The French capital is a place of many nicknames, one of which is the City of Love and Light. It’s the ideal destination if you’re into beautiful vintage streets with an equally charming atmosphere. Paris is also where you give in to your sweet tooth’s desire; its avenues are packed with pastries of every kind.
Barcelona is an ancient city with a modern vibe, possessing the perfect conditions for an all-out adventure. If you’re craving unbridled fun that you’ll always fondly remember, then this is the right destination for you. With medieval castles, white-sand beaches, and night outs of a lifetime, this Spanish hub has long perfected the art of living life to the fullest.
Still trying to decide where to spend your well-deserved vacation? Read more to find out which of the two cities is the perfect match for you.
There’s no doubt that once in your lifetime, you’ve taken a glimpse of the magical city of Paris. It’s a famous setting in many movies and tv shows, often a subject in books, and a dream destination for many people. This makes you wonder if the French capital is more than just its fair share of baguettes and well-dressed Parisians darting from left to right…
Quick answer: yes. Paris is not called the most beautiful city in the world because it has several snippets in many performances. It’s not the prettiest simply because it’s home to the Iron Lady, France’s shiniest beacon. No, the French capital occupies the top spot in the rankings due to one thing – it’s an open wonderland.
It’s a place of many spectacles, filled with exciting things every aesthete would want to explore. Exciting activities abound in the City of Love, every street lively and fun to travel into, and every meal so deliciously made to enchant you. Paris is truly a place worth visiting, alluring enough for people with a severe case of travel itch to consider staying.
What Makes Paris Unique?
Passionate French Cuisine
Paris has plenty of unique tricks up its sleeves, one of which is its world-famous gastronomy. The city is not just known for top-notch clothing; it’s also a mecca for food lovers aiming to expand their palate. France is a nation of gourmets, so you can’t expect anything less of Paris, its metropolis.
The French capital is swarming with indulgent cuisine, be it fine dining or local fancies. There are several Michelin-star restaurants in the area, including Le Pré Catelan, Alléno Paris, and Le Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower. Plenty of food stalls are ever-present in the city’s cobblestone streets, too. Some shops worth mentioning are Chanceux, Crêperie de St-Germain, and the Boutique Yam’tcha.
Aside from these mouth-watering delights, the pastries in Paris have the potential to be national treasures. If you’re a Parisian at heart, no doubt you’ve daydreamt of yourself walking the streets with a baguette under your arm. Check out some of the cafés that offer heavenly desserts in the City of Love:
- Maison Stohrer. As the oldest bakery in Paris, this spot has a whole history of delicious foods on its back. It’s a vintage shop opened by the personal pastry chef of Louis XV, dating way back 1730s. Here, the baba au rum was created and remains supreme. Other foods to note are the strawberry tarte and puits d’amour.
- La Maison du Chocolat. Paris is a sweet city and has an even sweeter menu to offer. One of these is this must-visit spot that focuses on one heavenly thing: chocolates. Owned by Robert Linxe, this specialty restaurant will melt the knees of even the pickiest chocoholic. Tip: no matter what, remember to taste their truffle collection which has every flavor imaginable.
Where do you think Cupid fired the most potent of his arrows? Paris, of course! The French capital has long been dubbed the City of Love, or as the Parisians would say, the Ville d’Amour. Passion is a daily part of the city’s lifestyle, evident from the many buildings down to its tiniest avenues.
First, the air in the city itself is filled with romance, literally. There’s no shortage of people showing affection or expressing their own acts of love. From honeymooners and newly-sparked couples to even the oldest of sweethearts, the streets of Paris are open to them all.
Those under the rainbow flag don’t have to restrain themselves, either. They can strut confidently and go on intimate walks with their lover in the city anytime.
Aside from the many humans showing affection to one another, Paris is also filled with spots perfect for your declarations of love. In fact, you may have watched a video or two about couples getting engaged with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
The Seine River is also there for your trip, an ideal location if you want to take your partner on a boat. Imagine the joy in your beloved’s eyes as they take in everything the most beautiful city offers. If you prefer something else to cruises, you may want to check Le Mur des Je T’Aime instead. It’s literally the Wall of Love, containing written words of affection in 250 languages.
There are plenty more reasons that make Paris the Ville d’Amour. You’ll have no regret touring this destination with a special person and discovering every part of it. Of course, you’re also free to bask in the romantic ambiance if you’re enjoying the company of your own self. Nothing’s stopping you from going down to the most romantic city in the world and discovering that, in fact, love starts with you.
