What: Spain’s capital of architecture and culture is everything a great city should be, on the coast.
Where: Spain’s north-east coast, in the Catalan region.
Language: Catalan and Spanish.
Currency: Euro (EUR).
Highlights: Gaudi’s architecture (most notably the towering, intricate and still unfinished La Sagrada Familia), architecture in general, Palau de la Musica, Park Güell, the Nou Camp, the Cathedral and the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas (unless you can’t stand crowded touristy areas), the Picasso Museum, the Magic Fountain (don’t snicker, it really is spectacular), Palau Nacional, festivals, open street parties and of course, the beach.
A few of the city’s architectural heavyweights.
Snapshot: As vibrant and colourful as its people are lively and energetic, sprawling Barcelona is the firm favourite with many visitors to Spain for good reason. The city offers everything a traveller could want: great food, culture, architecture (to the extreme), nightlife, hot weather and the added bonus of a beach. There is never a dull moment, particularly in summer, when the number of street parties and festivals taking place goes through the roof. Add to that the long list of breathtaking buildings, parks, markets and museums open the rest of the year, and it’s no wonder Barcelona is a city that people return to time, and time, again.
Barcelona’s best sights are found by strolling…
- Try pinchos in Poble Sec. The pincho is Barcelona’s small, bite-sized answer to tapas, and are best experienced in the district of Poble Sec, where they can be enjoyed with a cana (a small beer) for one euro each.
- Watch out for water! The scenic Gothic Quarter is extremely popular with tourists, who have annoyed locals to the point that they’ve been known to drop water from their balconies, on the heads of noisy passersby. Keep quiet when strolling through the Quarter, unless you fancy an early shower.
- Keep an eye out for your belongings in Las Ramblas. The claustrophobically over-crowded Las Ramblas is notorious for its pickpockets, particularly in the market.
- Barcelona’s architectural sites may be in high demand, but you can see the best of them from the outside. Gaudi’s buildings such as Casa Batllo and Casa Mila have spectacular exteriors, while there is a path that runs right round Park Güell, giving you a great view of its famous mosaic benches. Sagrada Familia is definitely worth an interior visit, however, as is Palau de la Musica, where booking in for a concert is roughly the same price as a paid visit.
- Visit when a festival’s on. Whether it’s the crazy fireworks and bonfires of St. Joan (Barcelona’s midsummer saint) or the human towers (castellas) during the Catalan festival, getting in on Barcelona’s festival action will only add memories to your trip.