Barcelona, Spain

Guide for the rail traveller


Local languageSpanish
Country Spain


Barcelona is framed by the Mediterranean to its east, situated in Catalunya (Catalonia) in Northeast Spain. Blessed with a pleasant climate all year round, in recent years it has emerged as a top European short break destination. One of the main reasons for this is its spectacular architecture, a perfect example for this being the eccentric work of Antoni Gaudi, which can be enjoyed throughout the city. As well as countless other Gothic and Art Noveau buildings there are some excellent museums.

Yet Barcelona also has much more to offer. It is a considerable regional economic power, strategically close to the French border and with a far stretching Mediterranean coastline the Port de Barcelona is Spain’s most prosperous port and a major Mediterranean maritime destination. The epicenter of this flourishing city is at Placa de Catalunya from where you can walk along La Rambla southeast towards the port.

Barcelona is made up of three districts namely Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), the Ribera and the Raval district. This city has the unique advantage of being able to effortlessly combine its rich and ancient past as can be witnessed at the History Museum in Placa del Rei, with an array of avant-gard glass and steel buildings, an example being the World Trade Center. Last but not least the city houses the Camp Nou home to Barcelona FC, one of Europe’s greatest football teams!

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Things to do

La Rambla, Barcelona’s well known main avenue is a good starting point taking you from Plaza de Catalunya all the way to the port. Along the way you can enjoy the cafes, restaurants, flower stalls and a variety of street performers. Just off La Rambla to your left you can also visit the Placa Reial, a beautiful square with a lively atmosphere and to the right La Boqueria, Barcelona’s wonderful food market.

The area known as Barri Gotic is a maze of streets containing many Gothic buildings, and housing the Picasso Museum as well as La Catedral, Barcelona’s largest cathedral. The best metro stops for this area are either Jaime I or Liceu. Placa Sant Jaime is at the heart of this district and houses the Ajuntament (town hall) and Palau de la Generalitat (where the Catalan Government resides).

Obviously the famous La Sagrada Familia should not be missed. Its architect Gaudi died before its completion in 1926 and the church has been under construction and the subject of much controversy ever since. It is one of the city’s most visited sights that is bound to leave you amazed. Another of the city’s attractions inspired by Gaudi is Parc Guell; a garden covering a hill to the north if the city and offering some great views.

The National Museum of Catalonian Art boasting a stunning collection is to be found in the Palau Nacional on Montjuic. There is clearly much to see in this city but one more area worth mentioning is the waterfront, where you can visit an array of bars and restaurants, visit the shopping mall and leisure center as well as taking a walk on the beach!

Local transport

Public transport in and around Barcelona is readily available and easy to use. Rush hour aside, the metro is the best means of transport, with 5 lines each identified by a number and a color. Remember that all tickets must be validated on the platform before boarding. Good deals are the 10-journey tickets as well as the Barcelona Card, which combines transport with discounts at many of the city’s top attractions. The bus network is extensive and most services run through the three main stations of the city as do the metros namely Placa de Catalunya, Plaza Urquinaona and Placa de la Universitat. For an alternative means of transport bikes can be hired at Scenic

Day trips

The magnificent peaks of Monserrat 40km (25 miles) northwest of Barcelona can be reached via the metro from Placa de Espana taking you to the Monserrat cable car. Here you will find the Monserrat Monastery which has attracted pilgrims for centuries, as well as a museum and an opportunity to explore the numerous mountain paths surrounding the area.

For something slightly less taxing, Blanes north of Barcelona along the Costa Brava or Sitges towards the south along Costa Dorada are some Balearic beach resorts.

Recommended places and events to visit in Barcelona

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