A Guide to Barcelona: a fantastic climate, a rich culture and cosmopolitan living, surrounded by sea and mountains
Despite having a metropolitan area similar in size to Munich or Rome, and a population of around 5 million, the city enjoys a relaxed open-air and active lifestyle. Barcelona has it all, from one of the greatest concentrations of Gothic architecture in Europe combined with contemporary art and design, to food markets, rich gastronomy and a vibrant nightlife.
The city is divided into a number of different neighbourhoods or barrios, each of which offers its particular history and ambience. The old town, the Ciutat Vella, is home to many of the city’s major sights, in particular the beautiful Gothic cathedral and the Picasso museum. To the southwest, the hill of Montjuïc presides over the city centre and provides wonderful views.
Close to the city, within the Barcelona province, you will find numerous charming towns and beautiful beaches both to the north and south. The attractive town of Sitges is located just 20 minutes down the coast. To the north the Maresme Coast is known for its spectacular landscapes and beaches.
Sant Sebastià is one of the largest beaches in Barcelona and one of the closest to the centre of the city. Given its handy location, it’s a popular destination for beach goers, both tourists and locals, and the boardwalk behind it is where many traditional swimming and water sport clubs are located.
The golden-sand beach and calm waters of Sant Sebastià are easily accessible from the city either by foot, bus, or via the metro line 4.
Mar Bella was created during the period when the city’s coastline was re-developed for the 1992 Olympic Games.
The name of this beach (‘beautiful sea’) describes it perfectly. Green gardens with benches for picnicking are the backdrop of the beach that has some of the best sand you will find in Barcelona. It is just a 20 minute walk from the Poblenou metro station.
Mar Bella also has a nudist stretch, part of which is discreetly partitioned off by a big dune beside the windsfurfing centre.
Sant Pol de Mar
Sant Pol de Mar is an hour’s train journey out of the city, but it’s got a gorgeous beach lapped by clear water and backed by pretty hills. Best of all is the enchanting cove – which has become a nudist zone – next to the train tunnel.
If you are going by train, take the R1 train towards Blanes from Barcelona Sants, Plaça de Catalunya, Arc de Triomf or Clot.
Garraf is a fishing village about 25km south of Barcelona on the old coast road between Castelldefels and Sitges. Garraf beach is at the foot of La Falconera cliffs. The beach itself is lined with lovely old fisherman’s huts, which are now used as beach huts. There is also an hotel right on the beach and a great restaurant with sea views.
If you are going by train, take the R2 train towards Sitges from Barcelona Sants or Passeig de Gràcia, making sure that you are on the slow train as some express trains go directly to Sitges.
A half hour train ride south of Barcelona, gay-friendly Sitges’ city centre sands offer numerous beautiful beaches. All the beaches along the promenade are known for the quality of their water and golden sand.
If you are going by train, take the R2 train from Barcelona Sants or Passeig de Gràcia.
Situated in a building that used to house a traditional Barcelonian store selling pickled foods, salt fish and preservatives in the El Born district of the city, Comerç 24 takes its name from its address and bears a well deserved Michelin star. The food offers diners a contemporary angle, which combined with the elegant traditional service provide the perfect blend.
+34 93 319 21 02
You can’t really talk about Catalan cuisine without talking about the Adrià brothers and Albert Adrià is at the helm at this modernist tapas bar in Eixample. It’s a tapas bar but of course not a traditional one. At Tickets tapas are innovative and creative like all avant-garde culinary ideas of Adrià. Designed like a fairground complete with candyfloss machines and ice cream carts, it is well worth the wait for a reservation.
Avinguda Paral.lel 164
+34 93 292 42 53
With acclaimed chef Jordi Cruz at the helm, the distinctive fusion cuisine has earned ABaC two Michelin stars – the only restaurant in Barcelona with such gastronomic credentials. The 14 or 21 course tasting menu featuring Iberian suckling pig paired with mango tatin and bamboo-steamed foie gras, all served on patterned Versace china, make this one of best restaurants in the city.
