located along the Mediterranean coast between the rivers Llobregat and Besòs. The city is situated between the sea and two hills, Tibidabo and Montjuïc.
Catalonia was once a separate state and it remains a unique place even today, with its own language, culture and tradition. The city has had a turbulent past; often forming various allegiances with European powers to help fend off Madrid.
The development of the city can be observed through historic remains and monuments: the Roman wall harking back to its earliest days, to the Gothic quarter, the 17th century palaces, and 19th century Eixample, to the more recent renovations to accommodate the 1992 Olympics. The Olympics proved to be an important catalyst for the city’s modernization. It brought the city a new waterfront, new districts, building renovations and prepared it for the next millennium.
Football has always played a major role in Catalan life. There were times when this was the only chance of asserting their national identity and the only means of opposing Madrid. The football club had at times even been shut down by the central government, or forced to share its best players with Madrid. Barcelona is a lively and beautiful city with a colorful history and is worth getting to know.
Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate, with cool winters (around 10°C) and hot summers with average temperatures around 25°C. Lowest temperatures occur in January, and the highest in August. Winters are cool but sunny, whereas November, February and March are wet. The summer months of July and August are hot and humid. There are 2,500 hours of sunlight annually.
January average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 39 mm rainfall February average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 37 mm rainfall March average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 52 mm rainfall April average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 52 mm rainfall May average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 58 mm rainfall June average temperature 21 deg Celsius, 44 mm rainfall July average temperature 24 deg Celsius, 26 mm rainfall August average temperature 24 deg Celsius, 49 mm rainfall September average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 76 mm rainfall October average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 76 mm rainfall November average temperature 13 deg Celsius, 55 mm rainfall December average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 53 mm rainfall
El Prat de Llobregat airport, Barcelona’s main airport, known as El Prat, is located 14 km to the south of the city. It handles all international and domestic flights. There are many direct flights from North America and Europe. www.aena.es
The airport is only 14 km away from the city and is easily accessible by train, bus or taxi. Trains leave for Plaça de Catalunya every 30 minutes. The journey takes 25 minutes. The service operates from 6:30 am to 11:40 pm. The bus service, called Aerobús, is efficient and the most convenient way to and from the airport. It departs from each terminal to Plaça de Catalunya every 12 minutes, with various stops along the way. Services run from 6:00 am – midnight. The cheapest way of reaching central Barcelona is to use the RENFE train or regular bus both of which have stations nearby. www.renfe.es/
The main train station is Estació Sants, 2.5 km from La Rambla. There are direct overnight train connections with various cities including Paris, Lisbon, Geneva, and Milan. Connections within Spain are also made at this terminus.
The main city bus station is Estació del Nord, east of the Arc de Triomf. In general, buses are cheaper than trains but also less comfortable.
Ferries connect Barcelona with the Balearic Islands and Italy. Transport to the Balearic Islands offer two options: standard boats offering beds and cabins for up to 4 passengers, and high-speed boats.
Barcelona has a modern and efficient metro system with 5 lines. This is the easiest and fastest way to get around the center. The buses and suburban trains take you further out of the city center. www.tmb.cat/en_US/home.jsp
Buses are frequent, arriving every few minutes. They run daily from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm. Barcelona has also 30 night buses, running until 4:30 am, some even until 5:20 am.
It is wiser to use public transport or a taxi service because driving in Barcelona can be very difficult.
There are plenty of taxis. A green light on the roof signals a vacant cab.
The inner city is ideal for walking, although some attractions lie further out and you will need to use another mode of transport.
Renting a bike in Barcelona is a great and fast option for seeing the city.
Address: Arístides Maillol, Les Corts Web: www.fcbarcelona.com Phone:(+34) 93 496 36 00/ (+34) 93 496 36 00 Open: Museum Monday - Saturday 10:00 am - 6:30 pm, Sunday 10:00 am – 2:00 am. Access: Metro: Collblanc, Palau Reial Admission: Museum visit + Camp Nou Tour: adults: 17 eur; children& students 13 eur; members – free.
