Words: Tinkerbell Miller
A vibrant city bustling with life, Barcelona is a popular destination for many travellers receiving around 8 million tourists last year alone. The city is a perfect destination for a weekend get-away, with places to visit that will fill every minute of your stay. A place as colourful as the Catalonian capital may be overwhelming to navigate, as someone who lived in this Spanish city, I know that Barcelona offers more than a typical travel guide may suggest.
No guide to Barcelona would be complete without mentioning the celebrated works of Gaudi. La Sagrada de Familia, Parc Guell and La Casa Mila are all the efforts of the famous architect and they are cornerstones of the culture of Barcelona. His work is inspired by the Neo-Gothic style and the use of shapes inspired by nature. Gaudi’s work can be found all over the city of Barcelona and are staples of the city and each landmark is an essential visit on any trip to the Catalonian capital.
Another well-known tourist spot is ‘Montjuic’. A hill near to the centre of Barcelona gives a breath-taking view of the city and the harbour. A trip here would certainly offer tourists a chance catch the beauty of Spain on camera. The village of Montjuic is also itself a beautiful place and to get there I would recommend the teleferic (cable car) as the quickest way to reach the summit. The historic castle, the museum and the Olympic park for the 1992 Games are also sites that can be visited on a trip up Montjuic and are often on a tourist’s to do list when visiting Barcelona.
It is important to highlight a visit to Barcelona is not just about the city and you should not feel obliged to spend all day in the city, especially when travelling in the hotter months of summer, it is easy to feel smothered and overwhelmed. A train to regions just outside the city centre is a perfect way to escape the metropolitan area and explore the surrounding Catalonian countryside.
T10 tickets are available at the metro stations offering cheap and reliable transportation from the airport, around the city and further afield.
Castelldefels is a town outside of Barcelona, as this was where I lived, I know it well and know it is a place with a relaxed, laidback atmosphere. With 5 km of beach front Castelldefels offers the perfect opportunity to leave the busy city behind for the afternoon and spend time in the balmy, Mediterranean sunshine. Dotted all along the beachfront are bars that are ideal for an early evening drink, especially Takua Bar that is renowned for its cocktails.
However, beaches are not all Castelldefels has to offer. The area is home to an array of fantastic restaurants all offering excellent Spanish cuisine. Fosbury is a seafront restaurant and with its glass walls and open-air ceiling its chic interior is ideal to indulge a 3-course meal.
Outside of the city of Barcelona is Montserrat, a mountain range that holds the Basilica, which inside sits the Black Madonna. Many people visit due to the religious significance that Montserrat holds however many also come due to the amazing scenery the mountain range has to offer as well as the beauty of the village of Montserrat. A trip to Montserrat would not be complete without a meal at Bo2 Restaurant, which offers authentic Spanish cooking, and is a short distance from the monastery. Furthermore the range of bars and restaurants means that it is possible to have a drink whilst looking out over the mountain range of Montserrat, which is something quite special.
Food & Drink:
Spanish cuisine is renowned for two main types of dishes: paella and tapas. A local’s favourite has to be ‘Cal Pep’, a restaurant hidden in the city centre not known to many tourists but is very popular with the residents of the city. A quaint restaurant that has the ultimate Mediterranean feel to it. Through the use of seasonal ingredients and the freshest produce of the day it means Cal Pep is able to offer a wide variety of tapas dishes that can often vary from day to day. Such is the popularity of Cal Pep means that if you are not there exactly for the opening time of one o’clock, it is unlikely you’ll get to enjoy the amazing food this place has to offer.
Just off the street of Las Ramblas is La Boqueria, a covered outdoor marketplace. With stalls selling fresh meat and fish, sweets and cakes as well as fresh fruit all in the one area. La Boqueria does not only offer food that can be taken and cooked at home or ‘take-outs’ in little pots to carry around with you, but on the outskirts of the market are a number of different restaurants. Many of the restaurants are more like little bars that only seat a few at a time but offer various dishes from tapas to larger plates. However it is not only for the high quality culinary choice that I recommend La Boqueria to anyone travelling to Barcelona, but also for the atmosphere. Eating your meal whilst being able to watch the hustle and bustle of the outdoor market is a perfect way to immerse yourself in Spanish culture.
Places to stay:
For those who want to experience a bit of luxury on their trip to Barcelona, the W Hotel is the premier place to stay. Shaped like the sail of a ship, the W Hotel is placed on the harbour front with an amazing view out across the Mediterranean as well as of the city of Barcelona itself.
The W Hotel offers what many would expect of a high-end hotel, a brilliant spa, an outdoor infinity pool and three different restaurants to choose from with each differing in the cuisine it offers. However what sets it apart from other hotels is its evening entertainment, something that attracts even those staying outside the hotel. The 26th floor roof top bar offers cocktails from some of the most innovative mixologists to enjoy on a warm summers evening.
Whilst it is no secret an experience at this hotel would not come cheap it offers something many top hotels do not. To be able to enjoy such elegance and sophistication in a top-quality hotel without feeling suffocated is a rare experience when travelling the world in five-star hotels. The W Hotel therefore deserves attention for its ability to make any traveller feel welcome.
With such a short flight time from England to Spain, Barcelona really is the perfect weekend get-away. It has so much to offer for anyone craving the sunshine and those warm summer evenings when you can sit outside or take a stroll along the beach which gives everyone the feeling of being on holiday. Barcelona offers the ability for tourists to not have to choose between a city break or a seaside holiday which gives Barcelona the advantage over many other European cities.