With so many bank holidays this year, the extra tax on long haul flights and short break holidays becoming evermore popular, Barcelona has established itself as one of the most desired top European city destinations. In fact it is the 4th most visited European city after London, Paris and Rome.
Taking only three hours to reach by plane, and prices starting from £110 return from easyjet, this vibrant city is an intoxicating mixture of medieval architecture and contemporary sky scrapers. So if history and modern culture are your thing, Barcelona really ticks all the boxes for a packed weekend away.
So first let’s look at the old city. Built on an old Roman dwelling, you can still see some of the original ruins under the Placa del Rei.
Stones discovered from these ruins have been built into the great cathedral which is said to dated around 343. Barcelona is also known for leading Europe in the Art Nouveau movement and many buildings designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi still remain in the centre of the old city.
His best known work, the Sagrada Familia, a stunning church was started in 1882 and to this day is unfinished. In fact, the cost of your ticket goes towards the continued construction. His other buildings include Casa Vicens (a family residence and his first work), Palau Guell and Park Guell.
Barcelona has a plethora of museums which offer unparalleled access to different periods of art. The Picasso Museum is world-renowned and one of the most popular in Barcelona, holding over 3,500 pieces of his work.
Amongst the other art museums are the ‘Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art’, keeping a collection of Spanish and post – 1945 Catalan art and the ‘National Museum of Art of Catalonia’ which focus on Romanesque art.
For science and history buffs there are always the ‘Cosmocaixa’, a fantastic user-friendly science museum with experiments and demonstrations for the curious minded. The ‘City History Museum’ and the ‘Archeology Museum of Catalonia’ are but a couple of others.
So now to the new city. One experience you have to take in is the ‘Magic Fountain’ and best of all it’s free. Just two miles from the city centre, past the Espanya Metro station and walking towards the Montjuic Hills you’ll come to some steps where the fountain is located.
There, every half an hour for 15 minutes, the waters dance to a myriad of colours and music. At night the spectacle is even more breathtaking but be warned, it is not always open so check before you go.
Now we all love shopping but for a real taste of Barcelona you have to visit La Boqueria, a flea market in Las Ramblas, about half a mile out of the city centre.
This place is an absolute must for buying fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables, juices and local farmers produce. Not only a place to buy, many stalls offer free tasting too.
A great way to experience the culture and cuisine and populated with locals as well as tourists.
Finally, if you want to see the old and the new Barcelona, then make sure you take the ‘Barcelona In One Day Sight Seeing Tour’ with Viator.
Available to book online at viator.com, the tour starts at 9.00am and lasts for eight hours, including stopping at the famous Olympic Stadium in the morning, through the Gothic Quarter and ending up at the Picasso Museum.
Lunch is included for a reasonable price of around £70 per person.
Whether it’s old historical architecture or modern restaurants and nightlife, Barcelona has something to offer every visitor.