Camp Nou is an enormous stadium. It seats 98,000 people and fills to capacity for important games. If you visit between September and June, try catching a match played by Barcelona’s renowned FC Barcelona soccer team. Games are played on Saturdays at 9:00 pm and on Sundays at 5:00 pm. International Champion’s League games are played on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings as well. Expect a fervent match between old rivals, Barcelona and Madrid! Note that tickets are difficult to obtain. Check with your hotel receptionist for ticket availability, or better - call the club well in advance. You can also visit the museum, where recordings of the team’s most memorable goals can be seen, along with the history of the club and the biographies of the players.
Much liked and visited by locals and tourists alike, the park is a perfect setting for weekend relaxation or sports activity. You will see people reading, taking pictures, sitting around on the colorful benches, exploring the park, jogging, or enjoying a picnic or playing music.
LA RAMBLA – PEOPLE WATCHING
La Rambla is dotted with iron chairs where you can relax and watch people go by. Be sure, however, to keep an eye on your belongings. There are many pick-pockets in the area.
Barcelona's beaches were renovated for the 1992 Olympics and since then the beach scene has really come alive. The Platja de San Sebastian is a nudist beach located to the south end of the Barceloneta. To the north you will find the following beaches: Barceloneta, Passeig Marítim, Port Olímpic, Nova Icaria, Bogatell, and Mar Bella where topless bathing is common. There are also beaches further out of Barcelona, all easily accessible by the train leaving from the RENFE station in Plaça de Catalunya. Some beaches worth a visit are Montgat, Ocata, Vilasar de Mar, Arenys de Mar, Canet, and Sant Pol de Mar. The latter is famous for especially nice sand and a lovely 'old town'. Castelldefels is known for its long sandy beach with numerous lively bars and restaurants. In general, the further north you go – towards Costa Brava - the nicer the beaches.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca 401 Web: www.sagradafamilia.org Open: October – March: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; April - September: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm. Admission: 11 eur Access: Metro blue line L5, purple line L2, metro stop Sagrada Familia
The Church of the Holy Family is the most famous architectural icon of the city. The construction on Gaudi’s most ambitious project started in 1882, but it is still unfinished and work still continues. This enormous project actually started out as a modest gothic cathedral. However, Gaudi’s vision was to depict the entire Bible in stone, and he saw the building as a symbolic representation of Christian faith. He wanted the visitor to feel the full force of the Gospel. In the last 15 years of his life, Gaudi dedicated himself entirely to this project, living on the church grounds as a hermit. He died suddenly at the age of 73, when he was accidentally hit by a tram. He was mistaken for a beggar, taken to a hospital and died in a pauper’s ward of the Raval's Antic Hospital de la Santa Creus.
BARRI GÒTIC / MEDIEVAL HEART OF THE CITY
Address: Avenida Placa de la Catedral
The gothic quarter is Barcelona’s oldest district with narrow cobbled alleys and tall Gothic buildings. In addition to Gothic architecture many remains of the Roman period are found in the areas between Placa de la Catedral and Placa Sant Jaume. You can still see the old Roman walls that used to divide this district from the others. In Bari Gothic you will find many important public buildings, including The Cathedral, the Palau de la Generalitat, the Town Hall, and the Palau Reial. Nowadays it is a cosmopolitan spot where many designers have opened their outlet stores. There are countless tapas bars full of young people, especially at night. Here you can find good restaurants and antique shops. There is an open air antique market at Plaça Nova every Thursday.
Address: Between Mirador de Colón and Plaça de Catalunya
This famous boulevard, running from the city center to the waterfront, is the main artery of Barcelona. Day or night, it is a lively place lined with florists, bird sellers, street entertainers, cafes, shops and restaurants. Walking down the boulevard you can see Gaudi’s first big project -Güell Palace, El Liceu - the famous opera house, the popular food market La Boqueria, and the lovely Plaça Reial with its palm trees and arches. The area around Plaça de Catalunya has numerous department stores and designer outlets, including the largest store of Barcelona’s most famous branch El Corte Inglés.
