Barcelona, Spain: The Cosmopolitan Capital of Spain’s Catalonia Region

Barcelona, Spain: The Cosmopolitan Capital of Spain’s Catalonia Region

Plaça Reial, Barcelona
Brief History

The name Barcelona comes from the ancient Iberian Phoenician word Barkeno as shown in an ancient coin inscription in Iberian script. During the middle ages, the city was variously known as Barchenona, Barcalona, Barchelonaa and Barcalona. Several sources say that it may have been named after the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, who was thought to have founded the city in the 3rd century. Today, it serves as the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia Riviera Maya, the second-largest city in Spain with a population of around 1,620,940, one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean, an economic powerhouse and the top tourist destinations in Europe. The urban area of Barcelona points of interest extends beyond city limits with a population of around 4.5 million and it is the 6th most populous urban in the European Union. About 5 million people live around the Barcelona Metro area, located on the Mediterranean coast between the mouths of Llobregat and Besos rivers and bounded in the west by the Serra de Collserola range.

Established as a Roman city, it became the capital of the County of Barcelona, after merging with the Kingdom of Aragon and it continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon. Today, Barcelona is a city rich in cultural history particularly architectural works of Lluis Domenech I Montaner and Antonio Gaudi of which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Things To Do

1. Vesping - GPS Guided Vespa

Rethink how to explore a holiday destination. With Vespas equipped with TomTom GPS, you are in control. Knowing the city like the back of your hand will open up doors to Barcelona, you might never have imagined existed. We have preloaded the TomToms with several tours, for you to explore the major points of the city, but the true beauty of it all is, that you are completely FREE to go, exactly where you want when you want.

2. Barcelona Walking Tours

Enjoy walking through the streets of Barcelona, tasting culinary delights, drinking fine wines, and sightseeing this beautiful city called Barcelona! While on tour with your English speaking guide you are going to enjoy stopping in local bars and restaurants while tasting different wines, cava, tapas, and typical food from Spain and the local region of Catalonia.

3. Spanish Trails Day Tours

Spanish Trails was born in 2001 as one of the first small group (max. 8 pers.) day tour companies and incoming travel agencies to experience the best of what Barcelona and all of Catalunya, Spain have to offer. Our year-round, regularly scheduled day tours are all-inclusive fully guided all-day experiences, though guests are more than welcome to explore on their own. We cover the corners of Catalunya including the Costa Brava, Pyrenees, Girona, Montserrat and Penedes, and Priorat wine regions, as well as half and full-day Barcelona city tours and food & wine tours. We also specialize in customized family tours, private touring, and small group events.

Top Attractions

1. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

Antonio Gaudi started this surreal, Baroque style temple in 1882. It was initially envisioned to be a modest, neo-Gothic church, but ultimately it became the most renowned structure in Barcelona. Gaudí instilled every component of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia with symbolic meaning. He uses forms and symbols that give meaning to every aspect of the designs, like the turtles that form the base of the columns, which is the Chinese symbol of order within chaos and the palm trees designed pillars.

2. Barcelona Cathedral

Historical accounts of this Gothic designed Cathedral is that this structure is dedicated to Barcelona’s co-patron saint, Eulalia who refused to renounce her faith during the persecution of Christians of Emperor Diocletian’s reign, leading to her execution and severe torture at just the tender age of 13 years old. Gargoyles that adorned the roof are the most interesting highpoints of this architectural marvel. Major works of this cathedral were done in the 14th century and were completed around 1450. It was thought that the Catalonian tradition of ‘dancing egg’ has originated here.

3. Museu Picasso, Barcelona

Museu Picasso is a collection of three adjoining medieval palaces, a tribute to one of Barcelona’s adopted son, Picasso. Although Picasso was born in Malaga, he started his artistic career here. All his important early works are found here, including pottery, engravings, and lithographs. His famous works displayed here include Harlequin, the portrait of Jacqueline, one of his wives, and Las Meninas series. There are also works by artists from the avant-garde movement.

Food & Drinks

1. Aborigens -Local Food Insiders - Day Tours

Avoid tourist traps and explore the real local gastronomy of Barcelona with native experts. Aborigens suggest tours for foodies and for those who want to enjoy and taste Catalan cuisine in a vibrant, passionate, and casual manner. Enjoy local recipes, discover the non-touristic spots across the country, and meet its people while we show you the most succulent side of Catalonia.

2. El Born

EL Born is a trendy eating district with its share of high-end international quality restaurants serving both traditional Catalonian food, Spanish standards, and international treats.

