Although not the capital of Spain, Barcelona is just as popular with visitors as Madrid. Perhaps it’s the fact that cheap flights to Barcelona are more readily available than those to Madrid, or that Barcelona is close to charming seaside towns like Sitges that makes Barcelona one of Spain’s top city breaks. There are many great hotels in the centre and staying close to La Ramblas is highly recommended.
Barcelona is famous for art and many famous artists have lived here in the past. The Picasso Museum has one of the greatest collections of his work of any gallery, particularly as it features a lot of work from his Blue Period that occurred when he was resident in Paris. There are also some great sketches and sculptures in the museum.
Fundacio Joan Miro holds the largest collection of Miro’s work. Over 200 paintings, 180 sculptures and more than 8000 drawings are held here, although they are not all on display at once.
Aside from Picasso and Miro, the famous Catalan architect Gaudi left his legacy to the city all over it. Most famous is his Sagrada Família, a modern-gothic take on how to design a cathedral. The structure almost looks like something that might have been dredged up from a forgotten village under the sea, changed by the sea-life that encases it over time. It is a Roman Catholic church which has been under construction for many years. In fact, it’s probably been under construction for more years than most churches worldwide. It was begun in the late 1800s and will continue until at least 2017 according to the tourist board. Building has only been interrupted by the Spanish Civil War (which is remembered famously in Picasso’s mural Guernica).
Gaudi’s work can be found hiding in numerous places in Barcelona but the other of his famous designs worth a visit is Park Guell or Gaudi Gardens as they are less frequently referred to as. Walking around most gardens is a pleasant experience, but Park Guell is quirkier than most. Familiar curves in concrete are covered in a mosaic of multi-coloured tiles and there is a large sculpture of a dragon also covered in the multi-coloured mosaic. There is something quite childlike and wonderful about Gaudi’s designs and one wonders how his mind worked.
Barcelona has its own (man-made) beach. It is not the loveliest beach in the world and if you’re looking for a beach break you’d be advised to take the train just a little way down the coast. But for a lazy day or a break from wandering the streets soaking up the culture it’s good for a paddle.
While not top of the list of things to do in Barcelona in many guides, the Cable car, or Transbordador Aeri del Port takes people across the city by travelling above it. It provides great views of the city and is a fun way to avoid hiking if that isn’t your cup of tea.