Barcelona, a Mediterranean city and Catalonia’s capital, is one of the most modern cities of Spain with more than 1.619.337 inhabitants. Lately, Barcelona has been positioned as a business city in Europe thanks to its strategic geographic position, dynamic economy, its sustainable growing, foreign investments and the known orientation the city has towards technology and startups. As an example of the city’s orientation for IT and innovation we can mention the Mobile World Congress, that has been taking place in Barcelona since 2006. Every year thousands of visitors and companies attend to this state of the art congress. The latest edition has generated more than 450 million euros and more than 180 thousand visitors have attended.
Culture, history, leisure
It’s a pleasure for us to share with our students the top things to do in the city:
DISCOVER THE CITY ON FOOT
Barcelona is a big city, but it’s the perfect size to discover on foot. Take your time strolling around and stopping to recharge with some of the city’s great gastronomic options. If you’re in the mood for visiting some of the most impressive buildings and parks, you’ll want to see all the Parc de la Ciutadella has to offer as well as the Parc de Joan Miró, and the Montjuïc castle.
EXPLORE GAUDÍ AND MODERNISM
Without a doubt, one of Barcelona’s top attractions is admiring the city’s modernist architecture, and the works of Antoni Gaudí in particular. Just walking around you’ll come across various examples of Gaudí’s work throughout the city, be they civil or religious buildings. The most famous are the Sagrada Família, impressive both outside and in; Park Güell, a space that’s out of a fairy tale and emulates an English garden city and La Pedrera. Find yourtickets online here
CLIMB UP THE MAGICAL MONTJUÏC
Montjuïc Mountain is the perfect place for a leafy stroll with great views, but it does take a bit of legwork to get up there. Aside from the natural surroundings and spectacular vistas, you’ll find buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games, including the Palau Sant Jordi and the telecommunications tower designed by Santiago Calatrava. If you’re feeling full of beans and you get to the top of the hill, you can check out the Olympic stadium and the JardiBotànic.
WALK ON THE ARTY SIDE
In Barcelona, taking a walk in the park is not only a way to relax, it can also lead you to discover some great art. Get up and get out for a walk around the lush gardens of the TeatreGrec and then head over to the Fundació Joan Miró, one of the largest museums in the world and home to a collection of over 225 paintings, 150 sculptures and graphic pieces by the Spanish surrealist painter, along with a number of works by his contemporaries.
Listing all the museums and art galleries in the city would take quite a bit of time, but one of the jewels is the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya), with pieces that represent Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the mid-20th century and the Museu Picasso, a gallery that houses works from Picasso’s formative years.
GET TO KNOW THE CITY’S HISTORY
When visiting a new city, it’s always good to learn a bit about its history in order to understand its architecture, its art, what makes it tick, and something of the character of its people. As an international city, Barcelona is full of diverse cultures and heritages, and with every step you take through its streets, you’ll stumble upon some of its history.
You can get an idea of this historical wealth at the Museud’Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA) where the historical heritage of the city is preserved and put on display in the MUHBA’s various locations, the brand-new Born Centre Cultural, the Columnas de Adrian (Pillars of Hadrian), the royal shipyards of the MuseuMaritím, the various shelters that were built to survive the Civil War, and the Fossar de les Moreres, which was once one of the historical cemeteries near the Santa Maria del Mar church and is a war memorial for those who lost their lives during the siege of Barcelona.
Barcelona free walking tour here
TAKE A DIP IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Barcelona has a little over four kilometers of beaches where you can spread out your towel, stab your umbrella into the sand, smear yourself with sun cream and find a very safe place for your rucksack.
Best Beach options in Barcelona:Find here
Discover COSTA BRAVA! Additionally, just a few minutes by train or a short drive in the car, you can take in other coastal towns with gorgeous beaches, part of the gift of the Mediterranean that just keeps giving. The best way to get there is with RENFE and Bus line SAFRA here
What to see in Costa Brava: Find Here
WANDER THROUGH THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Many visitors tend to spend their time in Barcelona visiting the most central areas (the Born, the BarriGòtic and the Eixample), but the city is so much more. Gràcia (voted best neighborhood by the city’s residents) is full of life at all hours of the day, and among its little streets you’ll be able to scratch that consumer itch in its many quality shops. Sarrià, while more on the posh side, still has the charm of the small town it once was; and Montjuïc is full of parks and gardens to take a nature break away from the crowds and stroll or have a picnic.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND IN BARCELONA
While in Barcelona, you have different options to move around the city, and you can choose the one that fittest you the most.
Public transport: Metro, Bus and Train
Which card should I use to travel by public transport in Barcelona?
