Besides being known as the homeland of FC Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia has little-known, beautiful landscapes. The city is surrounded by pristine, winding rivers (most notably the Llobregat and Besòs rivers), faces the shimmering Mediterranean Sea and bordered by the stunning mountain range of Collserola. Steeped in rich cultural heritage and architectural treasures, Barcelona is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Gaudi’s iconic, modernism work. These date back to 15 BC, when the Romans founded the capital of the County of Barcelona in the middle ages.
1. Discover the city’s rich artistic, literary and architectural heritage
To truly have a deeper understanding of Barcelona, take a private tour understand the history of Catalan Modernism, which flourished between 1888 and 1906. Visit Paseo de Gracia, one of the city’s major boulevards teeming with shops and celebrated architectural works. Following which explore the gardens and structures of Güell Park. Atop Carmel Hill, you would find an eclectic mosaic of Gaudi’s most famous work. Lastly, go witness Gaudi’s famous masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. This huge, unfinished Roman Catholic church is truly an engineering feat with the most genius utilization of stone, brick, tiles and glass. To avoid disappointment, book your tickets online in advance to skip the queue.
Wander along the medieval streets of the Gothic quarter, where you may stumble across the views of Santa Maria del Mar Basilica. The Picasso Museum is another intriguing place to explore, with works from the young Picasso himself. Lastly, visit El Born, a quaint village famous for interesting bars, restaurants and hipster boutiques. After a day of walking, ease into an ancient, Arabic bath and spa for some rest and relaxation, because you deserve it!
2. Fuel up with tapas and incredible seafood
One of the most exclusive places to dine in Barcelona is Abac, which serves up modern Catalan cuisine. This exclusive two-star Michelin restaurant is situated in a pavilion adjacent to the Abac Hotel’s gardens and seats a maximum capacity of 56 guests. The restaurant promises an intimate gastronomic experience, surrounded by elegant décor and serence nature. Another recommended restaurant would be the Teoric Taverna Gastronomica, a Mediterranean and Spanish restaurant. It won an excellence award from TripAdvisor, ranking one of the top restaurants in Barcelona due to its many positive reviews. From octopus to goat cheese ice cream, this place serves up a huge variety of tapas that would not disappoint. This restaurant is clean but small, so be sure to make reservations in advance.
3. Party with the locals at raucous festivals
Music lovers rejoice! Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival (end May/June) has the best alternative rock line up ranging from the latest independent music tendencies to established artists. Expect the ultimate mix of quality pop, rock, electronic and dance music held at the legendary Parc del Forum. Extensive line ups boast famous bands such as Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Air, Orbital, The Pixies, The Cure, Pulp, Blur and Bloc Party. Hip indie and dance acts such as Warpaint, Chromeo, Tame Impala, Bat For Lashes, British Sea Power and Yo La Tengo were also represented in recent Festivals. It is no wonder that an international crowd gathers every year to join in the celebration. What’s more, there are side programmes of ticketed (and occasionally free) additional concerts in nightclubs and public areas around the city to keep the party going all night long!
La Tomatina happens in August. The origin of this quirky festival is unbeknownst to us; however, we know it started in the early 1940s. The townspeople loved it so much that it has become a yearly affair. This world-famous festival attracts people from all ends of the earth to soak in some tomato juice goodness. No, it is not as painful as paintball. No one gets bruised because only squishy, overripe tomatoes are allowed to be thrown.
4. Enjoy the beaches
The best way to enjoy Barcelona’s golden beaches is to explore their stunning hidden beaches and breath-taking coves, away from the crowds. The crystal-clear waters of Platja de I’Illot (Parida Aliga, 7, L’Ametlla de Mar, 43860 Tarragona) is a tranquil hideaway for tourists and locals alike. To get to this treasure trove, park your car along the nearby roads and take a 5-minute stroll through the GR 92 trail. Be sure to adorn sturdy footwear and bring your own refreshments, because there are no bars, restaurants or shops around. But that is the most amazing feature about this beach. The tranquillity of being away from it all is what sets it apart. Spending time with your loved ones amidst the lush green forests, amber rocks and jade-hued waves, would be etched in your memory forever. If you have time, check out Platja Fonda and Platja del Portitxol as well!
5. Take a day trip to Costa Brava
Get away from the bustling crowds, to explore the gorgeous stretch of coastline north of Barcelona. Just a 1 hour 20-minute trip by train would take you to a whole new world. Book a private tour that would be tailored to your interest, from discovering hidden medieval villages and picturesque cliffs to quaint, coastal paths that lead to Barcelona’s old gothic town. Don’t miss out the magical fountain light show of Montjuic. There is truly something for everyone!
6. Live it up in the lap of luxury
What better way to enjoy the city, than to live in comfort right at the heart of it? There are so many great hotels in Barcelona to choose from. Depending on whether you prioritise scenery, ambience or convenience, the 4* to 5* hotel you choose may differ. However, to shorten the search, we recommend H10 The One, Ohla Eixample and H10 Cas Mimosa. For Costa Brava, we recommend the Aqua Hotel Aquamarine and Spa. These luxurious hotels come equipped with their own infinite pools, spas and other amazing facilities. You would never want to leave! To make it sweeter they have a huge promotion on-going now. So what are you waiting for?