Barcelona is a vibrant city in every way. Wherever you are in the city, the refreshing sea air brings a smile to most faces as people meander the streets in a leisurely fashion. It’s hard to do things at any other pace, as the Spanish lifestyle is infectious.
Barcelona is as diverse as any city could hope to be; if you love the great outdoors, it can cater for that. Here you can explore mountains, beaches or UNESCO heritage sites. Inside the city you can experience the famous Spanish pavement café culture, photograph the exceptional architecture, wander around the picturesque streets and indulge in delicious local cuisine.
Barcelona has something for absolutely everyone. Whether you are planning a brief stay or you’ve got a wealth of leisure time at your disposal, Barcelona promises to keep you entertained. Here are a few insights to help you make the most of your trip:
The Spanish people are lively, friendly and curious. You can’t expect too much peace and quiet in the city, as the Spanish consider life to be worth celebrating. Barcelona attracts creative types: artists, musicians and performers of all kinds. It’s a melting pot of different cultures, so you’re bound to encounter people from all over the world. The Spanish vibe permeates everything and everyone, so prepare to be lively!
The weather is great in this region of Spain, with year round sunshine. However, if you want to avoid the hottest temperatures, the best time to visit is between April and June, or September to October when weather conditions are most favourable. At this time, the days are mild and the nights are cool.
Things to do in Barcelona
Las Ramblas is probably the most famous street in the city. One ramble down this tree-lined avenue will have you mesmerized by the golden statues that suddenly wink at you as you pass by; you’ll see all kinds of performers and there is always an eclectic selection of street music drifting on the breeze. The street is atmospheric, no matter what time of year you arrive. Las Ramblas is dotted with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. It will give you a glimpse of Catalan culture as well as some fascinating architecture.
Another of Barcelona’s famous activities is basking on the city beach. Once you get to the bottom of Las Ramblas, you’ll encounter the Barceloneta beachscape, which will no doubt suck you in for a few hours. It’s a busy beach and you can expect it to be as lively as most other parts of the city. Still, it’s a great place to recline on a sun lounger and take in the sights.
If you like the idea of a cool dip but the beach isn’t your thing, get down to Atlètic Barceloneta Swimming Club in Plaza del Mar. This is a luxurious solarium with excellent views. It overlooks the beach, and has two swimming pools: a sizeable heated one complete with swimming lanes, and a small one for salt water fans looking to relax. There are hammocks to lounge in too.
A trip to Montserrat Mountain means a little journey outside of the city (around 65km), but it’s worth the effort. Hiking up this mountain is very rewarding. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful Catalan nature and the views are some of the best you’ll find in Spain. There are lots of paths up the mountain, but you’ll probably want a rest at some point, whichever you take. A great stop-off point is the Benedictine Abbey.
Parc d’Atraccions del Tibidabo
Life in Barcelona is exciting, but if you want to up the ante, there’s a great amusement park you can visit. The Parc d’Atraccions is situated in the Sarrià Sant Gervasi district, Tibidabo, and has been in operation for more that a century so far.
One of the draws of this place is that it stands at the highest point of Barcelona, so the views are spectacular. And then of course there are the rides… you can find everything from vintage to modern rides, aimed at all age groups. If you’re brave, take a ride on the Hurakan, which moves at break-neck speeds, spinning and plunging you into a frenzy.
The famous architect Antonio Gaudi started constructing this impressive building back in 1882. The project was started with the intention of creating a ‘cathedral for the poor’, but unfortunately Gaudi was killed by a tram close to the construction site in 1926. However, the Sagrada Familia continues to be a work in progress, and it’s on most visitors’ lists.
If you climb your way to the top, you’ll be privy to some of the best views in the city. There is also a museum containing models, some of which are created and reproduced in real time, as well as building plans and historical photographs. Don’t miss the facades for their captivating detail; they depict biblical stories in symbolism, so it may be fun to try your luck at decoding them.
Font màgica de Montjuïc can be found on the busy Avinguda del Parallel. The fountain was built in 1929, and as many thought it couldn’t be done, that should give an indication of its splendour. You can expect to see a captivating display of colours, acrobatics and music, all of which come together in a magical combination. If you head down at night, you’ll see the whole thing come alive, with the colours and lights painting a stunning scene on the night sky’s canvas.
Where to eat and drink
When in Barcelona, no doubt you’ll want to seek out some of the delicious local cuisine on offer. You might also want to participate in the pavement café culture, relaxing outside and watching the world go by. The Spanish love their coffee, so you could join them for a cappuccino and a few handcrafted sweets at La Rambla 31.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, check out Botafumeiro, named after the incense-burner that hangs in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This place is all about fresh, traditional seafood, and it’s incredibly elegant with its wood-panelled walls and smarter-than-smart waiters. Try the mariscada, Galician barnacles, razor clams or oysters for a real treat.
Where to stay
H10 Cubik on Via Laietana is a great choice for those who love design. It’s a boutique four-star hotel in a very central location, meaning it’s not far to walk to the Gothic Quarter, Raval or Born. The rooms are luxurious and comfortable, and you’ve got access to a stylish rooftop bar, restaurant and swimming pool… pure Mediterranean indulgence. Expect to pay at least 150 euros per night here.
If you’re on a budget, consider Hostalin Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia, which shouldn’t cost you much more than 40 euros per night. It is a beautiful building protected by the department of Heritage and is located in the centre of Paseo de Gracia. The 10 rooms are new, of high quality, and are well equipped. It’s a relaxed and friendly hostel with king sized beds and free fibre optic Wi-Fi.
Barcelona is very unlikely to disappoint you, wherever you stay and whichever activities you do. The best thing about it is that there’s always something else to experience. This city will guarantee you one thing: you’ll always want to come back for more.