The most popular integrated travel cards (for metro, bus, FGC, tram and Renfe trains) are:
- T-10: A multi-person travel card allowing 10 journeys to be made on all operators in the Integrated Fare System (IFS) across one to six zones. In the case of one-zone cards, passengers have 75 minutes from validating the ticket to change lines or mode of transport (e.g., bus to train); this time increases by 15 minutes per zone.
- T-Mes (monthly travel card): A holder-specific travel card allowing unlimited journeys on all operators in the IFS, and which lasts one calendar month. T-Mes cards must be used in conjunction with a valid ID such as a national ID document or any ID issued by IFS operators.
- T-Jove (young people travel card): Under-25s can use this personalized card to make unlimited journeys over 90 days (from the first validation) on all operators in the IFS. Proof of age is necessary with a valid national ID document, NIE or passport.
- T-50/30: An individual travel card valid for 50 journeys over 30 consecutive days from the first validation. In the case of one-zone cards, holders have 75 minutes between the first and last validation when changing lines or mode of transport.
For more details on tickets, routes maps and prices, please visit www.tmb.cat
A different option to move around are bicycles. In Barcelona there are huge number of cycle lanes, and they are still increasing.
The public services for bicycles is called “ViuBicing”. Once you have you NIE and a valid living address, you can affiliate to this service.
Bicing is the urban transport based on the shared use of the bicycle. A simple, practical and sustainable service that you can use on your trips around the city. To go wherever you want and when you want, without smoke or noise.
To start benefiting from this service, you need to request your card through the website: www.bicing.cat. Once the request has been made, you will receive your card and all the information necessary to use these services at home. (More information in the section: “Como abonarse”)
As easy as going by bike: Using the Bicing is very easy. Once you receive the subscriber card and active it at home (online), you can start using them: you remove the bicycle from any of the stations, use it during the journey and return it at the station closest to your destination.
Bicing is understood as a means of transport to move from one point to another. For this reason, the first thirty minutes of each journey * are included in the subscriber rate. From there, you pay according to the time you use the bike, with a maximum of two hours each way.
* It is understood by journey the route that is made by bicycle from one station to the station where it is returned, either the same or another.
For prices, regulations and more information please check their website: www.bicing.cat
Websites and useful information
– HOW CAN I GET FREE WIFI INTERNET ACCESS?
Barcelona WiFi is a service from the local council that enables you to connect to the internet through WiFi hotspots in various municipal amenities and public access points. You can find a list of WiFi stations at www.bcn.cat/barcelonawifi/.
– Where can I find the contact details of my consulate?
The website of the Generalitat has information about the 100 or so consulates in the city: afersexteriors.gencat.cat/.
– SOME SAFETY TIPS:
Every big city has its risks. Although there’s no need to be paranoid, it’s alwaysa good idea to stay safe. Here’s a guide to what to look out for and what to do in case you need help:
- If you use public transport, be sure to keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially your phone and wallet.
- If you travel by car, take the appropriate safety measures. Note that everyone in the car needs to wear a seat belt, and it’s best not to stop for strangers.
- Avoid showing your cashin public and, if possible, carry a small amount.
- In any crowded place, you might want to strap your bag and/or camera across your front, rather than your back. It’s also important to use a secure closure, such as locks, zippers, etc., ensuring that it’s always properly closed.
- In restaurantsand bars, ask for the price of food and drinks to avoid surprises when paying.
- You may come across people who will try to divert your attention with various excuses (saying you have stains on your clothes, selling flowers, asking for your signature, etc.). Do your best to avoid them, as they could be pick pocketers.
- You may also find people in the street seeking your participation in forms of gamblinggames that appear easy to win. Remember that these people run their games ‘professionally’, with the aim of earning money through dishonest means. Such activity is illegal and prosecuted by the police as fraud.
- On the beachesrespect the colored flags indicating whether it’s safe to swim. If you’re going alone to the beach and planning to swim, it’s best not to leave valuables unattended, and, in general, you should only take with you what you really need.
- Some important phone numbers:
Emergencies: 112 (see below)
Fire brigade: 080
Health emergencies: 061
Local police (Guàrdia Urbana): 092
Duty courts: 93 567 31 40
Duty pharmacies: 93 481 00 60
If you’re the victim of a crime, ask for help from a police officer or call 112. This number works for all emergency services, including ambulances and the fire brigade. It’s free, works 24/7 and you can even call using your mobile from places where you can’t get a signal with your provider (so long as another company can; you can get a signal everywhere in Barcelona except a few spots underground). Operators can help you in English, French and German as well as Catalan and Spanish. If you prefer, there are two apps you can download, ‘112 accessible’ and ‘My 112’, for accessing the service – your phone will then use geolocation to identify your position so the respondent can find you. Both apps are free, useful and easy to use. For details, contact