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Barcelona’s wealth of arts, culture, and magical architecture leave a lasting impression on all who visit there. Make the most of our Barcelona hotel deals and discover all that this stylish city has to offer.
Perhaps the most distinctive features of Barcelona are its unique buildings, designed in the modernist style by some of the leading architects of their time. The most famous of these are the works of Antoni Gaudí, with his passion for bright, pastille coloured structures that resemble the stuff of fairy tales. Palau Güell, Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Casa Vicens, and Casa Batlló are all fine examples of his work, however, it’s Park Güell and the Sagrada Família that make the biggest impression on visitors.
Park Güell was originally intended to be a housing development with attached gardens but when this idea was abandoned it was opened as a public garden instead. From the gingerbread-like houses to the harlequin-tiled salamander that sits at the entrance, the park conjures a wonderfully surreal atmosphere. The main terrace forms the heart of the park, with its winding, tiled bench in the shape of a sea serpent from which you can enjoy panoramic views across the city.
Gaudi’s most famous design is his unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família - an awe-inspiring Cathedral consisting of a series of towers ascending towards the heavens. The base of the building is decorated with detailed stone sculptures and contains the crypt where Gaudi is buried. Begun in 1882, construction of the Sagrada Família is estimated to reach completion by 2026, however, you can still visit most parts of this impressive attraction as work continues.
There are also fine examples of Gothic architecture in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) of the old city, where many of the buildings date to medieval and Roman times. Barcelona Cathedral, which took over six hundred years to build, has an impressive Gothic façade and allows fantastic views over the city.
Other things to see and do
Those attracted by the Mediterranean’s gentle climate will love the city’s beaches – Barcelona Beach was recently voted number one in a top ten city beaches list by the National Geographic and Discovery Channel and many Barcelona hotels overlook this popular spot. Parc de la Ciutadella is another must for rest and relaxation – a popular park with a zoo, waterfall, boating lake and much more to enjoy.
Museums and Galleries
The arts form an essential part of Barcelona’s identity, with many influential artists having been born or spent time here during their most creative periods. Pablo Picasso lived in the city for a while and the Museu Picasso displays much of his work from this time, including paintings, sketches, and ceramics.
Salvador Dali also looked to Barcelona for inspiration and redesigned a former theatre here into Teatre-Museu Dalí – a house for his works in which he is buried, decorated with typically surreal features such as loaves of bread and giant eggs.
MACBA - The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona has an excellent collection of Spanish and Catalan art from the last few decades and is a must-see for art fans.
The Centre d'Art Santa Mònica is a public museum of contemporary art (incorporating photography and multimedia installations) which also hosts regular exhibitions.
Music and Theatre
The city is also home to a number of venues for live music and theatre, such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall with its beautifully ornate interior (guided tours are available). The Teatre Principal is Barcelona’s oldest theatre and features operas, plays and musicals - from Cinderella to Broadway hits - usually performed in Catalan.
Barcelona’s cuisine is as stylish and fulfilling as the rest of its culture, with everything from tasty snacks to the heartiest meals to tempt your appetite.
Pinxtos are one of the city’s signature dishes, consisting of delightfully bite-sized, savoury nibbles served on a piece of bread. This snack is a favourite in bars and the bill is usually calculated by how many toothpicks you have left on your plate at the end of the night. One of the best places to eat pinxtos is Irati, near the Boqueria Market on La Rambla where you can try over eighty varieties, from potato omelette to honey, apple and cheese.
The more widely known tapas variety of snack can also be found in many bars and restaurants. Try Los Toreros, off La Rambla, for a tapas restaurant that’s popular with the locals and serves authentic patatas bravas and other spicy treats.
7 Portes is one of the best restaurants to try paella in the city, an institution that has been feeding locals for over a hundred years.
If you want to try a bit of everything, head down to La Boqueria, Barcelona’s large food market, which is an attraction in itself. From fresh bread, to olives, seafood and fish, there’s lots of quality produce to sample here.
One of the most famous streets in Barcelona is La Rambla, a pedestrianised, tree-lined walkway lined with stalls, street performers, painters and much more. Lots of hotels in Barcelona are centred around this busy area.
For souvenirs, WaWas on Carrer dels Carders is a great place to buy stylish t-shirts, mugs, bags etc. with a Barcelona theme, while La típica Candela is a shop that sells candles with distinct Spanish aromas, such as bread and tomato or Spanish omlette!
The first Camper shoes store opened in Barcelona and you can still buy the world famous, stylish but comfy, footwear here.
For more independent and vintage designs, head to the streets around Raval (near to Carrer Hospital) for lots of interesting little places, such as comic book, music and tattoo shops.
There are two large department stores in the centre of the city, El Corte Inglés and Fnac, which stock most other items, from Levi jeans to the latest Sony electronics etc.
Barcelona has a busy and varied nightlife, with one of the most popular nightclubs being Razzmatazz, an eclectic venue that plays a mixture of rock, techno, pop, and R&B and attracts artists such as Missy Elliot and The Kaiser Chiefs.
For hard-edged rock and roll, The Magic Club plays rock and metal by the likes of Iggy Pop and The Ramones and attracts a tattoos and leather crowd.
Born is a good district for all-round partying, however, with many popular bars here including La Fianna (with its stylish Moroccan décor) and La Luna (a converted stables that serves great tapas and cocktails).