Barcelona is a global city, the capital of the Catalonia region, the second city of Spain and the largest city on the Mediterranean with a greater urban area population of 4.4 million. It has become a centre of the arts, culture, trade exhibitions and of course a major city break tourist destination for Brits and other Europeans alike.
Despite Spain’s economic problems, Barcelona is one of the most prosperous urban areas in the European Union.
The origins of Barcelona go back to 300 BC when the father of Hannibal, Hamilcar Barca a Carthaginian General landed here and founded the city. Later, the Romans were to name it Castrum (Roman Military Camp). Roman grid layouts are very much in evidence in the centre of the city to this day, and Roman remains were found in the ancient cathedral walls which dated back to 343AD.
Barcelona was later conquered by the Visigoths, the Moors and Charlemagne, before finally becoming merged with the lands of Aragon by dynastic marriage.
Barcelona is particularly famous for the work of Antoni Gaudi, a local architect with a highly distinctive style. Many of his buildings around the historical centre led to the city being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, to include Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Although the building of the Sagrada Familia commenced in 1883, it is not yet complete, and probably won’t be ready until after 2020.
The Ramblas is the main tourist centre with its street performers, bars and cafes. In recent years it has become somewhat notorious for its uncontrolled prostitution and pick-pocketing.
There are a large number of airlines flying direct to Barcelona from the UK. Use our cheap flights to Spain page to get a full list plus a chance to compare fares.
You can take a sleeper train from Paris to Barcelona called the Elipsos Trainhotel. It’s a great way to travel and needn’t cost more than the average plane fare. You can get a fare all the way from London on the Eurostar to Paris and on to Barcelona.
Where to stay
Make the most of this diverse city by staying in one of the numerous apartments in Barcelona – this way you’ll have more space to relax, the option to save money on eating out by cooking in your very own kitchen and you’ll enjoy being able to get a real feel of the local culture.
***** Ritz Carlton Barcelona
On the shores of the Mediterranean and overlooking Port Olimpic, this striking contemporary hotel enjoys a spectacular beachfront location near Barcelona’s finest shops and restaurants.
***** Palace Hotel
The elegant and emblematic Hotel Palace , Barcelona , built in 1919 and recently renovated, has preserved its old-warm charm and distinction of its setting whilst adapting to its guest today’s needs.
**** Avenida Palace Hotel
The Hotel Avenida Palace is a classic in Barcelona and takes advantage of its magnificent location in the city centre, steps away from La Rambla, Gaudí architecture, the Picasso Museum, fc Barcelona Museum and Stadium.
Things to do in Barcelona
Most visitors to Barcelona make a bee-line to the Ramblas, the heart of the city with all its street performers, lively bars, and trendy cafe’s. If you plan your visit here, however long or short, you can get a lot more out of it. It’s common for travellers to visit Barcelona two or three times before they get the opportunity of visiting some important sites like the Sagrada Familia, mainly because they’ve visited for things like stag parties or sports tours.
When the weather’s good, as it normally is for most of the year, the beach is place to be, but be careful of the pickpockets and groups of kids stealing bags as they’re incredibly audacious – and usually successful.