The Best of Barcelona, Catalonian Capital of Spain

Located on the northeastern coast of Spain is the intoxicating city of Barcelona. Set against the Mediterranean Sea, this multifaceted jewel rewards visitors and locals alike with mesmerizing architecture, impressive museums, outstanding cuisine and more.

Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and the capital of Catalonia, buzzes with a hip, modern vibe, yet retains its rich and diverse history. There is no end in sight when it comes to interesting things to see and do in this sunny, vivacious city. In that respect, a highlight of the best that Barcelona has to offer can be helpful.

The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic)

The Gothic Quarter, once the center of the city during Roman times, is surprisingly well preserved within this modern-day community. Narrow streets lined with Gothic buildings dating from the 14th and 15th century wind about in a maze-like fashion. Of special interest is the huge Cathedral, one of the greatest Gothic buildings in all of Spain. In addition, a number of pretty squares offer a relaxing place to soak it all in while you note how old and new architecture seem to thrive in each others company.

There is no lack of choice when it comes to bars and restaurants in the Gothic Quarter. Take time to enjoy authentic tapas and a glass of sangria to renew your strength. For the more energetic, the Quarter offers up some tempting night-life. The Placa Reial and Calle Ferran are excellent spots to find a variety of cafes and bars where the action never stops.

Ramble through Las Ramblas

Only a few blocks southeast of the Gothic Quarter is an area known as Las Ramblas, or La Rambla. The lovely tree-lined streets, five in all, are brimming with busy bodies and afford plenty of people watching. Street shows are plentiful and include such exotic offerings as sword swallowing while eager vendors pay no mind as they busily push their wares.

A lively bird market one street over is worth a peek as is the Modernist Boqueria Market. The market is found next to the famous 19th century opera house, Gran Teatre del Liceu. The area does end on a seedy note and becomes seedier at night with peep shows and the like as you make way towards the monument of Christopher Columbus and the outlying harbor.

In regards to eating and shopping, prices tend to be elevated in Las Ramblas due to its high volume of tourists. Better choices and prices can be found outside of the area, although there is something to be said for sipping a glass of sangria while watching the live theater play out on the street before you.

Antoni Gaudi

Gaudi is beloved to all in Barcelona and his unfinished cathedral, the truly magnificent Sagrada Familia, is said to be the number one visited attraction in the city. If time allows for nothing else, be sure to see this most famous building. The breathtaking spires are intertwined with sculptures and make a bold statement against the backdrop of blue sky. The museum is housed inside and requires a fee to enter. If short on time, simply gazing at Sagrada Familia from the outside is rewarding enough.

Gaudi’s home can be found in the wildly intriguing Park Guell along with amazing sculptures, buildings and tile work designed by the man himself. Gaudi’s style has been admired by architects around the world and his work can be found all over the city. If Gaudi’s architecture is your thing, it might be worth investing in one of the many tours offered.

More to do in Barcelona

Barcelona has an impressive aquarium, L’Aquarium de Barcelona, located in the Port area. It boasts an underwater tunnel measuring at 80 meters long with six million liters of water and an immense Oceanarium, the only one found in Europe.

The Spanish Village, or Espanyol de Montjuic, is another famous attraction that depicts different types of architecture from all over Spain. There are a number of craft shops that highlight traditionally made Spanish goods found throughout the village. It is also the venue for the famous Flamenco show Tableo de Carmen, a traditional Spanish music and dance experience.

There are over 50 museums in Barcelona, but a few of the most popular are the Picasso Museum, the History of Catalunya Museum, the Maritime Museum and the FC Barcelona Football Club Museum. It is always best to check in advance for museum operating hours and fees.

Travel is always an adventure and unique Barcelona is a big city deserving of exploration. With so many options, a must-see-and-do list can be helpful. Pick your favorites, make your list and get ready to enjoy Barcelona, a prime European destination.