Barcelona, the bustling capital of Catalonia, and second most-populated city in Spain, needs little introduction. An eclectic mix of modern layout and ancient traditions, Barcelona is an essential Spanish holiday destination for 2019. Barcelona is renowned as the capital of Spanish experimental culture, with a variety of bars, galleries, museums and restaurants to enjoy, as well as winding alleyways, traditional mansions and historic buildings.
A good place to start is las Ramblas, making your way to the Gothic quarter of the city, exploring a number of quaint neighbourhoods on the way. Barcelona is home to a number of iconic places of interest including the Picasso museum and the museum of contemporary art MACBA. In the more modern part of the city, Eixample, you’ll find a number of architectural delights, including the legendary church designed by Gaudi, and plenty of stunning private residences. If you’d prefer to enjoy more natural wonders, Barcelona also has over 4 kilometres of spectacular coastline, with a range of beautiful beaches to choose from. With an invigorating blend of culture, natural beauty and man-made wonders, a Barcelona holiday gives you excellent value for money.
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 2h 30m
When to go
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Whether you’re planning to visit for a weekend or a fortnight, Barcelona has so many activities and places of interest that you’ll be spoilt for choice no matter where you turn. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to the La Sagrada Familia, a gigantic Catholic Church built by Antonio Gaudi and one of the most iconic sights in the city. Inside the Cathedral you’ll be awed by the majestic staircase that leads most of the way to the top, giving you an ideal place to take in the stunning cityscape from a bird’s-eye view.
Sport fans will enjoy a trip to Barcelona’s football stadium, the illustrious Camp Nou. There are a number of tours available here to choose from, with options to see the trophy room, immaculately-maintained pitch and incredible views from the top of the nearly 100,000-seater stadium.
Barcelona’s fresh and vibrant cuisine is typical of wider Spain, with a variety of delicious dishes to pick from. With its coastal attraction, Barcelona benefits from a fresh supply of fish that is used to best effect in a selection of tantalising seafood dishes.
One of the local favourites is fish zarzuela, a stew-like dish with half a lobster. The staple Spanish dish is frequently served with both seafood and other meats, including shellfish, prawn and more adventurous options including rabbit and snail. One of the most popular main courses in Barcelona is botifarra amb mongetes, a type of grilled sausage served with fried beans and allioli. Must try dishes include carn arrebossada, crumb-coated meat, and mandonguilles, meatballs, which are often served in a rich tomato sauce.
One of the best features of Barcelona as a Spanish holiday destination is that there’s something to keep everyone happy. Barcelona is an ideal choice for frazzled parents looking for a fuss-free family holiday, with a wide range of family-friendly activities and places of interest right on your doorstep.
Many restaurants and bars in the city centre have been designed with family needs in mind, offering high-chairs and kids’ menus for your little ones. Many of the locals take their children out to eat frequently so if you feel like going out for an evening beer, you can bring your kids along too. The popular neighbourhood of Las Ramblas is as entertaining for children as it is adults, with a number of live acts performing on the streets including fire-eaters, flamenco dancers and face-painters.
Action & Adventure
Thanks to its extensive coastline and year-round pleasant weather, Barcelona is a good choice of holiday destination for active and health-conscious holidaymakers. If museums and historic attractions aren’t your thing and you’re craving some action, you can head to one the beautiful beaches along the coastline of Barcelona to take part in a number of exhilarating water-sports. You can enjoy almost every type of water-sport in Barcelona including swimming, snorkelling, banana boating, wakeboarding and jet skiing.
As Barcelona is renowned for its football scene, you’ll find a number of city parks scattered throughout Barcelona and can head to the larger national parks of Parc de la Ciutadella or Parc Guell to really immerse yourself in the natural environment. Both national parks have wide open spaces perfect for a kickabout with your family or friends, while Parc de la Ciutadella has a picturesque lake where you can take boat trips and enjoy a picnic by the water. Many of the city’s attractions can be enjoyed on a cycle or electric bike tour, or you can ramp up the excitement by opting for a fun Segway instead.
Barcelona isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of a beach holiday destination, but Barcelona has plenty to offer in that regard. Surprisingly, the city has more than 4 kilometres of sprawling beach areas, all of which are within easy reach of the city centre. Barcelona Beach is the most famous of these, and is likely to be the first one you come across when you visit the city. Thanks to Barcelona’s sun-drenched weather and balmy temperatures, you’re sure to have plenty of wonderful days on the beach. Whether you’re in the mood to get through your latest book, laze in the sun with a drink in hand or get active with water-sports, Barcelona has a beach to suit your needs.
The most popular beaches along the coastline of Barcelona include La Barceloneta, the most bustling and tourist-friendly beach, Nova Icaria, which is considered an ideal choice for families and those looking for a more peaceful alternative, and Ocata Beach, a gorgeous golden white sandy beach half an hour away from the city by train.
Barcelona is a city that never sleeps, with a vibrant nightlife scene that caters to ex-pats, students and tourists as well as locals. Barcelona offers a fuss-free nightlife scene, with a number of bars, restaurants and clubs open late into the night. Walking through the streets of the city centre, you’re sure to find a nightlife venue that suits your tastes.
Las Ramblas is the most popular of the neighbourhoods in Barcelona and is famous for its tapas bars, as well as a number of excellent cocktail bars. If you’re looking for a taste of the international scene, head to the Gothic quarter where you’ll find English and Irish bars with beer on tap and live sports on show. Plenty of bars offer family-friendly nightlife activities like karaoke, flamenco nights and themed evenings for all ages. Party animals can choose from the Sutton Club for a first-rate clubbing experience or opt for the Sala Razzmatazz to mix it up with 5 differently-themed music rooms.
Barcelona is a dream for couples, whether you’re newly married, celebrating a special anniversary or are just looking to enjoy quality time with your significant other. Barcelona is known for its beautiful architecture and vibrant gastronomy, making it easy to head off on romantic strolls to explore the city, before happening upon a number of restaurants for a romantic meal. With a lengthy coastline and beautiful clear waters, the beach is one of the best spots for a loved-up day out with your partner, giving you almost endless options for lazing in the sun, going for romantic strolls on the sand or raising a toast as the sun goes down.
The whole city has a sense of passion and romance, as from Gaudi’s Paul Guell to the Picasso Museum, the scenic architecture and vibrant social scene give you a sense of excitement and vitality. When you’ve finished your day of sightseeing, you can end your day in style with a delicious meal by candlelight as you raise a glass to amazing memories.
Barcelona is widely considered to be one of the cultural jewels in the crown of Spain, with a rich heritage and huge selection of culturally enriching attractions such as museums and art galleries to explore at your leisure. Most museums offer free admission on Sundays, if you’re happy to be patient with the queues. The city is also home to a number of iconic attractions including the Casa Batllo and Sagrada Familia, which were both designed by the famous Gaudi, and Las Ramblas (or La Rambla), Barcelona’s most popular and bustling boulevard.
There are a number of excellent festivals held throughout the year, including the Catholic festivals of Epiphany in January and a Lent carnival in February to March. Summer sees the city come alive with the Primavera festival (dance and rock music) and the Benacassim festival (rock and indie music). The festival of Saint Joan is a national holiday that takes place on the 24th June annually and comprises of bustling street parties on the day before and then followed by night-long drinking and dancing after.