Barcelona vs Madrid: Which Spanish City Should You Visit?

Barcelona vs Madrid: Which Spanish City Should You Visit?

The fancy city of Barcelona or the traditional Madrid? I’m sure you’ve contemplated which of these cities to visit at some point. Travellers who want to venture to the beautiful land of Spain are usually confronted by this dilemma since both Spanish destinations have so much to offer and are remarkably different from one another. Nevertheless, if you’re running out of time for vacation planning, we hope these factors below would aid you in narrowing down your options!

1. Food

Image credit: Intiaz Rahim

With Barcelona being a more ‘international’ city featuring French and English cuisines, Madrid still manages to retain its roots by offering visitors a sample of traditional Spanish culture. You can even find foods from other Spanish cities such as Valencia and Seville in Madrid. The Paella (above) is a popular dish that consists of short-grain rice, green beans, seafood, and meat. Those who are familiar with the Indian cuisine, Biryani, might find this dish to be its worthy competitor due to their similar cooking styles.

Winner: Madrid

2. Price

Image credit: Irene Gassi

As said earlier, Barcelona caters to an international market. Thus, making it a much more touristy and pricey destination when compared to Madrid. An average one-way ticket for a local transport is €2.12 in Barca and €1.50 in Madrid. It’s not that you can’t find cheap things to do in Barcelona — it’s just that there are much more of them in Madrid.

Winner: Madrid

3. Football

Image credit: Jan SOLO

Football is definitely an integral part of Spain’s tourism with it being home to arguably two of the biggest football clubs in the world, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F. With the recent departure of “the superhuman” Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, there has been a drastic decrease in ticket sales for Real Madrid’s matches. This, in turn, noticeably dulled the vibrant atmosphere of the stadium as well. Meanwhile, in Barcelona, Lionel Messi is keeping the fans in Camp Nou very happy.

Winner: Barcelona

4. Architecture

The expiatory church of the Sacred Heart in Barcelona. | Image credit: Jose Balastegui Lopez

Gran Via, a busy shopping district in Madrid. | Image credit: Camilo Rueda Lopez

Despite the charming buildings along Gran Via in Madrid, Barcelona is filled with more iconic architecture, attracting plenty of tourists all year! Most of the famous architect Antoni Gaudi’s modernist buildings are in Barcelona and it is in these designs that the city’s reputation is hinged on.

Winner: Barcelona. What a comeback, it’s 2-2!

5. Climate

Image credit: Fred Romero

Image credit: Adam Wyles

This one is a walkover. Barcelona has the best of both worlds with cooler summers and milder winters. On the other hand, Madrid might have great springs and falls, but its winters and summers can reach extreme temperatures. Also, Barcelona has a beach and Madrid doesn’t (well, not a natural one, at least).

Winner: Barcelona

6. Accessibility in Spain

Image credit: Josep Ma. Rosell

Barcelona offers some great cycling lanes and it has the most number of local residents getting around by bike in the country. However, it is not every day that you ride from city to city on a bike. Since Madrid is located right smack in the middle of the country, it is more accessible than Barcelona’s north-western location. Either way, the country’s AVE high-speed rail can take you to various cities in a flash!

Winner: Madrid

7. Nightlife

Image credit: Nightlifemadrid

Despite Barcelona’s individual bars and clubs such as Razzmatazz, Madrid has streets of interesting nightspots. It doesn’t matter what your music taste is, Madrid will have somewhere for you to let loose. Most of the clubs in Madrid average at 15 per entry (this comes with a drink or two) and have very affordable VIP tables.

Winner: Madrid


The mighty Madrid wins again. I love exploring a country’s deep-rooted traditions and Madrid offers that conveniently. Nevertheless, if you’re seeking out a more modern scene, then maybe Barcelona might be your cup of tea!

Also read: 8D7N Itinerary Around Spain: Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid

About Author

Kanesh Pillai
Kanesh Pillai

A sad Manchester United fan and a deluded superhero. Kanesh hopes to be worthy enough to lift Mjolnir and fly around the world without rendering himself broke.


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