Address: La Rambla 91 Web: www.boqueria.info OPEN: Monday -Saturday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm Access: Metro stop Liceu
La Boqueria is a vibrant place brimming with life and is the best market in Barcelona. It is a feast for all the senses; bright colors, delicious aromas, and numerous interesting restaurants. Here you can find the freshest fruit, vegetables and seafood in Barcelona.
Address: Montana Pelada Open: daily from 10:00 am – around 7:00 pm. Access: Bus 24, 25, 31, 74; or Metro to Lesseps (green line L3) + 20min walk Admission: free
Park Güel was commissioned by Eusebi Güel and was at first intended as a garden city housing project for Barcelona aristocracy. Only two houses were built before it was turned into a public park in 1923. It features many amazing stone structures, impressive tiling and buildings. The entrance to the park is guarded by Gaudi’s colorful dragon fountain. On the top of the park is a terrace area with breathtakingly colorful mosaic seats, offering a splendid view over the park itself and the city. It is a splendid, colorful, playful and uplifting place, best experienced on a sunny day.
CASA MILÀ (LA PEDRERA)
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 92 Open: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Passeig de Gràcia stop Access: Metro green line L3
The house was designed by Gaudi, and was built from 1905 to 1910 for the Milà family. However, the family was not too excited about the building and neither was the public. It was called La Pedrera (the quarry) as an insult. However, it gained great acclaim later, when it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984. When you visit the house remember to look for the amazing colorful chimneys on the roof.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia 43 Open: daily 9:00 am – 8:00 pm Access: Metro to Passeig de Gràcia (Green Line, L3)
Casa Batlló lies on the same street as La Pedrera, and is another one of Gaudi’s famous buildings. It was commissioned by a wealthy aristocrat Joseph Batlló. The façade looks like it was made of skulls and bones. The ‘skulls’ are balconies and the ‘bones’ are supporting pillars. Gaudi paid great attention to detail, for example, he varied the window size depending on their distance from the top of the building, so that an equal amount of light was ensured in all rooms.
The hill, overlooking the city center is home to many attractions. It offers a wonderful view over the city. You can reach it by cable car from the Barceloneta port district below. Montjuïc was the site of the 1992 Olympic Games. There is a group of installations known as the Olympic ring, which includes the huge Olympic Stadium. The ‘Poble Espanyol’ is a replica of a Spanish village with typical architecture and art. Here you will also find an old fortress that used to guard the entrance to the port. Here, also, is The Fundació Joan Miró (Joan Miró Foundation), a museum of modern art honoring Joan Miró. It houses the largest collection of the artist’s works and the museum building itself is also an attraction. On Montjuïc the National Art Museum of Catalonia resides and there is also the Palau Sant Jordi, used mainly for indoor sports activities as well as cultural events. Others on the list are The Botanical Gardens and the Mossèn Costa i Llobera gardens, including a unique cactus collection. A popular attraction is the magic fountains of Montjuïc. On summer evenings the fountains come alive with music, lights and colors. Below the hill is the Barceloneta port district, once a fishing village, it is today famous for its wonderful seafood restaurants and the beach.
FUNDACIÓ JOAN MIRÓ
Address: Parc de Montjuïc Web: www.bcn.fjmiro.es Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm (July – September until 8:00 pm); Thursday 10:00 am - 9:30 pm; Sunday 10:00 am - 2:30 pm; Mondays closed. Access: Metro to Espanya (green line L3 / red line L1) + 20 min walk Admission: 8 eur; students, unemployed and over 65: 6 eur
A wonderful gallery housing the largest collection of Miro's works in the world. It includes paintings, sculptures, engravings, ceramics, tapestries and early sketches. The gallery also houses exhibitions of other contemporary artists.
Access: Tibidabo train from Placa Catalunya / or Tramvia Blau (Blue Trolley) connected with the Funicular to the summit.
