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More Than a City

Stylish Barcelona is a forward-thinking place, on the cutting edge of art, design and cuisine but with an equally rich past stretching back to Roman days. Whether you explore its medieval palaces and plazas, gawk at the modernista masterpieces, shop for designer duds along its stylish boulevards, sample its exciting nightlife or just soak up the sun on the city beaches, you'll be hard-pressed not to fall in love with this vibrant city.

Top Tips

  • Go a few streets back from Las Ramblas to experience cheap, authentic Spanish food

  • Take advantage of the plethora of free museums on Sunday afternoons, including the Picasso Museum!

  • Book Sagrada Familia tickets online to avoid the mega long queues in Summer

1. La Sagrada Familia

Modernism’s star architect of Barcelona was the eccentric Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), a devout Catholic, whose work is full of references to nature and Christianity. His masterpiece, La Sagrada Família, is a work in progress and Barcelona’s most famous building. Construction began in 1882 and could be completed in 2020. They say when it is finished there will be 18 towers all over 100m high representing the 12 apostles, 4 evangelists and Mary, with the tallest tower at 170m high standing for Jesus Christ. Make sure you climb to the top of the towers (or take the elevator) for a great view!

2. Gothic Quarter / Barri Gothic

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is jam packed with some of the best-preserved Gothic architecture in the world. Some of the sights include:

Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral:  The cathedral was built on top of the ruins of an 11th-century Romanesque church. The facade is a neo-Gothic addition tacked on in the 19th century. Highlights include the cool cloister, the crypt tomb of martyr Santa Eulàlia (one of Barcelona’s two patron saints), the choir stalls, the lift to the rooftop and the modest art collection in the Sala Capitular. You only pay the individual prices if you visit outside the special visiting hours.

Plaça del Rei: Not far from the cathedral is the pretty Plaça del Rei and the fascinating Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, where you can visit a 4000-sq-metre excavated site of Roman Barcelona under the plaza. The museum encompasses historic buildings including the Palau Reial Major (Main Royal Palace), once a residence of the kings of Catalonia and Aragón, and its Saló del Tinell (Great Hall). In summer, outdoor concerts are often held in Plaça del Rei.

3. Park Güell

High up in the Gràcia district sits Gaudí’s enchanting Park Güell originally designed to be a self-contained community with houses, schools and shops. The project collapsed, but we’re left with a Dr Seuss–style playground filled with colourful mosaics and Gaudí-designed paths and plazas. Recommended tip: Book online to save money and to make sure you can get in on your desired day as it gets quite popular.

4. La Ramblas

Spain’s most famous boulevard, the partially pedestrianised La Ramblas explodes with life. Stretching from Plaça de Catalunya to the waterfront, it’s lined with street artists, news-stands and vendors selling everything from mice to magnolias. Along the boulevard you’ll find the colourful Mercat de la Boqueria; a fresh food market with a modern entrance that is certainly one of La Rambla’s highlights. There is also the Gran Teatre del Liceu; the city’s opera house, where you can see inside the building on a guided tour. And at the end of the boulevard near the waterfront stands the Monument a Colom, a statue of Columbus atop a 60metre high pedestal erected in honor of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas. A small lift takes you to the top of the Colom for panoramic views.

5. Montjuic

Montjuic is mainly a hill of gardens designed by the French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, southwest of the city centre. Montjuïc serves as a Central Park of sorts and is great for a stroll overlooking the city. The hill is somewhat dominated by the Castell de Montjuïc, a onetime fortress. Apart from the park and beautiful views you’ll also find buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games and if you feel up to it you can go and visit the Olympic Stadium. At the foot of Montjuic you’ll find the Plaça Espanya, one of Barcelona’s most important squares with its cultural centre and other important buildings and museums. In the square the coolest sight has to be the ‘Magic Fountain’ where on certain nights during the summer a music and light show is played on the large fountain in the square.

Eats

1. The La Boqueria Market

This colourful market is a must whilst in Barcelona. This is the best place to try some local specialties such as cured meats, olives, cheeses and other fresh produce. Be sure to check out: Mas (back right of market): known for its mini chorizo sampler or jamon serrano sampler. Tocineria (stand 273): Fantastic jamon serrano Ma Carne (stand 742): Try the olive tapenade and aioli

2. Grill House

The Grill House is the place to head for a taste of the traditional Spanish tapas, paella and to wash it down with a fantastic sangria or wine.

3. Federal Cafe

Federal Café is an Aussie style establishment perfect if you’re missing that little piece of home. They have fantastic coffee or chai latte, lamingtons and do a great Aussie style breakfast with poached eggs and avocado!

4. Euskal Etxea

Euskal Etxea is one of the city’s best pintxo bars where you can try many Basque specialities such as chicken tempura with saffron mayonnaise or mini brochette of pork.

5. La Esquinica

There are always long queues out of La Esquinica and on a busy night you may be asked to take a number and wait on the street. Being so popular surely is a testament to the high quality tapas that are on offer. Try the creamy squid rings, stuffed mussels, or patatas bravas.

Drinks

1. Razmatazz

Razmatazz is Barcelona’s super club pumping out the tunes in a massive warehouse style building. There are 5 different club spaces inside, so you could spend all night moving from space to space discovering each dance floor and bar. This establishment is very modern covering everything from electro to pop to dub step to disco.

2. Marsella

Marsella is the oldest bar in town and hasn’t really changed since it first opened its doors in 1820. The décor is very rustic with wood paneling has been a home away from home for many well-known people in history, such Hemingway and most recently, George R.R Martin! Expect to be served absenta (absinthe) the proper way here.

3. Travel Bar

Just off La Ramblas, the Travel Bar is a great place to hang out and meet some fellow travellers whilst having a drink. They do drink specials each night and trivia once a week.

4. 1888

This cool rooftop bar located in Port Veil is worth the trip down to have a refreshing drink with a view. 1888 does cost a little bit more than other bars in town, but it’s worth it with some of the best views of the city. To go here, you need to enter through the main entrance of the Catalonian Museum, and head to level 3. If you arrive at the museum entrance and it is closed press the buzzer on the door and a security guard will escort you to the bar.

5. Opium

Opium is one of the best places to dance the night away in a classy establishment overlooking the beach. Make sure to dress up to impress, as Opium is one of the hottest nightclubs in town. At the start of the night the establishment starts off as restaurant and lounge bar, but after midnight it slowly transforms into party central with its nightclub.

Click the coloured pins to find out how to get here

Recommendations

10

The beach by day, Las Ramblas by night - that's where it's at!"

Scott, London