One of the most instantly recognisable Spanish cities, Barcelona is an ever-popular honeypot for travellers looking to combine city break glitz with a deeper connection to traditional Catalonian culture.
Holidays in Barcelona
Home to over one-and-a-half million inhabitants, Barcelona unsurprisingly boasts a positively overwhelming number of things to do so narrowing down your to-do list is imperative in this sprawling coastal metropolis.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a taste that Barcelona doesn’t cater to with the 1992 Olympic Games having drawn worldwide attention and thus plenty of modern infrastructure to this north-eastern region of Spain. That said, Ciutat Vella (the old city) still thrives today however as narrow cobbled streets with overhanging balconies wind towards world renowned tourist attractions such as the Picasso Museum and Barcelona Cathedral.
Las Ramblas, the famous tree-lined avenue down to the port, is also a must-see. This picture-postcard thoroughfare stretches for three-quarters of a mile and features its own stellar cast of interesting stop-off points. The Canaletes Fountain, Gran Teatre del Liceu and the uniquely designed Casa Bruno Cuadros continually transfix visitors year on year.
The best time to visit Barcelona is typically between May and June, when average temperatures range between 16 and 20°C - ideal to hop around the city on foot while avoiding the humid, sticky conditions of July and August. But with January even averaging 10°C, Barcelona is an appealing prospect all year round.
Nevertheless, the Catalonian capital receives its most rainfall from August through to October so be prepared for autumnal showers.
Things to do on holiday in Barcelona
We could go on and on for hours about the many, varied holiday experiences attainable in Barcelona but we’ve narrowed down some unmissable adventures.
Landmarks fit for the whole family
Barcelona’s most famous sightseeing spot is Sagrada Família, the unmistakable, striking Roman Catholic cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi that rises proudly in the Eixample district of the city. Famously incomplete, don’t miss out on taking the elevator up one of the towers for a unique vantage point from which to appreciate the city.
If history isn’t exactly your thing, an attraction fit for the entire family is Barcelona’s Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Introduced in 1929, this incredible water and light show boasts vivid colours reminiscent of the Las Vegas strip while rousing music only adds to the grandeur of the spectacle. Stop and stare at a landmark that might never have come to fruition had it not been the perseverance of Carles Buïgas, whose designs were initially branded too ambitious.
Visit a cathedral of European football
A powerhouse of global football, let alone Europe, Camp Nou – home of Barcelona Football Club – dominates the city skyline with its steep bowl walls housing over 99,000 spectators. An incredible sight to behold on match days, tickets to Spanish league fixtures are usually attainable for first-time visitors due to the gigantic size of the venue.
Live action is only the tip of the iceberg, however, with the club’s museum affixed to the complex boasting a seemingly endless collection of silverware and iconic blue and red-clad memorabilia. Stadium tours also provide football fans the perfect excuse to showcase their best managerial poses for an afternoon at least.
A comprehensive Catalonian insight
A fantastic contrast between the old and new awaits at the Museum of Catalan History, where a trip to the terrace will treat visitors to views of Port Vell’s modern infrastructure. Before hitting the top floor however, inside is a captivating series of permanent exhibitions which offer first-time visitors a well-rounded overview of Catalan sea trade, the struggles of Franco’s reign, human settlement in this corner of Iberia and beyond.
To hit two birds with one stone, climbing the steps up to the National Art Museum of Catalonia provides attractive views across Barcelona. With the eye stretching as far as the highlands of Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola which shield the city, you may take a while to actually enter the complex. When inside, visitors will marvel at the sheer extensiveness of the collection that includes everything from Romanesque murals to pieces belonging to the Art Nouveau movement.
Sample local cuisine
A global city in every regard, it’s more than possible to travel to Barcelona while sampling familiar fare from home but when in Catalonia, trying some of the local delicacies is a must. Sample longaniza (spiced sausage) as part of tapas, request allioli (a form of Catalan mayonnaise) to complement a meat or fish dish or try canelons (stuffed pasta rolls) that have long been adopted in this region of Spain, despite their Italian origin.
If you’re heading to a traditional Catalan restaurant, expect to eat your dinner at a time that will feel late with tapas and dinner typically taking place from around 8:30pm to 11pm. This only adds to the uniqueness and authenticity of your trip abroad however.
A bustling nightlife hub
You’ll be unsurprised to hear that Barcelona’s nightlife scene thrives. After all, in a city of one-and-a-half million people, they need somewhere to shake off the stress of the working week in style, right? There are numerous districts laying claim to throwing Barcelona’s best party but you won’t be disappointed if you head to the Gothic Quarter. Catering to varying musical tastes, jazz fans to mainstream boppers will feel at home in this historical part of town where tight alleyways are filled with the reassuring sound of and glasses clinking in joyful merriment.
Elsewhere, El Born is revered for its booming café and bar scene with people often overspilling out into the idyllic tree-lined piazza of Passeig del Born at nightfall.
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