The second hill of Barcelona is 512 m high. It can be reached via a funicular and offers a splendid view over the city. The locals love to visit it during the weekends, especially because of the amusement park that features a house of horrors, the Ferris wheel and other attractions. There is also a modern 115 m high telecommunications tower offering another magnificent view of Barcelona. The church Temple del Sagrat Cor, is home to a giant statue of Christ. There is an elevator to the top, from where you can enjoy another great panorama of the city.
The Catalonian diet is based on fresh seafood, meat and game with vegetables and fruit. The ingredients are combined in unusual and delicious ways.
Address: Mercat de la Boquería 66-67 Phone: +34 93 317 1731 Open: Monday – Saturday 6:00 am – 4:00 pm
A unique standing bar, located at Barcelona’s best loved market La Boquería, is always full of people of all walks of life - from shop assistants to business executives. There is no menu so the owner announces what is on offer. Delicious meals include grilled lobster, artichoke omelet, lentils, and more. They also offer their own sparkling wine - cava.
Address: Gignàs 16 Phone: +34 93 315 1709 Open: Tuesday – Sunday 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm for lunch; 9:00 pm - midnight for dinner. Closed in July.
This quiet and authentic restaurant, located in the Gothic quarter has been open for over 75 years and epitomizes the bohemian atmosphere of the Barri Gòtic. They offer mainly traditional Catalan cuisine, with dishes like anglerfish stew. In addition, there are also a few modern dishes available and an excellent wine list.
Address: El de Gràcia, 81 E-mail: email@example.com Phone: (93) 218 4230 Open: daily 1:00 pm – 1:00 am Booking is advisable.
This restaurant, offering the regional cuisine of Galicia, is considered to be the best seafood restaurant in town, serving only the freshest fish, mussels, clams, lobster and scallops available. These are kept in large tanks by the entrance or brought in daily from Galicia. The meat here is also excellent and they have a wide selection of Galician white wines. If you do not want a whole meal, you can order tapas or raciones at the bar. There are also special sandwiches available, called Torpedoes.
Address: Consell de Cent, 292 Phone: +39 93 272 0833 Open: daily 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
A chocolate chain store with creative chocolate delights of high quality, using only authentic cocoa. They offer a wide array of delicious chocolate drinks, sauces and tidbits, for example fried maize in dark chocolate, salty almonds in white chocolate and sticks of bitter chocolate and orange.
Address: pl vila Madrid 4 Open: Tuesday - Saturday 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 8:30 pm - 11:45 pm Sunday - Monday 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Access: Metro to Catalunya L1, L3
This Indian vegetarian restaurant, one of the first of its kind to appear in Barcelona, is a popular place for those who love this purist cuisine. A peaceful atmosphere is provided in the many salons of different colors and ambience, adorned with Hindu religious motifs. The menu offers about 50 dishes, the majority of which come from Hindi cuisine. The ingredients used are lacto-vegetarian, no eggs or fish are contained in the dishes. Apart from Hindi cuisine, there are also other options, like crepes, spring rolls, pizzas and various salads.
The biggest fiestas in Barcelona are Sant Joan on 23 June, marking the start of summer, Festa Major de Gracia, and La Mercè, celebrating the city’s patron saint.
NOCHE DE SANT JOAN
Location: Plaça Catalunya Date: June 23 Admission: free
June 23 is the summer solstice. The shortest night of the year is celebrated with big bonfires and fireworks throughout the city. Young and old party all night long, setting off firecrackers and fireworks. Traditional cake ‘coca’ is eaten and sparkling wine’ cava’ is drunk. The biggest parties are held on the beach and on Montjuïc hill. It is an event not to be missed!
Date: August 10-31
During the second fortnight in August Barcelona’s districts organize their festivals. The most famous one is held at La Garcia. People decorate their streets and there is a prize for the best one. There is music, dancing, food, street performances and children’s games.
