Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and a major economic, cultural and touristic destination.
Located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe with highlights including a mild Mediterranean climate, UNESO World Heritage listed sites such as Park Güell, lovely recreation and green areas, amazing food and expansive beaches.
A long history of different cultures living in Spain has left Barcelona sprinkled with beautiful architecture and unique places of interest.
Don’t miss Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces and some of Barcelona’s top sights – the unfinished Sagrada Familia, the iconic Park Güell mosaics and gardens or the impressive Casa Batlló known locally as the ‘House of Bones’.
Stroll around the Ciutat Vella (Old City) where you’ll find narrow winding lanes, creative shops, interesting restaurants and many museums. La Rambla is the main street so expect it to be busy! Art fans should visit the El Born district for the El Museu Picasso (the Picasso Museum) or head to El Raval for the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona). The Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) is popular for the Plaça Reial where locals and tourists congregate in the many bars and restaurants surrounding the square.
Make use of Barcelona’s mild climate by finding a spot on one of Barcelona’s many beaches. Barceloneta is the busiest and most entertaining beach, Nova Icária is good for water sports, and for something with plenty of sea and sand but a quieter option drive to Caldes d'Estrac (Caldetes).
Immerse yourself in a lively Spanish market. The main one in Barcelona is Boqueria Market where you can choose fruit from precariously balanced pyramids, buy fresh squid from a fishmonger, eat freshly sliced chorizo sausage or grab a snack at a kiosk. For a smaller market but just as lively, head to Santa Caterina market.
Food is integral to Spain and a trip to Barcelona will introduce you to classic and contemporary Catalan cuisine. Stop by Somodó (Carrer de Ros de Olo 11) for a fusion of Japanese and Catalan dishes, or we recommend a reservation at La Ginesta (C/ Jovellanos, 3) where you can order something more traditional such as fideuà (Barcelona’s version of paella but made with vermicelli not rice).
Stray from La Rambla and visit the real Barcelona in districts like Poble Sec and Gràcia. Enjoy a show at El Molino (Vila i Vila, 99 | Av. Paral·lel) a smaller version of Paris’ Moulin Rouge cabaret. Or find a stool at a busy taverna on the Carrer Verdi street on a Wednesday or Saturday night and watch Spanish football while drinking una caña (draft beer).
Venture just over one hour north of Barcelona to the city of Girona with a setting looking across to the mountains. Climb the steps up to the Passeig de la Muralla and walk along the ancient walls with great views over the city. Stop into the Girona Cathedral with a stunning nave and splendid stained glass windows, then have lunch in the Jewish Quarter.
Drive one hour south from Barcelona to the popular destination of Tarragona, much visited for its UNESCO-listed Roman Remains that include an amphitheâter, city walls and an aqueduct. There is also the National Archaeological Museum with excellent archaeological artefacts, and families will love PortAventura Amusement Park complete with Aquatic Park, monorail and every theme park ride imaginable.
Possible as a day trip from Barcelona is a visit to Figueres, the home town of artist Salvador Dalí. The biggest attraction is the fantastical and dream-like Dalí Theater and Museum that houses Dalí’s crypt and the largest collection of works by the artist including paintings, collages and sculptures. Afterwards, drive to the Castell de Sant Ferran for panoramic views over Catalonia.