City Guide: Barcelona

Spanish seaside city offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Serra De Collserola mountain range to the west, the Spanish city of Barcelona welcomes more than 30 million visitors each year. Both tourists and corporate travelers flock to the Catalonia region’s capital, which boasts fabulous beaches, incredible art, unique architecture and history that dates back 2,000 years. Tourism is important to the city’s economy; technology, shipping and manufacturing are major sectors, too.

Getting to and from the airport

The main airport serving the area is Barcelona-El Prat (BCN). It’s about 14 kilometers from the city center; the journey takes about 30 minutes by car or 45 minutes by bus or train.

Taxis stop in front of terminals 1 and 2. For a ride to the city center, expect to pay up to €30 (US$34.84 at the exchange rate of $1 = €0.86). The Aerobus runs every 5 minutes from terminals 1 and 2 to Plaza Catalunya where you can then catch a taxi, or hop on the metro or a local bus. A single ticket costs €5.90.

You also can take the metro directly from the airport. Purchase the billete aeropuerto for €4.60 and get on at stops in Aeroport T1 or Aeroport T2. Take line L9 Sud. Then, to reach the city center, change to line L1, L3, or L5. The metro runs every 7 minutes. Too much to remember? Download the free TMB app for easy access to information on bus and metro service.

The Renfe R2 Nord train runs every 30 minutes from Terminal 2 to Barcelona city. You’ll pay €4.20 for a single ticket. If you are arriving in Terminal 1, a free airport shuttle will transport you to Terminal 2.

Where to stay

Luxury

  • MELIA BARCELONA SARRIA, Avenida Sarria 50; Ph: +34-93-410-6060
  • NH COLLECTION BARCELONA TOWER,  Gran Via 144; Ph: +34-93-413-5000

Upper upscale

  • AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION COTTON HOUSE HOTEL, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 670;

Ph: +34-93-450-5045

Upscale

  • MELIA BARCELONA SKY, Pere IV 272-286; Ph: +34-93-367-2050

Midscale

  • NOVOTEL BARCELONA CITY, Avenida Diagonal 199; Ph: +34-93-326-2499
  • HOTEL BALMES, Mallorca 216; Ph: +34-93-451-1914

Economy

  • HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BARCELONA CITY 22, Calle Pallars 203; Ph: +34-93-433-8400

Things to see and do

Did you know that Barcelona’s beaches weren’t used for leisure until 1992? The seaside area once dominated by industries is now a popular place for locals and tourists to relax. See for yourself as you take a stroll around La Barceloneta and dip your toes into the cool Mediterranean water.

Find time to admire the work of famous architect Antoni Gaudí. Take your pick among La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens and the crypt of the church of Colònia Güell, all of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A free Gaudí app provides audio content that allows you to discover his famous landmarks at your own pace.

Looking to stretch your legs after a long day of meetings? Meander through the maze of narrow roads in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter or take a walk down La Rambla, a popular, tree-lined pedestrian boulevard in the center of the city.

If this summer’s World Cup wasn’t enough to satisfy the soccer fanatic in you, visit Camp Nou—the biggest soccer stadium in Europe and home of FC Barcelona. It’s més que un club.

Where to eat

When in Barcelona, eat as the locals do. Bring your friends and colleagues to enjoy meals made for socializing. Expect to eat lunch at 2 p.m. and dinner at 9 p.m. Post meal, enjoy a sobremesa as the conversation continues. Oh, and don’t forget coffee!

Start your day at Granja M. Viader, a family business that opened originally in 1870. The churros with dipping chocolate earn rave reviews. But if sweets aren’t your thing, choose from the deli counter’s range of cheeses and meats. It’s at Xucla Street 4-6; Ph: +34-93-318-3486.

You’ll find a trendy tapas restaurant on almost every corner in the city, but with a menu that changes every 15 days to provide the best seasonal dishes, Santa Gula stands out. Go to Plaça de Narcís Oller 3 to sample some of the best tastes of the city. Consider calling ahead, Ph: +34-93-185-7649.

Paella may have originated in Valencia, but Can Solé in Barcelona has been perfecting the recipe since 1903. Try the rice dish for lunchtime, as it’s traditionally served, because it’s too heavy for dinner. Find it at Carrer de Sant Carles 4 in the Barceloneta neighborhood; Ph: +34-93-221-5012. Be prepared to pay more for the high-quality cuisine.

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