When talking about art in Barcelona it won’t be long before the name Antoni Gaudi, the excentric Catalan architect, comes up. This is no coincidence as Gaudi shaped some of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks. Make sure you take a walk on Passeig de Gracia, as this avenue is home to two of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Milà (also known as ‘La Pedrera’ or ‘The Quarry’) and Casa Batlló (called “House of Bones” by the locals). Both are known for their unique organic wavy appearance and absence of straight lines. Casa Batlló is open to tourists and is probably the closest you will ever get to witnessing fairy-tale beauty. Within walking distance you will find Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s magnum opus and still work in progress. This privately-funded catholic church is what Barcelona is most famous for. A must see! To end your Gaudi tour, pay a visit to Parc Guëll. This garden complex is filled with Gaudi monuments like his mosaic dragon and the serpentine bench on the main terrace. For those of you who cannot get enough, Barcelona has a lot more to offer on the cultural front. There is the Picasso museum with more than 3500 pieces, predominantly from his early years. The music lovers will not be disappointed by a visit to the world-renowned Liceu opera theatre or the Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall designed by Domènech who is one of the most important architects in Modernisme (Catalonian Art Nouveau).
Tapas (also called pintxos in Basque) are cold or warm snacks in Spanish cuisine. They are eaten as appetizers or combined to a full meal. Because they are often strongly flavored with peppers, garlic and paprika, they are excellent with cold drinks. Some of the classics feature baby squid, razor clams, sardines, chorizo (spicy pork sausage) and patatas bravas (Catalan potato wedges). My first piece of advice: avoid eating tapas on Las Ramblas as the avenue is filled with overpriced tourist traps. Instead opt for some tapas restaurants with a solid reputation. Some examples include Cal Pep, Tapas 24, Cerveceria Catalana and Ciudad Condal. My favorite however should be Pinotxo bar, located at La Boqueria market, one of the biggest food markets in Europe. Expect only the freshest seasonal ingredients and the best breakfast you will find in Barcelona. Comerç 24 is your choice of preference if you enjoy a more luxurious take on tapas. It has a more modern kitchen, inspired by El Bulli’s Ferran Adria.
Barcelona is really a city to explore by foot due to its concrete jungle appearance. A classic place to start your journey is Las Ramblas, Bcn’s biggest boulevard. It has several areas all with their own specific atmosphere. The many cafes, street performers (buskers, mime artists, actors) and street vendors create a lively ambiance. Don’t hesitate to explore some side streets, but watch out as this area is a favorite among pickpockets. If you’re tired of all the hustle and bustle, head over to Barri Gòtic (the “Gothic Quarter”), a beautifully preserved reminder of medieval Barcelona. The Plaça del Pi is a very charming little plaza with a more laidback atmosphere where the more bohemian arty people meet on weekly markets. Not unlike Montmartre.
If you want an alternative view of the city las Golondrinas are there to help you. These pleasure boats take you on an excursion along the seafront and around the harbor. The boats are docked at the bottom of Las Ramblas, so very easy to reach. Close to where the Golondrinas moor is Port Vell, a modern harbor with restaurants, bars and shops. It is also home to Europe’s largest aquarium, L’Aquarium Barcelona. Great as a family activity on rainy days!
Watch a soccer game
While you are there, there is no reason not to go and see a Barcelona FC soccer game. It’s a unique opportunity to see some of the world’s best players at work in one of the world’s greatest stadiums Camp Nou. The stadium built in 1957 can fit around 100,000 people and the atmosphere is just amazing! Catalan football fans sure are passionate, I can tell you that. I suggest you also take the guided stadium tour as it’s probably the only way you will ever get to see your husband or boyfriend walk out onto the pitch through the player’s tunnel . Something he will never forget, I promise!