Barcelona is one of the best cities in Europe for a city break. Capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain. The Catalonians have a fierce rivalry with Madrid and many seek independence from Spain. The region is culturally and linguistically separate from the rest of Spain. English is widely spoken but you can be sure to receive a friendly welcome, especially if you use a few words of Catalan!
Air: The main airport for Barcelona is El Prat. You can connect with the city via train or bus. Another popular airport with the budget airlines is Girona which is a longer journey from the city but flight costs may be less.
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Rail: Madrid is 5 hours away by train. There are also services from France and other parts of Spain.
Ferry: A less used option is to arrive in Barcelona via ferry from Genoa or Rome. It is also possible to catch a ferry to the Balearics.
What to See and Do
Barcelona's numerous attractions include the following:
Gaudi Architecture: Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi has left his mark on many of Barcelona's tourist attractions. The most famous is the still unfinished basilica, Sagrada Família. Although Gaudi died in 1926, work continues on the building to this day. It is possible that building works will be finished in 2026, a century after Gaudi's death. As the architect once said of the building, "my client is not in a hurry!". Visitors can take an elevator to the top of one of the finished towers for great view of the city. Another Gaudi attraction is Park Güell on a hill overlooking the city. Part of the UNESCO world heritage site, the gardens of Park Güell give the visitor a great experience which combines architecture with landscaping and gardens.
La Rambla: The most famous street in Barcelona connects the Plaça de Catalunya with the trendy area on the water at Port Vell. A wander down La Rambla brings the opportunity to watch street theatre, browse touristy shops or stop for a well earned beer!
FC Barcelona: One of the most famous football teams in Europe is based at Camp Nou, a short trip from the CBD. A visit to the Museum at FCB should not be missed by any sports fan. Photos from the main stand are possible and give you a great view of the largest football stadium in Europe at just less than 100,000 capacity. If you turn up on a weekday you may glimpse some of the players leaving the underground carpark in their expensive cars. Some will stop briefly and give autographs.
Bus Turístic: It's all in the name! This tourist bus links all of Barcelona's top attractions and leaves from the Plaça de Catalunya.
Metro: Numerous routes on the metro can transfer you throughout Barca. The ticketing is integrated with the trams and buses making it easier to transfer.
Barcelona Card: Consider the Barcelona Card which gives unlimited travel on public transport as well as access to various museums. This is good value if you plan to visit museums on your city break.