Living In and Exploring Barcelona
This escorted small group tour in and around Barcelona city is tailored for those who like to spend a little extra time getting to know a place. This tour allows time to explore and discover the geography, culture and hidden gems that are often invisible at first glance. You will have the opportunity to get to know a major European city in a completely different way and see for yourself how the history and culture of Barcelona has shaped the city it is today.
Barcelona has over 2000 years of history, having been ruled by Romans, Visigoths and Franks. The city itself was founded as a military camp by the Romans at the end of the 1st century and named Barcino. It is now the sixth largest city in Europe, a dazzling seaside city alive with culture, colour and cuisine . The city itself is home to around 1.7 million people, and the province of the same name contains nearly 5 million. Until the Barcelona Olympics were held in 1992, the city was largely an industrial hub, but the global event transformed the city's reputation as a tourist city, and saw an increase in hotel room capacity of 200% from 1990 to 2004. Today, the city is one of Europe's most popular destinations, yet retains its unique culture and lifestyle.
Barcelona City Explored
This tour is designed with a mix of escorted guided portions and free time, during which you can relax and recharge, or head off the beaten path to go exploring on your own. We stay in self-catering apartments for the duration. This approach gives you a base from which we can explore the city on foot and on public transport including high speed rail.
Throughout the tour, we delve into Barcelona's history, culture, and cuisine, and take day trips to some of the most wonderful nearby locations, such as Andorra and the beach resort town of Sitges. You will experience the Fiesta De La Mercè (a huge city festival), discover the wondrous architecture of Antoni Gaudi at La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, take wine tours, learn to cook Catalan food, and visit the Picasso Museum and the Salvador Dali Museum. We also visit the Santa Maria Monastery of Montserrat.
This trip is a rare opportunity to discover what is below the surface of one of Europe's most complex and beautiful cities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What language is spoken in Barcelona?
Spain is divided into different regions and these regions have their own unique history and culture as well as their own languages. The official language of Barcelona is Catalan and most people in the city are bilingual and speak Spanish. A lot of shopkeepers, wait staff and tour guides speak English but it is important to remember that road signs and names in the Catalan language.
What is the currency in Barcelona?
What is the public transport like in Barcelona?
The city has a modern and well maintained public transport systems. To explore, there is the option of trains, metro, buses, trams and city bikes.
When are meal times?
Generally, Catalans are known for having their meals later than in other parts of Europe. Breakfast is usually from nine to eleven in the morning. Lunch is considered an important meal and usually takes around two hours. After lunch, many shops and restaurants close for siesta. Dinner is generally from around 9pm but you will find some people still eating at midnight.
This tour is just one of many tours offered to Spain. You can view all Odyssey tours to Spain by clicking this link.
These articles by Odyssey may also be of interest to you in preparing for your trip.
Barcelona City is paired with Odyssey's Spain & Portugal tour
The April and August dates for this tour are timed to finish to allow you to then join if you with Odyssey's tours of Spain & Portugal each May & September. To read more about this tour please follow this link to the Iberia program.
Enjoy Odyssey's long stay return to explore city programs.
Since 2012 Odyssey has offered long stay tours based in some of the greatest cities of the world.
It began with exploring French history by rail inspired by Ina Caro's book. Since that first long stay city tour Odyssey had added the following great cities to the list.
- Berlin walking tour
There are more programs to follow that have a similar style. They are centred on cities where you have indicated that you would like to return to explore further. They are places of cultural and historic importance where in a different life or different time you would have enjoyed a period of living in these cities. So whilst you may not be able to live here today, you can spend 3 weeks living as a local exploring with a local guide all that each city has to offer. A chance to return to explore some of the greatest and truly fascinating cities of the world.
Articles about Spain published by Odyssey Traveller.
The following list of articles published by odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of Spain when visiting;
- 15 of the best places in Spain to visit.
- Travel notes for Barcelona
- Ten of the best books published on Spain
- Ten of the Best art galleries in Europe to visit.
