Barcelona, Spain’s city of Gaudí, beaches, and tapas, is a place of diverse beauty. Stroll the city streets and you will come to know a destination bursting with life, but still brimming with history. The city’s past is on full display with its dramatic Gothic buildings, Catalan art nouveau structures, and medieval quarters.
Barcelona has a definite freshness to it, with its sunny coastline, colourful parks and gardens, delicious food markets, and lively tapas bars. If you only have a short period to see this Catalonian city, you might like to tackle it neighbourhood by neighbourhood. And we’re here to help. For your Barcelona holiday, we have hand-picked our favourite parts of the city to explore:
Barri Gòtic: an atmospheric look at the past
Barri Gòtic, or the Gothic Quarter, is one of Barcelona’s best-known neighbourhoods. And for good reason. Strolling around this ancient part of the city feels like something from a history book or even the silver screen. This is the oldest area in Barcelona, comprising the relics of a Roman wall and a number of beautiful medieval landmarks.
The quarter is the neighbourhood to head to if you don’t have any plans, and just want to spend your holiday getting lost. It’s full of hidden eateries, too. Tucked into the hidden laneways are a number of delightful tapas restaurants, including Euskal Etxea, a cosy taverna by the Picasso Museum, and Bistrot Levante, a low-key spot serving up Mediterranean cuisine.
If you wish to fill your belly but you’re travelling on a budget, head to La Boqueria, the local market (also known as the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria). Built on the burnt ruins of the convent Sant Josep nearly 1,000 ago, this popular public market is home to more than 300 food stalls. Here you can pick up a colourful array of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, and cheese. Consider yourself warned, this market can be extremely busy on weekends, so your best bet is to head there early in the morning on a weekday.
Eixample: a look at Antoni Gaudí's finest work
The Eixample neighbourhood might immediately come across as a place of upmarket boutiques and modern hotels, however, it’s the best place to walk through to find some of Gaudí’s most recognisable works, including UNESCO-listed Casa Batlló, with its dragon-like roof, and the undulating Casa Milà, the final private residence Gaudí architected.
By night, you can take to one of the best and biggest eateries in the Eixample neighbourhood, El Nacional. This spot is known as a culinary multispace with four restaurants and four bars, serving everything from tapas, to gelato, to seafood.
Barceloneta: it’s time for an ocean dip
After all your city strolls, you might need a moment of peace. Barceloneta (which translates to Little Barcelona in Catalan) is the place to go if you’re looking for a part of the city that promises laidback fun in the sun.
Whether you fancy a cappuccino or cocktail by the beach as the sun rises or sets, or wouldn’t mind having a boogie at one of the oceanfront bars and clubs, Barceloneta will guarantee you a good time. It might not be an area of striking architecture, like the rest of Barcelona, but it certainly makes up for it with the beaches and the sunset.
Soak up the magic of enthralling Barcelona (and even venture to the sacred hill-top monastery of Montserrat) on an escorted tour with us.