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About city What to see Gallery Where to stay

 “Barcelona is not real Spain” - this is what you’ll hear from many travellers. Regardless, it’s a city you absolutely have to visit at least once in your lifetime. Even if it makes you feel overwhelmed, and even if you fail to find real Spanish flamenco or bullfighting, the architecture of the capital of Catalonia, its art, the diversity of its people, great food and weather will certainly make you smile.

Since time immemorial, Barcelona has been the gateway to the Iberian Peninsula – the southernmost tip of Europe, which opens up to Africa and the rest of the world. Barcelona, built between the sea and the mountains 2 millennia ago, is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and that’s probably one of the reasons why it soon became the most popular Spanish city among tourists. Truth be told, Barcelona is the fourth most visited city in the world.

Park Güell
Photo taken by Angela Llop - Wikimedia.org.  Park Güell

Barcelona used to be home to Gaudí, Salvador Dalí, Juan Miró, Pablo Picasso and many other famous artists. Even though the city is inhabited by only 1.6 million people, about 8 million tourists visit it every year. So, if you wish to explore one of the most touristy places in the world, you better plan in advance.

Salvador Dali's portrait on the metal gate in Barcelona
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Salvador Dali's portrait on the metal gate in Barcelona

In Barcelona, every season is a tourist season; here even in January the streets are filled with foreign faces. Nevertheless, try to stay out of this tourist chaos during the days of August, because, at the end of the summer, Barcelona is abandoned by the Catalans and replaced by sweaty people from Italy, France, Germany, the UK and America, who are left to collectively wonder, “Where did all the locals go?”

The best time to visit the capital of Catalonia is early spring, when the city becomes one great party, and the locals meet the coming of warm weather with wine and steak. However, the Mediterranean region is usually warm even during autumn.

A magical fountain in Barcelona at night
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A magical fountain in Barcelona at night

The opportunity to try some fancy dishes from one of the best cuisines in the world should be marked as a priority in your travel bucket list. Nevertheless, many restaurants and bars have also turned lazy by the constant flow of tourists, so a high level of customer service if far from universal. If you don’t put any effort in finding out more about the available restaurants, you may end up with the impression that they all have the same menu.

This tourist city is also rife with pickpockets, so hold on to your wallets. No matter how tempting the assortment of enticing foods, try not to spend any money in the main market. Instead, leave the city center and take a stroll through the surrounding neighborhoods – that way, you’ll be able to not only experience all the scents Barcelona has to offer, but also to save money.

The best place for shopping, in Barcelona, Bokeria Market
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The best place for shopping, in Barcelona, Bokeria Market

One of the reasons why Barcelona is considered the most attractive city in the world is its beaches - not every big city can boast having sandy shores and azure waters.

If you’re here for a short time, getting to know the locals will not be an easy task - on the streets, they are sometimes outnumbered by tourists. Moreover, the temperament of the Catalan people differs significantly from those of other parts of the country. People of Barcelona are more similar to Western rather than Southern Europeans. They have their own language and are eager to secede from Spain.

The Holi Festival was also held in Barcelona
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Holi Festival was also held in Barcelona

All this considered, it would be prudent to act tactfully and avoid talking about matters of independence when socializing in a bar or at a dinner table. Learning at least a few Catalan words wouldn’t hurt, either. Add to that a passing remark about being a fan of FC Barcelona and finding friends will become much easier.

“Vale” is the one word that will definitely stick with you after visiting Barcelona. The meaning of this word, used generously in any and all situations, depends on the context and intonation with which it is pronounced, but generally it means “OK”, “good” or “great”. Just came to Barcelona? “Vale”, you’ll be told by the locals.

Where to stay

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