You haven’t seen Spain until you’ve seen the “City of Counts” or Ciudad Condal. We’re counting down our picks for the top five reasons to visit Barcelona. This list we’re taking a look at the numerous activities and landmarks this Catalan city has to offer:
5) Football (also known as soccer in North America):
Barcelona has hosted a variety of high-profile sporting events including the 1992 Summer Olympics, however, the city is primarily associated with its passion for football (or soccer). And well over three billion dollars Football Club Barcelona is one of the top five most valuable sports teams on the planet – with a total of three FIFA Club World Cup victories and a slew of other championships. Anybody who visits Barcelona will quickly find that football is much more than a sport, it shapes the city’s identity – the team’s motto is “mes que un Club” which translates to ‘more than a club’. To truly experience the city’s love for the game you have to visit Camp Nou: the largest stadium in Europe and the second largest football stadium in the world, with a seating capacity of almost 100,000. If you’re a fan of the beautiful game you have to make the pilgrimage no matter who you cheer for (we know, Real Madrid fans, it’s asking a lot). It’s a football holy site if there’s no game on you can still take a tour of the stadium which includes the FC Barcelona museum. Chant with us: we’ve got a name that everyone knows “Barça, Barça”!
4) Culture and festivals
This city is simply robust with culture standing out as an art capital unlike any other. The Gran Treatro del Liceu has acted as a beacon of inspiration since first opening its doors in 1847. To this date the Liceu continues to invigorate audiences with renowned operas and concerts. In addition to live theater Barcelona regularly hosts the Sitges Film Festival, a celebration of horror and fantasy films which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. Barcelona is especially well known for putting on spectacular music festivals. The Primavera Sound Festival, in particular, has cast a wide net across several different musical genres and generations of performers. Attracting diverse crowds every year the fun doesn’t end there as the city also throws numerous street carnivals such as ‘La Taronjada’ and ‘La Merce’ and a lively party version of Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival. For those in search of something a bit more laid-back, however, you can soak up over 2,000 years of culture at Barcelona’s many museums. The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is primarily dedicated to more modern pieces while the Museo Nacional de Catalunya will take you further back in time. If you’re an art aficionado Barcelona should be one of your top destinations.
3) The Gothic quarter
No visit to Barcelona would be complete without a long walk through the Gothic quarter. Extending from famed Boulevard La Rambla to via Laietana, this cornerstone of the Ciutat Vella district is a sightseers paradise. Although the word “gothic” might lead some to assume that the buildings are all for medieval times many of them were actually constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, of course that doesn’t make them any less breathtaking. A particular highlight is the Barcelona Cathedral which will leave you slack-jawed in awe at its looming size, extraordinary interior and vast array of gargoyles. Other notable religious landmarks include the Church of Santa Maria del Pi, complete with a bell tower that stretches up over 150 feet; and the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy which venerates the Virgin Mary. For art lovers the Museo Picasso will allow you to get inside legendary Spanish genius Pablo Picasso’s head, and marvel at some of his most cherished works. At the heart of everything is plaza de Sant Jaume: a square where you can find Barcelona City Hall, the casa de la Ciutat. Just across from this landmark you can spot the Palau de Generalitat de Catalunya, an historic medieval palace and the seat of the Catalan government. The gothic quarter is one labyrinth we definitely love to get lost in!
2) Food and cuisine
For anyone who’s fascinated by the art of gastronomy, Barcelona is sure to tickle your taste buds in ways you never imagined possible. Catalan cuisine is of course rooted in Mediterranean culture and draws influence from a variety of different traditions including Italian, French, Greek and Roman.
Spanish chef Martin Berasategui has earned a collection of Michelin stars, three of which he owes to the gorgeously renovated Restaurante Lasarte-Oria. If you can’t book a reservation at this exclusive establishment though, Barcelona has plenty of other restaurants with at least one Michelin star and a zillion tappa stars where you can enjoy a multitude of bite-size delights often made with freshly caught seafood. Try a famed la bomba the bomba deep-fried mashed potato and meat croquette served with tomato we bravo sauce and garlicky aioli. But hey eating out isn’t your only option either, why not whip up a few tapas yourself and bring them on a sightseeing picnic. As for where you can purchase the best ingredients Mercado de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is the ideal spot for tourists, possessing a rich history that dates all the way back to 1217, this market is ripe with insanely fresh olives carambolas, goat cheese, calamari and innumerable other delights!
Even after exploring every inch of Barcelona’s gothic quarter, tourists will still have a multitude of architectural master works left to visit. A launching point for the Catalan “modernismo” movement, Barcelona notably provided a platform for Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Among his many achievements, Gaudí’s magnum opus would have to be the Sagrada Familia church, when she began working on in 1882. By the time he died in 1926, only a quarter of this massive and unique project had been completed and construction will likely continue for years. We’re not sure how the huge Sagrada Família could become any more stunning though. If you’d like to check out some of Gaudí’s finished creations, the apartment building Casa Milà, known as “La Pedrera” or stone quarry, is almost like something out of a fairy tale. Another hot spot is Casa Batllo, which possesses a colourful facade and a roof reminiscent of a dinosaur or dragon’s back. The unfinished Church of Colonia Güell is also a popular destination largely due to its leaning pillars and other architectural innovations. In addition to Gaudí’s remarkable body of work, Barcelona is home to countless other buildings and landmarks that will leave you inspired. Between the Christopher Columbus monument and the magic fountain of magic, there’s too much to see in one trip. That’s exactly why you should make Barcelona a regular vacation spot!