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Barcelona Overview

A visit to cosmopolitan Barcelona is high on a lot of bucket lists. The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean coast and is famous not only for the iconic art and architecture, but for its first-rate food, fascinating medieval history and vibrant street life. When you’ve had your fill of the incredible culture and buzzing party scene, you’ll find sun-soaked Catalonian beaches and the scenic forested Collserola Hills barely a stone’s throw from the city.

 

Admire the Architecture

 

The Ciutat Vella or ‘old city’ is the place to go for some of the top sights in Barcelona – La Ramblas and the shadowy cobbled lanes of the medieval Gothic Quarter are not to be missed. There are architectural masterpieces to be found all over the city, from ancient Roman columns to the whimsical structures of Gaudí. You’ll also find creations by Salvador Dalí, Picasso and Joan Miró in Barcelona’s many museums. Whether it’s a tapas bar tucked away down a hidden alley, an unmarked gourmet eatery or a restored medieval palace, there’s always something new to discover.

 

Football Fever

 

If you’re a football fan you can visit Camp Nou, home to football powerhouse Barcelona FC. If you can’t get tickets for a game you can still take a tour of the stadium, which includes a dressing room visit and entrance to the club museum.

 

Things to do in Barcelona

 

On the Beach in Barcelona

 

When you picture Barcelona, the beach probably isn’t the first thing you’ll think of – and yet the city boasts miles of sand and inviting deep blue sea. The popular Barceloneta Beach is ideal for watersports, bustling seafood restaurants and attractive marinas. For a more peaceful experience, head to the nearby Nova Icària Beach, where you’ll find a great selection of restaurants and bars.

 

Top Tip:

 

Be careful to change clothes before you go back into the city – you could get fined for walking around town in your swimming trunks!

 

Eat and drink in Barcelona

The seaside Barceloneta neighbourhood is the perfect place to enjoy a spot of lunch in the sun, with its quaint narrow streets and pretty squares. Some of the city’s best seafood and tapas restaurants can be found here. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some of the more unusual dishes such as Arròs negre (black paella rice), which gets its colour from squid ink!

 

Top Tip:

 

You might find mealtimes late compared to the UK. The locals tend to eat lunch between 2pm and 4pm, while dinner is served between 9pm to 11pm. Restaurants are often closed on Sunday nights.

 

Barcelona Nightlife

 

Barcelona has nightlife to cater for all tastes – from Irish pubs and beach chiringuitos to stylish cocktail bars. The maze-like alleys of the Gothic Quarter are filled with hidden gems, and after dark the live music venues come alive with the sounds of flamenco, jazz and rock.  If you’re still full of energy after the bars close at 3am, you can experience Barcelona’s wilder side at one of many nightclubs.

 

Top Tip:

 

Most bars stay open late at weekends, while clubs tend to open shortly before midnight and close at 5am or later.

 

Shopping in Barcelona

 

Barcelona is one of Europe’s most fashionable cities, and there’s no shortage of designer outlets and creative independent shops, especially in Passeig de Gracia and the El Born district. For fresh produce, the colourful and vibrant Bouqeria Market is the place to go. Unsurprisingly there are also plenty of souvenir shops, so you won’t have to look far for that Barcelona FC scarf or Gaudí t-shirt.

 

Top Tip:

 

As in most popular tourist cities, it’s a good idea to be vigilant and keep an eye on your valuables when shopping in crowded areas.

 

Things to see in Barcelona

 

With 2.8 million visitors a year, the Sagrada Família is the most popular attraction in Barcelona. With a truly captivating interior and exterior and deep symbolism built into all areas of the church, it’s easy to see why. For the best experience, we recommend going with a guide or picking up an audio tour.

 

Top Tip:

 

You can beat most of the crowds in the summer months by visiting earlier in the day.

 

We Recommend

 

Cervecería Catalana

 

This tapas restaurant is considered one of the best in the city, and is well-known for its tasty selection of national and international beers. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal and a refreshing beverage out on the pavement terrace while watching the world go by.

 

L'Ascensor

 

A stylish bar named after the lift doors that serve as a front entrance. With vaulted brick ceilings and vintage décor, L'Ascensor serves up classic cocktails against a backdrop of lively jazz and funk music.

 

Gracia Festival

 

Lasting over a week every August, Gracia Festival turns nearly every square into a concert venue. Expect music, dancing and streets decorated with papier mâché, woodwork and colourful lanterns – perfect if you love the carnival vibe.

 

Fast Facts

 

·         Currency - € Euro

·         Time zone - GMT +1 hour (GMT +2 hours in summer)

·         Travel time – Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN) 2 hours (London) 2 hours 35 minutes (Dublin)

·         Transfer time – 20-30 minutes (taxi)


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