BARCELONA TOP 10 THINGS TO DO FOR A MEMORABLE VISIT!
With so much to see, do and experience in Barcelona, it’s a good idea to start by imagining your perfect holiday. Do you want to relax on the beach or soak up the culture? Go shopping or escape to the mountains? Or pack in as much as possible of everything, fuelled by a strategic café ambllet and energised by the sunshine. We thought so. Here are a few suggestions to get you started!
THE BEST THINGS TO SEE IN BARCELONA!
1 |Watch the sunset from Park Güell
Rarely does an architect’s legacy leave such a powerful and enduring impact on a city as Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona (1852-1926). His creative masterpieces were all heavily influenced by the natural world from which he drew an inexhaustible and endlessly surprising source of inspiration.
The landscaped gardens of Park Güell echo underwater caverns, asymmetrical crustacean shapes and include iconic symbols such as the famous lizard statue which can be found at the entrance of the ornamental pavilion.
Every season has its colours and foliage, from spring blossoms to winter silhouettes. Sunset is a magical experience; the city spreads out in front of you as the sun sinks gently into the Mediterranean Sea beyond.
2 | Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
Between La Rambla and the Barcelona Cathedral, and behind Via Laietana and Port Vell there’s a fascinating labyrinth of Medieval streets and passageways to explore. You’ll find everything from the remains of the Roman wall that guarded historic Barcino to the Gothic church of Santa Maria del Pi with its magnificent stained glass rosette.
Narrow streets open out into romantic squares such as Plaça Sant Felip Neri with its sombre reminder of the Spanish Civil War, and Plaça del Rei where you’ll find part of Barcelona’s City History Museum. There are also countless bars, boutiques and shops which fuse old styles with cosmopolitan modern trends.
3 | Hike to the top of Montserrat Mountain
One of the best things about Barcelona is getting out of the city to the nearby mountains, countryside and coast. The unusual rock formations of Montserrat Mountain, its magnificent monastery and the variety of hiking routes are not to be missed. Montserrat is easily accessible as a day trip destination by bus or train.
You can take a rack-railway or cable car to the monastery area, where there is also a significant art museum, restaurants and a cultural centre. If you’d like to experience a truly spectacular view, follow the trail that leads to the peak of Sant Jeroni (1236m). A metal mandala indicates the many towns, mountain ranges and points of interests within its scope of 360 degrees.
4 | Coffees and cañas in the squares
Barcelona’s mild Mediterranean climate facilitates an outdoor lifestyle that northern countries can only dream of. Each neighbourhood has several squares surrounded by bars, tapas restaurants and other eateries which easily entice both residents and locals to their tables at any time of day or evening.
Start your morning with an al fresco coffee and croissant in Gràcia and arrange to meet friends along Rambla Raval at nightfall.
5 | Visit the museums and galleries
Prestigious establishments such as the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and the MACBA modern art museum hold world class collections.
Temporary exhibitions take place in the many museums and galleries throughout the city with contemporary works and carefully curated retrospectives, and specialised museums provide fascinating focal points for specific interests. Many museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, and others are free every Sunday after 3pm.
6 | Support local artisans
As the era of mass consumerism charges on, there is also an equal and opposite movement that values hand-made products based on sustainable resources.
You’ll find plenty of crafts markets in the centre, as well as shops selling locally made jewellery, gifts and clothes. If you’re visiting Barcelona, support the local economy and bring home quality items.
7 | Go for a sunrise jog along the beach
Yes, we all know how satisfying those lazy days on the beach can be, reading a book or chatting with friends as you bronze, burn and bathe.
But let’s face it, the very best moments in life are less likely to happen on a packed stretch of midday sand with towels arranged bumper-to bumper, and a constant soundtrack of cerveza-cola-fanta-agua-massaje. Go for an early jog along the seafront and watch the sun’s rays paint the sea and sky with a palette of pinks and oranges that will remain engraved in your mind forever.
8 | Join in with the free cultural events
Nothing taps into the pulse of a city like its traditional festivities, and Barcelona is a non-stop party town with a wealth of celebrations throughout the year.
Some of the biggest events are the week long Festa de la Mercè in September and Festa Major de Gràcia in August. Fire-wielding dancing devils, typical dances and live music fill the streets and everyone comes out to play! Check out a local agenda to see what’s on during your stay.
9 | Experience the city from different perspectives
Challenge yourself to see how many angles you can glimpse Barcelona from. Maybe you’ll reach the hilltops of Tibidabo, Montjuïc or Turó de la Rovira?
Perhaps you’ll have a coffee on the top floor restaurant of El Corte Inglès in Plaça Catalunya, or a cocktail at Mirablau up in Tibidabo? How about viewing the city from an open-top bus, admiring the skyline from a boat, or looking down the Sagrada Família’s spires from a helicopter tour? Use your imagination…
10 | Enjoy fresh local food in quality restaurants
Another advantage of the Mediterranean climate is the constant variety of fresh seasonal products that can easily be found in the local shops and markets. Be aware of what’s in season and chose your dishes accordingly.
A good place to start is the Boqueria market on La Rambla. Stalls are piled high with every colour and flavour you can imagine, from fruit and vegetables to shiny-eyed fish and local dairy specialties.
The market is surrounded by tapas bars and restaurants which transform these fresh ingredients into delicious meals. There are several good fish restaurants in Port Olympic, and many excellent tapas bars in the Barceloneta neighbourhood.
Barcelona is really a wonderful city (I can’t wait to go back!) with an extra bonus: You can reach some other amazing destinations very easily by ferry (and since I was born in an Island is not a surprise that this is one of my absolute favorite mode of transport!).
This post was written by Francesca Hector, a freelance journalist who has been living in Barcelona for 11 years. Francesca is part of the writing team at ApartmentBarcelona.com, a rental agency with over 900 apartments in Barcelona. To find out more on where to eat in Barcelona, as well as tips on what to see and do in the city, visit their blog.