Trip Down Memory Lane
Paris is a city of abundance; it never lacks good food, people, and experiences. However, the French capital has more than that up its sleeves. The town is also chock-full of stories waiting for you to be discovered.
Walking down its cobblestone streets will take you on a trip down memory lane. Most of its buildings are built with Hausmann architecture in mind, a style that dates way back to the 18th century. Before this massive architectural change, Paris was sporting a murky medieval fashion. The city is also overpopulated and plagued with choleric outbreaks.
However, Emperor Napoleon III took the throne and commissioned Baron Hausmann to create Paris as it is today. The radical renovation of the French capital took 17 years, from 1853 to 1870. The results are well worth it, though, since it made the citizens healthier and the city much richer.
The streets were lined with uniform, cream-colored structures and filled with decorative stones. These buildings are also made with delicate wrought iron works, making the city much more elegant. Over time, these structures only increased in value. They also attracted many tourists interested in seeing vintage designs to book a Parisian tour.
Aside from the historical architecture that never goes out of style, Paris also has other memorable destinations. Check out some of them below:
Arc de Triomphe. If you’re a huge history buff, this iconic war memorial should be on your must-visit list in Paris. It was built by Napoleon and finished in 1836, with 284 steps that give you the perfect city view. You’ll easily get a glimpse of the splendor of the Louvre and the Arc of La Defénse, too.
Note: when you get down, it’s always nice to respect the grave of the Unknown Soldier sitting in the center of the Arc.
Bibliothèque Mazarine. As the oldest public library in France, there’s no shortage of printed works here. It’s home to the 12th–17th collection of French history and precious medieval manuscripts. The library also contains the impressive Bible Mazarin, a Gutenberg Bible from the 1250s. The place is grand and luminous to boot, fitting for the City of Light.
Capitale de la Mode
It’s not an understatement to say that Paris is home to humans with extreme aesthetic skills. Not only is the place brimming with artists that can realistically paint anything they put their hearts into. The French capital is also a fashion industry pioneer, thanks to local designers’ genius brains and magical hands.
The city has long been a firestarter in fashion trends during the reign of King Louis XIV. The monarch used expensive clothes to command any room full of attention, demanding his courtiers to do the same. Don’t forget his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, considered the maven of French fashion.
Her style was so iconic that designers still found inspiration in her many pieces after her time. These include many world-famous contemporary Fashion Houses, including Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood.
Paris has not lost in fashion-forward touch in the years to come, though. The city became so well-established in creating trends that people from all over the globe followed suit. In fact, the French capital has been a hub for models, designers, and those with a taste in couture.
Runway shows to release each season’s clothes abound in the City of Love, of which Paris Fashion Week is the most popular. Plenty of fashion spots are also sprouting left and right, ranging from high-couture to even the most affordable ones. One of the most famous ones is Galeries Lafayette – shopaholics’ very own definition of heaven. It’s filled with boutiques and food stalls, real dreamy for tourists on a shopping extravaganza.
Barcelona is a famous Spanish city considered the largest one on the Mediterranean coast. It’s one of the hit tourist destinations in Europe, not only because its name rolls so easily on the tongue. This spot is teeming with different exploits – from touring ancient castles to uncovering the most beautiful beaches.
There’s also the city’s intoxicating nightlife and festivals that last until the sun rises. It’s perfect for night owls that can’t get enough of the party scene and sightseers eager to witness Barcelona in a new light. Truly, this Spanish city is the perfect combination of classic and cool, making it a worthy spot for all kinds of tourists.
What Makes Barcelona Unique?
Inexhaustible Sources of Adventure
Barcelona is a synonym for adventure, filled with exciting sites and experiences that no tourist can resist. It’s a city made for people thirsty for quests and crusades, thanks to its ancient roots.
That’s right; this destination exists way back in the Roman Era from over 2000 years ago. This is why Barcelona has no shortage of ancient hubs to explore, be it Roman structures or gothic-styled barrios. There are also more modern ones, a wonderful contrast against the vintage city’s charming streets and alleyways.
If you’re someone eager for a change in scenery, you’ll never regret choosing Barcelona as a getaway hub. It offers plenty of unique tourist spots and experiences, including the following:
Straight out of a Medieval Fairy Tale
If you’ve enjoyed roleplaying as a princess or a knight during childhood, you’ll have a blast touring the streets of Barcelona. It’s known for preserving medieval architecture, from village layouts to full-fledged castles. This means you get to live your fairy tale fantasies in real life, walking down the city that looks straight out of a book.
