When you arrive in Barcelona you immediately realise this place is vibrant, very busy and catering for young people wanting to experience one of the most exciting cities in Spain.
A mixture of modern quarters blending perfectly with the historical and monumental areas are a great backdrop for the evergreen travellers. ( I use the word evergreen because the more I meet people the more I realise age is definitely just a number and a state of mind).
It is so easy to move around on foot or with the well organised public transports network. From one of the most central and majestic squares called Plaza de Catalunya ( Catalonia square) you can walk on the fantastic “La Rambla“, a wide street sided by trees and many shops of every kind, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea where you can see Cristopher Colombus statue indicating the horizon in Port Vell. The seaside area is very modern, spacious and offers an aerial tramway that will allow you to get an awesome aerial view of the city.
Entertainment forever kind of taste
The beauty of this city is undeniable and the best thing is that it provides entertainment for every kind of taste. I was able to even find an entire quarter selling vinyl records, heavy metal concerts tickets, music and clothing.
Boutiques and restaurants
There are little streets with nice niche boutiques and eateries with tasty tapas and plates typical of Catalan cuisine ( for the most popular dishes please press on the link)
Barcelona is the place where the architectural and decorative style called Modernism took its own particular personality to the point to be defined Catalan Modernism . This style is characterised by rounded or irregular shapes , rich and colourful decors imitating the intricate and polychrome botanical world . Antoni Gaudi is by far the most famous artist in Barcelona and his architectural and decorative masterpieces are a clear example of Catalan Modernism. Now a days, after his death, the entire city is a tribute to his creativity and uniqueness.
One of the most famous buildings designed by Gaudi. Commissioned by the Batllo family in the early 1900. Centrally located in “Passeig de Garcia” a very picturesque and architecturally interesting streets in Barcelona.
This building with a rough and corrugated appearance ( hence the nickname la “Pedrera” house of stones) is the last residential building designed by Gaudi. Now a days is mainly utilised for cultural events and only in part for residential purposes. It is open to the public for visits.
Best time to visit Park Guell
This big public park located on Carmel Hill is hosting, among its beautiful flowers and plants, some of the most renowned masterpieces of Gaudi now part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
A little word of advise on this one: depending on time of the year you will visit Barcelona, in my experience, if the weather is not the best in the morning, the sky is grey or foggy, you will be pleasantly surprised of how quickly could clear later in the day when the temperatures are dropping a bit. Therefore schedule your visit for late afternoon and you will have a much better experience walking up the steep hill in a cooler climate and your photos will turn out a lot better. (in summer the park does not close until 9.30pm)
Contrasting with the roundness and colours of Modernism is the more austere Gothic Quarter where buildings are presenting the typical decorative attributes of this 12th century’s style. Facades are generally monochromatic and the stones are carved to create pinnacoles, gargoyles, rampant arches. In this area you will find the Cathedral and the City Hall described more in details below.
Book everything in advance online
My strong advise when visiting Barcelona is to book all the museums and places you want to visit in advance and via internet. Every ticket seems to be way cheaper and also you would not incur in the risk of missing out. For example: there are allocated time slots through the day to visit the interiors of the Sagarada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia
The unfinished church also designed by Gaudi is one of the most unique and iconic Spanish landmarks. Especially during the week- end, gets inundated with horde of tourists wanting to visit and time availability get fully booked quite quickly.
Note for the keen photographers : the Sagrada Familia is very often under construction so you will find very hard to get pictures of the entire church without the occasional building crane here and there. Hopefully you or one of your friends will be able to photoshop them out.
Please don’t get tourists “for a ride”: some things were a bit overpriced!
I really enjoyed visiting Barcelona but I though some of the touristy destinations were way too expansive. For example Casa Battlo was 27 Euro.
Less crowded and equally interesting is Gaudi’s first house. It’s pretty colourful and I think is great to see where everything started , don’t you think? Plus the tickets are a lot cheaper.
Attractions free of charge
The city also offers really enchanting places that can be visited free of charge.
The City Hall or “Casa de la Ciutat”
Opposite the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya in the Gothic Quarter there is the “Casa de le Ciutat” . This former City Hall with a stunning Neoclassical facade and Gothic interiors is certainly with a visit . You will be greeted by medieval music resonating through the many rooms with Gothic architecture decorated by paintings, tapestries and furnitures of the era.
Walking distance from the City Hall you will find the Cathedral. The beautiful interiors are also free to visit and you will be allowed to even peek in the crypt.
Montjuic can be easily reached by a funicular train. In just few minutes you will be on small mountain overlooking the sea and the city of Barcelona. Is advisable to allocate one all day for this visit so you will have enough time to see the museums, the gardens and the castle. If you stay till dark you will be able to witness the Magic Fountain light show. A spectacular choreography of water and lights moving to music ranging from classical to modern.
Not far from Plaza de Espana is the National Museum of Catalan Art. From the square you will love walking up the magnificent flight of stairs not only for the statues and the fountains nearby but also for the spectacular view of the city once you get to the top. The exhibitions are reasonably priced but if you prefer you can just visit the building free of charge and enjoy a coffee in the Museum’s cafe.
Quick personal note: I found the MACBA not very interesting. It might be the fact that I am classically trained when it comes to art but when something is displaying really low effort and creativity I consider it a waste of time .
I must say this trip for me quickly turned into a food safari. You will feel the same way the moment you enter the “Boqueria” a fresh food market that also has stalls with food cooked or ready to eat. You will find fresh fruit salads and juices displayed artistically like a still nature painting, so colourful and diverse they will be photo worthy. The market has seafood tapas bars where you can enjoy drinks and Catalan food at times fused with South American flavours adding to the rich Spanish variety. A must do stop for lunch. Be warned it will be very hard not to overeat! You will be tempted to try everything!
Very central accomodation
My accomodation in Barcelona was close to Sants train station ( where I arrived from the French city of La Rochelle with high speed train it was very handy). The rooms were very big, with a huge comfortable bed, modern kitchen and decor . Even the reception was stylish and with colourful sculptures. I would certainly recommend “Cosmos Apartment” for value and location.
For more photos of Barcelona press on the link.
Barcelona was great but after a while I felt the need to spend some time in a smaller and less crowded place so I booked an airbnb apartment in the nearby Sitges. One of my friends that lives in Barcelona told me I would find a great relaxing beach there and its only 40 mins on the train form Barcelona centre.
Have you visited Barcelona recently ? What was you experience?