The capital of Catalonia offers a cosmopolitan city by the beach
Barcelona is Spain’s most popular beachside city, offering something for everyone. A destination for party people, families and couples looking for a city escape. You can take advantage of the sea breeze while enjoying the rich culture under the blistering sun.
Well aware of the effect Brexit and the following uncertainty has done for exchange rates, we’ve created a Brexit-friendly guide to enjoying Barcelona with tighter purse strings.
You can save lots of money and enjoy Barcelona via public transport. Strut through the terminal tunnel to the train station and jump straight on the service to the city centre. When you’re just travelling within the city centre you can buy a T10 ticket for €9.95, valid for ten journeys on the metro, bus and RENFE trains within zone one.
From Passeig de Gràcia you can reach the city’s beach and marina by foot within a leisurely hour stroll. Don’t let that put you off as the walk is never boring. Grab a litre of cold water and stop into a cafe on the way for iced coffee (café con leche con hielo).
The coastal stretch in the city isn’t the best for idyllic sunbathing as tourist numbers reach a peak, but more chilled out and Instagram-worthy beaches can be reached by train within an hour. Head south for Sitges and North for Mataro, or to other beaches dotted in between. Here you won’t be pestered as much by mojito sellers and there will be much more space for your beach towel.
If your trip isn’t all about laying on the playa, there are lots of other things to do. Barcelona is best enjoyed by foot to admire the grand buildings that line the city with beautiful balconies. There are vibrant spots to be discovered through every narrow passageway.
Head towards Barcelona’s main square, Plaça de Catalunya. From here one street leads to La Ramblas which is a slight tourist trap but features the famous La Boqueria market. We suggest heading towards El Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter where lies the cathedral of Barcelona. Make pit stops in the great gift shops, bakeries and terraces to grab a caña (small glass of beer).
Close to the marina, there are plenty of restaurants serving fresh paella and Catalonian dishes. Around lunch time you can make the most of ‘menu del dia’ and get three courses and maybe even a bottle of wine for a great price. The city is ample in authentic bars offering tapas and refreshments that suit any budget. Look out for fresh tortilla (Spanish omelette) and calamari, and if you like garlic ask for aioli.
If retail therapy is your thing, Barcelona is the place for you. Barcelona has one of the largest ports in Europe, super yachts park up all year round to make the most of the city’s famous shopping districts. Paseo de Gracia starts with high-end designer stores and goes all the way down to budget-friendly high street brands. Even with the weak pound, clothes in Inditex stores (Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershaka) are still dirt cheap compared to UK prices.
Lots of museums in Barcelona are free on Sundays, or at least for one Sunday in the month. The Picasso museum is one that’s free once a week but you need to book beforehand, we recommend walking through Ciutadella Park on your way there. If your itinerary has room for it, there are plenty of other museums for art, music and history lovers.
Barcelona’s nightlife is vibrant all year round. Find out what parties are happening around your stay by using Resident Advisor’s listing guide. June is the best month for clubbing as Sonar and OFF Week come to town.
Gaudi is Barcelona’s most famous resident and a major influence on the city’s architecture. In the early 1900s, Gaudi was hired by Güell to construct homes in a landscaped garden. It was turned into a public park after the city bought the estate. Sitting in the hills, Park Güell is one of the several high points where you can see the cityscape and glistening Meditteranean sea.
Adult tickets are €8 for complete access to the ornate constructions. Park Güell is free every Sunday during the summer from 5-8pm. Outside of daylight hours, you can also get in for free, just come equipped with a phone torch.
Laberinto De Horta
Right on the edge of Barcelona is the city’s oldest gardens Laberinto De Horta. Exploring this park and its hidden avenues, including a maze is hours of fun. It’s completely free to visit.
🚇 Pl. Espanya
There are actually a few attractions in close proximity to each other. From Plaça d’Espanya, pass through the Venetian towers and trek towards the art gallery Palau Nacional, which houses historical art and is free on occasions. On the walk and escalators up you pass several fountains which at night start up and transition through a rainbow of colours. If you continue past the palace there is a park with sweeping views of the city, including the Olympic stadium from 1992. We recommend taking this all in on bike and enjoying the
🚇 Sagrada Familia
Barcelona’s top landmark the Sagrada Familia is still under construction and is due to be complete in 2028. When Gaudi died in 1926 the over the top structured Roman Catholic church was not even a quarter finished. Countless cranes and towers stick out from the Sagrada and are a defining aspect of the city skyline. Make sure to walk fully around the perimeter to glimpse it in all its unfinished glory. If you want to check out the interior, a basic ticket can be booked in advance for €15 here.