The capital of Catalonia and the dream of a football fan – Barcelona, is the second most popular city in Spain. And as anything Spanish, it’s highly associated with adventures, passion, hot weather, and hot food. Barcelona has a rich local history and a promising future. With its sunny days and hot nights (hot in all senses), with its devastatingly beautiful football and the amazing food, with the Spanish accent of the local people and their language that resembles the roar of a lion, Barcelona has a lot more interesting and exciting things to show you. Besides being trapped by the Catalonians’ football, you might also get lost in the architecture. And though the typically masculine men and the seductive by their nature women will surely be of great interest to the tourists, the traditions Barcelona has hidden for so long might also impress you quite a lot. Trips to Barcelona are always exciting, filled with vivid impressions, and if you don’t know what to start your journey with, check out our tips on the best things to do in Barcelona!
A long time ago, in a galaxy far-far away…
First and foremost, it is worth exploring the culture of Barcelona. As usual, this includes the history, the art, the architecture, and the music. Luckily for us, Barcelona is packed with museums. The Museud’Historia de Barcelona is the place where all the historical heritage of the city is preserved. By the way, did we mention that the museum functions in an interactive way? This means that you can try on the suit of a knight or get to ‘work’ with the irrigational system.Interested in the visualization of the lives of ordinary people, who lived in the Middle Ages? Visit El PobleEspanyol, The Spanish Village – a recreation of a typical medieval village. The National Art Museum of Catalonia is a stunning venue for the art geeks.
Casa Batllo and Casa Mila – the tremendous and unbelievable masterpieces of the gigantic mind of architecture, i.e. Gaudi – are two of the most beautiful buildings humanity has ever built. We don’t even dare to describe them! You must see them, in order to understand their beauty. They are simply from a different planet. Here are some other things from a different planet by the same genius – the Sagrada Familia, a futuristic Roman Catholic church, and the Park Guell, a 20th-century urban-style park. Other works of Gaudi include such terrific buildings like the Teresian College, the Episcopal Palace, the Casa Botines, the Bodegues Guell, the Torre Bellesguard, Palau Guell, etc.
The Pablo Picasso Museum is a must, even if you’re not into art that much. For those excited by archeology, Barcelona has two very special places – the Egyptian Museum and the Museu Barbier-Mueller d’Art Precolombi. The latter is a gathering of art pieces from ancient local cultures like the Maya, the Aztec, the Zapotec, the Olmec, the Incand the Teotihuacan. How breathtaking it must be – to realize that some of the exponents existed for 4000 years!
The Museum of Contemporary Art is filled with the youthful energy and the promising artists who have a great future ahead of them. El Rey de la Magiа is, in fact, one of the oldest shops dedicated solely to magic. Of course, ‘magic’ does not mean magic itself, but rather the creation of the illusion of magic.A little something for the gentlemen – the Museum of FC Barcelona – is full of treasures that only a true football fan can appreciate. And a museum that might inspire the ladies –the Textile and costume museum of Barcelona – is the perfect place to get a view of your soon-to-be-needed prom dress or get a hint of your future wedding dress. Besides, did you know the exponents exhibited here come from different times, up to the 7th century? Do not miss it, become a pro in Middle Ages’ fashion. And, at last, here’s something yummy. The Museum of Chocolate suggests the impossible variations of chocolate and allows you to see literal masterpieces of the best cooks they have.
The fame, babe
Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catalana is a concert hall, which is so beautiful, godly and breathtaking that you cannot even really listen to the music! The walls fully soak in your attention, and everything else stops being important. Yet another famous site – Sant Pau Recinte Modernista- is a former hospital and a current site for the tourists. And again, the building attracts your full attention instead of the historical information. The sculptures around the site are representations of heavenly angels, frightening gargoyles, and majestic dragons. The colors of the building and the delicate work of the sculptors are simply stunning, and the excursion is full of exciting facts!
Another place that does not fit into any category is the CosmoCaixa. It is a museum of science and knowledge. Physical, chemical and biological facts and phenomenon are presented here as entertainment! Go ahead, nature-lovers and science-geeks, take your children here. The history geeks might also be into the Ciutat Vella, meaning Old City. It’s a district in Barcelona under number one. Some of the old buildings in here are astonishingly well-preserved, and worth of taking a look at.
Catch the Festival
If you are lucky enough, you might run into any of the festivals held in Barcelona. In particular, Formula One, which is held in May, is a major thing in the world of sport. So, those of you who enjoy seeing the best navigators driving through the tightest tracks and who love speed, are welcomed to look for the dates of the upcoming festival. You can try buying tickets online, but you might get much luckier if you are there in person.
The Feria de Abril, held in April, is a weeklong festival of flamenco – the dance of passion. Don’t you just melt when thinking of watching the best flamenco dancers on stage for two weeks? A high point of joy is Festa de SantMedir – the Candy Fest held in March. This epic parade of free sweets is heaven to those who has that guilty pleasure – the love of sugar.