Catalonian cuisine is famed for the combining of ingredients from the sea and the mountains - the so-called Mar i Muntanya dishes.  It is distinctive from other Spanish food, distinctive despite or perhaps because of having been strongly touched by everything from old Roman, Greek, Arabian, Jewish and modern French cuisines.  Italian and Mexican foods are now also popular and have their influence felt on modern Catalonian restaurant food.

3. Food Wine Tours

Experiences for Hungry travelers in Spain we offer a range of unique and exclusive food and wine experiences, gastronomic tours and activities in Spain.Highly personalized service for corporate travel, leisure groups, and independent travelers.Why Food & Wine Tours? We create and hand-pick the best Food & Wine experiences in different cities and wine regions of SpainHighly personalized service for independent travelers and leisure groups. We want you to have fun. We want you to feel like you're traveling with a local, everywhere you go, every time you experience a tour. We don't think travelers should simply 'take our word for it.' We rely on feedback from travelers like you who've experienced our activities first-hand.

Top Hotels

1. Casa Camper Hotel Barcelona

Casa Camper Barcelona is a design hotel located in the multicultural heart of the city in the Raval area, full of galleries (including the MACBA), bars, little restaurants, and only 2-minute walking distance from Plaza Cataluña. The building, a typical 19th-century gothic tenement, was restored by architect Jordi Tió and perfected by an interior from Ferran Amat of Vinçon. It now stands as one of Barcelona's premier boutique hotels.

Casa Camper Barcelona provides a range of complimentary services: WiFi throughout, a business center, full breakfast buffet, and - best of all - as many snacks as you like in the lobby (sandwiches, soup, salads, pastries, bakery, soft drinks, juices, water, coffee, and tea), leaving you feeling thoroughly looked after.

Albert Raurich, former chef de cuisine at the world-famous El Bulli, currently considered the best restaurant in the world, presents Dos Palillos Barcelona restaurant. Dos Palillos offers authentic Asian dishes served in the Spanish tapas-style.

2. Mercer Hotel Barcelona

Mercer Hotel Barcelona, located in a historical building, incorporates part of the Roman walls of the ancient city of Barcino, some of which date back to the 1st century A.D. and medieval paintings discovered in the 28th defense tower.

3. Hotel Primero Primera

Primero Primera is a family-owned boutique hotel with 30 spacious bedrooms. With its friendly and relaxed atmosphere, it offers all the peace and comfort of a private home. Ever since it was built in 1955, the owner’s family has lived on the first floor (the Primer Piso) with their eight children.
In 2011, it was renovated, preserving the ample spaces and fine materials of the original building.
Primero Primera is a hotel where people can find exclusivity, quality, and friendly service.
Primero Primera is located in one of the best residential areas of Barcelona, the district of Tres Torres. Just 10 minutes from the city center. This quiet neighborhood is also close to the commercial area on Mandri street and in the Sarriá district, where you will find (in addition to the best hospitals and business schools) restaurants, bars, and some of the best shops in Barcelona.
 In a city full of life, Primero Primera is an oasis of relaxation and tranquility.

Getting There

1. Airport

Barcelona International Airport (also known as El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto or Aeroport de Barcelona) is situated 13 KM South West of the city centre. The airport abbreviation is (BCN). This abbreviation is often referred to by online flight reservations services and will be most likely printed on your airline ticket. The airport has 2 terminals: Terminal 1 (abbreviated to T1) and Terminal 2 which has 3 separate buildings called T2A, T2B and T2C. Taxis and minibusses are on-hand to take tourists on Barcelona flights to their accommodations within the city. Alternatively, travelers can take the RENFE R2 (Nord) suburban train line which runs every half-hour.

2. Land Transport

You will find the rental companies for car hire at Barcelona airport in both Terminal 1 and 2. The Car hire company in Terminal 2 is only in building T2B. Each of these companies is right next door to each other so you can be sure of cheap car rental prices. You can try arranging your car rental directly with the companies but often internet-based reservation services can give you a better price as they have negotiated discounts for bulk reservations. There is also the Bus Turístic connecting tourists on flights to Barcelona with the city's main attractions. The bus allows travelers to hop-on and hop-off as they please. The double-decker buses feature an open-air upper deck offering great views of the city. Earphones are available to allow passengers to learn more about the city's landmarks. The Metro takes tourists to a range of destinations within the city.

There are 4,018 vacation rentals in Barcelona, Spain starting at the US $100 per night.