Every step will give you goosebumps, especially if you take the time to take in the narrow winding streets and tiled roofs. Buildings of every kind are present, most of which sport rounded arches and decorative embellishments. Of course, you may notice some modern alterations, but these are mainly on structures that need repair.
Most of the villages in Barcelona are still evidently medieval, which only adds to its charm. Some castles date back to the Middle Ages, most of them in pristine condition. They’re wonderful sights to see, especially if you’re feeling the ancient vibes of the city.
If looking at them from afar isn’t enough to satiate the explorer in you, booking a tour for an up-close view is the key. Check out some of the enchanting castles in Barcelona that will leave you in awe:
- Castell De Santa Florentina. Fanatics of the hit series, Game of Thrones will smile with glee once they get a glimpse of this castle. It’s the setting chosen for the show’s sixth season mainly because of its medieval ambiance. In addition to this, it’s also identified as a Cultural Heritage Monument, making it all the more valuable.
- Castell De Cardona. Considered the most important medieval castle in Catalonia, this spot is something you wouldn’t want to miss. It sports Romanesque and Gothic designs, making it one of the most beautiful fortresses in the city. Tip: drop by the Torre de la Minyona so you can overlook Barcelona from above in all its splendor.
Stations of the Haunted
Barcelona is not all about books and places straight out of a fantasy scene. It has something surprising hidden below its medieval cloak, something you won’t expect from a city of festivities. This well-known destination is home to several ghost metro stations, twelve of them, in fact.
If you’re an avid horror fanatic, you’ll have fun touring each one. Of course, this is also if you’re not a scaredy cat or don’t get nervous easily. These abandoned stations are eerie, making them the perfect site for tourists craving mysteries. Here are some of them below:
- Travessera Station
- Gaudí Station
- Banco Station
- Ferran Station
- Correos Station
These ghost metro stations may be scary, but they make Barcelona a more interesting city. Many tourists fascinated by thrillers and horror films are excited to get a glimpse of these spots. It’s something you should cross off your bucket list if you’re eager to experience some spooky time.
Perfect Formula of Sunny Days and Beaches
Barcelona is a city that lies on the same latitude as Chicago and Rome – meaning it has the ideal climate for tourists all year round. The sun shines high in this Mediterranean city, and it rarely gets super cold, even when it’s the peak of the winter season. Rain occurs, but it doesn’t last long, with the skies and clouds returning brighter than ever.
The city’s climate is also why it’s such a hit tourist spot, especially if you’re itching for a summer getaway. That’s right, Barcelona is not just rich in writing wonders; it’s also blessed with 4.5 km (2.8 mi) of spectacular coastline. Pristine white sands, warm sunny days, and sparkling beaches – the city has perfected the formula of a flawless tourist hub.
There are plenty of well-known beaches in the city, but the most famous one is La Barceloneta. You’re free to sunbathe or sneak a few rounds of drinks at any beachside bar of your choosing. To make the most of your visit, you could even enjoy a few water activities, like windsurfing and kitesurfing. Tired of lounging around the waterfront? Well, you can tour nearby beach neighborhoods and savor a serving (or two!) of mouth-watering paella.
Barcelona has other beaches up its sleeves aside from La Barceloneta. Check a few of them out on the list below:
- San Sebastià Beach
- Zona de Banys del Fòrum
- Llevant Beach
- Bogatell Beach
- Nova Mar Bella Beach
Den of Party Animals
If you want to feel alive and sense the music coursing through your veins, there’s only one option: Barcelona. The city is an expert in having fun, particularly by hosting the most vibrant and liveliest events you could ever see. Festivals, all-out street parties, and even traditional celebrations are held every season. No matter when you decide to book a trip, you’re never going to miss out on anything.
Don’t get started on the city’s music festivals which always catch the attention of people all over the globe. If you’re a true-blooded human of fun, you’ve certainly heard of them, particularly the Primavera Sound and the Sonar Festival. Attending these music events will have your blood running in more ways than one.
First, the sound choices are top-notch, and every artist’s performance only improves as time goes by. You should also look forward to the interactions you’ll get with fans from different cultures flying just for these festivals. It’s perfect if you’re eager to unleash your inner party animal, especially after long months of being stuck behind the work desk.
Aside from these music events, all seventy-two neighborhoods of Barcelona hold their very own Festa Major. Spain is known for their local fiestas, so you can’t expect the country’s second capital to lose out on this. These native festivals are about enjoyment, filled with fireworks displays and colorful parades. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can join the human tower competitions and fire runs with other tourists.
