Sun, sea, and siestas. Fun, fresh food, and fiestas. Kaleidoscopic and charismatic, Barcelona offers all this and more.
Historically, the Catalonian capital was founded by the ancient Phoenicians and Carthaginians, and its Roman roots are evident in the Cultural Centre of El Born, the amphitheatre at Montjuic, and the Gotico quarter where the old Roman city of Barcino – Barcelona’s namesake – was formerly established. Here you can find an ancient Roman necropolis in la Placa Vila de Madrid and Roman city walls and castle parapets in Carrer de la Palla.
The city’s heritage as a mercantile centre means it is one of the most prosperous cities in Spain today. The mix of tradition, culture, and the locals’ prerogative to enjoy life to the fullest, make Barcelona the perfect place to relax, party and simply feel alive.
At the Port Olimpica harbor, chill out at one of the many restaurants facing the waterfront, or take a short walk to visit the impressive Casino Barcelona and try your hand at blackjack, roulette or a round of poker. The casino is renowned for hosting world-class tournaments year-round. During the Merce Festival in September, watch the fireworks explode into the night sky from your yacht deck with a glass of champagne in your hand, gazing at the stars after the celebrations have ended.
Apart from the jade-green waters and soft sand, Mar Bella, San Sebastia and Barceloneta beaches host numerous bars and cafes. Down in the former fishing village of Barceloneta, taste salty polpo (octopus) and bacalao (cod), with the quintessential patatas bravas, washed down with cava or a local rioja wine. On the ocean, jet-skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing are easily accessible for the more active, to taste seaspray and feel the fresh breeze.
For football aficionados, watch “El Clasico” between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Camp Nou; the rivalry between the two teams is as much about politics as it is about sport and the streets are packed with flag-waving, chanting Messi fans. If it’s full, catch a match at any local bar or pub which have mounted flatscreen TVs, flowing beer and the atmosphere of being there live.
To catch a beat, don’t miss some of the biggest music festivals held in the summer. Primavera Sound’s independent scene, electronica music at Sonar and Cruilla’s mix of rock, pop, and jazz are just a few of the most popular drawing thousands each year, so be prepared to boogie.
Elsewhere in town, marvel at Gaudi’s psychedelic La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, Miro’s surrealist sculptures and paintings, Picasso’s cubist works, and the thoughtful urban legacies of Rovira i Trias and Ildefons de Cerda’s sweeping boulevards and “manzana” apartment complexes in Eixample and Las Ramblas. Shop for souvenirs in the cobblestone alleys and laneways in El Born and the grand Passeig de Gracia where boutiques and specialty stores entice you.
If you like to unwind by loosening your limbs, there are golf courses a short drive from the city. Club de Golf de Barcelona and Hotel Barcelona Golf boast 18-hole courses situated in resorts so you can enjoy a weekend away from the hustle and bustle, relax in your luxurious suite and enjoy some fine dining.
Don’t forget the Grand Prix at Montmely, just 30km from Barcelona near Masnou on the coast. Held every year mid-May, it draws crowds from across the world, the location and accommodation offerings as much as a highlight as the thrill of the race.
Make no mistake, all your senses will be captivated by the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona.