Climate, People, and Tourism
Barcelona can be hot in the summer with average temperature of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C), and relatively cold in the winter with an average of 52F (11 Celsius).
There is some rain throughout the year and although the seaside winter is typically mild (snow is very rare), it is advisable to bring a warm jacket and an umbrella if you are visiting in January.
Over 4.5 million people live in Barcelona and its suburbs. It is Spain’s second largest city, its largest port, and a thriving commercial center.
Tourism has skyrocketed since the 1992 Summer Olympics and naturally contributes largely to the city’s economy. On a personal note, we are extremely grateful to our international visitors and hope we can continue to be part of a welcoming and enjoyable experience for visitors to Spain.
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community which is officially part of Spain and located in the North-Eastern part of the country. Though Barcelona is arguably Spain’s most popular city, its native residents certainly do not consider themselves Spanish. Catalans have fought since the unification of Spain (around 1492) for their region’s autonomy and despite a few brief successes, they have only partially achieved it from 1978.
At the end of the war in the early 1700s, Barcelona fell to the French, who banned the use of the Catalan language. This prohibition was never entirely revoked until recently. Although the Catalans succeeded in creating a local government in 1931, there was a siege on the city’s language and culture from 1939 when the famous fascist leader Franco took hold of Spain after the Spanish Civil war.
Franco changed all town and street names in Catalonia to Spanish and banned all public use or teaching of Catalan. Franco’s reign lasted until his death in 1975, and in 1978, with the advent of a democratic Spanish constitution, Catalonia was able to reassert its identity. Today, Barcelona retains a combination of Spanish and local Catalan government (called the Generalitat), and has the highest level of self-government in Spain.
Though technically unified, Barcelona remains culturally, linguistically, and legislatively separate. However, due to immigration from other parts of Spain and Latin America, Spanish is once again leveling with Catalan. The political ‘differences’ can be easily felt during football matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Catalans seek independence from Spain and argue that although Barcelona contains only 4% of the country’s population it produces over 14% of its GDP.
Art & Admissions
It is said that the city itself is an artists’ canvas, as the colorful curves of Gaudí architecture, the magic of medieval grandeur, and relatively recent yet awe-inspiring additions (such as the Olympic Stadium or giant golden whale sculpture by the sea) all contribute to Barcelona’s visual diversions.
Locals are well aware of this legacy and call Barcelona the capital of modernism. There are at least 10 art museums in the city, and over 50 museums in total, and 60+ art galleries with constant events and shows taking place.
Unfortunately, admission prices to museums and venues has gone up significantly in the last few years and it seems the city is looking for ways to pay its debt by charging its visitors. Such a shame! A visit inside Sagrada Familia was free a few years ago and today the least expensive ticket is 19.50 Euros per person… Park Guell was free only 2 years ago with open gates to all, and today queues are long and admissions are not inexpensive. Fortunately, we can assist with discounted tickets and skip-the-line entry but we are not pleased with the way things have gone.
Barcelona’s nightlife starts late, but from about 11 pm the metropolis turns into one of the biggest party cities in Europe. Disco enthusiasts can go on into the early hours of the morning. There are also numerous bars and casinos. Music fans can enjoy the impressive range of live music, including Catalan folk music, jazz, and major rock concerts. Famous opera houses and concert halls such as El Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Palau de la Música Catalana offer classical music lovers unforgettable evenings. Tablao Cordobes is a fantastic venue to enjoy an evening of Spanish cuisine and flamenco dancing.
Some important contacts
If you need an ambulance, police or the fire department – dial 112.
If you need to contact your consulate in Barcelona – look on this page for the address and phone numbers.
There are several tourist information offices where you can find maps, ask questions, and get the information you need. The main office is situated on Plaza Catalunya just across from El Corte Inglés (the big department store).
We hope to see you in Barcelona soon!