Barcelona lies on Spain’s northern Mediterranean coast and is the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia. The city has become one of Europe’s most popular short break destinations thanks to its privileged location, its vibrant street life, its spectacular Gaudi architecture, its superb cuisine and its football team. There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona that in a weekend you’ll get enough of a taste for the city that you’ll be wanting to return over and over again. There are direct flights into Barcelona’s El Prat airport from all over Europe whilst some budget airlines offer services to Girona airport which is about 100km to the north.
If it’s your first visit to Barcelona then you should look for accommodation near the Ramblas and the neighbouring Gothic Quarter just to the east. Avoid El Raval to the west as there are too many ‘unsavoury characters’ wandering the streets. Whilst there are plenty rooms available in the city you should try to book as early as possible because hotels and hostels in Barcelona often get full at weekends. This central district is a fine base from where you can explore the city’s main sights by day including Gaudi’s magnificent Sagrada Familia Cathedral and Parc Guell in the north. There’s a very useful “hop-on, hop-off” bus service which provides a very convenient way of getting between all the main sights in the city. It’s a good idea to order the “Barcelona Card” before travelling as it gets you considerable discounts on various city transport services and reduced entry fees at many Barcelona attractions.
In the evening there are plenty cafés and restaurants around the Ramblas but you might like to head down to the harbour to dine at Port Olímpic or in a traditional paella restaurant in the La Barceloneta area. If you’re a football fan you should time your visit with a FC Barcelona home game and watch a match at their 98,000 seater Nou Camp stadium. Time permitting there are some great excursions from Barcelona including trips to the Catalan shrine of Montserrat and to the world renowned Dali Museum in Figueres.
What to do in Barcelona
Below we have listed our top 10 things to do in Barcelona. Obviously this is not a definitive list only what we consider to be the essential things to do whilst there.
- Wander up and down the Ramblas
- Visit the Sagrada Familia
- Watch a FC Barcelona football match at the Nou Camp stadium
- Visit the Picasso Museum
- Eat Paella at one of the restaurants at La Barceloneta
- Half Day Excursion to Montserrat
- Gaudi Walking Tour of the architect’s main works
- Visit the FC Barcelona museum
- Drink Cava – Catalan champagne
- Excursion to the Dali Museum in Figueres
Barcelona’s Art Scene
Although Barcelona is best known for its Gaudi architecture it is also home to some fairly outstanding art galleries and museums. The Picasso Museum is the city’s most visited gallery and contains one of the most extensive collections of the artist’s works in the world. A personal favourite is the National Art Gallery of Catalunya as much for the magnificent building in which it housed as for the collection itself. Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art has revitalised the central area of El Raval just off the Ramblas. An essential day excursion from Barcelona for every art lover is to the Dalí Museum in Figueres.
Useful Barcelona Links
Once you arrive in Barcelona you’re bound to want to pick up city maps and other useful information. So head for the main tourist information office which is underneath Plaça de Catalunya at the top of the Ramblas. This is the best place in the city for picking up information and has a very helpful and knowledgeable staff. They are open from 8.30am to 8.30pm daily.