Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Spain and can stay 90 days without a visa.
Security: Pickpocketing and purse snatching are persistent problems in the Ciutat Vella and L’Eixample. Leave your passport in the hotel safe and carry a copy. Take only as much cash as you’ll need for the day. Don’t use a fanny pack or leave a bag unsecured on the seat next to you in an outdoor café.
Time: Barcelona is six hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.
Money: The currency of Spain is the euro. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: Landline numbers in Barcelona begin with 93 or 90, plus seven digits. For nine-digit mobile phone numbers, no prefix is needed.
When to Go: Barcelona gets mild, dry winters, with average temperatures of 48ºF (9ºC) in January and February—when there are fewer tourists and lower room rates. It almost never snows. July and August are very hot and humid. May-June and late September-October are the ideal times to visit.
Getting There: Continental, Delta, and US Airways fly nonstop to Barcelona from the U.S. Other carriers usually make a change of planes in a European hub city such as London, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt. Barcelona International Airport, six miles (ten kilometers) from the city, is served by commuter trains, shuttle buses, and metered cabs.
Getting Around: Licensed cabs are yellow and black; a green light on the hood indicates it’s available. Surcharge for luggage in the trunk.
The Barcelona Card issued by the Tourism Association gives you unlimited travel on subways, buses, trams, and trains to/from the airport. Good for 2-5 days, with free or discounted admission to most museums and attractions. www.barcelonaturisme.com
Barcelona Bici lets you rent a bicycle by the hour or the day from any of three strategic stations around the city, and return it at any other. www.barcelonaturisme.com
Tips: “Remember this is a city—you’re not at a beach resort. Pack to dress comfortably, but keep in mind what’s appropriate for restaurants and evenings out.”—Tara Stevens, writer, Barcelona Metropolitan.
Walking Shoes: Barcelona is a great city to wander in. “Just walking along the street, you find yourself constantly surprised by scenes and events which have a surreal feeling to them.”—Matthew Tree, Anglo-Catalan writer. Pack sturdy, comfortable walkers.
Sunscreen: The city can be brutally hot in July and August; even in late spring, the sun is deceptively strong. Bring sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15—especially if you plan to spend any time on the beach—and a hat or a cap with visor.
Warm Gear: Chances are a cotton sweater or a light jacket will be all you need in Barcelona until late October; from November through February, you’ll want a fleece pullover and/or a warm coat.
Umbrella: The “rainy season” in Barcelona is September-October. Rain is an occasional event the rest of the year; a folding umbrella might come in handy, but a plastic poncho would be less fuss.
T-shirts, Shorts, Sandals: Best gear by far for walking around Barcelona in late spring and summer. Discouraged, though not forbidden, for visiting churches.
Adaptor: If you’re bringing small appliances that run on 220V, make sure you have an adaptor for the European socket.
Ear Plugs: Barcelona can be noisy. Most nights, there are people out on the streets until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., and traffic is still heavy. Double-glazed hotel windows don’t help much. If you’re a fitful sleeper, pack earplugs or a “white noise” machine.
Dress Clothes: People in Barcelona dress fairly informally for all but the most elegant restaurant or events like the opera. Pack something with élan for a big night out, if that’s on your itinerary, but otherwise you can safely leave the pearls and the necktie home.
Gaudí and Art Nouveau in Catalonia
Encyclopedic info on Gaudí and his fellow modernistas: architecture, painting, decorative arts, literature, and music. www.gaudiallgaudi.com
Official portal page for information about cultural activities and events, hotels and restaurants, tours and itineraries, and tips for navigating the city. www.barcelonaturisme.com
Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona
Guide to the bus, train, and subway system. Routes, timetables, maps, online sale of tickets and travel cards. www.tmb.net/en_US/home.jsp
Official site of the city’s powerhouse football (soccer) club: team news, player profiles, virtual tour of the stadium. www.fcbarcelona.com
News and reviews of club nights and events in Barcelona: funk, soul, reggae, Latin, hip-hop, and more. www.myspace.com/sundayjoint
Download free audio file guide to Barcelona’s top 16 tourist attractions, a track on the history of the city, and a city map of the sights listed. www.iaudioguide.com
El Celler Català
Online sales and information on the wine-producing regions around Barcelona, the top wineries, and most interesting wines. www.elcellercatala.com
Free monthly magazine in English with articles on local culture, events, leisure, film and restaurant reviews, city living. Distributed via foreign consulates, bookshops, theaters, restaurants, bars, and Internet cafés citywide. www.barcelona-metropolitan.com
Barcelona Time Out
Weekly magazine in Catalan and monthly edition in English. A guide to the city’s restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, arts, and entertainment. Barcelona Time Out is also available online. www.timeout.com/barcelona
Glossy quarterly in English and Spanish, for cutting-edge design, architecture and the arts, fashion, and trendy places to eat and drink. www.b-guided.com
English-language weekly newspaper (comes out on Thursdays), with news, political analysis, cultural features, and a detailed calendar of events. Available at kiosks and by subscription. www.cataloniatoday.cat
Quarterly Spanish/English publication of Guía del Ocio, the weekly pocket guide to concerts and performances, exhibitions and films, with restaurant and shop listings and reviews. The Guía comes out on Thursdays at kiosks and newsstands, in Spanish, but with English back pages. www.guiadelocio.com/
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.