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In Barcelona, as in the rest of Catalonia, there are two official languages: Catalan, the language of the region, and Spanish, the official language in Spain.
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Business opening hours, sale taxes, and tips
In general, shops in Barcelona open in the morning from 10h to 14h and in the afternoon from 17h to 20h. Some shops do not close for lunch and others (mainly in the center) do not close on Saturday afternoon. Sunday is the rest day. Nearly all museums close on Mondays.
The working day usually begins between 8am and 9am and people break for lunch at 2pm. In the afternoon businesses open from 4pm to 8pm.
Value Added Tax (in Spanish IVA) for general goods (16%) and hotels and restaurants (7%) is charged on the consumption of products in the European Union, and only visitors resident in other countries are therefore exempt, when the purchase exceeds €90.15 in the same shop. A Tax-Free sticker is displayed in more than 700 establishments in the city’s main shopping areas, including the airport. Ask for details for reimbursement when you make your purchase.
Because the service charge is normally included in most bills, tipping is not compulsory, but it is customary to leave a small additional amount when you are happy with the service. Tip taxis up to five percent of the total fare. Tip hotel porters for assistance with bags, and room service attendants for their assistance.
The currency in Spain is the Euro (€). The banknotes circulate in denominations of €5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 and the coins are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, €1 and €2. Except in small businesses, credit cards are widely accepted in almost every restaurant and shop in Barcelona. Business is transacted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday. Money can be exchanged in banks, airport, major railway stations, and exchange offices displaying a “Cambio/Canvi” sign. You can also use cash-points to withdraw money, since most of them are connected to national and international networks. More information on: www.xe.com/ucc
Electricity in Spain runs on 230 volts (AC).
Pay phones are available all over the city for local and long distance calls. Public phone boots are light blue or grey. They operate with coins or cards. For international calls dial 00, then, dial the country and area codes.
Restaurant and Tourist Information
There will be ample information on restaurants at the Secretariat desk. During your stay here, you should try Barcelona’s cuisine, which is a blend of Mediterranean culinary traditions. Also, you should taste the splendid wines and cavas of the region.
The Secretariat desk will also offer information on cultural events as a service to all participants.
Barcelona's location on the shores of the Mediterranean, near to France
and the rest of Europe, makes it a well-served city by land, sea and
air. The city has a number of railway stations and a rail network providing
connections with the rest of Spain and a number of European cities.
The city's harbour is one of the cruise industry's favourite destinations and currently has five sea terminals (two more are under construction) for cruise liners. 544 ships, carrying 654,806 passengers, docked here in 2001. Barcelona also has two ferry terminals for regular services to the Balearic Islands.
The international airport was designed by Ricardo Bofill for the 1992 Olympics. In 2001, the volume of passengers on national and international flights was over 20 million. A project to extend the runways has been drawn up in order to provide more space for the great number of incoming and outgoing flight.
Barcelona currently has five metro lines covering a total of 80.5 kilometers and passing through 111 stations. It also has a city railway network, run by the autonomous government, the Generalitat de Catalunya, which supplements the metro network. A fleet of 840 buses connects all city districts. There are a number of travel passes which can be used on public transport (metro, city railway and buses). These are valid for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days. You can also buy a ten-ride ticket (6 €) valid for metro and bus.
Metro: There are 5 underground (metro) lines in Barcelona. Plans of the network with connecting lines and railway stations can be found in the halls and on platforms .
L1 - L2 - L3 - L4 - L5
Working days (Mon-Thu),
Sunday and holidays
and nights before
1/Gen, 24/Jun, 15/Aug, 24/Sep
Barcelona has a fleet of 11,000 taxis which can be easily identified by their yellow and black livery. A green light on top of the taxi indicates its availability.
You can take a taxi from any of the city's numerous ranks and if you want to hail one in the street, just put out your hand when you see one approaching. There are a number of telephone taxi services. Many taxis accept payment by credit card.
Airport: Barcelona Airport is located 12km outside the city at El Prat de Llobregat.
- Train: RENFE Connections from Barcelona to the airport and vice-versa from the following stations to the airport: Clot-Aragó, Arc de Triomf, Pl. de Catalunya and Estació de Sants.
- Bus: TMB . From Pl. d'Espanya to the airport, through El Prat del Llobregat
Aerobus (highly recommended): Daily service. From Pl. de Catalunya to the airport.
Frequency: every 15 min.
- Barcelona-airport: Pl. de Catalunya, Pg. de Gràcia/Consell de Cent, Av.Roma/Comte d'Urgell, Estació Barcelona-Sants
- Airport-Barcelona: airport, Pl. d'Espanya, Comte d'Urgell/Gran Via C.C., Pl. Universitat, Pl. de Catalunya.
Catalan cuisine is mainly based on products from the land which adapt to the different seasons and the region's cultural and religious traditions. Olive oil, aromatic herbs, dried fruit, nuts and fresh produce are the basis of the so-called "market cuisine" which uses products found in the market during a particular season of the year. The Boqueria, on La Rambla, is the city's flagship food market. Its colourful stalls, with their abundance of fruit, vegetables and fresh fish, are well worth stopping to admire.
Catalan cuisine is also one of the happiest expressions of the Mediterranean
diet. Dishes are painstakingly prepared using natural ingredients; they
are also nutritious, healthy and really delicious.
