Spain’s Barcelona has it all; sun, sea, art and culture, modernist architecture and lamp posts with seating bases; infact the City is blessed with shops, luxury hotels, an impressive opera house and who can forget their excellence in football. There is something else – no two balconies are the same on most of their buildings.
Whether you fly, cruise or drive to Barcelona, there is so much to make your visit worthwhile. Walk through the historic quarter and you would appreciate the roman times, grand architecture and alleys; continue through the gothic quarter and feel the heartbeat of ancient Barcelona. Stroll up the famous Placa Catalunya via Passeig de Gracia, and discover Barcelona’s most prestigious address with modernist street lights that offer seats to the weary traveller. Continue up to Placa Joan Carles 1 on the Avinguda Diagonal, and you will arrive at Barcelona’s broadest and most important avenue which cuts the city in two, diagonally from west to east. Quite simply, every district of Barcelona has a story to tell.
This lifestyle haven has ten unique districts, with Eixample District being the most prestigious and most populated. It is fair to say that the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona had a great impact on the region’s economy, making Barcelona one of the most important European economic centres. The capital of Catalonia is buzzing with everything you need to make it a luxury destination.
Alleyways in the historic quarter
Modernist lamp posts with seats
Impressive ceilings at Sant Pau Art Nouveau site
The City prides itself with fine art claiming homage to some big names such as Gaudi, Picasso and Salvador Dali. Art lovers are spoilt for choice with several museums available to visit.
Great Places to stay
Accommodation is readily available in Barcelona and travellers can always reach out to Visit Barcelona for assistance.
The Mercer hotel is more of a boutique style. It is a very beautiful 28-room property in the heart of the Gothic quarter which is in the old city of Barcelona. The rooms are spaciously distributed over three floors and the architecture is to “die for”. It is a blend between the old and the new, with a roof top space that allows guests to enjoy the Mediterranean climate while soaking in the pool or relaxing at the pool bar.
The Mercer hotel has two restaurants; the formal Mercer Restaurant and the much more relaxed Le Bouchon which offers a mix between the best tradition of neighbourhood bars, tapas and local specialities.
There is no one balcony in Barcelona which looks the same and even the street lights are force of their own with a welcoming seat for the weary traveller.
The Gothic Quarter used to be the Roman village. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana and from the Mediterranean Sea front to Ronda de Sant Pere and carefully blends the old with the new. A favourite spot for visitors to the Gothic Quarter is Placa Reial. There are metro stops on both sides of the Gothic Quarter, Line 3 on Las Ramblas and Line 1. Stroll up Las Ramblas to Placa Catalunya and you will reach Passeig de Gracia.
Art, Culture and Museum
The beauty of Barcelona is such that there is so much to see and do for both “Beach Bums” and “Culture Vultures”. Art reigns in this City and it is being flaunted in all shapes and forms. Barcelona is full of art, culture and museums so much so that if you are an art lover, you can expect to be drunk with choices. There is no one balcony in Barcelona which looks the same and even the street lights are force of their own with a welcoming seat for the weary. Architecture is extremely competitive especially in the City’s prime locations.
“Must do” include:
Visit Barcelona has many specialists organizing walking tours. These such guides like Anne Permanyer Jordi will meet you at your hotel and walk you through the city telling you everything you need to know about this glorious city where the architecture is mesmerizing.
The beauty of Barcelona is such that there is so much to see and do for both “Beach Bums” and “Culture Vultures”.
Championing this is the famous Antoni Gaudi whose constructions are so prominent in the City. There is the imposing Sagrada Familia which stands majestically with several of its cone reaching out as if to shout for help. The Sagrada Familia is a Basilica which has been under construction since 1882 and continues to be. Metro Lines Blue L5 and Purple L2 or the Hop on hop off sightseeing bus will take you to this Basilica which continues to be built since 1882. The Sagrada Familia is a real must see.
Gaudi really does “own” Barcelona with other constructions such as the Park Guell, a magical park full of colour, amazing buildings, sculptures and mosaic tile work. You will also find Gaudi’s old home here.
There is also the Casa Batlló; one of Antoni Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces and an iconic modernist landmark. Situated on Passeig de Gràcia, this building stands out from the rest due to its eye-catching design and colour. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, light, colour and shapes interact with wood, glass, ceramics and quarried stone in Gaudí’s characteristic fantastic and breathtaking style.
Visitors pick up a very detailed audioguide with moving images and begin the tour of 20 different points. The audio guide gives you a whole host of details that are hard to spot at first glance, with metaphors and depictions of nature, particularly the undersea world, which will inspire and stimulate your senses and emotions. And if you prefer, you can hire the innovative augmented reality video guide which will take you to a magical world that is normally hidden from view. Both guides are available in 10 languages.
Pablo Picasso trained in Barcelona so quite rightly, the city is home to some of his finest collections of paintings and drawings from his youth, as well as some of his later works. All these are housed in The Picasso Museum on the metro yellow line, Line 4. The museum is housed in five medieval palazzos on Carrer Montcada.
Other “must see” in the historic quarter, Ciutat Vella, include the Barcelona Cathedral, the Palau de la Musica Catalana. Arm yourself with a Visit Barcelona Map Guide or visit the information centre at Placa Catalunya and you will discover that there is lot more to see than meets the eye.
