City of the Month: Barcelona

Each month we showcase a European city – our focus in August is Barcelona…

Barcelona is one of Europe’s most captivating and vibrant cities. With outstanding architecture – from Roman remnants via Gothic grandeur to the sculptural creations of Gaudí and his peers – Barcelona boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, countless museums, and a wealth of culture to explore.

It’s a perfect destination for those who also seek some relaxation and recreation, with a warm Mediterranean climate, stretches of powder-soft gold sand beach, expansive green spaces, and a world-class culinary scene.

As a leading global business centre, Barcelona has several large conference spaces, notably the 15,000 capacity Conference Center Barcelona (CCIB) and Fira de Barcelona – the second largest trade fair and exhibition centre in Europe.

Summary: With its broad appeal, a highly developed tourist infrastructure and transport system, sleek hotels and extensive conference facilities, Barcelona is perfect for:

  • Leisure groups
  • Students
  • MICE
  • FITs

BARCELONA FACTFILE

Population of Barcelona: 1.7 million

Location: Situated on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, between the mouths of the Llobregat and Besòs rivers, with the Collserola mountain range to the west.

Nearest airport: Barcelona International Airport is 13 kilometres southwest of the centre.

Getting around Barcelona: 

  • Barcelona’s metro, buses, TGC, and trams are quick, simple, and convenient.
  • Taxis in the city are fairly affordable.
  • Barcelona has integrated cycle lanes, so it’s easy for visitors to cycle through the city and its open spaces and parks.

What to eat and drink in Barcelona:

Tapas is a big part of the dining culture in Barcelona. Bombas and croquettas are made of meat or cheese and mashed potatoes formed into a ball, covered in breadcrumbs and fried, and served with garlicky aioli and spicy red sauce; salt-encrusted heat-blistered Padron peppers, Pa amb Tomàquet (bread with tomato and garlic), calamari, Iberico ham and patatas bravas (crispy fried potato wedges with aioli) are also typical small dishes. Finish with crema Catalana – a rich set vanilla custard with a crisp burnt sugar lid.

Drink Sangria (chilled red wine with brandy and orange juice) or Cava Brut – Spanish sparkling wine and the equivalent of Italian Prosecco.

Weather/seasons in Barcelona:

Barcelona has a maritime Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm-hot summers (average highs of 28-29°C in July and August). The rainiest months are September and October (average rainfall of 75-87mm). December – February are the coldest months, with average temperatures around 10 °C during the day.

Visit Barcelona in…

  • May and June for balmy weather, al fresco dining, and fewer tourists than high summer.
  • September to October for still-warm weather which is ideal for exploring the city, botanical gardens, parks, and beaches.
  • End of November to early January for beautiful winter streets, dressed up in lights, with Christmas markets and ice-skating rinks.

Barcelona’s top 10 must-visit landmarks and attractions: 

  1. La Sagrada Família & Museu Gaudí – a vast church designed by the avant-garde architect Antoni Gaudí. The impressive building is still under construction and due for completion in 2026. There is also a tourist centre dedicated to Gaudí’s work.
  1. Barri Gòtic – Catalan for ‘Gothic Quarter’, the centre of Barcelona’s old city contains buildings dating back to medieval times, and as far back as the Roman settlement.
  1. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya the National Museum of Art of Catalonia hosts an impressive collection of Catalan art, spanning early medieval era to the 20th century.
  1. Museu Picasso – the museum houses a large collection of works from Pablo Picasso’s formative years. 
  1. Park Güell & Casa Museu Gaudí – originally intended as a prestigious estate of houses, the area was landscaped by celebrated architect Antoni Gaudí and contains many of his whimsical sculptures. The house where Gaudí lived from 1906-1926 (Casa Museu Gaudí) is also within the park and open to the public.
  1. Santa Maria del Mar – an imposing church built between 1329-83 and an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic architecture.
  1. La Rambla – a plane tree-lined boulevard – popular for shopping – that is home to street performers, theatre, and interesting architecture.
  1. Gran Teatre del Liceu – world-renowned opera house in La Rambla, dating back to 1847. Hosts ballet and opera productions and symphony concerts.
  1. L’Auditori – home to the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra as well as the Museu de la Música.
  1. Camp Nou – The massive stadium Camp Nou (translates as ‘New Field’ from Catalan) is home to the highly successful FC Barcelona. 

Barcelona’s top 3 events and festivals: 

  1. Cavalcada dels Reis – on 5th January the Three Kings’ Parade goes around town, comprising floats with actors, acrobats, clowns and elves. The following day is a national holiday.
  2. Primavera Sound Festival – popular annual rock festival, held at the end of May/beginning of June.
  3. Fira de Santa Llúcia – from late November to late December, this traditional Christmas fair includes stalls selling handcrafted decorations and gifts, mistletoe, poinsettias and Christmas trees. There’s also musical parades and exhibitions and a Nativity scene.

Nearby attractions:

  1. Sitges – just 24 miles south of Barcelona is the stunning coastal town with its idyllic beaches. Sitges is also a great place to celebrate Carnival, as well as the Sitges International Film Festival.
  2. Girona – the beautiful city is just an hour and a half from Barcelona.With picture-perfect landscapes and medieval monuments, Girona is the location for Game of Thrones.
  3. Penedès – west of Barcelona is the picturesque Cava-producing region – visitors can take a guided tour of a vineyard and cellars in the heart of wine country.

We’ve been sharing our European travel knowledge and passion for over 40 years, creating bespoke European itineraries for our partners’ clients in the leisure, student and corporate markets – please contact us to discuss your requirements.

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