Barcelona: A city of awe-inspiring architecture, sumptuous food and sophisticated shops

Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona has long proved popular among discerning tourists. It is home to awe-inspiring architecture, an array of shops and some of the world’s very best eateries. Located in Catalonia on Spain’s north-east coast, this buzzing metropolis is a superb place to visit. It boasts the perfect mixture of traditional charm and contemporary chic.

Meanwhile, getting to the city is simple. There are plenty of international flights to choose from and there are so many hotels in Barcelona you won’t struggle to find a place to stay.

Las Ramblas panorama

Image Via : Flickr


Not all major cities are especially welcoming to female visitors, but Barcelona certainly is. You can be confident that you won’t be hassled while you’re sightseeing or shopping there. That said, make sure you always guard your belongings because the city is notorious for its pickpockets. These opportunistic thieves prefer easy targets, so as long as you keep your bag zipped and close by your side, you should be able to avoid their attention.

A journey through time

Barcelona benefits from an impressive variety of building styles and cultural influences. Over the centuries, it has been transformed from a Roman town to a medieval center of trade and then into a showcase of Gothic architecture. It is now best known for its surrealist buildings, with Antoni Gaudí’s influence strong across the city.

Barcelona’s most iconic building is Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia. This truly unique structure wouldn’t appear out of place in the most outlandish theme park. Its towers reach high into the Spanish sky and, more than 100 years since construction on the building began, it’s still a work in progress. It’s no wonder that each year around 2.8 million people visit this magnificent structure. Indeed, La Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s most popular tourist attraction. Pope Benedict XVI even ventured to the church to consecrate it in 2010. Despite the international attention it receives, the building still serves as a functioning church.

Of course, Gaudí’s influence is not restricted to this work. His other creations include the Casa Batlló, Casa Milà and Palau Güell.


Image Via Flickr

More attractions

Just as important as the La Sagrada Familia to many locals is the Camp Nou. This is the stadium of FC Barcelona and when the team secures a victory on the pitch, fans congregate on the city’s La Rambla to celebrate.

Meanwhile, if you want to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and history, you can check out its many museums and galleries. For example, the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya is the biggest in Barcelona and it is home to the largest Catalan art collection on the planet. Other highlights include the Modern Art gallery, the Maritime museum and the Picasso museum.

Shop ‘til you drop

If you’re keen to indulge in some retail therapy while you’re in the city, it’s well worth taking a trip to the Paseo de Gracia. Here, you’ll find an impressive selection of shops ranging from budget outlets to designer stores. A mid-range option is Zara. This Spanish chain offers elegant clothes at prices that should bring a smile to your face.

Meanwhile, the best market is La Boqueria. Located along La Rambla, this concentration of stalls is vast and it contains everything from confectionery to tantalizing fresh seafood. You can even pick up a sheep’s head if you’re feeling brave.

Your choice of delicious food and drink

The Spanish certainly know how to dine in style, and Barcelona is one of the best places in the entire country to eat and drink. Good quality red wine can be purchased at very reasonable prices, and you can line your stomach with plenty of tasty tapas. This is a great way to unwind after a day’s shopping or sightseeing. You could even make a whole day of grazing in the city’s bars.

If you’re after a more high-end experience, you won’t be stuck for options either. Barcelona has no fewer than 23 Michelin starred restaurants. Put simply, the metropolis is at the cutting edge of global cuisine. Many ambitious and talented chefs now head to the city to perfect their skills.

Enoteca is among the eateries to have been awarded two Michelin stars. Chef Paco Pérez takes his inspiration from the maritime traditions of Cap de Creus and uses the best, freshest produce available to create stunning dishes.

Another fabulous restaurant is the one-starred Hisop. Since opening in 2001, this establishment has built up a formidable reputation. The traditional decor contrasts sharply with the contemporary culinary creations on offer there. The restaurant specializes in modern Catalan food, with a focus on stunning presentation. Dishes include the likes of octopus with calçotaca and squid with fried egg and truffle.

Another one-starred option is Manairó. This unusual eatery is where inventor and chef Jordi Herrera plies his trade. The eccentric culinary expert uses special equipment to get the very best out of all of his ingredients. For example, he has created a grill with spikes to help ensure food is cooked on the inside as well as the outside and he has developed a device that uses force to reduce the loss of moisture in cooking.

Do your research

Because there is so much to see and do in Barcelona, it’s really important that you conduct at least a little research before heading to the city. This is especially the case if you’re planning a short trip. You can pack a lot into a couple of days in Barcelona, but it certainly helps to have at least a rough idea of what you’re aiming for. By taking a look at the options available to you, you can rest assured you won’t miss out on any of the destination’s highlights.

The last thing you want is to leave this vibrant metropolis and realize there’s something that you’d have loved to have seen or experienced that you didn’t get around to. Luckily, there is plenty of travel advice and information available online, and by making the most of this, you can make sure you don’t fall into this trap.

Images by DraXus and quinet, used under Creative Commons license.