Travel to Barcelona - Gothic gem of Catalonia

An enchanting city backed up by mountains and facing the Mediterranean. With its rich culture, art and history, unique architecture, beautiful coastline, delicious food and many hidden treasures down narrow streets, Barcelona is like walking through a dream.
  • Barceloneta is the central neighbourhood of Barcelona. It was notably home to the 1992 Summer Olympics and is popular today for its beaches and proximity to the port.
    © Drimi / 123RF

    Barceloneta is the central neighbourhood of Barcelona. It was notably home to the 1992 Summer Olympics and is popular today for its beaches and proximity to the port.

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Spain

The proud capital of Catalonia, hundreds of thousands of tourists travel to Barcelona every year. It has a magnificent setting, sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Serra de Collserola mountain range, and has the advantage of enjoying a mild climate throughout the year and this is one of the main reasons why people constantly flock there - as well as to enjoy the cosmopolitan café culture of sitting back with a cold beer and good tapas on the trendy terraces of the city's beautiful streets, or to party all night in true European style, and of course to relax on its beaches including the famous La Barceloneta.

The city's architecture is a marvel, with medieval to gothic to modernista styles. Although, one of the main attractions in this beautiful city are the famous buildings built by Antoni Gaudi whose Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona's defining symbols.

The city also boasts a variety of world class museums, a number of green parks, several UNESCO World Heritage sites, delicious food markets - it is no wonder that Barcelona is the perfect destination for a both a short city break or a beachy summer holiday.

Barcelona: what to do?

One of the main reasons to visit Barcelona is, of course, to make the most of its long stretches of golden sand which make up its beaches. The best of which and most popular is La Barceloneta, where you can spend all day soaking up the sun and enjoy any of the beach restaurants and bars along the way.

A walk through the Gothic quarter of the city is a must when visiting. Get lost down the narrow streets and stumble across some of the secret treasures of Barcelona including restaurants, bars, quaint squares and beautiful churches. In the heart of this area there is also the Boqueria food market, which has a colourful array of locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Not far round the corner is the famous Museo Picasso which has some of the artists most famous works and is located in an old Gothic-style palace.

One of the city's best parks is Parc de la Ciutadella, located near the Gothic quarter. It is perfect for a summer stroll or to sit under the palm trees to shade from the heat and there is also a small lake in the middle where you can rent rowing boats.

There is fantastic shopping all over the city, but for some of the best designer and high street shops head to Passeig del Gracia, a modernista style street where you can shop until you drop.

If the hustle and bustle of the city and the heat on the beach all gets too much, take a trip up the Tibidabo mountain which sits behind the city looking over it. You can hike up, or get a bus, to see the best views out to the city at a variety of viewing points. There is also the Tibidabo theme park at the top which is a great place to take the kids.

Due to its fascinating history and diverse culture, there are many incredible sights to see in Barcelona. The most famous of which is the Sagrada Familia, a huge gothic cathedral which sees thousands of visitors each day. Just around the corner, slightly more into the heart of the Gothic quarter is Santa Maria del Mar, a lesser known and beautiful cathedral.

If wanting to avoid busy crowds, its best to steer clear of La Rambla and Plaza Catalunia. However, it is one of the most popular spots in the city for a reason. Take a trip down it just to see what all the fuss is about, then pop down a side street and grab a beer in Plaza Real.

Barcelona is home to some of Europe's most intersting architecture, in particular two well-known designs by the famous Gaudi. There is Parc Guell, which is a intricately designed urban park, and the Casa Gaudi, which can be found and viewed from Passeig del Gracia.

As evening comes in, take a trip to the Monduic Fountains, which at dusk begin to light up in different colours and it is a truly magical experience.

  • The year-round good weather
  • The architectural and cultural wealth
  • The lively nightlife
  • Its location between the mountains and the sea
  • The entrance fees for Gaudi exhibits
  • The pickpockets

Barcelona: what to visit?


