Having visited Barcelona various times while living in Spain, it is an absolute must in your European or Spanish travels. It is nothing short of an artistic mecca of architecture, fashion, cuisine, music, and nightlife with a proud Catalan signature style. It is not at all surprising that world renowned Dali and Picasso found inspiration here. A trip to Spain, would not be complete without a peek at La Sagrada Familia, walking La Rambla, and enjoying tapas in numerous bars while sipping cava on tap.
Since my last visit, I wanted to get a fresh, up to date recommendation for those looking for a diverse visit to Barcelona. That’s why I have asked William Susetyo, who has traveled throughout Spain with deep dives into Barcelona and Cataluña, to write a post, giving recommendations for those interested in exploring Barcelona. Gaudeix! (Catalan for enjoy)
Beguiling, expressive, cosmopolitan and multi-layered
Barcelona is everything a 21st century world city should be. But it still manages to retain its own individual character as the capital of the intensely independent Cataluña region in Spain’s north-east.
Dynamic, daring, playful and boisterous – the city is a multi-cultural hub at the forefront of art, architecture, design and fashion in Spain – and indeed Europe. But don’t dare to suggest to a proud Barcelonan (or Catalan) that they are Spanish.
After checking into your accommodation in Barcelona, your exploration of the city begins. The city’s tree-lined avenues and romantic, winding backstreets of La Rambla back effortlessly onto the large seaport and mile-long Barceloneta Beach.
And in between, there are a myriad of labyrinth-like streets to get lost in and experience true Catalan hospitality from small cafes serving up enticing orxata (a rice drink), cold beer or Moscatel, a sweet wine.
There is also a good chance you will stumble upon an impromptu Flamenco performance to add to the cultural experience.
It is no wonder Barcelona has been such an inviting abode for artists like Dali, Picasso and Monet to inhabit over the past few centuries.
There are galleries and museums galore for culture seekers, with cutting-edge contemporary art a big draw.
The city’s most famous creative resident, Gaudi, shaped the city’s distinctive Art Nouveau architecture style in the nineteenth century playing on his love of colour, mosaics and using nature as a basis for his unusually-shaped buildings and forms.
An architecture crawl across the city seeking out his most famous creations for your own visual and philosophical interpretation is one of the top things to do here.
Park Güell – built for Spanish aristocracy on top of a hill – features his fun and whacky ideas including a dragon fountain and surreal tilting passageways.
Barcelona is a place to be expressive and get inspired. And if you want to join the young Bohemian types discussing, art, literature and philosophy, head to the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic).
Barcelona’s oldest neighbourhood houses glorious tapas bars serving up traditional, uncomplicated dishes among throngs of passionate Catalans.
It can be difficult to make your voice heard to get the camerero to carve you a fresh slice of Jamón serrano from the leg hanging above your head while Cava-sipping folks converse, but the atmosphere will be electric.
The Gothic quarter is also the district for bar-hopping later on. Barcelona is famed for its vibrant nightlife, also centred around the edgy El Born and El Raval districts, alternative Gràcia area and the glitzy (although sometimes trashy) Port Olímpic venues.
As a constantly evolving city thanks to large numbers of European expats living there and shaping its vibe, Barcelona offers a multitude of experiences for even the most seasoned of travellers.
**Guest post provided by William Susetyo, Editor-in-Chief of Accommodation.com. He was born in China and raised in Australia. Bitten by the travel bug, he has travelled extensively through Asia and Europe. Currently based in Sydney, he is a keen food enthusiast, hip hop dancer, dog lover, and jazz listener.
**Visitor information featured in this article was correct at the time of writing.