Avinguda del Tibidabo 1
+34 93 319 66 00
Alkimia means “alchemy” in Arabic, and this restaurant certainly has a flair for turning exquisite ingredients into meals worth their weight in gold.
Its minimalist style has won praise from all corners, and the sumptuous menu on offer, the product of renowned chef Jordi Vilà, leads the way in terms of delicious contemporary cuisine, showcasing the very best of Catalonia’s rich culinary tradition, but with a twist. Not afraid to experiment with traditional recipes, Jordi Vilà has created a highly innovative menu. A favourite of Barcelona’s elite, the restaurant is equipped with a well stocked wine cellar that complements the fine food on offer.
+34 93 207 61 15
Moo, Hotel Omm
Set in one of Barcelona’s trendiest hotels, Hotel Omm, the ultra hip Moo restaurant is one of Barcelona’s most sophisticated dining experiences.
The modern decor features a sleek glassed-in garden patio where Barcelona’s glamourous and fashionable crowd savour the famed Roca brothers’ exquisite modern gourmet Spanish cuisine. Guests are recommended to take half-serves of any dish on the menu and essentially craft their own personalised menu.
+34 93 445 40 00
The perfect place to grab a cocktail while enjoying the beautiful city of Barcelona on one side and the gorgeous Mediterranean sea on the other side. The W Hotel is situated on the beach and is one of the rooftop bars in Barcelona where people like to see and be seen, especially during happy hour on a Friday afternoon.
Plaça Rosa dels Vents 1
+34 93 295 28 00
The Ice Bar is one of the coolest hot spots in Barcelona. Located near the beach in the Port Olímpic in front of the Hotel Arts, the bar is completely made of ice and has a temperature of -7°C. Guests are provided with gloves, hats and jackets before entering the bar where they can enjoy great drinks out of ice glasses while sitting on the ice benches. There is also a more regular bar and outside terrace where you can thaw out after the ice bar experience.
Ramon Trias Fargas 2
+34 93 224 16 25
Located on the Passatge de la Concepció the Bocachica bar draws praise for its decor and ambience as much as its fabulous cocktails. The extensive cocktail list combines classics with a number of innovative originals. The bar’s shabby chic and soft lighting together with a warm, energetic, yet mellow vibe make this one of Barcelona’s brightest spots.
Passatge de la Concepció 12
+34 93 467 51 49
This classic, stylish and vintage cocktail bar opened in 1978 and originally remained true to its name serving only Martinis. The bar has now expanded the drinks list to include other classic cocktails making this a favourite cocktail bar in Barcelona. There is now an equally smooth restaurant located right next door, The Speakeasy.
+34 93 217 50 80
Located near the top of Tibidabo, this small bar is best known for its stunning panoramic views over the city of Barcelona. Through its tall glass windows you can see Montjuïc, the Sagrada Família and the beach. It is open from 7pm so you can come and watch the sunset, but it is at its best late at night when all the city lights are on and the music starts playing.
C/Manuel Arnús 2
+34 93 418 58 79
Located in a former factory in the one time industrial zone of Poblenou, Sala Razzmatazz is one of the most popular clubs in Barcelona, especially with the city’s student population. Its five rooms each have a different atmosphere and there is a small rooftop terrace where you can chill out.
C/Pamplona 88, 1er piso
+34 93 320 82 00
Opium Mar is one of the most popular nightclubs in Barcelona. Located right on the beach, Opium, as it is more commonly known, is decorated in a modern and classy style and has lots of seating should your feet get tired from all the dancing.
Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 34
+34 93 225 91 00
This Ibiza-style club is located 14km out of town close to the airport, but it’s well worth making the journey if you like to play hard. There is a free bus departing from Plaça de Catalunya that runs from 12am every 20 minutes and one that returns to Plaça Espanya from 4am.
Autovia de Castelldefels C31 (Km 186)
+34 93 206 30 34
Sala BeCool is known amongst Barcelona’s most discerning clubbers as the place to go for good quality house, techno, deep house and disco. It is a medium sized club with a main room and a small back room. Located in the north of the city, the club generally attracts a slightly older crowd.
