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Tourism in Barcelona - statistics & facts

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region in Spain and has become one of the most attractive city destinations worldwide. The 1992 Olympic Games were a turning point for the city, which had to undergo a profound transformation in order to hold the world’s most important sporting event. Almost three decades later, the effort still pays off: in 2020, Barcelona was among the leading travel destinations in Europe based on the number of overnights despite the impact of COVID-19 and the strict mobility restrictions imposed by the Spanish government that year. In 2019, the city had even made it to the top seven.

Back in 1990, Barcelona’s hotels – which account for the largest share of overnight tourists in the city – hosted 1.73 million guests. In 2019, this number had increased to nearly 9.5 million before plunging due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the global health crisis, France, Italy, and the United States were among the main international source markets for Barcelona's hotel industry. Moreover, the Catalonian capital has also largely contributed to placing its region among the three most visited autonomous communities by Spanish tourists.

Barcelona’s main tourist attractions

Barcelona might have the Olympic Games to thank for its current international recognition. However, its beautiful architecture and its cultural offer are the aspects that have consolidated the city as an attractive tourist destination. Antoni Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces and museums such as those devoted to Pablo Picasso and Barcelona’s history museum are only a few examples from a very long list of unmissable places and monuments in this Mediterranean city. Gaudi’s Sagrada Família – still under construction – and Park Güell received roughly 764 thousand and 589 thousand visitors in 2020, respectively, maintaining their top places in the ranking of Barcelona’s most visited attractions during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with approximately 359 thousand visitors that year, the CosmoCaixa Museum overtook FC Barcelona Museum's third place.

A place for every type of visitor

Although in recent years most of the people who traveled to Barcelona did so for leisure or vacation purposes, the business travel industry also plays a key role in the economy of this Spanish city, with renowned national and international meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions attracting thousands of professionals from all around the globe. In 2021, Barcelona was also counted among the world’s top city destinations for remote workers, offering the largest number of Tripadvisor plans, the second average WiFi speed, and the third-highest number of co-working spaces among the studied cities. As of early 2022, Catalonia’s capital was also the sixth most visited city by digital nomads.

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