The Calçotada, being held in February or March, is the celebration of onions. We know this may sound weird, but apparently, this festival is a celebration of spring and fertility to Catalonians. And Día de Los Reyes Magos, or the King’s Day, is the Catalonian equivalent of Christmas. If you appear to be in the right company you might see the Sardana dance the traditional Catalonian dance, or maybe even participate in it.
Oh, Good Lord!
Climbing up the magnificent Montjuïc might actually make you think of God. Not only is the view from up there indescribably magical, but you can also see buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games. The Gran Teatre del Liceu – the biggest theater of the city – is decorated with ornate carvings, red carpets, and a delicate touch of gold. And the prices of the tickets are unexpectedly not expensive, so don’t shy away from the programme of the evening and give it a try! Another thing to climb – the Tibidabo, is a mountain overlooking Barcelona. If you have a strong will and climb the whole mountain you will be rewarded by the view of the Red Aeroplane and the astonishing church called Sagrat Cor.
Something else that might make you think of God is taking a tour through Camp Nou – the stadium where so many matches took place. Watch out, FC Barcelona fans! Do not lose your consciousness when passing by the press area or the dressing rooms. And, of course, the Lord is surely good when it comes to the Basilica of Santa Maria de Mar – the Cathedral of Barcelona. It simply stops being important if you are a Christian or an atheist, you just enjoy the beauty, the grace, the delicacy, and the elegance of the enormously impressive building.
Visit the Dark Side
One of the most picturesque places in Barcelona – the Gothic Quarter – stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana. With its street plan resembling a labyrinth, small comfortable alleys, and beautiful constructions like the Carrer del Bisbe, it is one of the two places in Barcelona (including La Rambla) which appear to be pickpocketing hotspots. So, be wary of your belongings, and do not carry much stuff or money with you when visiting these two areas.
Some say the Magic Fountain is considered to be kitsch, but who cares about that if there is this magnificent mixture of water, sound and light show? Also, seek for awesome graffiti in El Raval and Problenou. The street artists have done a good job, and it is worth taking a second and appreciating their hard work.
Visit some of the best bars in the city – the welcoming Old Fashioned, a gin tonic and cocktail bar with a great atmosphere, and the Rubi with its red color and amazing drinks. Explore the El Born, full of great hidden places, like some sort of secret treasures that you should search for to find.
And what comes to shopping – check out the womenswear. World-famous brands like Zara, Replay, Desigual, and Diesel have one of the best stores in here. Keep in mind to visit the Vila Viniteca – the boutique for wine connoisseurs – and taking a bottle of fine, high-quality wine to your home. And don’t you dare to miss the Family Beer! It is a place with an absolutely unique idea. This is not just a brewery, but the right pitch for learning how beer is made. They show you the whole process of manufacturing, so you can make some beer for yourself.
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a huge public market near La Rambla and a great place to catch some Catalonian breakfast! Just a couple of photos of the market can actually whet your appetite, so be careful and do not visit this place when extremely hungry. The Catalonians also like the things they call tapas. Those might be anything! A bit of salad on a piece of bread or a bite of a fish on a toast – the choice is enormously varied. If you are with money, try eating on the classy and popular streets like La Rambla. But if you are not, do not get disappointed. Barcelona has a lot of good places to eat. All you have got to do is not to be lazy and try walking into the alleys. There are many nice and quite cheap places to eat on those small alleys. Plus, when discovering those tiny, home-like cafes, you feel like finding a tremendous treasure. And, trust us, sure it is! And if you want to be in the shoes of genius minds like Picasso or Dali – head to Els 4 Gats, where all these artists gathered and discussed their art and lives.
Do not miss out on the seafood! Save up on typical and unexciting tours and leave some money for the luxurious restaurants with an amazing assortment of seafood like Rias de Galicia Poble-sec and CachitosEixample. The fantastic taste of squid rings or the yummy smell of fried whitebait will simply blow your mind! And try the Paella – a rich and flavorsome local dish that is considered to be a native Spanish dish, but the Valencians insist on it being solely theirs. However, this cultural argument should not stop you from enjoying all of the varied recipes of the dish.
Staying in Barcelona
The Mercer Hotel could be the dream place to stay for a tourist. With a unique combination of Gothic and Modern architecture and a service at its highest, this hotel is no less expensive as it is fabulous. Another place to stay for those with money is the W Hotels, which are a web of glamorous and luxurious hotels, full of all sorts of entertainment and relaxation. For those of you who are seeking a cheaper version – you might want to check out the hostels and the motels of Barcelona. Though, if you are only planning to stay there at night, you might as well try couch surfing. Make friends with the locals, stay at their homes at nights and enjoy the city during the whole day.
Sand, sea, and sun. Barcelona is full of high-quality beaches that can make your pastime equal to a royal holiday. The BarcelonetaBeach, though the dirtiest, is the most entertaining beach, full of music, dance, happiness, and joy. A calmer and more ‘serious’ alternative are the Bogatell Beach. The best place for the reckless youngsters is the Nova Icaria Beach, full of the likes of you, guys! Mar Bella Beach is a nudist beach, and also the place where gays and lesbians hang out. St Pol de Mar Beach is located farther, but has water clear as the sky.