It’s considered one of the greatest cities in the world to visit, and here’s why….
If you want to taste Catalonia then make a beeline to La Boqueria market, a Barcelona institution since 1217, located on the bustling, tree-lined La Rambla promenade. Grab one of the 14 stools at the century-old Bar Pinotxo but don’t expect a menu — just take your pick from the Catalan classics hospitable owner Juanito Bayen has whipped up that day, from artichoke omelettes to fried squid.
Kiosk Universal and El Quim are other Boqueria favourites you can’t miss, head to Can Can Solé in the old town if you’re craving a traditional paella, and try wild boar stew at Can Culleretes, Spain’s second oldest restaurant.
Barcelona provides a buffet of rooftop bars. The sail-shaped W Barcelona hotel — perched on the seaside boardwalk like a slice of Dubai transplanted on the Spanish coast — boasts the Eclipse Bar, where full-length windows from the 26th floor provide a sweeping view of the Mediterranean.
The Hotel Villa Emilia’s sultry Zinc Bar, an African-themed terracotta rooftop styled with leopard-print couches and palm trees, and the Hotel Pulitzer’s bamboo-lined, Balinese-style Visit Up are more intimate options, while the rooftop of Me By Melia skyscraper is the perfect place for a sunset cocktail before dinner at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, Dos Cielos.
You can’t walk two blocks without noticing the effect eccentric architect Antoni Gaudí has on Barcelona — so check out his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família cathedral. Gaudí began construction in 1883 and it’s still only three-quarters complete, 90 years after the designer dies, such is the scale and intricacy of the project.
Other must-see Gaudí projects are Parc Güell, a Disneyland of ceramic sculptures, the Casa Milà, nicknamed La Pedrera (the stone quarry), and the Casa Batlló, a museum to Gaudí’s trailblazing modernism.
Perhaps the only edifice Catalans hold dearer than the Sagrada Família is the Nou Camp, a 99,354-seat cathedral to footballing powerhouse FC Barcelona that Lionel Messi and co. have turned into their playground.
If you’re in town when Barça’s playing, it’s not hard to get a ticket — they’ve got nearly 100,000 seats to fill, after all. If not, a stadium tour has become a compulsory item on every visitor’s Barcelona to-do list. The stroll through Europe’s largest stadium tells the story of a team that’s “Més que un club” (‘more than a club’, Barça’s motto) — the most important symbol of Catalan independence from Spain.