When I want to combine some beach time with the convenience of a city break, I head off to beautiful Barcelona, the Catalonian jewel of the Mediterranean. It has everything I want for a break: exciting nightlife, great shopping and fabulous sights, all within a relaxing beach setting!
Barcelona is an ancient city but it’s still the ‘Capital of Cool.’ Legend suggests that the name is derived from Hamilcar Barca, the Carthaginian leader and father of Hannibal, who supposedly founded the settlement. Since then, Barcelona’s fortunes have waxed and waned, but it has always maintained its vigour and style.
Stunning intricate architecture
See https://sagradafamilia.org/en/, the official ticket site, as there are many options available to speed your access.
The artful Picasso Museum
Since you are nearby, I also recommend that you visit the awe-inspiring Barcelona Cathedral which dates back to 1298 AD but also has remains that are as old as the fourth century.
Here’s a pro-tip: In the square in front of the cathedral and along the side streets, opera singers and classical music delight the crowds on warm evenings. . You can enjoy the elegant music and contribute a few coins for the artists. Be careful in a crowd, though, because the city is known as the ‘Pickpocket Capital’ of Europe.
Gaudi’s Masterpiece – Casa Batlló
Retail therapy can be obtained by strolling down Las Ramblas, the tree-lined central street of the town. Branching off from this thoroughfare are shops that cater to all your wants and desires. Barcelona has always been a place of trade and it has upheld that tradition until the current period. Make sure to visit the Mercado de la Boqueria for an explosion of bright colours, sounds and exotic smells.
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My favourite beach is the Barceloneta Beach close to the Villa Olympica and the iconic Ars Barcelona Hotel. This beach is easy to reach, has beautiful sand and plenty of beach bars and restaurants. On weekends during the summer, it seems that the entire population is there to party, relax and soak up the rays of the sun. This area is also filled with nightlife with bars and clubs that are open until sunrise. If you want your beach time to be quieter, however, you can take a train from the city centre and be at calmer beaches within ten minutes or so.
Visiting Barcelona is easy. The Barcelona El Prat Airport is just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) southwest of downtown and there are convenient train and car services into the city. The city has become a major air hub and there are plenty of daily services from larger airports and convenient connections from everywhere in the world. Buses are easy, inexpensive and readily available around the centre of town. The Hop-on/Hop-off bus is especially good because it is widely available and very convenient.
There are hotels and hostels to fit any budget and location requirements of even the most discerning critics. Barcelona has more than thirty-five five-star hotels, one of the highest densities of high-end hotels in the world. You don’t have to spend a lot to stay, however, as it is almost always a good value.
Barcelona is a foodie’s paradise with exciting tastes, spices and treats to fit everyone’s dietary requirements. Of course, the seafood is fresh and tastes fantastic. Fideua is a Catalonian speciality that is like Paella but with noodles instead of rice – it’s fabulous!
Tapas everyday please! Delicious
No trip to Barcelona would be complete without paying homage to the gods of football at Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona. You don’t have to be a supporter to be thrilled by the spectacle of a Barca game. If there is no game, just visit the stadium fan shop and buy the perfect souvenir for your football fanatic.
Here’s a final pro-tip: Don’t pay a scalper for game tickets. If, for some reason, you haven’t reserved tickets and want to see a home game, ask the concierge at your hotel to help with the arrangements. Many of the best hotels keep season tickets for their guests.
Camp Nou – The Home of FC Barcelona
Barcelona has so much to offer. It is the perfect merger of city life with a relaxing Mediterranean vibe.