Exploring Barcelona, Spain: A Comprehensive Travel Guide
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A thriving modern metropolis that also serves as Spain's official capital city, Barcelona provides travelers from near and far with a vibrant cultural experience you will not find in any other vacation destination in the world. From centuries old cathedrals and landmarks to modern luxuries such as designer label stores and abstract art galleries, Barcelona has a little of everything to offer travelers who are young and young at heart. It is a city that finds a cause for celebration most months of the year with an assortment of lively festivals and parties yet offers a tranquil vacation experience for all who visit. Whether you wish to indulge in fine Spanish cuisine, mingle with the locals at fabulous nightclubs, sip on a glass of fine Spanish wine, or take part in the famous Barcelona Bull Run, the experiences offered in this city are as varied as the residents who call this place home. Read on to learn more about what Barcelona can offer to you…
When to Travel to Barcelona
Trying to figure out when to plan your trip to Barcelona? Let's dig deeper into when you can expect the best weather and when all the seasonal activities are in full swing.
Best Weather in April through June
The best time of year to visit Barcelona is in April through June when temperatures are mild, and the humidity of the Summer has not quite kicked in yet. During this time of year, the temperatures average in the mid-60s °F to the mid-70s °F. When traveling to Barcelona during late Spring, you will be able to participate in a number of different festivals and carnival-like events. Summer is the height of the tourist season, and the height of the Summer heat. If you travel to Barcelona in the Summer, be prepared for long lines and sticky heat.
Peak beach Season
Barcelona arguably has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and tourists begin to flock to them for a fun-filled vacation beginning in June. It is at this time of year when the Barcelona cruise port ramps up for a new season, when the iconic Catalans get ready to depart for sea, and when the local hotels and airports begin buzzing with activity. The Barcelona Beach Festival is the first major Summer event in the city and it takes place in mid-July. It is a one-night event where people flock to the sound stage on the beach for thrilling rock concerts.
As tourism winds down for the Fall season, Barcelona comes alive once again for those who are willing to brave the colder temperatures. Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival happens in November and it pays tribute to a collection of Jazz artists from near and afar. The Alternative Independent Film Festival is another fine public venue going on in November and it showcases the brilliant work of independent film makers.
The Christmas season is a special time around Barcelona where the city streets transform into a magical Wintery wonderland. During the Christmas season, stroll around the streets of downtown and discover a plethora of local vendors and boutiques that sell everything from unique gifts to artisan holiday candy. With all the lights and decorations you will see along the way, walking around Barcelona is sure to get you into the holiday spirit.
Top 3 Things to do in Barcelona
No matter what time of year you visit Barcelona, this Catalonian city will take your breath away. From vibrant Spanish art galleries to ornate cathedrals that appear to cascade into the heavens, to fine Michelin-star restaurants that will please your palette, here are some of the top-rated attractions you should consider checking out while visiting.
#1 Bike through the City and See Landmarks Up Close
To really get to know the local scene and explore the best landmarks like Ciutadella Park and Arc de Triomf, a bike tour is one of the best ways to immerse yourself. Cruises offer wonderful bicycle shore excursions in Barcelona that are perfect for spending a day seeing fascinating architecture and they are led by local guides who show lead you to all the gems. Old Town is a wonderful place to bike because of the 60+ miles of bicycle lanes. They also offer electric bike tours that make your tour of the city on bike less strenuous.
#2 Admire the Majestic Beauty of Sagrada Familia
An imposing basilica that cascades up into the sky, Sagrada Familia is perhaps the most iconic religious landmark of the city. It was the brainchild of architect Antoni Gaudi and was constructed well over a century ago. On the outside of the cathedral, you will find several ornate facades that all tell a story about glory, passion, and nativity, all inspired by Christ. The inside of this fascinating building is adorned in colorful stained glass and statues. Sagrada Familia is open most days of the week and you can take a self-guided tour or sign up for a tour.
#3 Lounge Around on Barcelona's Beachfront Boardwalk
Barcelona's Beachfront Boardwalk, also known as Barceloneta Beach, is a coveted destination for those who want to soak up the sunshine and take advantage of beautiful views of the city and ocean. With around 2.5 miles of sandy shoreline to lay your beach towel on, it provides a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown, even during the busy tourist season. The boardwalk is located in the fishing district and is home to local vendors selling arts and crafts, delicious surf and turf street food, and an eclectic mix of local boutiques.