- Discovering Spain (and Portugal )
External articles to assist you on your visit to Spain
Other Odyssey Tours:
Small group tour of Barcelona in depth is only one of many Spain and Portugal tours offered by Odyssey Traveller. For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
About Odyssey Traveller
We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.
Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details.
Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.
Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.
For more information on Odyssey Traveller and our educational small group tours, visit and explore our website., remember to visit these pages in particular
- Terms and conditions applicable for booking an Odyssey Traveller tour.
- FAQ's about Odyssey Traveller
Overview: We will arrive at the apartments by our own arrangement.
After settling we’ll come together in the evening for a welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Because we’ll be spending a significant portion of the tour exploring Barcelona itself, on arrival you’ll be issued with a 30 day zone 1 Barcelona Public Transport card.
Overview: We meet in the morning for a half day tour of Barcelona’s main tourist sites; this will help us find our bearings in the city and visit some of the city’s most popular attractions, before we begin to dig deeper in the coming days. The afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax as you wish.
Overview: Today we have a full-day sightseeing tour based around the works of Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). Gaudi is known as the master of Catalan Modernism, but his style was sui generis and wide-ranging.
Barcelona is an architecturally wondrous city and perhaps the greatest influence on the city’s style was architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s style is distinctive and striking. One of his most famous works is the Casa Batlló, a strange skeletal house that is extraordinarily beautiful both inside and out. The Batlló family, who commissioned the house, put no limitations on the architect. It is now open to the public. On this tour we also see the famous Sagrada Familia, along with a number of other spectacular buildings.
Overview: Today, we delve into Barcelona’s rich history with a full day guided “Spanish Civil War” tour. A local guide will take us through a series of sights relating to the war, explaining their relevance and the enormous impact of the conflict on Barcelona itself.
The Spanish Civil War began in 1936 and continued until 1939, when the fascist leader Francisco Franco defeated the Republican forces and declared victory. Barcelona was one of the final cities to fall to Franco’s rule, after his invasion of Catalonia. It was a site of much violence.
Overview: The morning is at your leisure. In the late afternoon, we enjoy a trip to the Picasso museum. This museum is dedicated to one of history’s greatest artists, with a permanent collection that includes a lot of his early work and a number of his masterpieces.
Then, in the evening, we take a trip to Casa Mila (Gaudi) for an evening audio-visual presentation on Gaudi, with a dinner either before or after the show.
Overview: Spanish wine is among the world’s finest, and the country has 2.9 million acres of wine producing land. Today, we enjoy a full day of wine tasting tours.
We visit two different wineries. First we visit the Vallformosa winery, a winer that has operated for 140 years, and is run by fifth-generation winemakers. Then, we visit a Cava winery before returning to Barcelona.
Overview: After a fairly packed first week, today is entirely at your leisure. Recharge, return to a place you particularly loved, or do some more exploring. Whatever you feel like!
Overview: Today, we embark on a day trip to Zaragoza, setting off from Barcelona Station. One we’ve arrived at Zaragoza, we visit the Palacio de la Aljaferia and Our Lady of the Pillar Basilica.
Zaragoza, the capital of its province is a beautiful city with much history. One of its primary landmarks is Our Lady of the Pillar, a magnificent building, said to be the first ever church dedicated to Mary. The present building was constructed between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Its origins go back to the Saint James in the year 40AD, which tells that while praying on the banks of the Ebro river, Mary appeared and told him to build a church in her honour. It is believed that he built a chapel on that spot.
Overview: This morning, we take an excursion to Montserrat Basilica to see the Black Madonna. We will ascend to Montserrat in cable car for panoramic view.
The Basilica itself is a truly spectacular building, a Gothic monastery in a marvelous location and also a strong symbol of Catalonian nationalism during Franco’s rule. The primary function of the Basilica is to house The Black Madonna or Virgin of Montserrat. The statue was likely created in the 12th century. Often, a line of pilgrims wait to stand before the statue and its altar. In 1844 Pope Leo XIII pronounced the sculpture to be the patroness of Catalonia. It is considered one of Spain’s most significant religious symbols.