FESTA MAJOR DE GRACIA
Location: Gracia district Date: last half of August
Gràcia is a pleasant, one-of-a-kind, funky neighborhood, where students, intellectuals, artists and families join together to organize the Festa Major de Gracia , undoubtedly the best and most creative community festival of the year. It is extremely well-organized, artful and imaginative. Gràcia's residents spend months planning parades, concerts, floats, street decoration, and more. During the day, events are held in the area's brightly decorated streets and squares. Acrobats build amazing human towers; performers dress up as giants and devils to express Catalan folklore. At night, the Festa Major de Gracia features performance of live music, dancing, fireworks and general outdoor partying. The whole city flocks to Gràcia to join in the fun, so you should not miss it either!
Date: September 19-24 Location: Plaça Saint Jaume
This is Barcelona's main fiesta held in honor of the city's patroness, the Virgin of Merce. Large celebrations are held with music, performances, parades of giants and other creatures, fireworks and open-air dancing. The festival ends with a night procession of devils and dragons spitting fire. More information can be obtained from information booths near Plaza Catalunya.
DIA DI SANT JORDI
Date: April 23
The most beautiful Catalonian holiday honors the anniversary of Sant Jordi (St.George) the patron saint of Catalonia, also called the Day of the Book, because both Cervantes and Shakespeare died on this day in 1616. Traditionally men give flowers to women and they present them with books in return. Books and roses are sold throughout the city.
Date: from Thursday before Lent until Mardi Gras
Streets are filled with parades, costumes and parties. There are concerts in the Plaza Catalunya. Each neighborhood prepares their own celebration so there are numerous parties everywhere. The celebrations end with a mock funeral ‘Burial of the Sardine’ on Ash Wednesday.
LA DIADA DE CATALUNYA
Date: September 11
On September 11, Catalonia was defeated by King Felipe V de Borbón and lost its independence. Catalonian Independence Day is less a traditional fiesta, and more an occasion for political demonstrations. Demonstrators go out to the streets and speak about their political views. Various activities are held in all cities of Catalonia.
FIRA DE SANTA LLUCÍA
Date: December 13-14 Location: Plaça de la Catedral
The festival marks the Christmas holiday and honors Saint Lucia. Fair is held in streets around the Cathedral, selling various traditional items. There are also Christmas trees.
FESTIVAL DE INTERNACIONAL DE JAZZ
Date: March Location: Ronda San Pere Phone: 934-81-70-40
A month-long jazz festival brings into town world-renowned musicians from around the globe who compete for a prize. Tickets are available at tourist offices.
Barcelona has a vivid nightlife. There is a myriad of options for spending a night out, whether you only want to have a quiet evening or party until the sun comes up. There are numerous cafes and bars. In addition, there are also places with specific names, for example: a 'bodega' specializes in wine, a 'cerveseria' in beer, and a 'xampanyeria' in champagne or cava. The bars usually start to fill up around midnight and stay open until 3:00 – 4:00 am. To make sure you get a seat come a bit earlier. Night clubs are quite empty until around 1:00 – 2:00 am, especially during the weekends. They stay open until 6:00 am. It is worth remembering that during August many restaurants are closed, however, this does not hold true for bars and cafes.
Here are some suggestions about the areas to visit:
BARRI GÒTIC & LAS RAMBLAS
These are the best places to start; located in the center, and offering numerous bars, pubs and clubs. The places found here range from tourist traps, local drinking places to trendy hot-spots.
Rita Blue Address: Plaza SANT Agusti A funky bar, restaurant and club.
"Bosque de los Fades" (The forest of fairies) A small pub located near the wax museum at the end of La Rambla.
In the center you should be ware of pick-pockets. Do not leave your wallet or mobile phone on the table, and do not hang your bag on the back of the chair.
This is a modern part of the city and a place to have fun. Three separate groups seem to emerge here as there are places for the design-lovers, traditional spots and the hangouts of the young. Plaza Catalunya offers several nice terraces that mainly cater to the young crowd and tourists.