More Landmarks and Things to do in Barcelona
Here’s a few more fun activities that Barcelona is known for to add to your vacation itinerary:
Cheer on FC Barcelona at Camp Nou
A Barcelona sporting event staple since 1957, Camp Nou is the home playing field of FC Barcelona and can sit near 99,400 cheering fans. It is the largest sports stadium in all of Europe and provides guests with a soccer (fútbol) experience unlike any other you will find in the region.
You can reserve your seat for an intense home match between January and May, check their official team schedule to see if there are any games lined up while you are in town. The stadium is filled with vendors who sell everything from team sportswear to tantalizing Spanish gameday cuisine.
View a Magic Fountain Light Show
After the sun goes down at night, head over to The Magic Fountain for an impressive choreographed light and music show. The Magic Fountain has been putting on a brilliant show for guests since 1929, and shows occur between 9pm-10pm, depending on the season.
Tour the Chocolate Museum
No trip to Barcelona is complete without a sweet tour of The Chocolate Museum! Feast your eyes on an entire collection of artifacts that pay tribute to the history of Spain, which are all sculpted from chocolate.
See the Iconic Arc de Triomf
Regarded as one of the most iconic landmarks in the capital city, Arc de Triomf is a fabulous piece of Spanish architecture that was constructed in 1888 as the official welcoming post of the Parc de la Ciutadella exhibition center.
Get Your Thrills at Tibidabo Amusement Park
Home to the big wheel of Barcelona, Tibidabo is a thrilling amusement park where you can spend the day playing games and taking your turn on carnival rides. Hop aboard the Ferris Wheel and experience a birds-eye view of the city from 1,880 feet up in the sky.
Stroll Through Park Guell
A colorful cultural center, located in the heart of the city, Park Guell celebrates the history and pop culture of Barcelona. Spend a day strolling around on your own or reserve your spot on an expert led guided tour.
See Multiple Destinations on these Cruise Line Itineraries…
Cruises offer something that most other travel types do not. That is the convenience of visiting multiple destinations in one trip. You only have to unpack once when you arrive onboard and settle into your comfortable cruise cabin. This becomes your luxurious home away from home as you stop in beautiful destinations like Barcelona! Here’s some of the top itineraries to look into if you are interested in visiting Barcelona on a cruise…
Holland American Cruise Line
Explore the iconic harbors of the Mediterranean, Europe, and Barcelona on Holland America Cruise Line's cruises from Barcelona. Holland offers spacious, mid-sized cruise ships that are elegant with immersive culinary experiences. They also offer BBC Earth Experiences and more culturally enriching offerings that get you even more in touch with your destinations.
Enjoy a variety of itineraries that will take you from Barcelona to other popular vacation destinations like Naples, France, and Rome, aboard a scenic Royal Caribbean Cruise. Royal Caribbean ships are fun-filled destinations in themselves, with plenty of activities to explore at every corner of their ‘mega ships’. This is a top option for active families!
Departing from the Barcelona Cruise Port, you have the choice between multi-night cruises where you will visit Valencia, Monaco, Monte-Carlo, and more aboard a luxurious Celebrity Cruises sailing. Celebrity defines what a modern luxury vacation is with their fleet of stunning ships and long history of cruising excellence.
Norwegian Cruise Line
With service from Barcelona, explore popular European ports such as Rome, Naples, Cannes, and Livorno aboard a prestigious Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Norwegian is another cruise option that is ideal for families. This is Freestyle Cruising at its finest – meaning cruisers have the freedom to explore at their own pace with no formal schedules to follow but your own!
More Things to Know about Barcelona
Whether you are a solo traveler, are embarking on a family vacation, or are in the area on business, Barcelona will provide you with a glimpse into its fascinating history as well as its forward-thinking contemporary culture.
Is it Safe to Travel to Barcelona?
Yes! Barcelona is considered to be a safe destination for both solo travelers and families. Be sure to keep your wallet and purse close to you as pick-pocketing is an issue for tourists.
What Currency is Used in Barcelona?
The Euro (EU) is the official currency used in Spain. You can exchange your money for Euros at the airports, money exchange centers, or banks located throughout the city.
How Many Days Should I Stay in Barcelona?
Barcelona offers many attractions that appeal to travelers of all ages. To ensure you get to check off all attractions on your itinerary, it is best to plan to stay for at least a week.
How Do I Save Money on My Trip to Barcelona?
Plan your trip during the non-peak travel months from September-April to save the most money on your trip. The area hotels and attractions offer discounted rates during these in an effort to entice visitors to visit the city.