Barcelona, the bustling capital of Catalonia, has for years been a favourite destination that combines sun, music and gastronomy. If the Catalan city enjoys countless architectural treasures, it is above all because of its sunshine and festive atmosphere that it has become a major meeting place for European tourism. With terraces and restaurants still open (until the 10pm curfew), museums that open (up to 50% of their capacity), Barcelona offers a taste of the world before its time to its lucky visitors and a real change of scenery just a stone's throw from France!
On both sides of the Ramblas, unmissable visits
The city was born in the Barri Gòtic even if the oldest traces can be found in part of the 4th century walls. Around the Santa Eulalia Cathedral is a maze of cobbled streets and prestigious Gothic buildings that gave the district its name. Some of the highlights are barcelonaise : the arcaded Plaça Reial with its high palm trees, the lively Plaça del Pi and, above all, the Rambla, which borders its western flank. This long artery separates the Barri Gòtic from the more popular neighbourhoods of the Raval and Pueblo Seco, in the foothills of Montjuïc. Barcelonians love to stroll along it in the early evening, and the central area is the meeting place for dozens of cartoonists, clowns, bird sellers, living statues, mimes and so many other street artists.
On the other side, the Raval district, also known as Barrio Chino (Chinatown), is an area undergoing architectural and cultural change. Very close to Pueblo Seco, one of the most popular districts, the Raval has been undergoing a major rehabilitation programme since the inauguration of MACBA, Barcelona's Museum of Contemporary Art. There are many trendy restaurants, and the nightlife is still very active thanks to the many underground bars that have become legendary such as La Concha del Barrio Chino, El Cangrejo or El Pastis. Towards the northwest, the Rambla leads to the Plaça de Catalunya, which connects two large avenues : the Rambla de Catalunya and the Passeig de Gràcia, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful avenues in Europe
It is a real pleasure to stroll along it to admire the splendour of the residences. The greatest Catalan architects have given free rein to their imagination, as the Casa Batlló or the Casa Milà, both designed by Gaudí, testify. Find out more about night visits, which are all the more enchanting as they are less crowded
On either side of the Passeig de Gràcia, the Eixample district is a distraction with its many Modernist façades, Noucentista and Art Nouveau houses. The highlight of visits to this district will be the Sagrada Família, a work to which Gaudí devoted the last two thirds of his life and which is still largely unfinished.
East of Barcelona, the opening to the sea
Below Montjuïc, the Old Port, Barceloneta and the Olympic Port offer three very contrasting facets of Barcelona's seafront. The Olympic port district was designed by renowned contemporary architects such as the Catalan Martorell and the American Mackay. The twin towers have become a symbol of modern Barcelona. Unattractive during the day, it comes alive at night to the rhythm of nightclubs and bars with gogo dancers that offer an atmosphere that is ultimately very overrated. La Barceloneta, on the other hand, has retained a charming and attractive Mediterranean character, with its old buildings in yellow and ochre tones, and its drying laundry in the windows. All these details have earned it the nickname "Barcelona Naples"
To the north and south, the mountains and beaches
To the north are busy beaches and to the south lies the seaside resort of Sitges, accessible from the centre in less than 45 minutes by train. Barcelonians like to go there on Friday or Saturday evenings. Sitges has become ultra-trendy, and a great gay meeting place for this part of the coast
Mountain aficionados will travel about sixty kilometers north to reach the Serra de Montserrat, which rises to over 1 200 mètres
The goal of the visit is the Montserrat Monastery, but hikers will enjoy the maze of trails that surround it. From the monastery, two funiculars take you to the hiking trails. If you have time, take the Sant Joan funicular, which takes you to the top of La Serra.
And everywhere there are green areas for long walks
The green spaces in Barcelona are not in vain mot ! Trees are regularly planted all over the city, and large parks like Güell Park or Montjuïc Park are literally crowded during the hottest months. Güell Park takes you back to the world of Gaudí, marked from the entrance by the giant salamander made of polychrome ceramics, which has become a true symbol of the city
But the people of Barcelona prefer to linger in the shade of the Hundred Columns Hall or on the vast undulating bench, which offers a magnificent panorama of the whole city, dominated by the spires of the Sagrada Família
Gaudí lived until 1926 in the small house that can still be visited inside the park. The mountain of Montjuïc, accessible from the Avinguda Parallel by a funicular, is certainly a pleasant walk but above all a magnificent viewpoint over the bay of Barcelona.
In Barcelona, enjoy the restaurants and terraces!
In the evening, Barcelona awakens to the south of the Eixample, in the Ribera district, also known as " El Born ", which has become Barcelona's chic district. The one where it's good to live and where it's fashionable to show off. It's a neighbourhood where it's very pleasant to get lost, to wander through the streets and meet people. During the day, the Palau de la Música Catalana or the Picasso Museum and its countless palaces make it a cultural meeting point on a par with the rest of the city, while in the evening its traditional tapas bars and trendy restaurants make it Barcelona's great nightlife spot. Around the Güell Park, which is much more discreet than its neighbours, the Gràcia district, which looks like a peaceful village by day, quickly becomes a student hideaway reminiscent of the Latin Quarter in Paris. If the curfew is at 10 pm at the moment, it is still possible to enjoy the good tables and terraces. A godsend for the lucky visitors of the beautiful Catalan!
When? Throughout the summer, to enjoy the festive atmosphere and the beaches around. Favour spring and autumn, you will escape the summer horde while enjoying a pleasant climate
Getting there. By plane, train or bus, everything is possible. Although obviously the plane is the easiest way to get to Barcelona.
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