A lovely quarter offering a wide variety of fashionable clubs and bars, as well as simple terraces, concentrated at Plaza del Sol and Plaza Rius i Taulet.
The district was once a fishing village, but has now become the best place to go for seafood, with many trendy and extravagant restaurants with mainly young clientele.
SANTALO - SAN GERVASI
The largest number of trendy places in Barcelona can be found on the cross-section of the streets, Santaló and Mariano Cubi. The crowd is young, beautiful and loves loud parties. At Plaza Francesc Maciá the cream of Barcelona night life is found.
According to legend the city was named by Hercules who came here with nine boats (Barca meaning boats and nona meaning nine) in 2000 BC, in a colonizing expedition. Romans came in the 1st century BC and established Barcino. It was a settlement of lesser importance - the capital of Rome’s eastern Iberian province was Tarraco, the modern Tarragona. The invasion of Visigoths brought about a decline but under the Muslims, who occupied Barcelona during the early Middle Ages, the city experienced intense commercial activity and the peaceful coexistence of Christians, Jews and Muslims. This peace ended when the Christian governors took over the city. Muslims were forced to live outside the city walls and the Jewish community was pushed into a ghetto. In 1492 the Jews were forced to leave the country altogether.
The city, called La Ciudad Condal by the Christians, had grown much larger and was the capital of Catalonia. It developed into a powerful naval base and trading center and the Crown of Aragon expanded its territory towards Valencia and Balearic Islands. The interests of Catalonia and Aragon stretched as far as Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, Naples, Albania, Corsica, Athens, and other parts of Greece. They introduced naval regulations and other customs all along the Mediterranean. In the 15th century Catalonia gained its own government and built the parliament building, Palau de Generalitat, at Plaza Santa Jaume. During the Middle Ages the city was constantly growing, this is evident in the abundance of architecture from that period – the Catalan Gothic architecture. Good examples are The Cathedral and the churches of Santa Maria del Pi, Santa Maria del Mar, Sant Just and Sant Jaume.
In 1479 Spain’s two most powerful monarchies united with the marriage of Fernando and Isabel of Castilla. In the following years increasing conflicts arose between Barcelona and Madrid, wich eventually led to Barcelona’s banishment from dealings with new American colonies. In the 17th century Catalonia went to war with Spain and declared its independence under the protection of France. The war ended with Barceolona under siege and Spain losing the Roussillon and other districts of Catalonia. The War of the Spanish Succession broke out in 1702, ending in 1713 with Barcelona on the losing side. The city found itself under siege from Madrid’s from May 1713 until September 11, 1714. The parliament (Generalitat) was abolished and Catalan language was banned. September 11 is now commemmorated as La Diada De Catalunya, Catalonian Independence Day. In the 19th century Barcelona was alowed to commence trade with America. The war with France ended in 1813 with the expulsion of Napoleon. During this time industrialization led to the development of the wine, cork and iron industries. The first railway in Spain was built between Barcelona and Mataró. The industrial revolution also brought a renaissance of the Catalan culture. The bourgeoisie inspired nationalist movements in other parts of Europe. They promoted Catalan language and culture, and opposed the political centralization of Madrid. The Catalan Modernist movement was inspired by Art Nouveau.
Population in Barcelona grew rapidly. Radical expansion plans were made in 1869, and a new district L'Eixample (the enlargement) emerged. The new district was made with a grid-system of streets, starting at Plaza Catalunya. The new quarter featured many modernist architectural designs also by Barcelona's most famous architect Gaudi.
MODERN (20TH CENTURY)
The beginning of the 20th century in Barcelona was marked by social unrest; tensions between the rich industrial magnates and the poor working classes mounted. Anarchist groups from France came to Barcelona and gained great support from the people. The city was a site of terrorist attacks. There were general strikes, week-long riots and extensive destruction. However, during these turbulent times strong cultural movements thrived. The anarchist confederation was finally banned by the dictator Rivera who also closed the Barcelona football club.