"Calçots" -a type of onion- in spring, mushrooms in autumn and "escudella" -a special stew- in winter are some of the most typical dishes. Bread rubbed with tomato, cured meats and paella are the most common, and can be eaten at most restaurants throughout the year.
We should also mention “tapas”: small portions which allow you to combine fish, meat and vegetable dishes. In recent years, tapas have established themselves as a different way of eating, a varied light lunch or supper. They are usually accompanied by a good red or white wine, or the sparkling wine of the region, “cava”.
And to finish, dessert. You will find it hard to resist the “crema catalana” -a type of crème brûlée-, “coca” -a flat sponge cake-, “turró” -a type of nougat- and the wide variety of sweets and cakes, made with cream and chocolate.
Barcelona has a complete and varied choice of restaurants, ranging from the most sophisticated -many of them in the Michelin Guide- to small establishments with the taste and know-how of expert chefs, and also those specialising in fish, international and ethnic cuisine.
Culture and Leisure
Barcelona is known throughout the world as a cultural city, with an important heritage and a permanent and exciting range of activities on offer
It is a city of renowned architectural interest, from its Roman walls to the Romanesque churches of Sant Pau del Camp and Sant Pere de les Puelles.The Gothic Quarter invites the traveller to stroll down its narrow alleyways, and visit its churches (the Cathedral, Santa Maria del Pi and Santa Maria del Mar) and civil buildings. The Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla Catalunya are the main thoroughfares in the Eixample, the district that was planned in the 19thc to enlarge the old city area.
La Rambla, stretching from Plaça Catalunya to the harbour, is the busiest street in the city. Most typical are its newsagent’s, open day and night, and its flower and bird stalls. Locals and tourists alike mingle in La Rambla’s non-stop bustle. Both the Port Vell (Old Harbour) and the Barceloneta district afford delightful walks by the sea.
The newest parts in Barcelona are those of the Port Olímpic (restaurants and promenades) and the Forum, a new location for conferences and mass events which has recently been opened. It is surrounded by skyscrapers that have changed the skyline of the city.
A particular highlight is its art nouveau heritage (Gaudí, Domenech i Montaner, etc). Main art nouveau buildings are the houses on Passeig de Gràcia, the Palau Güell on Nou de la Rambla, the Park Güel -for walks-, and the Palau de la Música Catalana, which, if you have a chance, is worth while a visit (concerts only).
Barcelona affords countless possibilities for recreation. Over 40 museums: monographic art collections such as the Museu Picasso, the Fundació Joan Miró and the Fundacio Antoni Tàpies which hold permanent exhibitions of works by the artists as well as temporary shows; the world's finest collection of Romanesque art at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya; Temporary exhibitions of contemporary art at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona - MACBA ; and numerous art galleries.
Caixa Fòrum: Located in an ancient factory on Montjuïc, a work by the modernist Catalan architect Puig i Cadafalch, it is a huge cultural centre owned by "La Caixa" Foundation, with 3,000 square mts. Caixa Fòrum is divided into three spaces, a mediateca and two multi-purpose rooms. Here one can find one of the largest contemporary art collections in Spain, with over 800 works by national and foreign artists. The auditorium for 350 spectators is used for different purposes, from cinema to concerts.
Barcelona is famed for the wide variety of its musical events. From classical music, opera and ballet, through jazz, flamenco, pop and rock, to the most innovative festivals. In 1999 the city regained its opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and opened the Auditori with a programme featuring the most diverse genres and musical styles. In addition to these musical events we find those of the Palau de la Música Catalana, a jewel of art nouveau architecture. You can buy La Guía del Ocio (information guide about cultural and leisure events in the city) in any of the newsagent’s on La Rambla (open day and night) to follow the concerts of the week.
Palau de la Música Catalana: Exceptional art nouveau monument (1908) by the architect Domènech i Montaner, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The artistic value of its main auditorium, which is admired and renowned throughout the world, is heightened by the presence of the world's most prestigious performers and orchestras. The main auditorium holds 1,970 people. The building also has a hall for chamber concerts located beneath the main auditorium. Sant Francesc de Paula, 2 (08003).
Gran Teatre del Liceu: The Gran Teatre del Liceu has been reopened in a venue rebuilt with great artistic and technological quality. Its stage allows two or three performances to be held simultaneously. It offers excellent views of the stage from all seats and superb acoustics. The Liceu, which has a main auditorium of 1,869 m² and seats 2,320 people, reproduces the decoration of the old opera house and has tried to preserve, as much as possible, its personality before the fire. La Rambla, 51-59 (08002)
Auditori: With the opening of the Auditori, in May 1999, Barcelona gained a venue which has become a reference point for the city's major musical and social activities. The most interesting space, home to the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (OBC), is the symphony hall, which holds 2,340 people. The venue also has a hall for chamber concerts seating 700 and a multipurpose hall which has a capacity of 300 to 500 people.
Lepant, 150 (08013)
Design is a characteristic of Barcelona. You can find design in its
streets, squares, bars and restaurants. In recent years, the city has
become a permanent showroom for design.
The city also has a funfair on one of its emblematic mountains: Tibidabo. It has restaurants with their own distinctive style, which offer the full flavour of Catalan cuisine and a wide variety of international cooking.
Numerous recreational spaces, cinemas, theatres, flamenco shows, Europe's biggest aquarium, bullfights, art, music, sardana dancing, popular festivals ... endless possibilities to help you experience the city to the full.