Thinking of taking a little holiday to Barcelona this year? Here are some handy facts to know before you go...
Diagonal Mar Park (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - Espai d'Imtge)
1. Barcelona is a very pedestrian friendly city
In fact, 35 per cent of all journeys taken are either by foot or by bicycle, and the city’s flat layout makes it easy to do so. With hundreds of cycle paths and an increasing number of bike-friendly lanes, it’s the ideal way to travel. You can easily hire one or use the city’s municipal service, Bicing, which is a similar concept to London’s Boris bikes. If you get tired, hop on a Segway and cruise down the seafront, or go on one of the Segway guided tours available.
Map of the bicycle paths
Segway tour information
Panoramic view of the city from Tibidabo (Image: Turisme de Barcelona, Espai d'Imtge)
2. The busiest street in Spain is Barcelona’s Portal de L’Angel
As the city’s largest shopping area, approximately 3,500 people stroll up and down this street every hour. Located in the Ciutat Vella district, it houses fashion brands from luxury to high street, and also happens to be one of the most expensive parts of the city.
Park Guell (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - J Trullas)
3. Parks cover 10 per cent of Barcelona
One of the most refreshing aspects of Barcelona is the various different green spaces found throughout this bustling city. Some of the most popular parks and gardens include the Botanical Gardens, Parc Güell featuring Antoni Gaudi’s ceramic structures, and the Parc de la Ciutadella, home of the Universal Exhibition of 1888.
Barcelona's Cathedral (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - G Foto)
4. Barcelona has 10 different districts, but the city is also divided into 12 different neighbourhoods or ‘barris’, which each have their own individual character
Some of the most central neighbourhoods include the Old Town district, Ciutat Vella/Gotic and Eixample, the harbour and beach areas such as Barceloneta and Vila Olimpica, business areas like Les Corts and Sant Marti and the trendy parts including El Born, El Raval and Gràcia. There are some fantastic hotels in Barcelona to choose from, depending on what part of town you fancy staying in.
Map of Barcelona’s neighbourhoods
Bisbe Street (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - Espai d'Imtge)
5. Barcelona is an international city and is home to 268,000 non-Spanish residents
The El Raval is where many of the city’s expats call home, which is evident by its eclectic range of clubs, bars, shops, markets and restaurants. Becoming an increasingly trendy part of town, this lively neighbourhood offers a diverse mix of culture from Asian eateries to Moroccan shisha bars and cafés.
Villa Olimpica Beach - Turisme de Barcelona - J Trullas
6. Barcelona didn’t have any beaches before the 1992 Olympics
Although voted ‘Best Beach City’ by National Geographic magazine, it wasn’t until Barcelona held the Olympic Games that they decided to dedicate four-and-half kilometres of beach for leisure rather than industrial purposes. Today Barcelona has seven beaches which offer a variety of aquatic activities, sports, dining and bars.
La Rambla (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - J Trullas)
7. Although one of the most famous streets in Spain, La Rambla is a pedestrian friendly promenade made up of five streets – not one
One of the largest pedestrian zones in Spain, this 1.2-kilometre strip which stretches from Barri Gothic to El Raval, is in fact a mall made up of five conjoined boulevards. Popular with locals and tourists alike, this area is filled with street performers, markets and artists throughout the year.
Pla de la Boqueria (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - Espai d'Imtge)
8. The biggest and oldest market in Barcelona is the Mercat de la Boqueria or Mercat de Sant Josep
If you’re on La Rambla, be sure to stop by this lively indoor market, which has roots dating back to the 13th century. Although a popular spot for tourists, it’s also the place where many locals go for fresh food from live seafood to a range of exotic fruit and vegetables, often used in traditional Catalan dishes.
Tourism bus (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - Espai d'Imtge)
9. Barcelona was the first and only city to date to receive a Royal Gold Medal for its architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects
With well-known structures dating back to the Roman and Medieval Times, Barcelona is perhaps most famous for its Gothic architecture, which was greatly influenced by internationally acclaimed designer Antoni Gaudi. Today, several modern buildings can be found throughout the city, which are designed by award-winning architects such as Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel to Herzog and de Meuron and Frank Gehry.
Full list of Barcelona’s most famous early and contemporary architecture
Port Olimpic (Image: Turisme de Barcelona - Espai d'Imtge)
10. Flamenco is hard to come by in Barcelona
As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelonans prefer rock ‘n’ roll to the traditional Spanish dance, which is more indigenous to the rest of the country (or non Catalans). However, if you’re hoping to spot some flamenco while there, check out the Opera & Flamenco, which shows at both the Teatre Poloprama and the Palau de la Musica Catalana throughout the year.
Opera & Flamenco programme
Got a quirky fact about Barcelona you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments, or over on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.