It almost seems unfair that one city with a population of more than 1.5 million people should boast so many wonderful tourist attractions: beaches, fantastic architecture, gorgeous parks, wonderful food and more interesting cultural and historical activities than you can shake a stick at.
I’m talking, of course, about Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city (after Madrid) and a traveller’s paradise of the highest order.
If you’re ever bored in Barcelona then there’s clearly something wrong with you. Here’s five reasons to love the Spanish city:
Paris may have the Champs-Élysées and New York 5th Avenue, but Barcelona’s main retail and recreational thoroughfare is far more colourful.
Where else in the world can you wander down a busy shopping street with world-class restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, while locals peddle birds and other pets, zany street buskers ply their trade and massive food markets sell local produce?
And, God forbid you should ever get tired of people-watching while you sample Sangria, the nearby Gothic Corner is well worth exploring, too. This aptly named suburb in Barcelona is packed full of quirky shops and gothic architecture – and is a great place to hang out at night, moving from pub to pub as you sample Sangria and Spanish tapas.
Antoni Gaudí – definitely not gaudy – is a famous Spanish architect who’s most significant works can be found on the streets of Barcelona. Never heard of him? Me neither – but his works really do speak for themselves.
From the strange skull-and-bone façade of the Casa Batllóto to the strange lines of the Casa Calvet and the Casa Milà, Gaudí made Barcelona his bitch in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But his most famous work and Barcelona’s most visited tourist attraction is undoubtedly the La Sagrada Familia Basilica.
La Sagrada Familia
Hardly a monument to Spanish work-ethic, the La Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 – and isn’t expected to be completed for another 30 years or more.
Massive stone spires reach up to the heavens, dwarfed only by the cranes surrounding it. It’s an architectural marvel and as impressive as any basilica you’ll find anywhere in Europe and just as iconic.
Another Gaudí masterpiece, it’s safe to say the Park Güell is like no park you’ve ever been to. Stylish stone and tiled structures abound in this park, commissioned for the Barcelona aristocracy, but best of all, it boasts a brilliant view over Barcelona.
But if it you’re after views over Barcelona then you should also visit the Castell de Montjuïc, a fortress perched on top of a mountain along the Barcelona waterfront.
The magic fountain of Montjuïic Park
The magic fountain of Montjuïic Park is an enchanting water and lights show that is more fun and impressive than you might imagine.
Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night more than 2,500 litres of water are pumped through this fountain in tune with music and flashing lights. The water seemingly defies gravity as it’s blasted higher and higher, only to come crashing down on the spectators who choose to sit too close to the fountain.
As family friendly as tourist attractions ever come, the magic fountain in Montjuïic park is a visual and auditory delight – and it’s free.