Plaça Joan Llongueras 5
+34 93 362 04 13
For the more mature crowd, Marula is a good place to escape the drunkards on Plaça Reial and party like it’s 1979 to the sounds of soul and funk.
+34 93 318 76 90
The Barcelona Marathon is a 42km race which is becoming a popular classic in the international marathon calendar. It has been run since 1977 on a flat and scenic route through some beautiful parts of the city.
16 March 2014
The Grec Festival of Barcelona is an international theatre, dance, music and circus festival. Although the festival takes place all over the city, it revolves particularly around the slopes of Montjuïc where many venues are located. The festival epicenter is the Teatre Grec, an open-air theatre built for the 1929 Universal Exhibition.
1 – 31 July 2014
Sónar is an annual three-day festival of progressive music and multimedia arts in Barcelona. It is divided into two parts, Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night, with various venues around the city including the MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) and the pavilion at Mar Bella beach.
12-14 June 2014
La Roca Village
Chic shopping outlet La Roca Village is located just outside Barcelona and offers the leading designer brands at exceptional prices unrivalled elsewhere. Designed in the style of a turn-of-the-century Catalan town, La Roca Village allows you to stroll casually between the shops, all handily located in the same boulevard, making it a pleasurable shopping experience. There is also a children’s play area and many restaurants and cafés serving traditional Catalan cuisine.
08430 Santa Agnès de Malanyes (La Roca del Vallès)
+34 93 842 39 39
Las Arenas is a shopping mall located in Plaça Espanya opposite the Fira Montjuïc and the Palau Reial. Once a bullfighting ring, it is now a modern, state-of-the-art complex boasting over 60 commercial outlets, including fashion stores, cafés, restaurants and bars.
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 373-385
+34 93 289 02 44
Bulevard Rosa and Passeig de Gràcia
Bulevard Rosa is an upmarket arcade with entrances on four of Barcelona’s most exclusive streets: Passeig de Gràcia, València, Rambla de Catalunya and Aragó. There are over 100 shops with boutiques specializing in fashion, accessories and home furnishings. Passeig de Gråcia itself is also home to many designer stores including Prada, Gucci, Loewe, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana.
Passeig de Gràcia 53
+34 93 215 83 31
This three-level commercial centre at the sea end of Aviguda Diagonal has a marine theme and a sea-facing roof terrace filled with cafés and restaurants. One of Barcelona’s largest shopping centres, it covers an area of 88,000m² and is home to more than 150 shops and boutiques.
Avinguda Diagonal 3
+34 902 530 300
The only shopping centre that opens on a Sunday, Maremagnum is located in Barcelona’s Port Vell area. It is more than just a shopping centre, offering many restaurants with beautiful outside seating areas.
Moll d’Espanya 5
+34 93 225 81 00
Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona
Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona is a private tennis club located in the north west of the city with 18 clay courts, including a stadium court with a capacity of 7,200 and a show court for 2,000 spectators.
C/Bosch i Gimpera 5-13
+34 93 203 78 52
Real Club de Polo de Barcelona
The Real Club de Polo de Barcelona is a sports venue used for polo, field hockey, tennis, squash and swimming. Founded in 1897 it now has more than 10,000 members and offers 29 hectares of landscaped terrain in the heart of Barcelona
Avinguda del Doctor Marañón 19-31
+34 93 448 04 00
Club Natació Barcelona
Club Natació Barcelona is a swimming and water polo club in a privileged location right in front of the Mediterranean Sea. The club offers both heated indoor pools and outdoor pools as well as many other facilities including a gym and sailing club.
Passeig Joan de Borbó 93
+34 93 221 46 00
Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc
Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc is a sports venue situated in the Olympic Ring in Barcelona. It consists of two swimming pools, a diving pool and a 25m outdoor pool. The outdoor pool is open to the public in July and August and offers fantastic views over the city.
Avinguda de Miramar 31
+34 93 423 40 41
Club de Golf de Barcelona
Set over the hilly terrain on the edge of the Penedès wine growing region to the north west of Barcelona, the challenging Club de Golf de Barcelona was created by José Maria Olazábal. As part of a complex that includes a swimming pool, gymnasium, tennis and squash courts, it is considered by many as one of the tougher Spanish courses, and offers spectacular views of the Montserrat mountains.
