DREAM CITY BARCELONA
To fall in love with Barcelona you need to go and feel it, meet its people, live its streets and get the local vibe. To live like a Barcelonese, you only need to relax and enjoy little things, from trendy exhibitions, cold beers and folkloric festivals. Barcelona is full of life and it is impossible to see it in several days. But if you are planning to visit for limited period then read on and start ticking off Barcelona's most brilliant sights.
STAND IN AWE OF SAGRADA FAMILIA
La Sagrada Familia ( Church of the Holy Family ) is a Roman Church designed by Gaudi. It is one of the most famous monuments in the world and definitely the most emblematic of the city. Started thanks to donations, the work began in 1882 and is still going on today. The site was classified at the UNESCO world heritage in 2003. It is very controversial because of its architecture that is mixing different architecture styles, but we can all agree that it is the must-see Church to visit in Barcelona.
GET SOME FRESH AIR AT PARK GUELL
A dreamy urban park floating above the city which was once a utopian vision of rich industrialist Eusebi Guell in the early 20th century.It was originally intended to be 60 luxury homes on the city’s most prime piece of land, far away from the smoke stacks of the city. Only three were built. Today the entrance and its ginger-bread house-like porter’s lodge and emblematic mosaic lizard are a highlight. Tourists sit on the mosaic benches(I recommend you watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona to feel it) and take in amazing views.
HIT UP A BARRIO FESTIVAL
When Barcelona looks for fun things to do it usually cuts off the streets from traffic, puts up a stage with live music, and gets the wine and music flowing. The eccentric European block parties that honour patron saints, long-dead political prisoners, and even local green onions are the closest a tourist can get to real Barcelona. The biggest two festivals of the year are La Festa Major de Gracia(in August) and La Mercè (in September).
GO FOR TAPAS
Have you ever been at a restaurant and can’t decide what to order? Then Spain is for you. These small-portioned savory snacks are ordered in the city’s amazing tapas bars in rounds of 5 or 6 and are shared by friends over cañas (a small draft beer).Patatas bravas (pictured) and pan con tomate (crispy bread rubbed with tomato and garlic) are automatic – but pulpo a la gallega (octopus with potatoes and paprika) and gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) are where dreams are made.
Flirt with Flamenco
The most folkloric Spanish art form grabs your attention with its cante (singing), baile (dance), toque (guitarplaying), palmas (clapping), jaleo (vocalizations), and pitos (snapping).A typical flamenco recital mixes passion and tranquility with a festive and resistant mood that can bring audience members to tears. The push/pull dynamics of the performers entice and resist simultaneously. Barcelona’s top flamenco show is found at the Palacio del Flamenco.
HAVE A VERMUT
It’s not just a tradition… it’s a lifestyle! This tasty and inexpensive wine is fortified with all sorts of spices and botanicals like cinnamon and chamomile. One of the great cheap things to do at only €1.50 or so each. Tradition holds that one must consume (at least) one at la hora del vermú (vermut time, 12 noon) before eating lunch. It’s as sacred as the Spanish siesta so if you’re looking to fit in – drink up! Don’t be afraid to order this drink (pronounced bear-MOOT) at any time of the day though – just make sure it comes with an anchovy-stuffed olive and a slice of orange. You can go to Tasca El Corral to buy it and other sorts.
GET LOST IN THE GOTHIC QUARTER
The oldest neighbourhood in Barcelona dates back to the city’s founding as a Roman military camp in 15 BC. You’ll still see some of the original walls as part of the Barcelona Cathedral. Most of the area is cut off from cars and that means winding roads and tight alleyways opening up into majestic squares like Plaça Reial, Plaça del Pi, Plaça George Orwell, and Plaça de la Seu.
REVEL IN A ROOFTOP CONCERT AT CASA BATLLO
How many world class attractions hold a carefully selected concert series for the general public on their spectacular rooftop terrace? Not many.From June till October the blues, rock, soul, jazz, swing, pop and flamenco shows under the Barcelona night offer arguably the most intimate and aesthetically pleasing venues for music in the entire world.
PUT DOWN SOME PAELLA
This classic rice dish from Spain was invented by servants using the leftovers from royal banquets – and you’ll feel like royalty by the fork full! Though technically from nearby Valencia (where the rabbit and chicken version reigns supreme) you’ll find the mixed seafood paella to be the go-to for Barcelona paella restaurants. For couples visiting Barcelona this is a great option as it’s usually served in portions of 2. Make sure to scrape the soccarat (toasted, scorched rice) off the bottom of the pan – flavour town!
WALK LAS RAMBLAS
This is easily Barcelona’s most famous street and one of those places you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Here you’ll find an explosion of bars, street artists, and souvenir shops. While this is in fact tourist trap central you can cut to the chase by finding Gaudi’s lanterns in the picturesque square Plaça Reial. In Pla de l’Os you’ll find a brilliant pavement mosaic by Joan Miro – the site of the city’s old gate.
CHOW DOWN AT LA BOQUERIA MARKET
Easily Barcelona’s best market. The quality of the fruit, meat, and fish here will amaze you and its infectious energy is something to be seen: don’t leave before trying one of their delicious €1.00 smoothies. Looking for a meal with market fresh ingredients? Grab the fried eggs with baby squid at El Quim de la Boqueria or get adventurous with the garbanzo beans and blood sausage at Bar Pinotxo.
SEE A MAGIC FOUNTAIN SHOW
His enchanting fountain and light show uses 3620 water jets and 4760 lights to create over 7 billion combinations in what amounts of be one of the best free things to do in Barcelona Spain. The show is set to beautifully choreographed music ranging from classic to swing to modern hits. Just make sure you gauge the wind before picking your spot – you might get soaked! Shows go Thursday to Saturday (Sunday in high season) and you can get all the info on my article on Barcelona’s Magic Fountain Show.
DISCOVER SPAIN AT POBLE ESPANYOL
Here’s what to do in Barcelona if you want to see all of Spain in one afternoon. Built for the 1929 World’s Fair, this mock Spanish town has 117 full-scale replica buildings representing the architecture of all 15 of Spain’s regions. Here you can see the emblematic white streets of Andalucia, Pre-Roman Austurias, and all sorts of Castillian classics. It also has over 20 artisan craft shops for some great jewelery, handbag, and glass shopping.
GEAR DOWN IN CIUTADELLA PARK
Barcelona’s biggest park is a great picnic spot for those looking for an outdoor escape but want a break from the beach. Here you’ll find a ton of open space, the zoo, and a great artificial lake for rowboat rides. I also suggest heading up La Cascada (pictured) which is a fountain loosely based on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. From here you’ve got a bird’s eye view of the park’s personality – which also includes a ton of musicians, street artists and many more.
RIDES WITH A VIEW AT TIBIDABO
Of all the fun things to do in Barcelona this is the only one at the top of a mountain.Tibidabo offers some incredible views from the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus church – not to mention the super geeky retro amusement park with 100 year old Ferris Wheel that’s the perfect spot to visit with family. Get up their with the super, almost San Francisco-like Tramvia Blau for extra extra effect.