The 6 Best Things About Barcelona
July 12 2016
Barcelona is a city full of life and energy. Just step onto the metro at any point in downtown Barcelona and you’ll spot the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s a vibrant energy you’ll find in the metro, from the bearded boys and the girls in tank-tops, to the tourists with their shopping bags, and the sports fans decked out in FC Barcelona gear. People won’t hesitate to chat with their neighbors, to throw smiles around, or to announce loudly if something is amiss. The metro, like the city itself, is full of energy and at a volume that’s chaotic and loud, but somehow also comfortable.
There’s a lot to say about a city with millions of visitors and millions more tourists each year, but Barcelona attracts people for a number of different reasons. It’s got the city beaches, the sports, and the shopping – but it’s also one of Europe’s best foodie destinations and a surprising spot for art, architecture, and even theater. Discover the city’s neighborhoods by exploring Barcelona, no matter your taste!
Shopping: Big Brands and Independent Stores
Barcelona is full of stores and little shops, including everything from big brands to small and unique businesses run by emerging entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in a shopping experience and luxury is your goal, you need to stay close to Passeig de Gracia, or the upper part of Diagonal street. Chains like Zara, H&M, and the Spanish department store El Corte Inglés are scattered everywhere, but the streets around Plaça Catalunya are a fashion mecca, with other, smaller Spanish brands like Pull & Bear, and many international brands like Intimissimi, Celio, and Topshop.
For those who are only interested in the alternative and subcultural market, visit the El Born neighborhood. A lot of small stores, coffee houses, restaurants, and the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadelle are around the area, and if your credit card is getting too hot, you can take a break and visit the Picasso Museum. Indeed, El Born is one of my favorite areas in Barcelona and is conveniently located a short walk to the Barceloneta beaches.
For Beach Lovers: The Secrets of Barcelona Beaches
Sun and sand and cheap mojitos. Great tapas and volleyball. Sexy people and that rich Mediterranean blue. There are hundreds of reasons to visit the beach in Barcelona, and if you want to choose your best spot, you need to understand the city and the different things you can do at the beach.
For those searching for restaurants, tourists, and an easy access to the city, stay close to the Barceloneta beaches. A shopping mall and several restaurants in the Maremagnum make this area a vivid and crowded hotspot, especially during the summer time. The Teleferic, located right at the beach, allows you to reach the top of Montjuïc in only a few minutes (however, the waiting time varies according the the waves of tourists flooding the city).
If you want to get the perfect tan and you don’t want your own clothes to leave a mark, try the nudist beach. Protected by a small mountain and with easy access, the beach is located near the neighborhood of Poble Nou. However, there are family-friendly areas near the nudist beach, and you can choose the beaches of Bogatell and Mar Bella, both equipped with restrooms, restaurants, sport facilities, and clean water.
Outside Barcelona, Sitges is the favorite for gay tourists and locals. A day trip is highly recommended, and the small beach city has become a must for beach tourists.
For Football and Sports Fans
El Barça is one of the main attractions of Barcelona, and if you are dreaming of seeing a match in Camp Nou, your best bet is to stay near the upper part of Diagonal, close to the metro station Maria Cristiana. With good connections and great hotels, the area has all you need for a great stay. However, if you prefer to enjoy the soccer with the people in the streets, drinking cañas and enjoying some tapas, your neighborhood is Raval or Poble Sec. Great restaurants and bars offer public viewings of just about any game, and you can cheer for your team right there. Be warned that you should almost always cheer against Real Madrid when in Barcelona. As with politics, this is a war between Spain and Catalunya.
Art and Theater
Barcelona is alive with art – in the museums and on the streets. Near the Plaza Espanya, you can reach both the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and the Fundaciò Mirò within minutes. The Mercat des les Flors, a popular theater in Barcelona focusing in modern and contemporary dance, is also located in the area. The Ramblas and the Gothic Quartier are also great places to for art aficionados, as the Liceu and other several art galleries are located in the area.
Barcelona museums are really varied, and you can find interesting themed-museums like the marijuana museum, the Museo de la Xocolata, or the Museo del Perfume, not to mention the museums dedicated to specific artists like Miró or Picasso.
Architecture: The Melting Point of Style
Barcelona is a city that has embraced a multiplicity of architecture styles, which is easy to spot just wandering the streets. But, the real star of Barcelona architecture is Gaudi. Visit both La Pedrera and Casa Batló, the amazing Sagrada Familia (buy the ticket online in advance!!!), and the Park Güell for a comprehensive Gaudi experience. For fans of Gothic architecture, the best place to see these styles (with bits of modernism seeping in) is the Barri Gotic. The Ciutat Vella (Old City) has its own charm, even though it’s not as colorful as Gaudí’s masterpieces elsewhere in the city.
If you want to experience the city from above, in order to appreciate the great architectural styles and the skylines, with the Mediterranean as a background, don’t forget to visit Montjuïc or Tibidabo, or jump into the Teleferic for a short trip.
Food and Drinks: Tapas and Cañas
Thanks to the rich culinary traditions of Catalunya, Barcelona has defined itself as a top foodie destination. I’ve found Poble Sec a great neighborhood to explore for foodie tourists, with many restaurants located along the pedestrian streets serving everything from Indian food to tapas, and the iconic Spanish paella. Poble Nou is another great eclectic area, where a lot of different culinary cultures are meshed together, with great street food on the weekends in Palo Alto Market.
The area of Barceloneta, even when crowded with a lot of restaurants for tourists, still has a lot of traditional Spanish tapas bars, like La Bitácora or Jai-ca. The area also offers international cuisine, like the amazing Argentinian burgers in Bro Barcelona. It’s the best spot to be if you’re looking for that fried and greasy Spanish food experience.
Barcelona is truly one of Spain’s most diverse destinations, with a complex and rich mesh of cultures.
Have you ever been to Barcelona? If so, what’d you think? If not, would you like to visit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!