Barcelona is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s not hard to see why. It has everything, a stunning diversity of architecture, from the medieval of the Barrio Gótico to the Modernism of Antonio Gaudí, works from artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg on street corners, world class museums and galleries.
Barcelona is as the capital of Modernism and you can find many monuments built and designed by famous Antoni Gaudi, the best are Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Casa Batllo and Parc Guell. In addition, the city is home to the spectacular Gothic Cathedral or the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar.
Another bonus is the city’s proximity to the coast with countless miles of sandy beaches, especially along the north side of the city. The main beach of Barcelona is divided into five or more smaller beaches and each beach offers a great place to relax and chill.
Where to stay
Market (Comte Borrell,68 Barcelona Barcelona; 020 3564 51650) is located in the Eixample suburb which was created 1860–1920 and consequently holds the city’s finest Modernist buildings. The Passeig de Gràcia is the main artery, its wide pavements lined with designer shops and chic cafes. It is also home to Gaudí’s two fairy-tale masterpieces, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, plus many other architectural gems. The undoubted star of the Eixample is La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s fabulous unfinished emblematic church.
Where to eat
Bodega Biarritz (Nou de San Francesc 7, 08002 Barcelona; +34 618 67 79 27) the city is home to countless tapas joints. They sit on street corners and atmospheric back alleys all over the city. Bodgea is one of the best and offers some amazing tapas/pinchos and a vibrant buzz. The food is typically Tapas, the aromas of sizzling chorizo unforgettable as they permeate out into the streets.
What to see
The Sagrada Familia (Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona; +34 932 08 04 14) is a must see, the facade is hard to describe, it’s a mixture of modern and gothic influences and was created by Barcelona’s favourite son, Antoni Gaudi. It is still not complete after 100 years and even today there is extensive work being carried out on the exterior, but even the scaffolding, cranes and abseiling workmen won’t dampen your enthusiasm. The Cathedral is also the final resting place of its extraordinary creator, I can but imagine Gaudi’s crypt. I selfishly wanted it to be completely over the top, adorned with obscure sculptures, ornate and ostentatious decoration but it’s more likely plain and boring.
Castell de Montjuȉc (Carretera de Montjuïc, 66, 08038
Barcelona; +34 932 564 445) the word ‘Juic’ comes from the old Catalan word meaning Jew and it is believed that this is where the medieval Jewish community buried their dead. Nowadays Montjuic has plenty to offer, parks, cable car, museums and a Greek-style amphitheatre. Its great to wander around the fortress and its extensive grounds which occupy the whole of the summit. There are several cannons and high calibre artillery dotted around the site pointing ominously out to the sea. The views are amazing and give a wonderful panoramic insight into the makeup of the city. Sporadic old gothic buildings nestled comfortably amongst the jungle of modern structures.
Park Güell (08024 Barcelona) is the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude, which belongs to his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). During this period, the architect perfected his personal style through inspiration from organic shapes.
Park Güell originated in 1900, when Count Eusebi Güell bought a tree-covered hillside (then outside Barcelona) and hired Gaudí to create a miniature city of houses for the wealthy in landscaped grounds.
The highlight is the Casa-Museu Gaudi which is a hypnotic spired house where Gaudí lived for most of his last 20 years (1906–26). It contains furniture by him (including items that were once at home in La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and Casa Calvet) and other memorabilia.
Green Bikes (Carrer Escudellers, 48, Barcelona;+34 933 013 612) Price: 2€ Per Hour, 10€ for 24 hours, 45€ for a week
No cash deposit required! Just bring a driver’s license, passport or national ID card. All rentals come with high-quality LOCKS to make sure the bikes are not stolen. We will show you how to use the locks correctly as part of the rental process.
Helmets and child seats available at no extra charge. Helmets are not obligatory in Barcelona (except for those under 16 years old). Children’s bikes available as well in a wide range of sizes; normal prices apply.
Open 7 Days a week from 10.00 – 20.00.
Most travellers enter Barcelona through El Prat airport. Some budget airlines use Girona-Costa Brava airport or Reus airport.
Flights from North America take about eight hours from the east coast (typically 10 to 13 hours, including a stopover); from the west coast count on 13 or more hours including a stopover. Flights from London take around two hours; from Western Europe it’s two to three hours.
Travelling by train is a pricier but perhaps more romantic way of reaching Catalonia from other European cities. The new TGV takes around around seven hours from Paris to Barcelona. Long-distance trains arrive in Estació Sants, about 2.5km west of La Rambla.