We sometimes arrive at a destination without having a clue about the spoken language, its exact location or the authentic traditions and culture. Instead, we make decisions based on the weather, the main attractions or our personal interests, for instance. That’s why we have decided to write a “Before you Arrive Guide” to give you more information about Barcelona.
Barcelona is situated on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea and is the capital of Catalonia, which is one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain. The other cities or municipalities within Catalonia are Girona (Costa Brava), Tarragona (Costa Daurada) and Lleida. The city counts with four kilometers of beaches and the highest point is Tibidabo Mountain, at an altitude of 516 meters. Barcelona has 1,62 million inhabitants and the whole of Catalonia has 7,51 million inhabitants which makes the city very crowded around the touristic spots. The maritime Mediterranean climate allows the city to have mild winters and warm to hot summers, being autumn and spring the rainiest season.
Catalonia has its own language, Catalan. However, people here also speak Spanish and English in touristic areas. Nowadays, Barcelona is so multicultural, diverse and cosmopolitan that everyone will be able to communicate somehow and you’ll meet people from all over the world. Moreover, the city can be called Barna or BCN for short but never Barça as that’s the nickname of F.C Barcelona. The city is also the seat of the Catalonia government which is known as the Generalitat de Catalunya and it is now a European center for business creation, resulting in one of the most prosperous regions of Spain.
Barcelona is the 4th smartest city in Europe, the 5th city in the world for quality of life, the 7th city in E-mobility development and the 7th city in Europe for best future perspectives. It is the 20th-most-visited city in the world and the 5th in Europe with more than 9 million incoming tourists. Moreover, it hosts 9 World Heritage UNESCO sites which are Park Güell, Palau Güell, Sagrada Família, La Pedrera, Casa Vicens, Casa Battló, the Crypt of Colonia Güell, Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de la Creu i Santa Pau.
Catalonia has its own identity, traditions and culture, making it different from the rest of Spain, and even if it has recently become more acknowledged by visitors, it is still not that well known. To explore our culture a bit more, why don’t you plan your visit on the 24th of September? It is then when you’ll be able to enjoy Barcelona’s biggest festivity La Mercè, which is the patron saint of Barcelona and it has become a popular celebration with music, dance, fireworks and a full program of diverse activities about Catalan traditions as its main factors. The Catalan National Day, also known as Diada, is on the 11th of September and Saint George is on the 23rd of April which is Catalonia’s patron saint, which tells the story of a Dragon and a Knight. Castellers are the human towers that are built while grallas (Catalan instrument) play along until the tower has been completed and finished. Other Catalan festivities and traditions that are carried out throughout the year are the Correfoc or fire runs, where music, fire and giant beasts perform on the street as well as the popular dance Sardana, which usually involves elderly people dancing in a circle on streets and squares.
Catalans usually start work at around 9AM until 2PM, then they have an hour lunch break and they return to work at around 3PM until 6PM approximately. Retail businesses shops often stay open from 10AM to 8PM, although they close on Sunday. Partying in Spain and in Catalonia is exactly the same as Catalans often start their night at around 11PM until 6 in the morning and then they’ll probably have breakfast in a Caff. Barcelona offers a wide range of restaurants and bars where you can eat from 12 o’clock or at anytime that you fancy. However, Catalans have their food a bit later, around 2pm or even 3pm on a Sunday, which might be a cultural shock for visitors. It is a common mistake to think that paella is an authentic Catalan dish as it is actually from Valencia so, here are some of the typical Catalan dishes: pa amb tomàquet (bread with spread tomato), escalivada (salad made with peppers, aubergines and other vegetables), botifarra amb mongetes (big sausage and beans) or the crema catalana (a delicious dessert made with custard).