Thursday, 1 August 2013

7 Things You Must Do in Barcelona

Written by Jerome Franco
Barcelona is one of Europe's popular cities for tourists and visitors of all kinds, and is the cultural and economic centre of Spain's distinctive Catalonia region. It's important when you're planning a city break that you try to see as many of the things the city has to offer as possible, so we picked out some of the best.


La Seu Cathedral ~ Barcelona
Check Out the Architecture

Barcelona is arguably most famous as the home of Antonio Gaudi, who was born in nearby Reus and was responsible for designing many of the city's most stunning structures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Between 1984 and 2005, no fewer than seven of his works were named as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including perennial favourites for visitors to Barcelona, Park Güell and Sagrada Familia. Casa Batiló, with its unmistakable and distinctive façade, is also worth exploring; don't just stop by for a picture!


Tour a Cathedral

La Seu, Barcelona's cathedral, is a living monument to two millennia of history in Barcelona. The church was built between 1298 and 1448 in the Gothic style of the time, but the frontage and dome date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries respectively.  The crypt contains tombs of two saints, Olegarius (d. 1136) and Eulàlia (d. 3rd C), and the location itself has also been the site of both mosques and Roman temples at various stages of the history of the Iberian Peninsula.


Tour a Different Type of Cathedral

Barcelona, the city, is inextricably linked to football in the minds of many, and the legendary football club is a big part of the city's character and culture.  The club often referred to as simply Barça calls the almost 100,000 capacity Nou Camp stadium home, and tours of the stadium and official museum are exceedingly popular. Of course, tickets to a game are the ultimate prize for fans of the club and their fluid, pacey style, but acquiring them is easier said than done.


Climb a Mountain

Situated roughly 50 kilometres to the northwest of Barcelona and about one hour's drive, the multiple peaks of Montserrat (literally 'saw' in Catalan) are an iconic feature of the landscape of Catalonia.  The Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat sits upon the mountain and acts as a way station for the funicular railway which takes non-climbing visitors to the summit. The abbey itself is reachable by road, rack railway and cable car, for those who don't feel like ascending it the hard way!


Monserrat ~ Barcelona
Hit the Beach

There aren't too many major cities in Europe where you can take a few hours away from sightseeing, to go and chill out on the beach, but Barcelona is one of them. Locals embrace the city's sandy shores, and local authorities have responded by keeping them exceptionally well-maintained. Platja de la Nova Icària is the most popular, welcoming around 7 million bathers each year, and is definitely worth visiting if you want to spend a little time dipping your toes into the Mediterranean.


Have a Siesta


Yes, I'm suggesting you sleep during your trip, but with good reason. The siesta was traditionally at the heart of Spanish daily routine, and this tradition is alive and well in Barcelona. While economic necessity means this mid-afternoon nap is not universally taken in today's Barcelona, many small and independent businesses still close down for a few hours each day (generally between 2pm and 5pm for shops, 4pm and 8pm for restaurants). If you're visiting in the summer, the generally 30+ degree heat will give you an idea how the tradition started. Don't feel guilty for spending some of your precious holiday time with your eyes closed; lay down your head and embrace the siesta!


Try Some Tapas

The famous Spanish small plates are everywhere in Barcelona, not least around the tourist hotspot of La Rambla, though most of these are predictably average and overpriced.  For something a little more rewarding, seek out the kind of dining options that the locals plump for, such as the micro tapas and cheap beer offers that you can find across the city's Poble Sec district. For a more upmarket option, the Michelin star recipient Cinc Sentits near the city's university is outstanding.


Author Bio
Jerome is a freelance writer, digital marketing consultant and a travel enthusiast. He's currently working with CityTripPlanner to help them reach audience online. When not writing about travel, he is planning his next adventure. His biggest dream is to visit Nepal and reach the top of Mount Everest!