In the afternoon, we return to Barcelona and the rest of your day is at leisure.
Overview: Today, we take a full day art tour focusing on renowned surrealist Salvador Dali. We travel to Figueres, the location of the Salvador Dali Museum, before heading to Púbol, to the Salvador Dali Castle.
The museum contains paintings, drawings, sculpture, installations, precious stones and jewels, and more. There are many works by Dali, and works from his own collection.
The castle is constructed around a building that was originally built in the 11th century. Dali bought the castle in 1969, and it was, at the time, in a very poor condition. Dali renovated the building based on his own vision. The castle has a permanent collection and showcases a variety of exhibitions.
At the end of the day we return to Barcelona.
Overview: It would be crazy to spend time in Barcelona without paying attention to the marvelous food scene, so today is dedicated to a local food tour!
In the morning, we have a guided visit of La Boqueria (Barcelona food market) before lunch in local tapas restaurant. In the afternoon we take a cookery course where we prepare traditional Catalan food for dinner!
Overview: We have a day at leisure.
Overview: Today is a full day guided tour of the Gothic and Jewish quarters. A local guide will then take us on a walking tour of the city to view the old medieval squares.
The Gothic quarter offers a mix of old and new, with much Roman architecture. The Jewish quarter, located inside the Gothic quarter, and includes Spain’s oldest Synagogue (also one of the oldest in Europe). The quarter is distinguished by narrow streets and historic buildings, some going back to the fourteenth century.
Overview: Today we have a full day trip to Tarragona to visit the Roman Museum and the Roman ruins. Tarragona is a port city with a long and fascinating history. The city was once fortified as a Roman colony, and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, was held by Vandals and then Visigoths.
The Roman ruins of Tarraco are nearby, and designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. These include an Ampitheatre, walls and an aqueduct.
Overview: Today set out on a full day Military tour. A local guide takes us to Montjuic for a tour of the Castle, with a stop at Jardins del Mirador, which includes a spectacular view of Barcelona. Built in 1640, Montjuic Castle was built to have the best possible views of the surrounding area. More recently, the building was used as a military prison, and then an army base. In 2007, it was given to the Barcelona City Council, so is now owned by the people of Barcelona.
In the evening, we enjoy a tapas dinner and a flamenco show.
Overview: Today we have a full day coach excursion to Andorra. This includes a guided tour of City Hall, and free time to explore the Historic old town. The old town has cobblestone streets and beautiful houses, and some excellent restaurants. The town hall was built in the early sixteenth century as a home, and is positioned beneath magnificent mountains which add to its medieval majesty.
Overview: Today, we are free to explore the Fiesta de la Mercè, one of Barcelona’s biggest festivals. The Fiesta includes such spectacles as human towers and giant puppets. During the festival, there are around 600 events spread throughout Barelona, and the city’s metro trains run through the night.
Overview: Today we take a full day trip to Sitges to explore the quaint fisherman’s village, and visit San Sebastian beach. Primarily a tourist destination, Sitges is known for its Film Festival and Carnival. With speciality cuisine, a number of museums and 17 beaches, the city has no shortage of sites and attractions.
Overview: Today is a free day to explore Barcelona at your leisure.
Overview: On our last full day, we take a full day trip to Girona to explore the Arab baths and the Jewish museum.
The Museum of Jewish History documents a long history of Judaism in the city, which flourished in the 12th century. It also tells a fascinating story of the city’s history. The Arab Baths are a Romanesque 12th century construction, which has great historical value. Also, some scenes form Game of Thrones were filmed there!
We have some free time to explore Girona before heading back to Barcelona for a farewell dinner.
Overview: The tour concludes today. Check out from the apartment in the mid-morning.