If you plan to stay for a while in Barcelona and intend to visit a lot of the city's attractions then the Barcelona Card could well be worth buying. From just £28, you can have free access to some of the most popular things to see in the city, as well as discounts up to 70 sights and museums, free public transport and a complimentary train journey to the airport.
Should you spend more than three of four days in Barcelona think about heading out of the city to some of the nearby places that also merit a trip. Amongst the destinations we recommend are the historic city of Girona, Tarragona, Leida (for its architecture) and Andorra (for skiing, thermal springs and shopping).

There are also small coastal towns that are good for a quieter beach such as Sitges or Calella.

To avoid

If possible, avoid driving in Barcelona - it can get fairly busy and there are often major traffic jams. There is a good metro and bus system which is affordable and easy.

The city also has a reputation for being a pickpocket's paradise. You should therefore avoid flashing around any expensive items such as cameras, jewellery or large amounts of cash in crowded places.

If you are looking for a quieter holiday, Barcelona may not be for you. It is best to try and avoid going in July and August as it is incredibly hot and packed with tourists.

When visiting the Sagrada Familia and a few of the other main sights, it is advised to pre-book your ticket which will allow you to avoid the large queues of people waiting to buy a ticket on the day.

Barcelona: what to eat?

Eating is one of the biggest pleasures in Barcelona and for the Catalans as a whole. Meal times, especially lunch, are an important part of daily life, and tend to go on for a long time with a two-hour "siesta" in the afteroon being common place.

There are many specialities to Catalonia and Barcelona in particular. The basis for most meals is pa amb tomàquet, a simple dish consisting of bread rubbed with tomatoes and seasoned with olive oil, salt and garlic. Accompanying this may well be such dishes as botifarras, a typical Catalan pork sausage, suquet de peix, a fish and potato stew, or escudella i carn d'olla, a heavy meatball soup eaten around Christmas and into the winter. Also typical are tapas-type foods such as jamón ibérico, embutidos (cured ham), croquetas (fried, breadcrumb-covered croquettes filled with potatoes and meat), or the well-known tortilla de patatas which, in Catalonia, can contain lots of other ingredients.
There are of course plenty of other dishes to be sampled in Barcelona, but many of these are not necessarily a speciality of the area. You should try and get a recommendation of a place to try a good paella or fideuà (similar to paella but with short noodles instead of rice) as well as some cargols a la llauna (snails with aioli and tomatoes) and calçots (grilled scallions with a romescosauce). Another dish typical of coastal towns is the la meriscada, a seafood platter with a variety of shellfish.
To finish off your meal, try a local crema catalana or a coca de vicre.
And what to wash this all down with? Well, tap water is not the best idea. While it is safe to drink, it is not particularly tasty, and given the low prices of bottled water, you are better off buying. You will find sangria everywhere while one of the best wines in the area is piorat.

Barcelona: what to buy?

Try and grab yourself some good quality jamón ibérico from one of the superb markets in the city. It can be vacuumed so is perfect to travel back with you, is delicious and can also make a great gift.

For the football fans out there there are many shops selling the famous "Barca" team kit and souvenirs, so for a gift for a football fan friend, or yourself, you cant go wrong with an Barca shirt or scarf!

There are also souvenir shops aplenty selling Barcelona adorned goods such as plates, lighters, toys and posters.

Barcelona Reviewedhotels
  • 9.0 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    W Barcelona
    Barcelone - Spain
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    The W Barcelona is one of the most, if not the most, iconic building ...

  • 8.9 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
    Barcelone - Spain
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    Part of the prestigious Mandarin Oriental hotel chain based in ...

  • 8.85 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    The Ritz-Carlton Arts Barcelona
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    The Arts Barcelona hotel is a top-class establishment located ...

  • 8.85 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Majestic Hotel and Spa Barcelona
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    This legendary hotel in Barcelona, the Majestic Barcelona, has ...

Elsewhere in the world
Catalonia : Holidays
  • Holidays
  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Flight + Hotel
  • Cars