If you think that’s everything, you’re gravely mistaken. Barcelona’s nightlife is definitely to die for, be it all-out clubbing or subdued dinner and drinks. Bars, nightclubs, and underground pubs abound on the well-lit streets of the city. Disco hubs are found everywhere, so if you’re a night owl with a taste for dancing, trips to Barcelona may become a tradition.
There are also stunning beach parties to explore, filled with hearty foods, warm bonfires, and endearing local music you can sing to.
Seventh Heaven of Literary Nerds
Barcelona is legendary for its festivals and parties, but these aren’t the only ones the city can boast about. It’s also a haven for literary nerds, particularly those with a huge interest in Catalan literature. The city is so rich in these kinds of writing that it has been named the Capital of Catalan Literature.
It’s filled with records of every kind; some even contain well-combined humor and imagination. If this is your main reason for touring Barcelona, you’d surely have the trip of a lifetime. The city has preserved many books of Catalan literature dating way back to the Middle Ages. You may even want refreshers before booking that vacation, so you’ll really relate to all the written works.
Aside from this, Barcelona has long established itself as a special gateway to the world of books. It’s been dubbed a UNESCO City of Literature in 2015 because it has given birth to many notable authors, many of which you may have heard before. These include Ana Maria Matute, Mercé Rodoreda, and Joan Maragall.
The city is also filled with many publishing businesses. It’s yet another reason it has earned its nickname as the Capital of Publishing Industries in Catalan and Spanish. Over 300 bookshops are also scattered throughout Barcelona, fluttering your heart with delight. It truly is a city for literary nerds, serving as an unforgettable getaway for those who like pens over swords.
Paris or Barcelona – Which Is Better?
Paris and Barcelona are two European cities with similar traits, including a love for vintage things. Both tourist destinations are brimming with history, down to every architectural brick. They also have the same adoration for art and culture, making them a great spot for aesthetes and intellectuals. To top these off, the cities are equally rich in beautiful, entertaining scenes that will forever be ingrained in memories.
All of these make it difficult to choose between Paris and Barcelona. And you cannot be in two places simultaneously. As such, deciding which of the two European destinations you’ll visit is inevitable.
Visit Paris if you’re a true romantic, swooning at every action made for love and beauty. There’s no shortage of lovers everywhere, each engrossed in their lovely little worlds. It doesn’t matter what gender you are; you’ll find the streets of the French capital open to passions of every kind.
The City of Love is a fitting nickname for Paris, not only because it’s a famous holiday spot for lovers. You’ll surely adore everything this destination offers, especially Parisian cuisine. Those with a heart for art can also find the French capital a delight, a safe space containing every imaginable masterpiece. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of paintings or the latest fashion trends; the city has all the right traits to make you fall in love.
Meanwhile, book a trip to Barcelona if you always hear the jesters of fun calling, beckoning you to unleash the party animal inside. From all-out nightclubs to more subdued bars, this Spanish city will surely bring out the dancer in you. Don’t forget the music festivals that leave you jumping to every beat, mingling with other tourists of the same taste.
Barcelona is also blessed with natural beaches, combined with a pleasant climate all year round. You’ll never catch the city undergoing extremes of hot and cold, so a beach getaway is an ideal tourist activity anytime. Get ready to flaunt your beach body in this Mediterranean hub and bask in the sun to achieve the perfect tan.
Is Barcelona Cheaper Than Paris?
Barcelona is the way to go if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly European destination. In fact, Expastistan’s data concludes that this Spanish city is 35% cheaper than Paris. This means you can avail more activities in Barcelona and explore more of this famous tourist spot.
On average, one basic lunchtime meal in Paris costs slightly over $19; Barcelona only offers them at $17. This is essentially the same even when you dine in fast food restaurants, with a combo meal worth $13 in the French capital and $9 in the Spanish city. You may think this is only a small difference, but imagine the costs you’ll save if you’re on a trip for a few days.
Similarly, the entertainment costs in Barcelona are 22% less expensive than in the City of Love. A dinner for two in a regular Italian restaurant costs an average of $73 in Paris. Barcelona offers this at a much lower price of $53.
Best Time to Travel to Paris and Barcelona
One of the reasons why Paris and Barcelona became two of the most visited cities in Europe is because they are great vacation spots all year round. There’s no best time to see these two destinations because they’re ideal getaway hubs no matter what season it is. If you have to choose, you need to identify your planned activities for the best schedule instead.
If you aim to make the most of the French capital’s stunning views, book a trip during the high season of June to August. It’s when Paris is the most brimming with tourists, so if you’re not into this, go during April and May. Mid-September to November is also great since you won’t have to deal with crowds.
