Barcelona, sometimes described as a hedonistic city, offers a vibrant urban life. The city has something to offer for everyone. Barcelona is famous for its gay and fashion scene, but also for the great architectural works of the artist Antoni Gaudí, city beaches, good food and nightlife. In recent years Barcelona has grown to become a culinary capital. Its avant-garde cuisine has resulted in more than twenty Michelin star restaurants. And if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life you can relax and enjoy the beauty of nature in the nearby Pyrenees Mountains.
Barcelona is also the capital of Catalonia, one of Spain’s autonomous regions. In Barcelona you will come across many Catalan speakers and you will find that both the Catalan and Spanish language are part of the streetscape. Most Catalans consider Catalonia to be a separate country. There are many interesting neighbourhoods in Barcelona that you can visit. In the Raval neighbourhood you will be at the heart of Barcelona’s urban culture. Here you will find good food and Barcelona’s nightlife. Nice places to visit are Bar Kasparo, Lo de Flor and Dos Palillos. A nice neighbourhood worth visiting is up-town Gràcia; especially in August when the streets compete to be the best decorated. Gràcia is known for its bohemian character.
Things to do and see in Barcelona
Visit the Gothic Quarter
The best and most characteristic part of Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter where the narrow streets form a labyrinth that will surely make you get lost in what still feels like authentic Spain. Here you will find small typical Spanish bars and restaurants with hams drying in the windows; historical buildings like the Gothic Cathedral; and architectural remnants of Barcelona’s Roman period. When you come out of the quarter you get to the beaches on one side or the famous Las Ramblas on the other side, where street artists demonstrate their skills.
Go shopping at the Boqueria Market
Continue your stroll along Las Ramblas where you can go shopping at the Boqueria Market. This typical Spanish food market is a truly colourful experience. Here you will find a wide range of the fresh foods that the region has to offer. You can also have some of the best tapas in town at the El Quim stall or Pinoxto. A good way to get to know your way around the city is by going bar hopping in the evening just like the locals do. It is a Spanish custom to have a tapa and a beer in one bar and then go on to the next.
Architecture designed by Spain’s famous artist Gaudí
The one thing you really can’t miss while visiting Barcelona is the architecture designed by Spain’s famous artist Gaudí. Around the city you will find many of Gaudi’s works like the church La Sagrada Família and Casa Mila. However, most important is Park Güell. You can take a pleasant stroll through this beautiful park and admire Gaudi’s art and creations. The park is lively, with street musicians, and people relaxing. There are also guided tours available. If you are interested in art and culture it will also be worth your while to visit the Picasso museum.
Visit entertaiment parks
Barcelona can also be visited with kids; there is enough to do for everyone. Barcelona is home to one of the world’s largest aquariums. And there is also a zoo in the Ciutadella Park. Of course the 4 kilometre beaches will keep you’re your little ones entertained as well. And then there is the Poble Espanyol: a Spanish village of reconstructed houses and villages from different parts of Spain.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit Barcelona from May to September
The weather in Barcelona is nice most of the year, the winter is short and not as cold as other parts of Europe, although the temperatures can still drop until zero, and snow is not unheard of. In summer you can take the most out of Barcelona’s beaches, although they will be packed, whereas in spring and autumn the main attractions will be quieter.
You can take a direct flight from most European cities to the airport of Barcelona: Or if you are travelling on a budget you can have a look at cheap Ryan Air flights, which will fly to smaller airports outside the city, like Girona. From there you can take a train into Barcelona, the connections are good and easy.
Barcelona is also a great place to experience some of Spain’s best fiestas. The Festes de la Merce, take place in September. During this festival of nearly a week the whole city turns into a live stage of performance arts, music events, and many more. And just outside of Barcelona in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia there is a famous cava festival during which the locals elect a Cava Queen and celebrate the first pressing. Here you can taste some of Spain’s best cava, while enjoying other gastronomic events and concerts.
Barcelona has a fantastic biking system. Everywhere around the city you will see rows of red bikes owned by the council. Locals can become a member and pick up a bike at any of the stands, and then when they get to their destination simply park the bike again at the nearest stand. This bicycle sharing system is called ‘bicing’. For tourists there are several companies that offer daily bicycle rental and also bike tours. You can also discover the city on foot or use the metro system. Look after your belongings especially on Las Ramblas, the Raval neighbourhood, the metro, and the beaches.