Barcelona’s one of the world’s most visited cities with good reason. From modernist masterpieces to innovative museums, it’s a design icon. Every barrio’s a unique character and drenched in history. There’s as much going on in December as there is in August, and its city centre is beachfront on the Mediterranean.
Direct flights from the UK to Barcelona take just over two hours, year round.
Mediterranean Barcelona is sunny and hot from May to late September with temperatures between 25 and 30˚ in July and August.
Barcelona is the first and only complete city ever to have been awarded a RIBA Gold Medal for its collective architecture.
There are nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in Barcelona, more than any other city in the world, including Rome.
Barcelona sits on the Mediterranean and has over five kilometres of beaches minutes from Barrio Gòtico.
PortAventura World’s waterparks, theme parks and hotels are one hour’s drive west of Barcelona, and Costa Brava resorts like Lloret de Mar are less than an hour east.
Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world and has a range of hotels to match. Barceloneta and L’Eixample are best for interesting four or five star hotels, but barrio like Sant Marti have good value international brands.
Barcelona city centre technically encompasses Barrio Gòtico too, but it’s best known for Las Ramblas and graceful Plaça Reial. Nowhere else in the city’s as busy or more designed to make you feel like a tourist. Take it on the chin and wander the legendary main street without shame. You really don’t need to buy a Barca T-Shirt but you’ll be offered plenty of opportunity along with everything from postcards to miniatures of the Sagrada Familia.
Barcelona’s medieval quarter is incapable of disappointing and no matter how many historic districts you’ve seen, this is always the one to beat. Its tiny cobbled streets and narrow alleys opening on to beautiful squares and grand buildings are atmospheric enough to fade hordes of visitors into the background and there’s nowhere better for quaint shops, oddity museums, bloodcurdling stories and unrelenting drama.
The beachy bit of Barcelona minutes from Las Ramblas is a fraction of the city’s 5km long Mediterranean shoreline, but it’s best for sights, cute chiringuito, fantastic seafood, manicured sands, impressive waterfront hotels and getting to grips with why the world thinks Barcelona is the epitome of cool.
Cross over Plaça de Catalunya at the north end of Las Ramblas and you land in Barcelona’s 19th century ‘new town’. L’Eixample is the heartland of Catalan Modernism and stuffed with domestic architecture by Gaudi and his contemporaries. It’s also the district for expensive shopping streets and many, many luxurious city centre hotels.
Barcelona’s best known mountain is a complex of attractions ranging from Olympic swimming pools to heritage villages, national art galleries and dancing fountains. Take the cable car from Barceloneta to the park, it rises to a height of 70m and the views are astounding.
The city’s second most famous Gaudi is captivating for kids and the most visited park in the city so booking tickets in advance is essential.
Surprisingly, Sagrada Familia isn’t the most popular attraction in Barcelona, credit for that goes to El Poble Espanyol on Montjuic: an heritage town created from different styles of Spanish architecture throughout history.
Opened in 1825, Tibidabo is one of the oldest funfairs in Europe and soars above the city on its own mountain. All vintage cuteness but very 21st century thrills.
Camp Nou is home ground and training camp for legendary Barcelona FC and the Camp Nou Experience is great fun for young football fans
The world’s most famous unfinished cathedral and Gaudi’s undisputed masterpiece, Sagrada Familia is more astounding than anyone ever imagines. Understandably it’s the sight everyone wants to see in Barcelona, so book tickets in advance and take one of the guided tours.
Another experience which doesn’t disappoint in Barcelona is the historic city centre zoo. Plan to spend at least two hours and leave time to explore lovely Ciutadella Park too.
One of the most expensive recent museum projects in the city, Cosmocaixa is an immersive experience kids engage with instantly.
Illa Fantasia is 70,000m² of rides, chutes, slides, amusements and playgrounds open all summer on Barcelona’s sunny east coast about an hour from the city by free shuttle bus.
PortAventura World has Europe’s first Ferrari Land along with the Costa Brava’s biggest waterparks, adventure parks and a range of four-star family hotels.
Barcelona’s a big city but happily it also has one of Europe’s most comprehensive, modern and inexpensive transport system. Basically buses and trains go everywhere, keep long hours and nothing else compares.