After Rivera’s fall, the second Republic of Spain was formed in 1931. The nationalists proclaimed Catalonia a republic, which triggered the arrest of the key Generalitat members as well as the bombing of the Generalitat and the City Hall. In 1936 the socialists won the elections, the Generalitat was restored and Catalonia once again regained independence. In July, however, the Spanish civil war broke out in Morocco. Franco quickly took over most of southern Spain, whereas the east and north sided with Madrid and the Republic. Franco had powerful support from Mussolini and Hitler, who provided him with arms, troops, and airforce. The Republicans, on the other hand, had the Soviets as allies. In 1937 the Spanish Government fled to Barcelona. The next year the city was bombed, which led to its fall in 1939. Afterwards Franco once again banned the Generalitat, changed all the streetnames into Castilian and forbade the public use and teaching of the Catalan language.
Two years after Franco’s death, in 1977, the Catalonia’s government-in-exile arrived in Madrid from Mexico, and the same year King Carlos I re-established the Generalitat. In 1978 autonomy, for all regions of Spain, was included in the Spanish constitution.
The 1992 Olympics put Barcelona once again on the map. The event brought about huge investments in the city's infrastructure; numerous projects were carried out to renew the beaches, promenades, restaurants and leisure activities and Barcelona became a modern European city. Today, Barcelona is a vibrant and lively city with rich architectural and historic heritage, one which everyone loves to visit.
When introduced expect to shake hands. Once a relationship is established, men may embrace and pat each other on the shoulder. Female friends kiss each other on both cheeks, starting with the left. People are often referred to as Don or Dona and their first name when in formal occasion as a general rule. Many men use a two-handed shake where the left hand is placed on the right forearm of the other person.
If invited to a Spaniard's home, you can bring chocolates, pastries, or cakes; wine, liqueur, or brandy; or flowers to the hostess. If you know your hosts have children, they may be included in the evening, so a small gift for them is always appreciated.
Unlike in the U.S.A., tipping is not an established custom in Spain. It is not customary to leave tips at bars and cafeterias, neither in cabs. If you decide to, you can leave some small change. The same rule applies to the restaurants. At posh restaurants with very good service, a 5% tip is considered generous.
Like in any major city, tourists are usually victims of petty crime. Take the usual precautions. Do not carry excess money with you and leave any valuables in a hotel safe. Handbags, rucksacks and cameras are often stolen by a quick cut of the straps, even in broad daylight. Barcelona, however, is not a dangerous city and with some general precautions and common sense you should be able to have a trouble and worry free vacation.
Do not leave anything valuable in your car; take out the radio, even if you park in a crowded street. Be careful while driving, especially at the traffic lights. A common trick is for one person to distract you while another snatches your bag or cuts your tires. Mobile phone thefts are also frequent. It is especially easy for thieves if you leave your telephone on the table. Never leave your luggage unattended in train and bus stations or airports,
Barri Gotic, El Raval and La Rambala are the main areas for petty crime like pick- pocketing and bag-snatching. Note that pick-pockets usually work in small groups. While one distracts you the other one robs you. There are also groups of petty criminals who, for example, say you have dirt on your back, and while pretending to remove it, they snatch your bag. Another scam is a game called ‘trila’- similar to the three-card trick. It is often played by crooks on La Rambla, pretending to be innocent bystanders.
In case of an emergency call 112 To claim your insurance policy you will be need a report from the police. The main police station is at Nou de la Rambla 76.
Barcelona is a popular city with travelers and tourists, so most hotels are busy throughout the year. It has a wonderful Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cool winters. Being a coastal city, the levels of humidity are always high - around 70%. The most popular months with visitors are May, June, July, August, September and October. The ideal months are May, June and September. In the springtime the weather is pleasant, and the city is not too crowded. In the summer the locals mainly leave the city as it can become extremely hot. The average temperature in August is around 29 degrees Celsius. September has nice weather, and isn't as hot as August and it can be rainy by October. Winters are quite pleasant as well with temperatures mainly around 10 degrees and snow is rare.