Barcelona: Vibrant and Defiant City
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia (A semi Autonomous state of Spain), has long been known for its rich local culture originating from its unique geographical location. Although the national language is Castilian Spanish, the locals here speak Catalan. In order to preserve their unique cultural heritage, the Catalonian government and nationalists have been lobbying to get complete autonomy from Spain. Some with more extreme views even advocate separation from Spain. However, this is not about Spanish politics but about appreciating one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.
Foreigners that travel to Barcelona enjoy cordial hospitality from Barcelonans, especially around the Tourist Street of Las Ramblas. To get the feel of Barcelona, tourists should also explore and discover the outskirts of the main commercial hubs.
The nightlife of Barcelona
Barcelona is the heaven for night lovers especially during the summers. The club life is active after 10 pm in which everyone participates to socialize with friends and family and shed off the stress of the busy days. Barcelona’s nightlife has a lot to accommodate everyone, even children and the grandparents. The mesmerizing boutiques on the beach, contemporary array of restaurants, and the most happening nightclubs incite thousands of tourists to travel to Barcelona every year. Walk on the beach to watch the sun rise over the warm Mediterranean, a sight that fascinates many after a night of fun at the clubs that usually ends up in the wee hours of the morning.
Architectural ecstasy of Barcelona
Antoni Gaudi ornamented Barcelona with his matchless architectural endeavors. The main boulevard, Passing de Gracia, houses the most superlative buildings designed by Gaudi, including Casa Mila and Casa Batllo that have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is the jewel of architectural crown of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona. All three facades of the church, the Nativity to the east, the Passion to the West, and the Glory to the South are uniquely designed to blend essence of nature with religion. The visitors are open to choose stairs surrounded by four magnificent towers, dedicated to fours saints. The towers are crowned with multi-hued mosaic grapes.
Must See in Barcelona
Although I've been to Barcelona twice, I still feel that the place is unexplored and needs a more prolonged visit. If you plan to visit Barcelona, here are a few places considered a must in your travel itinerary for Barcelona:
Bari Gothic Area, the old city is a tourist haven that has some incredible architectural sights from the 20th century waiting for you.
Barcelona is host to the masterpieces of the famous Antoni Gaudí, whose renowned architectural work can be seen everywhere. Must-visit sites include Casa Batlo, Casa Miro and Parc Guell. Sagrada Familia Cathedral, which is still incomplete, attracts a large number of visitors every year.
Palau de la Musica
Palau de la Musica, a famous concert hall and two famous museums namely Maritime and Picasso add to the architectural attractions of this extravagant city. The Olympic village which reminds one of the time Barcelona hosted the Olympic games of 1992 has gained this city a lot of popularity as well.
Palau da la Musica, a concert hall, is another architectural wonder Barcelona is blessed with. The exceptional corona on the ceiling of the theater catches is simply eye-catching in its beauty. Beside planned musical programs, daily site tours are also arranged for those who travel to Barcelona for recreation. To enjoy the modernized old town of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter is a necessary visit.
Tips for a Day Tour
Get a reservation at Port Aventura’s theme park at Salou. You can get your reservation online and do not need any intermediary agent who may charge extra. This place is almost 100m from the station, so reaching the park is not a big issue. It’s a very nicely designed and maintained Parisian park. Of course, not to be compared with Disneyland, but this theme park has never disappointed anyone who has ever visited it.
Montserrat Mountains and Stiges resort should also not be missed. These are amazing places and a day trip package for tourists include tickets to the museum, transportation and even lunch.
Grab some Handouts
Although you can get a lot of information on the web, it is recommended that you contact the tourist information center of Barcelona and ask them for some handouts or brochures. These handouts aren't free but will be very useful in planning your visit as they contain all the maps and important tourist locations. If you have the time, make sure not to skip any important site and make the most of your visit to this wonderful and vibrant city.
Hotels in Barcelona:
As one of the most famous cities in the world, Barcelona boasts lots of enchanting places that attract tourists to stay. Choices of hotels are varied, from very cheap to the most expensive luxury hotels.
Hotel Arts Barcelona- Ritz Carlton
One of the best luxurious hotels in Barcelona is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts Barcelona. It is not only luxurious with enchanting exterior design, but it also has lots of amenities.
The main attraction is the outstanding view of Port Olympic. Enjoy having dinner at the elegant dining places inside the hotel overlooking the beauty of the scenery outside. Restaurants inside the Arts of Barcelona serve various cuisines pampering lots of visitors with different tastes. Other exclusive facilities include great service that even includes babysitting. This is the place for having an enjoyable holiday, if it is within your budget range.
Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona Hotel
Another option for elegant staying is The Barcelona Hilton. Located at the heart of the city, Hilton Barcelona is for those who are in Barcelona for business purposes. Computers are in every room and internet connection is not a problem at all. Each room comes equipped with chair and desk for work, along with voice mail messaging features. Rooms for business meetings are available from small meeting rooms to the most luxurious function rooms.
Are you art lovers? Then you should choose The Claris. It is more than just a luxurious hotel. It boasts fine art from its exterior to its elegant interior. Walking along the hallways, you will see abundant splendid masterpiece of well known artists. All furniture is artistically enchanting which are more than a hundred years old. With all those elegant decoration, The Claris is for those who put class above everything.
Getting Around Barcelona Airport or El Prat
When visiting Barcelona, you don’t have to worry about taking any public transportation after arriving at its main airport. Situated in a strategic place at fourteen kilometers from the south-west of the core city at El Prat de Llobregat, it surely is one of the biggest airports in Spain. Low cost flights are available for the whole year. This is why Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world and Barcelona is one of the top destinations among the major cities in Spain.
The first time you visit Barcelona, you will see that everything is accessible from the Barcelona Airport. All means of transportations are adjusted with the numbers of millions of tourists flocking the airport during the whole year. There is no need to worry whether you are still new to the city. Lots of choices of transportation make it easy for you to choose which one is the fastest and most convenient to your main destination in the city.
Prices range from the most expensive to the cheapest one. If you arrive there and you don’t want to think further to choose which bus that can take you to your main destination, then taking a taxi is the best choice. It may be a bit expensive compared with the ticket for bus and train but at least you won’t get lost. You can take official taxis from outside terminals of Barcelona airport. Choose red stripe ones as other taxis may not be the official ones. Each piece of luggage will be charged.
It is also convenient to hire a car if you plan to stay for several days. Hiring a car is appropriate for those on business purposes or if you plan to explore the surrounding countryside. Usually, rental cars are available at hotels and at the airport.
If you plan to travel like locals, you can take trains to several destinations in the city. There is a train service every half an hour in which each train will take you to the Placa de Cataluña from the airport in less than half an hour. Train service is available only between 6am to 11pm
Taking a bus is also as simple as taking trains. All terminals have bus stops and they offer several destinations for you to choose from.
Best Time to Visit Barcelona
Barcelona is best visited during summer in order to fully appreciate its incredible beaches. Yet, this beautiful city is also just as good during winter. Winter sightseeing in Barcelona is quite an experience, particularly with its Christmas ambiance. Any option is available for holiday packages. You can choose whether you want to enjoy the warm climate of the city or the incredible ambiance of the winter holiday. The choices are all yours. Barcelona is a great place in any season.
To fully enjoy your visit to Barcelona, the trip should not be planned for August as the city is crowded with both the locals and foreigners. The restaurants are packed and you might not fully appreciate your sight seeing as the top tourist destinations of the city will be filled with visitors.
Moira Garcia Gallaga©