Headed to Europe or planning for next summer? You need to include time in Barcelona Spain. Ancient yet modern, here are our top five things to do in beautiful Barcelona.
One of Europe’s top destination cities, Beautiful Barcelona is a vibrant, cultural, colorful and historic gem, nestled in the warm and sunny Northeast corner of the Iberian Peninsula on the Mediterranean Sea. Bravo – Ole!
A visit to Barcelona can be done in as little as three days, but why not spend more time? Beautiful Barcelona is one of those special places where you should just wander… around every corner you’ll stumble upon ancient architecture. In every nook and cranny find local cuisine featuring the bounty of the Catalan region. Sit and sip a coffee or Spanish wine and practice your Spanish with a local – who will likely speak both Spanish and Catalan but not English. Language is never a problem though, everyone is kind and knows a bit of English and you point and smile and communicate however you can (and it doesn’t hurt to have a translation app on your phone!). Muy Bien!
- Ramble La Rambla (and more)
One of Barcelona’s favorite places to see and be seen is La Rambla, the famous and beautiful wide promenade in the old city. Walking in Barcelona is encouraged, through beautiful pedestrian areas like this one, although Barcelona also has an efficient, clean and fast subway (Metro). Be sure to look into the Barcelona Card for your best transport deals in the city (as well as deals to museums and more). www.barcelonacard.com
Along La Rambla you will find shopping and dining and many places to sit and relax. You will also find the entrance to the wonderful Mercado de la Boqueria (see more below on this).
Barcelonians can also be found promenading along the boardwalk area of Barcelona Beach, popular for sunbathing in the heat, dining and walking any time in this city by the sea.
For more upscale shopping be sure to stroll the Passeig de Gracia, or just to window shop at such designer stores as Hermes, Michael Cors, or Yves Saint Laurent. This area is known for its modernist architecture, theaters (Flamenco and Opera) and dining. Fantastico!
- Bon Profit – Buen Provecho
No matter how you say it, in Catalan or Spanish, eating well in Beautiful Barcelona is easy to do. The Catalan cuisine focuses simply on one thing – fresh, seasonal ingredients. Don’t expect spicy foods, or lots of sauces as you might find in France or South America. Spain’s cuisine, and in particular the region of Catalonia, uses simple seasoning and lets the fresh ingredients do the talking.
Jamon (please don’t call this prosciutto in front of a Spaniard) is found through- out Spain and the locally produced Iberian Black Pig Jamon is some of the finest in the world (check out the Jamon Experience www.jamonexperience.com ). Spanish olive oil is also spectacular, and unbeknownst to many people, you are often buying Spanish olive oil when it’s labeled Italian.
Whether or not you are a foodie, a visit to the
impressive Mercado de la Boqueria should be high on your list during your time in Barcelona. It’s a fun experience and feast for both the eyes and the
stomach. Wander through the stalls eating “take-away” tapas ranging from olives, to empanadas, jamon to calamari and everything in between. Sidle up to the bar at one of the handful of restaurants serving fresh made Catalan specialties to customers perched at a narrow bar on stools. Delicioso!
Consider a food tour where an experienced guide will take you to multiple restaurants, tapas bars, wine bars as well as through the mercado. This is an excellent way to learn about the cuisine and the city and its passion for fresh food. There are many options for tours like this in Barcelona. Check out www.withlocals.com or www.visitbarcelona.com to learn more.
Delve deeper into the cuisine with a cooking class. Classes can focus on the delicious and colorful and beautiful foods of Barcelona such as tapas, seafood or a selection of some of the region’s best-known dishes such as Paella, Tortilla, and Gazpacho and usually include an in-depth tour of the Boqueria. www.bcnkitchen.com
- Ga Ga for Gaudi
Barcelona has become synonymous with Antoni Gaudi, the influential architect from the 1800’s who was far ahead of his time. There are three main sights in Barcelona to marvel at his genius, and all three are recommended. Be sure to book in advance – these are the cities most popular tourist destinations and you don’t want to miss out!
La Sagrada Familia – designed by Gaudi, this Catholic Basilica, named for the Holy Family, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Construction began on Gaudi’s masterpiece in 1882 and he devoted the remainder of his life to the project. Since Gaudi’s death in 1926 construction has continued, being interrupted only by war, and continues to this day. Visitors can see the varying stages, including (with a special ticket) going up inside one of the towers. Like all of Gaudi’s works, elements from nature play heavily in the design, and the magnificent stone forest, and masterful use of stained glass on the interior makes for a spiritual and natural experience. It will take your breath away. Current goals are to complete the remaining towers by 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s death. Do not miss La Sagrada Familia – an absolute highlight of your tour of Beautiful Barcelona. www.sagradafamilia.org.
Park Guell – The combined vision of urban planner/businessman Eusebi Guell and Antoni Gaudi
conceived this residential neighborhood, which failed commercially due to its high cost and location too far from the city center. Began in 1900, it became a Barcelona city park in 1926. Today there are portions of the park that are free to the public, but to really experience the UNESCO Heritage site, reserve one of the limited numbers of visitors tickets sold each day. The park includes more of Gaudi’s inspirational and astonishingly forward thinking nature-themed style, from the covered seating areas to the water features, houses and other structures. Park Guell is a must see in Barcelona. https://www.parkguell.cat/en/
Want more Gaudi? Stroll the Passieg de Gracia to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, two more remarkable buildings showcasing Gaudi’s striking modernist art style with homage to nature. This block of homes (Gaudi and non-Gaudi) is one of the most beautiful in all of Barcelona. Tickets are needed to enter, or you can admire from outside. Learn more about Casa Mila at www.lapedrera.com or Casa Batllo https://www.casabatllo.es/en/
- History Lessons
This city’s history is deep, with some of the earliest findings suggesting occupation in the region dating as early as 5000BC. Clearly the region has been an important crossroads for millennia, with Romans playing a major role in development with many sites viewable today dating to this period. A walk through the Barri Gotic takes you back in time, and a visit to the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulate shouldn’t be missed. More indepth and fascinating history can be found in the Catalonia History Museum and the Barcelona History Museum. Both are worth the time.
If you are blessed with additional time in Catalonia, there are numerous day-trips outside of Barcelona including Montserrat Mountain and Monastery, Costa Brava with its beaches and historic villages, and many cycling and hiking options.
Visit Barcelona and spend at least five days – a week is even better – and get to know this magical place. Yo amo Barcelona! Ole!
Note- interested in more information on Spanish cooking class at Mercado de la Boqueria? Click here.