With a population of over 1.6 million, Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city. It is the capital of the beautiful Catalonia province, a region with its own language, culture and customs different from the rest of the country. Barcelonans are very proud of this distinctness. Locals consider themselves Barcelonans first, Spaniards second.English is spoken by those who cater to tourists and if you speak Spanish, locals will gladly resort to their second language to communicate better with you. However, as with any other travel destination, it is very much appreciated if you learn a few Catalan words and phrases like bon dia for good morning, gràcies for thank you and si us plau for please. Sights nearby
Barcelona caters to many types of tourists. The beachgoer who comes here in the summer can easily spend a day lounging on the city's beach. The culture vulture will inevitably hop from one museum to another, while the gastronome can easily find the best of what Catalan food has to offer.
Barcelona faces the Mediterranean Sea and locals and visitors take advantage of beautiful warm days by heading to the city's beaches. The main strip is called Barceloneta, located east of the old quarter, the Ciutat Vella. The atmosphere here is quite relaxed. You can even bring a few friends and some food and drink and have a picnic while here. If Barceloneta is full, you can easily head northeast to find other smaller beaches like Nova Icària or Mar Bella. Those who like to stay close to the beach can book a night or two at the Barceloneta Beach Hotel or at Barceloneta Marina.
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana or the Palace of Catalan Music is a beautiful modernist building designed by one of the city's most famous architects, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Located in Barcelona's historic old quarter Ciutat Vella, the ornate building was first opened in the early 1900s. Almost 90 years after, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are several things that will catch your attention even before you walk in: the Renaissance-style sculptures, the grand vestibule and the staircase. The best part, however, is the concert hall, above which a stained glass skylight piece dominates the scene. You can catch a performance here if you wish.
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Located within Ciutat Vella, one of the best places to sample Catalan cuisine is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or simply, La Boquería. This market sells all sorts of foods, some of which you can try right there. A few eateries are located inside where you can try pa amb tomàquet or bread with tomato, which you can modify by adding spicy sausages or ham. To stay close to the market, you can check in at Hotel Bagues or at Eurostars Ramblas Boqueria.
There are many places to eat and drink in Barcelona. As mentioned above, La Boquería is a good place to begin. Visitors can then head to Plaça Catalunya in the northern part of Ciutat Vella to have tapas, or small servings of meat, bread or seafood. Many bars and cafés serve them here. Other great areas to eat and drink are establishments at Barceloneta and the cafés lining Passeig de Gràcia.Public transport
Barcelona is easy and pleasant to navigate on foot, but to reach some of the more outlying tourist attractions visitors may take any one of the city's modes of public transport. Barcelona has a comprehensive metro system with eleven lines and a couple of separate tram networks. Buses as well as a large fleet of taxis are also present.