Cosmopolitan. Cultural. Cool. Barcelona is a Catalan metropolis. A magnet for European tourists, this low-cost city break offers shopping, beaches, nightlife, cuisine and more. With so much to cram into a short break, you’ll need the Purple Travel Barcelona travel guide:
What to do in Barcelona
Shopping in Barcelona
A paradise for bargain hunters, Barcelona’s most famous street, Las Ramblas, offers sublime shopping opportunities on all sides. In El Corte ingles, at the northern most tip of the Ramblas, you’ll find seven floors of shopping, categorized into different genres. If you can’t find what it is you require there, you won’t find it anywhere.
There is a plethora of shops all along the road, as well as dozens of cafes and restaurants for when you’re all shopped out. Take a break with a jug of sangria and take in the colourful hustle and bustle of the street, frequented by artists, tourists and friendly residents. You can also take a stroll through the lanes of the Gothic Quarter and the Raval neighbourhood to find boutiques backed by historic architecture and creatives on every corner.
Beaches in Barcelona
Despite being a major city, Barcelona actually offers some lovely places to get away from it all and relax. Many of its beaches date back to the years when the city turned to the sea and took part in a renewal programme for the Olympics. Our favourite is Barceloneta Beach for its sand artists, drums, dancing and more. However, Barcelona’s well-maintained beaches extend several miles north from there, with many fantastic beaches along the way. Along this stretch are various cafes where you can grab a bite, which by night, become beach bars, where you can experience a slice of Barcelona nightlife.
Nightlife in Barcelona
The first thing you must know about Catalan nightlife is that the Spanish dine late, therefore the clubs don’t kick off until very late (over the weekends, the best period is between 3am and 7am). One of the best places to see and be seen is Elephant Bar, situated in the Les Corts neighbourhood. This two-storey, baroque-style villa is adorned with colonial decor, plush sofas and an exclusive VIP area. One of the most popular is the slightly cheesy Razzmatazz, which boasts five floors of varying music types, which function as separate clubs, despite having just one entrance fee. Other places you may want to check out are Pascha, the sister of Ibiza’s superclub, Sutton, a New York style nightclub with many celebrity guests and Mirabe, whose outdoor terrace is the perfect place to take in some of Barcelona’s best views.
What to see in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia
This enormous temple, designed by Antonio Gaudi, is one of the master architect’s most ambitious and impressive works. As yet unfinished, the building is often said to be a summary of everything Gaudi designed before (think leaning columns, designed at the correct angle so that they support the upper tower). This ongoing construction is funded by tourism, so be sure to check it out, you never know, they may finish it one day…
Poble Espanyol – “Spanish Village”
This small, Spanish village is home to different quarters, built to replicate the style of architecture from different parts of Spain. Here, you can findhost of specialist craft shops selling Spanish goods and it is also the venue of the famous flamenco show at tableo de Carmen.
Another innovative creation of Gaudi’s is La Predrera (meaning quarry), previously known as Casa Mila. The beautiful building displays Gaudi’s characteristic wavy brickwork and colourful tiles.
Barcelona FC Museum
If you are a footie fanatic, then this museum is the one for you. With wall to wall trophies, pictures and statues of the Spanish greats, you’ll be in football heaven. You can choose one of two ticket optios: buy a ticket for the museum and to see the stadium or you can buy a dual ticket where you get to see the museum and behind the scenes at the club.
The Picasso Museum is arranged in chronological order, showing the artist’s early paints right through to his final works. This allows you to see the development of Picasso’s thinking over time and how his distinctive designs became what they are today.
What to eat in Barcelona
Even before the molecular gastronomy craze made Catalonia famous for its fun cuisine, Barcelona possessed its own unique tastes and textures, sausages, wild mushrooms, spring onions with romescu sauce and acorn-fed hams from southwestern Spain. These are married with sparkling wines from the Penedès. Try Mesón Cinco Jotas on Las Ramblas, which serves a cselection of ham and charcuteria from the famous Sánchez Carvajal artisans in the town of Jabugo, Huelva. Or for the vegetarian, try Casa Félix, which is the classic Valls calçotada restaurant (a sweet, long-stemmed, twice-planted spring onion), which has entire dining rooms enclosed by enormous wine barrels.
Liked our Barcelona travel guide? See more our of travel guides in our Purple Hearts posts.