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Barcelona at a Glance

  • Country: Spain
  • Time zone: UTC + 1 hour (CET), UTC + 2 hours (CEST)
  • Currency: Euro (€ / EUR)
  • Language: Catalan and Spanish
  • Power & standard plug type: 230 V, 50 Hz, Type C (Europlug), Type F (Schuko plug)
  • Weekend days: Saturday, Sunday

When is the best time to book flights to Barcelona?

Spain’s major Mediterranean port and the capital of autonomous Catalonia is so overcrowded with visitors that its government is constantly taking measures to reduce or limit the tourist flux. The city has no room for expansion, but people keep coming. And, who can blame them? Barcelona was ranked as the most admired and one of the most photogenic cities in the world. At the same time, it’s cheaper than Rome, London, or Paris. And you can cut expenses even more by booking your flight wisely.

Avoid summer months and major holidays

Barcelona is a year-round destination, which doesn’t typically experience extreme temperatures, incessant rains, or seasonal storms. Nothing much can stop you from sightseeing or enjoying famous museums, no matter what month. However, most tourists rush to Barcelona from May to September and on major Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter.

Visit Barcelona later in the fall, during winter or early in the spring, and you’ll be rewarded with better airfare deals, lower hotel rates, thinner crowds and shorter queues at museums.

Travel early in the week and early in the day

Air tickets to Barcelona tend to be cheaper on Monday, with prices gradually rising towards Friday. Also, many carriers sell their first morning flights at a discount presuming that people would prefer to sleep longer and fly later. As is often the case, the early bird catches the worm.

What should you know about El Prat Airport?

Barcelona–El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport (BCN) is the major international gateway in Catalonia and the second busiest airport in Spain, with annual traffic exceeding 50 million passengers.

BCN’s three runways and two terminals serve flights to and from 211 destinations across five continents (excluding Australia). It’s a hub for budget airlines Vueling and LEVEL, and a focus city for low-cost carriers EasyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Ryanair.

How to get between terminals 

The new Terminal 1, which handles more than 70% of all flights, is around 2.5 miles (4 km) ** away from the old Terminal 2. You can travel between T1 and T2 by a free green-colored shuttle bus running every 6-7 minutes round the clock. The transfer takes **10-15 minutes.

How to get from BCN to the city center

El Prat Airport is around 10 miles (16 km) from Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s main street. The trip to the city’s historic center usually takes 20 to 60 minutes depending on the mode of transportation and traffic conditions.

By public bus
Transfer time — 40+ minutes
Trip cost — €2.20 (around $2.40)

The municipal TMB bus №46 picks up passengers at both terminals every 13-20 minutes from 5:30 a.m. till 11:50 p.m. The key stop is Plaça d'Espanya, just 1.2 miles (2 km) or a 30-minute walk from Las Ramblas. This square is a large transport hub where you can easily get to any destination in the center. The trip averages 40 to 55 minutes with some traffic and 25-35 minutes if roads are mostly empty.

At night, you can catch the N17 or N18 buses at Terminal 1 and the N16 bus at Terminal 2. All three lines run to Plaça de Catalunya in the city center at 20-minute intervals. Travel time is around 60 minutes, with multiple stops en route.

Whether you travel in the daytime or at night, the price will be the same (€2.20), and you can purchase a single ticket on the bus.

By Aerobús
Transfer time — 30+ minutes
Trip cost — €5.90 (around $6.50)

The blue express bus named Aerobús has dedicated stops outside each terminal. It carries passengers to Plaça de Catalunya in central Barcelona from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The intervals between departures are 5 to 10 minutes, and the trip lasts around 35 minutes. You can buy tickets from blue vending machines near the Aerobús stops at T1 and T2. It’s possible to pay with a card or cash.

Though Aerobús is more expensive than public buses, it has some significant advantages: shorter intervals between departures and more room for luggage. Fewer stops on the way result in reduced transfer time.

