With fabled architecture, seaside experiences and cosmopolitan culture, Barcelona holds limitless possibilities for travellers
Being one of the top destinations in Europe, Barcelona’s surrealistic architecture, sinful chocolate shops, shopping and beach offer the best of both worlds. From a Roman colony to hosting the 1992 Olympics, this city has undoubtedly raised itself to be one of Europe’s most dynamic metropolises.
The best way to begin your tour of the city is by soaking up the modernista ambience at Guell Park. Architected by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí, Guell Park offers an exciting panoramic view of the city and is famous for undulating ceramic benches and its beautiful garden. Further up, you will find the modernist complex of Sant Pau Recinte Modernista, which is one of the world’s largest Art Nouveau complexes.
For lunch, the neighbourhood of Gracia is the place to find a wide variety of restaurants serving global cuisine. If you’re hankering for something a little special then Con Gracia is the place for you. Here the Experience Menu is a must-try. Next, you can set out on foot to explore the traditional barrios (districts) of the city, which include El Gotico. A lively old district, here you will find yourself back in time to the medieval age. Basilica Santa Maria del Pi, Gothic Cathedral, Placa de sant Jaume and Carrer del Bisbe are few of the interesting architectures in this neighbourhood.
Continue with your monumental finds of the day and head to Museu Picasso, which houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. End your day by visiting Palau de la Música Catalana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is well worth a visit, even if you are unable to attend one of their famous concerts. If you do plan to attend any of the musical offerings, then the Palau Música Catalana will provide an exclusive VIP experience, including a special meal in an exclusive area, such as the Lluís Millet Room, or a private concert with gala dinner.
While the first day encompassed a lot of architecture hunting, start your second in the relaxed sunbathed seaside of La Barceloneta. Used mostly by fishermen in the 18th century, today it is filled with seafood restaurants and lively beaches. You can surf and sunbathe on the beach of Sant Sebastia or know about the history of Catalonia at the Museum of Catalan History. A long, palm-lined promenade connects the beach with the vibrant Port Olimpic, which was built for the Olympic sailing events. As you approach, your attention will be caught by Frank Gehry’s giant copper Peix (fish) sculpture. This busy marina is surrounded by famous restaurants where you can savour Barcelona’s signature seafood and take the Port Cable Car to the Montjuic hill and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
It’s time for chocolate Barcelona! As you walk across Carrer Petritxol the fragrance of melted chocolate will fill your heart and soul. Besides “granjas” (term used for cafes that serve hot chocolate in Barcelona), this street is abuzz with shopping options too including few jewellery shops. You can continue your culinary trail by heading to La Boqueria Market where you will find specialist stalls selling varied options of olives, fresh fruits, seafood and much more.
If you had a relaxed day, going on a night walking tour can be a good option to end your tour. On ‘The Dark Past Walking Tour’, which starts at 9 pm usually, discover the dark legends and history of Barcelona with a knowledgeable and engaging guide. Be transported to a Barcelona during the Spanish Inquisition period.
Words: Alan Malnar