Meanwhile, visit Barcelona from April to July if your target is fun events and music festivals. If you’re on a limited budget, November to March is ideal since there are plenty of discounts and promos. If you’re not keen on interacting with many tourists, book a trip to the city during the low season of September to November.
Arc De Triomf in Barcelona vs. Paris
Both the cities of Paris and Barcelona have an Arc De Triomf. However, they’re two different structures with entirely unrelated meanings.
The French capital’s version is much older, dating back to the reign of Napoleon in 1806. The construction lasted 30 years, intending to commemorate the French army’s victories. It also serves as a symbol of French national identity and stands in the heart of Paris’ Place Charles de Gaulle.
On the other hand, Barcelona’s own Arc de Triomf is a more recent structure. It was built as a gateway to the 1888 Universal Exhibition. Though it’s not as famous as the Paris version, it’s still a sight to behold with its red bricks and neo-Mudejar style. It also symbolizes Barcelona’s high regard for agriculture and industry, erected on top of Passeig Lluís Companys.
Barcelona to Paris in Miles
The distance from Barcelona to Paris in miles depends on what route you’re going to take. If you’re going to book a plane ride to arrive at the French capital, it’s going to be 517 mi (832 km). You’ll have to cross 642 mi (1034 km) if you’re driving.
You could also take a daytime train from Barcelona to Paris, traveling a distance of 516 mi (830 km). The bus route is also available for these two European cities, with a distance of 646 mi (1040 km).
Distance From Paris to Barcelona by Plane
The flight distance from Paris to Barcelona is 832 km (517 mi). If you’re riding a commercial liner with an average speed of 500 mph (805 km/h), you’ll reach the Spanish city within 1 hour and 2 minutes. However, arrival time may vary depending on the weather conditions, routing, and passenger load.
Air travel is the quickest route to take if you’re following a strict schedule. This option won’t break your bank either, especially if you know how to bag the best deals. The average ticket price for a direct flight is $279 but may get cheaper by up to $81, depending on your airline’s promos.
Is the Train Ride From Barcelona to Paris Scenic?
The train ride from Barcelona to Paris offers the most scenic views possible. The nonstop travel between the two European destinations will give you several views to enjoy. These include getting a glimpse of the French Alps, leaving you in awe due to its ethereal snow caps.
You can also see the Mediterranean coastline, a wonderful spot to behold, especially on a clear, sunny day. The Pyrenees are also something to look forward to; it’s a long mountain range that is beautiful even from afar.
Paris to Barcelona by Sleeper Train
There are no sleeper trains traveling from Paris to Barcelona. This is unfortunate, especially since overnight trains are a great way to reach the Spanish city in great comfort. It’s also the best option for tourists eager to get to Barcelona without worrying about daytime delays.
Paris to Barcelona Drive
The drive from Paris to Barcelona takes roughly eight hours and 36 minutes. This is your ideal travel route if you want some flexibility and freedom. You’re free to rest whenever you decide, with no shortage of great stops along the way.
Distance From Paris to Barcelona by Car
The distance from Paris to Barcelona is 1034 km (642 mi) via car. If you’re going to drive at an average speed of 75 mph (120 km/h), you’ll reach your destination within 8 hours and 36 minutes.
Paris to Barcelona Road Trip
The road trip from Paris to Barcelona will provide you with many scenic stops en route. Normally, reaching Barcelona will only take approximately 8 hours and 36 minutes. However, the travel duration will vary depending on how many stops you have and how long each is.
You can stretch your legs in plenty of spots if you need a break from the 1034 km (642 mi) travel. One of these includes the town of Carcassone, located in southern France. It’s the ideal stopover if you’re in for the preserved French architecture, like watchtowers and medieval castles.
Another option you have is Lloret de Mar, a small town in Spain famed for its beautiful Mediterranean beaches. This stop is a must-go if you’re looking for a quick beach getaway before reaching Barcelona.
Cheapest Way to Travel From Paris to Barcelona
Buses won’t let you down if you’re looking for the cheapest way to travel from Paris to Barcelona. In fact, the average bus ticket that goes directly to your destination would only cost about $46. If you’re lucky enough, some stations offer discounts, and you’d only have to spend $30 or less.
Aside from being the cheapest, this option is also convenient. Know that approximately 15 buses travel from Paris to Barcelona daily at regular intervals. Plenty of stations offer this route, too, including Eurolines, Ouibus, and Alsa.