By Airport Metro
Transfer time — 30+ minutes
Trip cost — €4.60 ($5.00)

The airport offers its separate automated metro line called L9 Sud that links BCN with Zona Universitària every 7 minutes. It has platforms at both terminals (Airport T1 and Airport T2) and 11 stops en route, but none of them are in the center. Neither line passes through major transport hubs. So you’ll probably have to make a couple of changes to reach your destination.

The service is available between 5:00 a.m. and midnight from Monday to Thursday and on Sundays, between 5:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and public holidays, and 24 / 7 on Saturdays. To use L9 Sud you need a special Billete Aeropuerto sold from Metro ticket vending machines at all stations.

By RENFRE train
Transfer time — 20+ minutes
Trip cost — €4.20 ($4.60)

The train station is located on the premises of Terminal 2, and you can easily find it following the RENFRE direction signs. If you arrive at Terminal 1, take a free shuttle bus heading to Terminal 2.

Trains depart from 5:42 a.m. to 11:38 p.m. every 30 minutes and the journey lasts 20 to 25 minutes depending on where you need to get dropped off. The closest station to the city center is Passeig de Gràcia, which is connected with three metro lines.

Five vending machines sell train tickets at the airport station, accepting both cash and credit cards.

By taxi
Transfer time — 30+ minutes
Trip cost — from €30 (around $33)

You can find taxi ranks outside both terminals. All cabs in Barcelona are metered with rates displayed inside the car. The trip to the city center (Plaça de Catalunya) will cost you around €30 ( $33).

What is the best way to get around Barcelona? 

The most popular way to zip around Barcelona is the metro. With its 12 lines and 198 stations, the subway reaches out to almost all key attractions, operating from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and non-stop on weekends (from 5 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday).

Together with complementing tram lines and 230 lines of TMB buses, the metro creates one of Europe's most efficient public transport systems with conveniently integrated ticketing. There are several tickets and card options considering by smart tourists for fares.

  • A single ticket —  €2.20 ($2.40)  — buys one trip with the possibility of changing from one mode of transport to another within 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is valid for the metro (except for the airport line L9 Sud), day bus routes, trams, and the Montjuïc funicular.
  • T-10 card  —  €10.20 ($11.15)  — covers ten journeys within city center Zone 1. It makes sense to choose this option if you’re going to use public transport more than five times. Apart from the metro, city buses, trams, and funicular, the T-10 card is accepted in RENFE trains, TMB airport bus №46, and on the night bus routes.  Similar to a single ticket, one journey includes transferring between modes of transport within 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s not valid for the airport line L9 Sud.
  • T-dia card —  €8.60 ($9.40)  — offers an unlimited number of trips across Zone 1 in a 24-hours period. It also allows for one trip to or from the airport by automated metro line L9 Sud.
  • Hola Barcelona Travel Card — €13.68 to 31.86 (around $15-35)   —  includes unlimited travel within Zone 1 as well as transfer to and from the airport by city public transport (TMB bus №46, RENFE train and automated metro line L9 Sud). The price depends on the number of days covered (two to five).
  • Barcelona Card Express (for 2 days) or Barcelona Card (for 3 to 5 days) - —  €18 to 61 (around $20-67)   — offers free public transport within Zone 1, transfer to or from the airport by bus №46 or RENFRE train, free access to many attractions and museums (doesn’t apply to Card Express), significant discounts on services, souvenirs, and entry fees. The card comes with a city and metro maps along with a booklet covering information about main attractions, available discounts, and free options.

Single tickets, T-10, T-dia and Hola Barcelona Travel cards are sold in vending machines across all public transport stations. You can purchase a Hola Barcelona Travel card online with a 10% discount and then exchange an electronic voucher for a physical card at vending machines. As for the Barcelona Card, you should pay for it online and then get your card from any tourist information stand at the airport.

What’s the weather like in Barcelona? 

Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.  December through January, the average temperatures hover around 61°F (16°C) in the daytime and 50°F (10°C) at night. Summers are typically sultry, with highs of 86-97°F (30-36°C). However, fresh sea breezes make it more comfortable.

While spring and fall feature changeable weather and rains, the mid-seasons experience plenty of consecutive sunny days as well.

Barcelona gets a lot of sunshine throughout the year. Even in winter, the city enjoys at least 4.5 hours of fair weather per day. The sunniest month is July, with 10 hours of the clear sky a day.

What is the average hotel price in Barcelona? 

Hostels located outside the center, yet near to the metro stations, charge from around €12 ($13) per night. At this price, you can count on a bed in a mixed dormitory room for 6 to 12 persons, free WiFi, a kitchen to cook meals, a shared bathroom, and friendly staff. Laundry facilities and towels are likely to be available for an extra fee.

Accommodation in budget 2-star hotels starts at about €45 ($49) for a double room, while the lowest rates offered by 3-star hotels are near €80 ($88). If you opt for something more luxurious, a one-night stay will cost you €100 ($109) at least and €200 ($218) on average.

What are the must-try dishes in Barcelona? 

Barcelona bears the title of the first Gourmand City outside France, boasting

20 Michelin-starred restaurants. What foodies really love about the Catalan capital is its typical local fare.

  • La Bomba. This iconic Barcelona tapas resembles French croquettes. Mashed potato balls are stuffed with ground meat and served with two sauces — red salsa brava (with onions and paprika) and white aioli (with garlic and lemon).
  • Fideuà (Catalan noodles). While Spain’s cuisine is typically associated with paella, Catalonia offers its own version of a popular Valencian dish.  Fideuà is cooked similarly to paella using seafood as major ingredients and noodles instead of rice.
  • Escalivada. This dish is as delicious as it is simple. Eggplants and bell peppers are grilled over coals with olive oil, onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Smoky vegetables are usually served as a side dish for meat or fish. But you can eat escalivada with toast for breakfast or as a snack.
  • Сanelons. Adopted from the Italian cuisine, canelons come off as authentic Catalan food. While Italians use ground meat for stuffing pasta tubes, the Catalans prefer stewed meat.
  • Crema Catalana. This hit on any dessert list is based on milk and egg yolks spiced with citrus zest and cinnamon.

Food in Barcelona comes for reasonable prices ranging from €10 to 20 ( $11 to 22) for a meal that includes soup or salad and a main course.

What are the must-see places in Barcelona? 

There’s no other place in the world where the architecture is so dominated by one person. Barcelona is steeped in the spirit of Antoni Gaudí who created the most notable landmarks in the city.

Among famous masterpieces by the Catalan genius, the UNESCO-listed Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly the most popular and spectacular.

The Roman Catholic church has been under construction since 1882 and is still far from done. Luckily, tourists can admire not only the landmark’s façades and pinnacles rising as high as a 50-story building, but also discover the beauty of the interior as well. The admission fee starts at €22 ($24).

Other Gaudi sights you should see are:

  • Park Güell, which showcases fabulous buildings and sculptures, and offers an impressive view of the city. Casa Vicens, known as Gaudí’s residence and one of the world’s first Art Nouveau constructions.
  • Casa Batllò, a unique old building in the city center remodeled by Gaudí.
  • Casa Milà (La Pedrera), an apartment complex commissioned by the textile tycoon Pere Milà
  • Cascada Fountain, located at one of Barcelona's most popular parks  — Parc de la Ciutadella. The fountain is one of the very first creations by Gaudí.

The list of Barcelona’s must-visit places also includes the Arc de Triomf by architect Josep Vilaseca, the 14th-century Gothic church Santa Maria del Pi, the Barcelona Cathedral built between the 13th and 15th centuries. And, of course, you can’t miss a walk along Las Ramblas, a central boulevard and the main artery of the city.

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