Barcelona is an incredible city and knowing the basics will help you go around comfortably, being a local I can give you all the tips you need to take the most of this Barcelona city guide. 

Before you plan your visit to Barcelona there are different things that you need to take into account, knowing the cost of living in Barcelona will help you get an idea of how much things cost.

Brief history of Barcelona

Barcelona started in the neolitic but the city itself was founded by the Romans when they set up Barcelona on the 1st century BC. The city under the romans built a defensive wall that we can still see nowadays.

After that. the city was under the muslins from 200 years and then after the Christian reconquest we were part of the Aragon crown. In medieval times Barcelona was the centre of politics and economy in the western Mediterranean. The Born area shows the splendour enjoyed by the city from 13th to 15 century.

From the 15th to 18th century, Barcelona entered a period of delcine and struggled to maintain its independence. The period ended in 1714 when the city lost the battle with the Bourbon troups and the previleges and rights of the catalan were abolished.

In 19th century with the arrival of the textil industry a cultural recovery began with the period known as la Reinaixença and catalan as a language recovered its prestige in literature.

In the 20th century important urban changes with the built of l'Eixample district with Ildefons Cerdà city grid. Antoni Gaudí was one of the most known architects in town with his modernist buildings such as la Casa Batlló or la Casa Milà.

In 1936 started the Civil War and all the freedom gained in the last centuries for catalan culture were severely restricted when Franco dictator won the war. On 1978 democracy was reinstated and Catalonia regained his economic strength .

On 1992 the Olympic games cleaned Barcelona's face and is when the tourism arrived massively to the city and from that moment onwards we have become one of the most visited cities in the world.

Catalan language

Catalonia is geographically in Spain, but has its own language Catalan, a lot of people ask me if it is a dialect of Spanish, but it is not, it is a language derived from latin as many European languages.

Catalans and people who live in Catalonia are bilingual and speak Catalan and Spanish, catalan is also an official language. When you go around you will see that most street names, road and transport signs and menus in restaurants are in Catalan,

You will find menus in restaurants in several languages, in the city centre for sure, but the more deep inside you go into the neighbourhood the less languages you will find in the menu, and most likely only Catalan. Find some useful vocabulary and useful sentences in Catalan that will help you understand and communicate.

Weather in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city opened to the Mediterranean sea and as such has mild temperatures in winter and high temperatures in summer. My recommended time to visit the city is from May to July, September is also a good month. If you can skip August, is the month of holidays for restaurants and neighbourhood shops and also one of the highest months in tourists, and the heat goes up until 30/35ºC.

October and November are still good months to visit, but the temperature is around 12ºC and it will not be sunny every day, so get ready for the rain and bring an umbrella in your luggage.

From November to February it is a bit cooler than 12ºC, we have get to 4 or 5ºC, but still it is not as cold as many other countries in Europe so it is not a bad option if you have those months free.

The rain does not appear often in Barcelona, the annual average is 90 days a year but it is important to know that we don't have in general full days of rain, it comes and goes or we only have a moment during the day that rains.

During summer, there are a couple of big storms but they are normally short, and after that the sun shines again.

Check out things to do in summer in Barcelona and things to do in autumn in Barcelona. If you are coming on Christmas, check out christmas markets in Barcelona and what to do in Christmas in Barcelona.

Traditions

Castellers by Stasiu

Castellers by Stasiu

Traditions in Catalonia are a bit different from those in Spain, as you might know Catalonia has a wish for independence and historically Catalonia was its own nation separate from the country we know as Spain now. Some of the things that are typical here are not common in the rest of the peninsula.

Check out Christmas traditions, Castellers and A typical catalan wedding so you can compare of what is done in your own country.

Safety tips

Barcelona is a safe city, it is the third safest city in the European Union and the 4th safest city in Europe. Barcelona is a very popular city, is the 4th most visited city in the world, millions of people arrive in Barcelona every year.

Tourism is great for the economy, but there is a tandem that always go hand in hand: where there are tourists there are pickpockets and thieves. In Barcelona is very rare to have violent thefts, the maximum will be pickpocketing, but we do have very skilled pickpockets so you need to be careful. If you want to have a trouble free experience in Barcelona visit my local guide to avoid being robbed in Barcelona.

Gastronomy

Rice with mushrooms and artichokes

Rice with mushrooms and artichokes

Gastronomy is very important in Catalonia and Barcelona being the capital is where you will find anything you think of, from traditional catalan cuisine to creative cuisne and international cuisine from other countries.

Check out the best tapas restaurants and the best bravas in Barcelona so you can try the best of tapas in town. If you are interested in other food's: gourmet hamburgers, brunch, check out our eating in Barcelona for ideas.

Markets in Barcelona are the essence of the gastronomy, the most famous one is La Boqueria market but going around Barcelona you will find plenty of options, check out a fish tapas restaurant in el Ninot market.

Food tours are a great option to understand the gastronomy of the city, check out Barcelona the city of chocolate and a Gràcia authentic food tour.

What to visit

Casa Batlló Terrace

Casa Batlló Terrace

Barcelona is full of amazing monuments, museums and cultural activities. There are numerous tours and options to visit the city and its jewels, either organized or on your own. Check out free things to do in Barcelona, being on a budget helps even if you are not in a tight situation, you invest the money saved in something else.

Gaudí is a must if you have never visited Barcelona before, Gaudí route on your own, if you are into modernism I recommend you Casa Lleó Moreraas well. If you want to see the best views in Barcelona you need to go to the Turó de la Rovira.

Discover Barcelona's neighbourhoods, the trendy Sant Antoni area, the incredible views of Montjuic, the cultural Raval or the artisans and shopping in Gràcia.