Ctra de Martorell a Capellades (Km 19,5)
08635 Sant Esteve Sesrovires (Barcelona)
+34 93 772 88 00
Sant Vicenç de Montalt Golf Club
One of the newest golf courses in the Barcelona area, Sant Vicenç de Montalt Golf Club comprises 17 undulating and challenging holes. Buggies are advisable on this course but it is suitable for golfers of all levels. Set in beautiful countryside with sea views of the Maresme Coast, this course is said to be one of the finest in the area.
C/Vinyes d’en Mandri 82
08394 Sant Vicenç de Montalt (Barcelona)
+34 93 791 51 11
Real Club de Golf El Prat
The origins of Real Club de Golf El Prat, one of the most important and prestigious clubs in Spain, date back to 1912. It was initially located beside the airport but the present course, designed by Greg Norman, is 26km from Barcelona, between Terrassa and Sabadell. Set in beautiful rolling countryside, it has a north and south course, each of 18 holes and a 9-hole public course.
Plans de Bonvilar 17
08227 Terrassa (Barcelona)
+34 93 728 10 00
Golf Sant Joan
Golf Sant Joan is a golf course located between Sant Cugat del Vallès and Rubí, only 20 minutes from Barcelona. The course was designed by Severiano Ballesteros, three times British open winner and the most important golfer in Spain. The width of its fairways and the challenges of the holes make Golf Sant Joan one of the most complete courses in Spain.
Finca can Sant Joan s/n
Apartado de Correos 148
08191 Rubí (Barcelona)
+34 93 675 30 50
Club de Golf Terramar
Opened in 1922, the Club de Golf Terramar is one of the oldest in Catalonia. The 18-hole course has a broad and varied layout with several artificial lakes and rivers, making the circuit more challenging. Located beside the sea, the sea breezes can be very pleasant, especially in the summer months.
Carretera del golf, s/n
08870 Sitges (Barcelona)
+34 93 894 05 80
La Sagrada Família
This giant basilica designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be finished until at least 2026, one hundred years after Gaudí’s death. Designed in the shape of a Latin cross with three façades, the Sagrada Família is most famous for its slender towers that rise nearly 100 metres above the ground. To skip the queues you can pre-book tickets online.
+34 93 513 20 60
Park Güell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of Antoni Gaudí’s greatest works. The park was commissioned by Eusebi Güell who wanted to create a stylish park for the Barcelona aristocracy. The plan to sell houses on the development failed due to lack of interest, and in 1923 the site was given to the city council and became the public park that we can all marvel at today.
At the top of the park there is a terraced area with a large undulating bench in the form of a sea serpent that has backrests adorned with multi-coloured mosaic tiles, from where you can enjoy beautiful views over the city.
+34 902 200 302
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
Casa Milà was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1906 and 1910. Named after the businessman who commissioned it, it is better know as La Pedrera (The Quarry) because of its uneven grey stone façade. The house was designed as an apartment building and initially the plan was to have two indoor ramps so the residents could drive their cars all the way up to the apartment doors. This was not possible to implement so instead Gaudí decided to build a garage, which became the first garage in Barcelona.
On hot August evenings, La Pedrera usually stages a series of concerts on the roof.
+34 902 202 138
Casa Batlló was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1904 and 1906 having been commissioned by the textile industrialist Josep Batlló. The stunning façade is decorated with a mosaic of broken ceramic tiles and is an iconic landmark in the city.
Passeig de Gràcia 43
+34 93 216 03 06
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música is a Modernist masterpiece designed by Luís Domènech i Montaner, a contemporary of Antoni Gaudí. It was completed in 1908, only three years after it was started, and boasts many stained glass windows and a wonderful stained glass skylight. One of the most beautiful buildings in Barcelona, the only way to visit in the daytime is by guided tour or alternatively you can attend an evening concert.
C/Palua de la Música 4-6
+34 93 295 72 00