Don’t you feel that we sometimes plan a trip without actually knowing much about the place? Instead, we’re attracted by other factors like its’ weather, the gastronomy or its popularity. That’s why we decided to write a “Before you Arrive Guide” to give you more details on Barcelona.
Barcelona is situated on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea. It’s also the capital of Catalonia, which is one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain. The other big cities in Catalonia are Girona (Costa Brava), Tarragona (Costa Daurada) and Lleida.
The city has a 4-kilometer of beach and the highest point is Tibidabo Mountain. Barcelona has 1,62 million inhabitants and the whole of Catalonia has 7,51 million inhabitants.
Mediterranean climate means mild winters and hot summers reaching 40 degrees. Autumn and spring are the rainiest season (but even then, it’s not actually that rainy).
Catalonia has its own language, Catalan. However, people here also speak Spanish, and potentially English in touristic areas. Nowadays, Barcelona is so multicultural, diverse and cosmopolitan that everyone can communicate somehow. You’ll definitely 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 for Football Club Barcelona.
Catalonia is run by the Generalitat de Catalunya and it’s now a European center for business creation. Resulting in one of the most prosperous regions of Spain.
Facts and Heritage
Barcelona is the 4th smartest city in Europe, the 5th city in the world for life quality, the 7th city in E-mobility development and the 7th city in Europe for best future perspectives. It’s also the 20th-most-visited city in the world so yeah, it is quite crowded!
Moreover, it hosts 9 World Heritage UNESCO sites; 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.
Culture and Traditions
Catalonia has its own identity, traditions and culture, differentiating itself from the rest of Spain. If you really want to experience Catalan traditions visit the city on the 24th of September. We celebrate Barcelona’s biggest festivity La Mercè, which is the patron saint of Barcelona. It’s certainly become a popular celebration with music, dance, fireworks and a full program of diverse activities in relation with Catalan traditions.
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. The legend tells the story of a Dragon and a Knight who fought to save a princess.
Castellers are human towers built while playing a Catalan instrument until the tower is completed. Other Catalan festivities like Correfoc (fire runs), are a bit more dangerous. Music, fire and giant beasts lit the streets up to perform a very hot show.
Finally, the traditional and old-fashioned dance called Sardana is usually practiced by elderly people on a Sunday.
Catalans usually start work at 9AM until 2PM. Then they have an hour break and they return at around 3PM until 6PM approximately. Retail shops often stay open from 10AM to 8PM or even 10PM. However, they close all day on a Sunday.
Partying in Spain and in Catalonia is exactly the same. We often start our night at 11PM until 6AM (when clubs close). Try out the after-party chocolate & churros for breakfast!
Barcelona offers a wide range of restaurants and bars where you can eat at any time of the day. However, Catalans have their food a bit later, around 2PM or even 3PM on a Sunday, after having the famous vermouth.
It’s a common mistake to think that paella is an authentic Catalan dish as it’s actually from Valencia. Here are some 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).