This Spanish city has a little bit of everything: a relaxed pace, months of endless sunshine, unbeatable food and lots of history. With its location between the Mediterranean sea and the mountains, it has one foot in the traditional things and the other in the avant-garde.
Things to do in Barcelona
1. La Sagrada Familia If you only have one day in Barcelona, then you have to visit the symbol of Barcelona. The Church is still under construction after more than 130 years. Even unfinished, it’s the most visited monument in Spain, with around 2.8 million visitors a year. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed by Antoni Gaudi, who combined Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Guesses on when construction might be complete range from the 2020 to the 2040.
2. Visit the district of L’Eixample** Built in 1860, today the Eixample is a vast commercial and residential district. Like a small museum in the open air, you will be able to see a number of Gaudi buildings, with frontages of wood, glass, iron and ceramics. L’Eixample, that means “Extension”, includes:
• Park Guell – A beautiful municipal park with a network of twisting roads that follow the contours of the land. • Casa Calvet – The first of the 3 houses Gaudi designed for this district. There’s a good restaurant inside. • Passeig de Gràcia – This is Barcelona’s most elegant avenue and one of the best architectural walks in the city. • Museu de la Musica – Music Museum, located in a building from the architect Puig y Cadafalch. There’s an impressive collection of guitars and rare instruments. • Casa Milà – The second Gaudi’s most popular building in Barcelona. Built with natural stones, it has a large ensemble of surrealistic chimneys on the rooftop that look like sculptures. • Manzana de la Discordia – This block on Passeig de Gràcia is known for having buildings by four of Barcelona’s most important Modernist architects, Lluìs Domènech i Montaner, Antoni Gaudi, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Enric Sagnier. • Antoni Tàpies foundation – Created by the homonym Catalan painter to promote the study and understanding of modern art and culture. • Avinguda del Tibidabo – Modernist urban area. There’s a “Tramvia Blau” (a blue tram) that goes up and down this street and it’s the only one of its kind left in Spain.
What to Eat in Barcelona
Barcelona is a dream destination for foodies. The cuisine is pretty varied but there are a few dishes that you simply can’t miss:
• Bombas – One of the most iconic tapas dishes. It’s a tennis ball-sized potato croquette served with two sauces, a white garlic allioli and a rich and spicy red one. • Calçots and romesco sauce – The calçot is a sweet green onion native to Catalonia. The locals grill them and eat them with a traditional salsa made with hazelnuts, almonds and red peppers. • Paella – Possibly the most iconic Spanish dish. There are two versions, one with rice and seafood only, and another with rice, seafood and meat. • Esqueixada – Catalan salad made with bacalao (or raw salted cod), romesco sauce, tomatoes, onions and black olives. It’s great with a glass of sparkling Catalan Cava! • Escalivada – Grilled eggplants and red peppers over an open wood fire, served on toasted bread with quality olive oil, garlic, salt and anchovies. • Mato – This soft, sweet and spreadable goat cheese is unsalted. Catalans eat it with honey and walnuts, like a dessert. • Crema Catalana – Another iconic dish, just like Paella. It’s made with creamy vanilla custard and blow torched until it forms a glassy crust. French Creme Brulée is basically the same: the two countries still argue on which one created it first!
A Barcelona trip won’t be complete without at least a day spent on the beach. With a coastline over 2.7 miles long, Barcelona offers the tourists a wide variety of beaches. Four of them are the most popular among travelers:
• Barceloneta – The closest beach to the city. To get here you only have to ride the metro or walk about 20 minutes from the city center. It’s full of restaurants, mostly American style. • Nova Icaria Beach – Close to the Olympic Marina. There’s a huge number of beach side bars and restaurants. • Mar Bella – There’s a sports center near this beach. It’s the perfect place for windsurf because it can be pretty windy. In this area there’s also a nudist beach, mostly frequented by young people. • Playa del Bogatell – Separated by the other beaches by two stone breakwaters, it has a lifeguard service, showers, ramps to get to the sand, bars, restaurants and parking lots.
About the Author
Danila Caputo // Travelling Dany
Dany is an Italian travel blogger who loves to tell stories, offer suggestions, tips, guides and discounts for anyone looking for travel inspiration.