The colourful city
Barcelona is Spain's second largest city, with a population of nearly two million people, and the capital and largest city of Catalonia. The city, located directly on the north-eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, has a rich history dating back at least 2,000 years when it gained prominence as a Roman town under its old name, Barcino.
In 1992, Barcelona gained international recognition by hosting the Olympic games which brought a massive rise to the tourism industry in the city. This had the effect of changing the city in ways that are still felt today with neighbourhoods renovated (and in some cases levelled) and the intense focus of modern design permeating all aspects of life in Barcelona from public buildings to something as simple as a park bench or an event poster. For visitors, this has translated in to the very modern, yet incredibly old city you see now in the 21st century where the new elements work to both preserve and celebrate the ancient.
This beautiful city is full of what European cities are known for (outdoor markets, restaurants, shops, museums, and churches) and is fantastic for walking with an extensive and reliable Metro system for more far-flung destinations. The core centre of town, focused around the Ciutat Vella provides days of enjoyment for those looking to experience the life of Barcelona while the beaches the city was built upon provide sun and relaxation during the long periods of agreeably warm weather.
What to see / What to do
Walk around the winding streets and hidden squares, fountains and palaces in the Barri Gòtic (Ciutat Vella).
Harbour Cable Car
Gaudi architecture and Modernist Barcelona: Gaudi architecture includes the Parc Güell in Gràcia, the still unfinished Sagrada Família in Eixample and the houses La Pedrera/Casa Milà and La Casa Batlló both in Eixample.
With children: Museum of Natural History in the Ciutadella Park and CosmoCaixa: Museum of Science.
La Rambla, a gorgeous tree-lined pedestrian walkway, the busiest and most lively street of the city. As you get closer to Placa Catalunya, you find more street performers doing stunts. In the middle, you'll find street performers in costumes. Towards the pier, there are artists who will do pencil drawings, paintings, etc.
La Plaça Catalunya. Connecting all the major streets in the city, the Placa is known for its fountains and statues, and the central location to everything in the city. It is a favourite meeting spot for locals.
El Portal de l'Àngel. Large pedestrian walkway with many new and stylish shops to browse in.
Cruise miles of beachfront boardwalk starting from Barceloneta or get a tan on the beach.
Sit on a wooden bridge to Maremagnum in Ciutat Vella and cool your toes at the waters edge: with a book, sandwich or just for a short rest.
Wander the Barri Gotic in Ciutat Vella, the largely intact medieval centre of the city.
Enjoy your Sangria at La Plaça Reial in Ciutat Vella, near the La Rambla Street. Great place to sit,relax and drink.
Walk in Born in Ciutat Vella, a very popular area with great restaurants and places to have a few drinks. If your accommodation is on Rambla, Born is a great place to escape the crowds, enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and meet off-the-beaten track travellers and non-tourist-industry locals--especially in the evenings.
Visit a Flamenco Show in a real tablao. One of the best is Tablao de Carmen in Sants-Montjuïc. A cheaper alternative is in the jazz-club Jazz Si in Ciutat Vella.
Ride the Cable Way to get from the sea front to Montjuïc mountain in Sants-Montjuïc.
Sit and sip on a coffee in Plaça dels Àngels in Ciutat Vella, while admiring the whiteness of the MACBA and the best street skate tricks in town.
Catch a performance at the beautiful Teatre del Liceu or the Palau de la Musica Catalana both in Ciutat Vella.
Rent a bike or join a Biketour and get to see the highlights of the city in a different way. Ride from the magic beaches of the
Sail 3 hours to see Barcelona from the sea. Together with professional skippers with proven experience you will be able to experience coastal sailing in all its aspects and enjoy a beautiful view of the city. More info: Business Yachtclub Barcelona.
What to see in the dark
The most spectacular sights in the night are:
Musical fountains, in Plaça d'Espanya. From Thursday to Sunday, May to October, 8:30PM. Each session lasts 30 minutes, with the last one starting at 11PM.
Torre Agbar office tower, highlighted Fri-Sun 7-11PM.
City views from Montjuic hill.