Where the Mediterranean clashes with medieval quarters and Art Nouveau masterpieces are splashed across the city; Catalonia’s capital is seriously stylish. We look at some of Barcelona’s unmissable highlights.
El Raval & Barri Gòtic
El Raval and Barri Gòtic are the two famous neighbourhoods that border Las Ramblas. The former is an ultra cool quarter, filled with vintage shops, cabaret clubs and hip bars. It’s fast becoming one of the hippest up-and-coming neighbourhoods of Barcelona where many artists live and work.
Barri Gòtic is a labyrinthine spread of winding streets, gothic buildings, small squares and endless tapas bars. The area sits on the other side of Las Ramblas, closer to the port. It is here that you’ll find the stunning Mercè Basilica (see above) and Carrer del Bisbe Irurita (a stunning narrow gothic alleyway).
More synonymous with Barcelona than anything or anyone else in the city, Antoni Gaudí is the world famous Art Nouveau architect and the creator of the unfinished Sagrada Família. The intricate detail of each spire and the development of this unfinished 19th century masterpiece, combined with the compelling story of Gaudí’s life, makes for a memorable visit.
The Sagrada Familia is not the only creation Gaudí is known for in Barcelona. Park Güell, named after Eusebi Güell, a Patron of Gaudí, is a magnificent park situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district. Another famous residence is the beautiful home Casa Milà, in the Eixample district of Barcelona which Gaudí completed in 1910 for Rosario Segimon and Pere Milà.
Take a ride on the cable cars. Remember there are two options when choosing a sky ride to see the sights of Barcelona. We recommend taking a short walk uphill to Jardins del Mirador where you can catch the cable cars across the Gran Marina to Torre de St. Sebastia, taking in the breathtaking views of the city along the way.
Whether it’s morning, noon or night, Las Ramblas is the lively centre and backbone of Barcelona. Street artists, locals and tourists wander along Las Ramblas 24-hours a day. Sip on a coffee or a glass of sangria and watch the world go by. This is what Barcelona is all about.
Other fabulous sites include the Santa Maria del Mar Church, Arc de Triomf, Port Vell and the Statue of Christopher Columbus at the port side of Las Ramblas.
Eat & Drink
Moo Restaurant: This Michelin-starred eatery is the second venture from Spanish chefs, the Roca brothers. With an exquisite, Catalan-inspired menu, it’s a serious must for food lovers.
Moo @ Hotel Omn Carrer Rossello 265, 08008, www.hotelomm.es
Los Caracoles: Don’t leave town without paying a visit to this historic and fine establishment which has served Catalonians with fine wines, Cava, cheeses, tapas and excellent Spanish fare since 1835.
Los Caracoles, Escudellers, 14, 08002, www.loscaracoles.es
El Bosc de les Fades: A watering hole with a difference and one of the city’s hidden treasures. A unique and magical place, its name means “The Forest of the Fairies”. Inhabited by strange trees, gnomes and other unexpected creatures, with Cava, wine, beer and pastries served at the bar.
Le Bosc de les Fades, Passatge, de la Banca, N7, 08002, www.museocerabcn.com
Soak up the Sun & Sleep
W Barcelona: This newly-opened luxury hotel is utterly fabulous; an avant-garde icon created by the world-famous Ricardo Bofill, rising above the spectacular beachfront in a sail-like facade. Enjoy cocktails at the sleek Eclipse rooftop bar, cool down at the ‘WET’ pool and sun-soaked terrace, be pampered at the decadent Bliss Spa and work out at the state-of-the-art ‘SWEAT’ Fitness Centre, with sea views. Pure luxury.
W Barcelona, Plaça de la Rosa dels Vents 1, 08039, www.starwoodhotels.com
Somnio Barcelona: If you’re looking for accomodation that won’t break the bank and don’t want to really rough it, try Somnio Barcelona; one of the city’s boutique hostels. Rooms are light, airy and well-designed with luxury bedding. Many have balconies too and the friendly hosts will be happy to advise on sight-seeing and the best places to party in Barca.
Somnio Barcelona, Carrer de la Diputació 251, 08007 Barcelona, www.somniohostels.com