USEFUL LINKS AND TIPS:
• Transportes de Barcelona: www.tmb.cat/en/home
• The Metro
Barcelona has two metro-like systems: the Metro (lines 1 to 5 and 9 to 11) and the suburban FGC trains (lines 6 to 8 and anything starting with an “S”). Both systems are fast and frequent, with trains departing every few minutes. To enter the system, insert your magnetic-coded ticket into a slot in the entrance barrier; make sure to take it out, and then you can go through into the train.
• One warning: Some inter-line transfers on the Barcelona metro involve lengthy walks down very long hallways. The transfer between Line 3 and Lines 2/4 at Passeig de Gràcia, for instance, is nearly two blocks long. Pay attention to the way connections between lines are drawn on the subway map: if there’s a long, narrow line connecting two train lines, that’ll be a walk.
Barcelona’s bus system is a great way to see the city.
When you get on the bus, either pay the driver your €2 or dip your magnetic-coded ticket into the validator slightly farther into the bus.
Barcelona taxis are relatively plentiful and metered. Elsewhere, look for a green light in the front window and a sign saying “Lliure.” To call a taxi, dial 902 222 111 or 932 933 111.
• Different rates apply at different times of day, but rates must be posted in the window.
BARCELONA CITY WEBSITE: Barcelona city website
TURISME DE BARCELONA
+34 932 853 832
Mon – Sat, 08:00 – 20:00
Sunday and holidays, 10:00 – 15:00
To make the most of your visit to Barcelona and its landmark sights, we suggest the following tour options:
Barcelona’s Best Buy – Use the card public transport and discounts and free offers at museums, leisure facilities, shops, restaurants … and many more! Visit the Website
Barcelona Bus Turistic
Get to know Barcelona like nobody else. Combine 3 tourist tours and 44 tour stops with the same ticket…Get on and let yourself be transported! Visit the Website
Barcelona Walking Tours
Discover in a guided tour at the Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter the charm of its streets, squares, hidden corners and hundred-year-old buildings with expert guides who will take you, step by step, on a journey through history. Visit the Website
Country Code: +34
Time Zone: GMT+1
Currency: Euro (Here’s a helpful currency converter.)
Electrical Plugs: 220V, two round pins (continental European). If you need a plug adapter, they’re available at hardware stores (ferreterías), but we advise buying them before you leave home. We recommend the Wonpro series of universal adapters and power strips, which you can buy at Europlugs.
Business Hours: Most businesses are open from roughly 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Major shops are open Monday through Saturday, usually from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Dining Hours: Breakfast generally runs from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., lunch, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and dinner from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. No one goes out clubbing until midnight.
Language: Barcelonans speak both Spanish (Castellano) and Catalan. Most signs will be in both languages.
Hotlines: For emergency services call 112.
Tax: Sales tax is 10 percent on food and 21 percent on most other goods; it’s included in prices shown.
Tipping: Round up to the nearest euro.
NEIGHBOURHOODS OF BARCELONA (www)
The Old Town
Bisected by the famous La Rambla, Barcelona’s Old Town is a golden Gothic gem. This is an area of small, winding streets with hundreds of years of history. The more tourist-friendly neighborhoods of the Barri Gotic, Ribera, and Born are northeast of the Rambla, between that street and the Parc de la Ciutadella.
The Barri Gotic, between the Rambla and Via Laietana, includes the city hall, cathedral, and the remnants of the Jewish neighborhood, El Call; if you want to stay somewhere that feels ancient, this is where you should stay. Across Via Laietana are the hip Born (below Carrer de la Princesa) and somewhat sleepier Ribera. The Born has come up in the past 10 years as a neighborhood of cafes, boutiques, and bars in historic buildings, ideal for shopping.
The Rambla itself is one of Barcelona’s most famous tourist attractions, but I consider it overrated: it’s a tourist trap, in more ways than one. Leading from the sea to the Plaça Catalunya, it’s overrun by visitors, people who sell things to visitors, and people who take advantage of visitors. It’s a constant jostling crowd, and not always actually fun. While it’s an unmissable Barcelona experience to walk along once, I greatly prefer the Passeig de Gràcia (below) for a promenade.
On the other side of the Rambla is the Raval neighborhood, a multicultural, working-class barrio that the city has been trying to redevelop for years. Most of that redevelopment can be seen north of the Carrer de L’Hospital, where you’ll find the Museum of Contemporary Art, the CCCB arts center, hip hotels near the Gran Via and multicultural restaurants along the Rambla de Raval. The area south of L’Hospital,—confusingly called the “Barri Xines” (Chinatown) even though it isn’t actually a Chinatown—is still a bit seedy. Be cautious there.
Down by the waterfront is the entrancing neighborhood of Barceloneta, a former fishing village with streets so narrow that people living across the street from each other can shake hands out their windows. Barceloneta is pockmarked with great little restaurants and ends at the beachfront promenade, which is still busy in February. My favorite tapas place in Barcelona is at La Bombeta (3, carrer Maquinista).
The most beautiful street in Europe, the Passeig de Gràcia divides the two halves of the gracious Eixample. Along here you’ll find sidewalk cafes with room to breathe, as well as La Pedrera and Casa Milà, two of the city’s iconic Gaudí buildings. Make sure to look down at the beautiful fresco sidewalks.
The Passeig de Gràcia divides the Eixample into the Esquerra (left) and Dreta (right). Both neighborhoods have long, straight streets with blocks cut off at the corners. Deep in the Dreta you’ll find the iconic Sagrada Família, the unfinished cathedral that’s the single greatest work of Modernist architecture. Just south of Passeig de Gràcia in the Esquerra are the Rambla Catalunya as well as Balmes and Enric Granados streets, prime streets for shopping and dining.
Barcelona gets wealthier as you get closer to the mountains. Gràcia was an independent village until 1897, and it reminds me of New York’s Greenwich Village. The Plaça del Sol is one of the city’s best places for bar-hopping, and streets like Torrent d’Olla and Verdi are clogged with restaurants and boutiques. North of Gràcia is Parc Guell, famous for a huge cache of Gaudí’s architectural confectionery, and above that, on the mountain, is Tibidabo, home to a charmingly run-down amusement park, a gigantic church, and a luxurious hotel. Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is a quieter, upscale residential neighborhood.
You’ll likely attend events in the Vila Olimpica, 22@ or Diagonal Mar areas on the other side of the Parc de la Ciutadella from downtown. These are recently redeveloped, relatively synthetic new parts of town. The Vila Olimpica is packed with nightclubs and beachfront restaurants. The 22@ area is a formerly run-down industrial neighborhood that’s been turned into a high-tech incubator, and Diagonal Mar is an alternative convention district by the water, with hotels and a medium-sized convention center.