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BEACHES - One of Barcelona's greatest draws is undeniably its beautiful beaches. Beside world-famous Costa Brava and Costa Dorada which are within 1-hr drive time from Barcelona, there are also several nice beaches over 4 km long within city boundaries, we will list just several of them here: Nova Icaria- Closest to Olympic marina, always crowded, this wide swathe of rough golden sand is great for food goers. There are three perfect beach bars and two very popular restaurants on promenade (Mango and Chiringuito de Moncho) and countless bars and restaurants are just a short stroll away. Bogatell- This beach is twice length of adjoining Nova Icaria and fringed by a stretch of stone walkway perfect for jogging, roller blading and cycling. Three large informal restaurants on promenade. Mar Bella (Metro Ciutadella Vila Olimpica, plus 20-minute walk)- Barcelona's only naturist beach close to a peaceful park - good for a picnic or siesta under trees. Barceloneta- wide and long, a traditional and popular stretch with locals, crowded, noisy and very jolly.
WHEN TO GO, WEATHER: The best times to visit Barcelona are late spring and early autumn, when weather is still comfortably warm, around 21-25°C. Summers are usually hot and humid, with temperatures averaging +30 (+ 86 Fahrenheit). Especially avoid "dead" month of August, when many shops, bars and restaurants close for month as many local inhabitants head out of city. Winters are cool with average daytime temperatures around +12 C (+59 Fahrenheit), occasionally rainy.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND: By a direct flight to Barcelona, or through Madrid or via another large European city from almost any major airports in world. The highest fares are from May to September, lowest in March-April, October-November and December to February (excluding Christmas and New Year when prices are hiked up). Note also that flying on weekends may increase your ticket cost. If traveling to Barcelona from within Europe you can also chose train, bus or car, though these take much longer than a plane and often work out no cheaper. Many Mediterranean cruises include Barcelona as a port of call.
ACCOMODATIONS: We can offer you a range of choices. You can choose vacation rentals in Barcelona starting from $ 125 USD for a double room in a 4-star apartment hotel. Or you can opt for hotels from $ 65 USD for a double room in a 3-star hotel. Accomodation prices do not change much throughout year due to steady all-season flow of visitors to this extremely popular tourist city and surrounding resorts.
DINING: Besides restaurants you can eat at bars where you would have a succession of tapas (small snacks- three or four chunks of fish, meat or vegetables, or salad, which traditionally used to be served up free with a drink) or raciones (larger ones). The bar option can be a lot more interesting, allowing you to do rounds and sample local specialities. Generally, average cost for a meal consisting of two dishes and dessert would come to about 25 Euros. Travellers on an extremely limited budget can do well for themselves by using excellent markets, bakeries and delis and filling up on sandwiches and snacks. Decent restaurants and cafes are easily found all over city, though you'll probably do most of your eating where you do most of your sightseeing, in old town, particularly around La Rambla and in Barri Gotic. Look for best and most authentic seafood restaurants in Barceloneta, a seaside neighbourhood. Gothic Quarter neighbourhood is home to some of oldest and most traditional restaurants in city. Gracia is a very popular area among young people during weekend, it leads way in terms of exotic restaurants (Lebanese, Egyptian, Thai etc.).
TRANSPORT: Barcelona has excellent transport system comprising metro (subway), buses, trains and a network of funiculars and cable cars. You can find a link to transport maps at end of our guide. On all city's public transport you can buy a single ticket every time you ride, but even over only a couple of days it's cheaper to buy a targeta - a discount ticket strip. The T-10 targeta is valid for ten separate journeys on metro, buses and trains. These tickets can be used by more than one person at a time. The metro is quickest way of getting around Barcelona. For black-and-yellow taxis there is a minimum charge of $ 2 euro. You'll obviously have a great deal more freedom if you rent a car . Major roads throughout city are generally good, and traffic is generally well behaved, though Spain does have one of highest incidences of traffic accidents in Europe. It also has some of lowest fuel prices on continent.
SHOPPING: Barcelona, one of most stylish cities in Europe offers great shopping, from designer clothes and accessories to household items. You will find city to be quite cheap for a lot of items, especially if you coincide with annual sales ( rebaixes in Spanish) lasting from mid-January until end of February, and throughout July and August. The best shopping areas in Barcelona are old streets off upper part of Ramblas. Souvenirs include ceramics, which are widely sold in streets around cathedral; leather goods; city's delicatessens, particularly cooked Catalan meats and sausages; a porron (the long-spouted glass drinking jar); CDs and tapes of Catalan rock and pop, sardana music, Spanish rock or flamenco. If you're looking for original gift ideas, some of best hunting can be found in shops of any of city's museums, where you'll find reasonably priced and unique examples of Catalan disseny (graphic), and other original items ranging from postcards to replica works of art. We wish you a nice and safe trip!
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