What You Need To Know
Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is defined by quirky art and architecture, imaginative food and vibrant street life. It has medieval roots, seen in the mazelike Gothic Quarter, but a modernist personality represented by architect Antoni Gaudí’s fantastical Sagrada Família church. Its restaurant scene, anchored by the central Boqueria market, ranges from fine dining to tiny tapas bars.
Area: 39.34 mi²
Population: 1.602 million (2014)
- The Euro is the official currency of Spain.
- The Euro was launched in two stages. First, in January 1999, to became the new official currency of 11 EU Member States, replacing the old national currencies — such as the Italian Lira. It was introduced in the virtual form for bank transactions.
- Spain is no longer a budget destination and Barcelona itself is often quoted as being the most expensive city in the country.
- Winters in Barcelona are mild. December, January and February are the coldest months, with average temperatures around 14 °C (57 °F) during the day and 5 °C (41 °F) at night. Slight frost at night is more common on the hills around the city and in the outer metropolitan area (far from the sea). Frost during the day has never been recorded in the city and inner metropolitan area.
- Generally the summer season lasts about six months, from May to October. July and August are the warmest months, with average temperatures around 27–28 °C (81–82 °F) during the day and 20 °C (68 °F) at night. In June and September the average temperature is around 25 °C (77 °F) during the day and 15 °C (59 °F) at night, and in May and October the average temperature is around 21 °C (70 °F) during the day and 13 °C (55 °F) at night. Daytime temperatures above 32 °C (90 °F) are rare.
- Two months – April and November – are transitional, with the temperature sometimes exceeding 20 °C (68 °F), and an average temperature of 17–18 °C (63–64 °F) during the day and 8–9 °C (46–48 °F) at night.
The two languages spoken in Barcelona are Spanish and Catalan. Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and therefore Catalan is widely spoken by the people of Barcelona. However both Spanish and Catalan are widely spoken interchangeably
You can walk most places in Barcelona’s old city, or through the main districts of interest in L’Eixample. But it’s a good idea to use public transport to a starting point and then set off on foot to explore.
Barcelona’s Metro system consists of six main lines; it crisscrosses the city more frequently and with greater efficiency than the bus network. Service operates Sunday to Thursday from 5am to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 5am to 2am. Each Metro station entrance is marked with a red diamond. The major station for all subway lines is Plaça de Catalunya.
About 190 bus lines traverse the city and, not surprisingly, you don’t want to ride them at rush hour. Most buses run daily from 5:30am to 10pm; some night buses go along the principal arteries from 11pm to 4am. You can buy your ticket when boarding. Red buses cut through the city center during the day; yellow ones operate at night.
Each yellow-and-black taxi bears the letters sp (Servicio Público) on its front and rear. A lit green light on the roof and a libre sign in the window indicate the taxi is free to pick up passengers. Make sure that the meter is at zero when you enter. The basic rate begins at 2€. Each additional kilometer costs 1€. Supplements might apply—1€ for a large suitcase placed in the trunk.
- Pick pockets prefer to choose easy victims – if you look like you’re paying attention and don’t have any valuables on show it’s less likely that you will be pick pocketed.
- Only carry around as much money as you need for that day no more. Leave valuables that you aren’t going to use on the day in the hotel safe.
- Do not have a camera slung around your neck (or any other expensive items like video cams)
- If you need to look up anything on a map go into a café and sit down rather than look up your destination in the streets. This is like advertising that you are new to the area and a tourist and that is exactly what pickpockets are looking for.
- Watch out for distraction / theft scams – these start with a distraction e.g. someone asks for directions, drop money in front of you, asks you to make a donation -and variations on these distractions. Then once your attention is taken either the person involved or someone else will steal from you. Watch out for the famous bird poo distraction/theft scam. Someone will come up to you claiming that you have had bird poo on your back. They will attempt to “help” you wipe it off, whilst pick pocketing you of course! This is now an infamous and all too common scam.