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Barcelona has become during the last few years one of the most attractive culture centres of Europe. Barcelona is filled with so many amazing sites and it is impossible to visit all of its wonders on a several day visit. The wise tourist that has only a few days to spend in this colourful city, would better decide a head what attraction he wants to visit so he can focus on attractions and activities that really interest him.
Barcelona is heaven for architecture lovers. The imaginative and strange art nouveau designs, created by Antonio Gaudi have become a symbol of the city, like the Pedrera, Guell Park and the church of Sagrada Familia, which is one of the most visited spots in the city.
The splendor of medieval Barcelona can still be seen around the old center and especially at the Barri Gotic and Ciutat Vella. Barcelona is a wonderful blend of old and new that somehow create a natural combination and a unique atmosphere that can only be found here.
Barcelona is rich with bustling nightlife, shopping malls that can make even shoppoholics head spin, exquisite restaurants and cafés, wide beaches, lively parks and even some of the best sport events. There is always too much to see and explore in Barcelona, so inevitably it justifies another visit to this great city.
Barcelona and the sea
Since 1992, when a massive beach clean – up was made as part of the preparations for the Olympic games, the recovery of the Barcelona seafront has been one of the most important changes in the city. Today, the beaches are very popular and are considered as the largest leisure spaces of the city.
Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate and enjoys hot summers and cool winters. The best time to visit Barcelona is during May, June and September when the temperature is perfect. In July an August the weather becomes very hot and humid and many locals leave the city for their summer vacation. The temperatures often exceed 84°F (29°C) at midday during summer, and the average temperature in December is around 55°F (13°C).
The two official languages of Barcelona, as in the rest of Catalonia, are Spanish and Catalan. Although Catalan is more commonly spoken, everyone can speak Spanish. English is not as common as you would expect it to be due to the amount of tourists that visit the city. You will find that goodwill and hand gestures help the local English skills.
The VAT of 16% can be reclaimed by visitors from outside the EU as long as the purchase exceeds € 90,15 (VAT included) and was purchased at one store on the same day. In order to do that, you have to ask in the store for a tax refund cheque containing the description of goods, the personal data of the non European resident as well as the particulars of his passport or of any such equivalent document. At the airport your purchased items need to be taken to the customs clearance before checking the luggage in. In order to get the VAT refund, you have to cash the stamped cheque at any Bureau de Change in your chosen currency.
Tax refund information line: +35 45 64 64 00
To call Barcelona from abroad, first dial +34 for Spain and then 93 for Barcelona.
There can be high charges on calls made from hotels, restaurants and bars and it is generally cheaper to use a calling card. Public telephone boxes take coins or phone cards for local and international calls, which can be bought from tobacconists and post offices.
There are some bars and cafés that offer internet access. Most hotels offer internet access to their guests and there are also public places as around the central university building at the Placa Universitat that offer internet access.
Banks are usually open Monday through Friday from 8.30 am to 2 pm. From October through April, banks are open also on Saturdays from 8.30 am to 1 pm.
Most shops, churches, museums and businesses close for a siesta of two hours at midday. Usually, working hours are 9.30 am – 1.30 pm and 4.30 pm – 7.30 pm from Monday to Friday. Large department stores and shopping centres usually stay open from 9 am to 9 pm.
Most museums are closed on Mondays and are open on Sundays only until 3 pm.
· January 1: New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo)
· January 6: Festival of the Reyes (Dia de los tres Reyes)
· March 19: Father’s Day (San Jose)
· April Good Friday (Viernes Santo)
· April Easter Sunday (Dia de Pascua)
· May 1: Labour Day (Dia del Trabajo)
· June 24: St. John’s Day (San Juan)
· August 15: Assumption (Asuncion)
· September 11: Catalonia’s National Holyday (Diada)
· September 24: Barcelona’s Patron Saint (La Merce)
· October 12: Columbus Day (Dia de la Hispanidad)
· November 1: All Saints Day (Todos los Santos)
· December 6: Constitution Day (Dia de la Constitucion)
· December 8: Immaculate Conception (Immaculada Concecion)
· December 25: Christmas Day (Navidad)
· December 26: Boxing Day
As in any other large city, you should watch for pickpocketing and bag snatching. Be careful mostly around tourist attractions like the Old City area and particularly around La Rambla. Back packs, dangling purses, and wallets in back pockets are particularly vulnerable, and anything on your person is fair game on a crowded bus or train.
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