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Book cheap holidays to Barcelona

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Barcelona: The Queen of Catalonia

Nestled between the Balearic Sea and the Catalan Pyrenees, Barcelona has attracted visitors since time immemorial. During city breaks in Barcelona, admire wide-ranging architecture, from Roman to post-modern, enjoy the lovely beaches, and dig into typical Catalan cuisine. Despite its size, Barcelona can be easily explored on foot, but if you want to see many of the city quarters, the excellent public transport system will help you to get around.

What to Know Before Your Barcelona Travels

The inhabitants of Barcelona think of themselves first and foremost as Catalans, not as Spaniards, but there are still some similarities to the rest of the country. Barcelona is one hour ahead of the UK, the Euro is the currency, and Spanish is one of the two official languages, the other being Catalan. You don't need a visa to board your flight to Barcelona, and British airports with direct connections to Barcelona include London and Manchester.

The easiest way to get from the Barcelona-El Prat Airport on city breaks in Barcelona is to take the suburban train directly from the airport, which connects in the centre with the extensive bus and metro system. Another good option is the airport bus, which departs before each terminal and ends at Plaça de Catalunya, a major public transport hub.

What Is the Best Season to Travel to Barcelona?

Thanks to the city's location on the sea, extreme temperatures are rare. If swimming is high on your list for a weekend in Barcelona, consider a visit between May and September, when the waters are balmy. If cultural events and relaxing walks on the beach are more to your taste, book your flight and hotel in Barcelona during the rest of the year. Barcelona also offers a wide variety of festivals all year round. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day): Traditional gifts include roses for women and books for men on April 23, the Catalan version of Valentine's Day
  • Sónar: This three-day music and multimedia festival is held during the third week of June.
  • Festes de Gràcia: This week-long festival in mid-August is celebrated with street decorations, live music, and fireworks. A similar, but smaller, event is the Festes de Sants at the end of August.
  • La Mercè: On September 24, enjoy a parade of giant paper-maché figures, competitive human tower building, live music, and fireworks.

Great activities to do in Barcelona

A great start to your package holidays in Barcelona is to visit Montjuïc or Tibidabo, two hills from which you have splendid views over the city and the sea. Both can either be climbed or, more comfortably, reached by funicular. On top of Montjuïc, you'll find the Palau Nacional, home to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, a feast for the eyes of every art lover. On top of Tibadeo stands the impressive Sagrat Cor, or Sacred Heart Church. Directly beside it is the secular and charming Tibidabo Amusement Park.

Some other ideas for great activities in Barcelona:

  • Barceloneta Beach: This beach combines pristine sands, shallow water, and a wide array of food and drink options.
  • Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter): This is the oldest part of the city, with buildings dating back to medieval and even Roman times. It's great for tapas bar-hopping.
  • Museu Picasso: This incredible museum is home to one of the largest collections of work by the great Spanish artist.

What Spots Must You See in Barcelona?

No other architect has shaped Barcelona like Antoni Gaudí. His masterpiece, the still unfinished La Sagrada Familia Basilica, dominates Barcelona's cityscape. Construction started in 1882 and is to this day solely financed by private donations. Several tour options are available, with online reservations strongly recommended to avoid long queues, especially if you only have a weekend in Barcelona.

Parc Güell is a favourite with families and couples. Mosaics of lizards and other fantastic animals adorn the benches and fountains and, whilst popular with visitors and locals alike, the park is big enough to allow everybody their quiet and serenity. And if you are travelling with children, don't miss CosmoCaixa Barcelona. This interactive science museum is a joy for both kids and adults.

The Gothic basilica of Santa Maria del Mar has been made world-famous by the international bestseller 'Cathedral of the Sea' by Ildefonso Falcones. It is considered one of the purest examples of classic Catalan Gothic architecture.

Catalan Gastronomy in Barcelona

'Mar i muntanya' means sea and mountain, the two words that best describe the cuisine you can taste during your package holidays in Barcelona. At over 200 years old, Can Culleretes is the city's oldest restaurant and a great destination for traditional dishes. Another very good option is Senyor Parellada, which is particularly well known for mixing 'mar i muntanya'. Must-try Catalan specialities include:

  • Bacalao a la catalana (cod with raisins and pine nuts)
  • Esqueixada (bacalao salad with tomatoes and onions)
  • Mongetes amb botifarra (bean stew with local pork sausages)
  • Suquet de peix (seafood casserole)
  • Crema Catalana (thick custard with molten sugar crust)

Shopping for Souvenirs in Barcelona

Barcelona is the fashion capital of Catalonia. The perhaps best-known shopping mile is Las Ramblas, and if you divert onto its many side streets, you'll find interesting boutiques off the beaten path, offering shoes, clothing, and accessories at reasonable prices. If you're planning a weekend in Barcelona, keep in mind that the shops in Ciutat Vella, the old town, are typically open on Sundays, unlike those in the rest of the city.

Head to the Passeig de Gràcia for antiques. Countless shops here offer everything from vintage jewelry to paintings and books. Two other great spots for pre-loved souvenirs are the city's main flea markets. The first takes place on Saturday mornings at the end of Las Ramblas, near the Christopher Columbus monument, and the other, every Thursday morning in the square outside Barcelona Cathedral.

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