Whatever you do, try to squeeze in a visit to the Sant Pau Art Nouveau site, a jewel in Mordernist architecture, the work of Lluis Domenech I Montaner. The site was home to the Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau from 1916 to 2009.
An Evening of Divine Pleasure at Gran Teatre del Liceu
The Gran Teatre del Liceu is a definite must during a visit to Barcelona. This Opera House originally evolved out of the Sociedad Dramática de Aficionados (Society of theatre-lovers) in 1837 at the instigation of Manuel Gibert in the former convent of Montsió by members of the National Militia, an organization of armed citizens with liberal leanings.
After passing through diverse management phases and a fire in 1994, it was decided to rebuild and improve the emblematic building and to create a new legal framework to put it under public ownership. Thus, the Fundació del Gran Teatre del Liceu was created in 1994 and the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu surrendered its property rights to the public authorities. This hand-over was ratified in 1997.
History aside, the Liceu is impressive. The current Auditorium is an exact replica of the original designed by the architect Miquel Garriga i Roca in 1847. It is shaped like a horseshoe with a capacity for an audience of 2,292. It is 20m high and has a depth of 33m and is one of the most impressive examples of 19th century theatrical architecture, now incorporating the technical installations, comfort and safety required today. It can hold an audience of 2,292 on six floors, and is one of the largest opera auditoriums in the world. There is private English Style Club, Circulo del Liceu, a priviledged Society with a lot of perks opened to the”great and the good” should you feel the need to belong to a club with privileges.
The Opera showcases a variety of shows available to the public.
Shopping in Barcelona
The Barcelona shopping line is the largest open-air retail hub in Europe. Other than the smaller shops which close between 2-4pm, most department stores open from 10am to 10pm. Starting from Les Rambles through Placa Catalunya continuing on to the Passeig de Gracia on to the Avinguda Diagonal. The Avinguda Diagonal is an attractive boulevard lined with shops, tourist landmarks and restaurants. This very long boulevard connects with the Sagrada Familia and the FC Barcelona stadium.
Shopping in Barcelona is made up of lovely boutique shops selling both clothes and jewelry to very large department stores like El Corte Ingles who stock a wide range of selection in fashion and accessories of Spanish and international luxury brands. Shopping in Barcelona is so much fun that there is a tour for it. Barcelona Tourism can arrange a 3-hour walking tour for you to experience new sensations at unique shops with benefits and discounts on your purchases.
For those interested in the sales, visit Barcelona from 1st July to end August for the summer sales or from 7th January to end February for the winter sales. There are also several markets including a flea market dating as far back as the 14th Century.
Food and Drink:
Barcelona markets trail with four itineraries around the city’s markets so that you can discover their history and gain a fresh insight into Barcelona’s social and urban development. Each district has several restaurants all showcasing the best of Catalan food and wine as well as other international cuisine. The districts of Ciutat Vella and Example alone have at least 58 restaurants each serving very high-quality food and wine.
Cinc Sentits at 58 Aribau in Eixample district serves a highly creative Mediterranean-inspired tasting menus featuring contemporary Catalan cuisine in a modern sophisticated ambiance. The Chef’s tasting menu with wine pairing comes very highly recommended. For a more relaxed atmosphere, you may want to dine at the Gastrobar Le Bouchon in the Gothic Quarter. The Barcelona Barri Gòtic area also known as the Gothic Quarter is the area in which the old town of Barcelona is situated. Picasso lived and worked in Barri Gòtic from 1895 to 1904 and Joan Miró was born and lived here during his youth. During our visit to the Quarter, it was buzzing with celebrations by the People of Valencia.
A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table – Samsa was a travelling salesman – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.
Exclusive life experiences from Majestic Hotel and Spa and Visit Barcelona
Whether it is a private sailing trip with a wine tasting session at a wine cellar with great views of Barcelona and the Sea, a journey through the smaller and distinguished chocolatiers of the city; have a spin in some of the luxury vehicles the city has on offer with a chance to try out a 500 Horsepower engine on a race track. Visit Barcelona and The Majestic Hotel and Spa have created various lifestyle experiences of their own, such as Navigation and enology for wine and food lovers; for those keen of speed and adrenaline, an opportunity to ride some fast cars and visit a race track.
There is also an exclusive tour of art, culture and luxury from the nineteenth century, a visit to the Barcelona Fisherman’s Market and a Chocolate Trail and lots more.
Travelling from the airport:
Transfers from the airport to central Barcelona is very easy. You can either complete your journey by taxi in a door to door process which takes about 30mins or use the express Aerobus A2 which departs the airport every 5 mins from 5.30am to 1am to Placa Catalunya for only 5.90 euros. The journey by bus takes about 35mins. Other options available are either by train or via the metro line R2 to Passeig de Gracia. Journey time for the metro is 27 mins. The 4.10 euros metro journey which plies every 30 minutes starts at 5.21 am and closes at 11.38pm
Barcelona is easily accessible from anywhere in Europe either by train, bus or boat. There are Visit Barcelona tourist information offices open to assist with most queries and tickets. There is an information office on the Placa Catalunya.