Welcome to Barcelona, Spain’s only metropolis on the Mediterranean and second largest city in the nation. Discover a place whose vibrancy and hospitality brings even the grayest days to light, a city brimming with life, offering a plethora of spectacular museums, restaurants, and festivities, as well as sensational shopping experiences and cuisine.
Landmarks and Attractions in Barcelona
In the very heart of Barcelona, come wander the narrow streets of the charming Gothic Quarter, filled with tiny cafes, interesting bars, and the city’s liveliest nightlife. Join the plethora of people and pigeons at Plaza Catalunya, with its gorgeous fountains and cafes. For a vista over the city’s rooftops make your way to Parc Guell, home to many cafes and the Gaudi Museum. Visit the famous Picasso Museum on La Ribera street (make time for the excellent wine bars there). Admire the stunning tile work, carvings, and arches of La Sagrada Familia cathedral, and walk just five minutes to the Hospital de Sant Pau (its modernist-design architecture is what Barcelona is famous for).
Don’t forget to visit The Cathedral (Basilica of Barcelona) which is flanked by a festivities-full plaza in the summer. Stroll around Barcelona’s most famous Parc Guell and judge for yourself if it is indeed absolutely surreal.
Nightlife and Family Fun in Barcelona
Tibidabo is a very family-friendly retreat, an amusement park on a hill top which is also wonderful for picnics and walks. Be sure to also visit the Montjuic mountain, site of the Olympic Stadium, the Museum of Modern Art, and so much more. Make your way to Eixample and Gracia for an authentic Barcelona-neighborhood sight. For more Spanish flavor, visit the Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol), replicating styles and architecture from different parts of the country (be sure to also browse the specialist craft shops and traditional workshops). Or take a drive out to Montserrat, a stunning jagged mountain with monasteries. Take a longer drive out to the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres; it’s a trip, but the museum itself is a breathtaking work of art (…wait till you walk in). Art lovers will also enjoy the Fundacio Joan Miro museum, while literary enthusiasts should consider the Lower Raval, a shady district that’s inspired many famous novels.
Spend the night at the dance clubs and restaurants of Olympic Harbor, Barcelona’s beautifully-designed waterfront which was also a site of the 1992 Olympic Games. Live music venues in Barcelona include Razzmatazz and Bikini, and marvelous concert halls such as The Gran Teatre del Liceu and The Palau de la Musica Catalana. Plan your trip in September if you want to party on the streets for days; the splendid Festes de la Mercee gives you a dazzling whirlwind of Catalan culture. Any time of the year, head over to El Tablao de Carmen for a vivid spectrum of flamenco song and dance!
Off the Beaten Path in Barcelona
There’s a light and water extravaganza to be found at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Take a master cooking class in paella at Lifestyle Barcelona. Romantics and thrill seekers can view the city 2000 miles up from a helicopter—or, even better, a hot air balloon (over Catalonia). Hop on a Harley Davidson (with a private chauffer; you don’t need a license) from Cooltra, or go canyoning (abseiling down waterfalls and jumping off ledges included). Not your thing? Unwind with a chocolate (and almond oil) massage—just more proof that chocolate is so good for you.
Shopping and Restaurants in Barcelona
Browse Barcelona’s main shopping artery, Las Ramblas, featuring exciting street performers and restaurants as well as shops and department stores. Fashionistas will delight in the expensive but original Custo Barcelona and MTX Barcelona, while designer-bargain hunters will find paradise in La Roca Village’s more than 50 outlets.
There are excellent restaurants to be found at El Raval quarter, Eat out at Nova Icaria Beach, the crowded lively beach scene of the summer. Visit the lively downtown strip of Passeig del Born, with nearly all-you-can-eat tapas after 6pm, or the fresh markets and trendy local restaurants at the Mercat de la Boqueria. Don’t miss out on the popular culinary trend pintxos (eaten with toothpicks), Barcelona’s famous oyster at Botafumeiro, taste Catalan cooking at the Cinc Sentits. Finally, indulge in the city’s most scrumptious sweets with cooked candy from Papabubble, frothy cocoa in La Granja, or posh chocolates at Escriba.
Photos provided by: Ilkka Harmanen and Andrey Belenko