Weekends Away: Destination Barcelona
Barcelona holds great possibilities for a girls’ weekend, couples getaway or family vacation. It’s a world class city along the Mediterranean coast with warm weather, stunning sights and trendy and sophisticated hotels, bars and restaurants.
The culture-obsessed will struggle to choose between fine art (Miro and Picasso both have museums dedicated to their work here), Gothic buildings and the mad-genius architectural creations of Antoni Gaudi, among many other visual and performing arts offerings.
Action-seekers can book Segway tours that comb the city and high-speed boats that fly along the coastline. Shoppers can take endless wanders through el Born, a Labyrinthine area of the Gothic quarter laden with artsy boutiques, ateliers-cum-jewelry stores and bite-sized cafes that serve tapas and café con leche all day. Foodies, or the just plain “wurst”–weary, will revel in the dining scene, which boasts some of the world’s most innovative chefs.
And, if all of that seems like too much work, relaxation seekers can park themselves on the manmade beachfront and simply soak up the sun and a few caprinhas.
What follows is a list of recommended sights and activities culled from personal experience as well as friends-asking-friends research.
Main tourist sights:
1. Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi buildings.
Barcelona’s most famous structure, Sagrada Familia, is an iconic unfinished Catholic basilica built by the well-known architect Antoni Gaudi. Before his death in 1926, he laid out a visionary and wildly ambitious plan for completion of the building, a plan the city hopes to finish by 2030. Reservations highly recommended.
Additionally, Gaudi’s other works, which include apartments and a fantastical park are also worth a visit. Getting a Gaudi guide (for a group tour or private) helps to understand what all the fuss and curvy windows are about.
For group or private tours check out this website.
Recommended guide: Ludger +34 678 700 650
2. Gothic Quarter
At the heart of this old-town area sits Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral. The winding cobblestone streets that surround it thrive with artsy boutiques, street performers and lively cafes.
3. Las Ramblas
Famous promenade lined with flower stalls and cafes. More information on Las Ramblas here.
4. Fundacio Joan Miro (Miro Museum) and surrounding Jardins de Joan Maragall
5. Beachfront and boardwalk
Four main areas stretched over 4.2 kilometers of beachfront offer a host of activities and leisure pursuits including cafes, restaurants and late-night clubs along the boardwalk.
6. Camp Nou aka FC Barcelona stadium
Mecca for FC Barcelona devotees, the stadium offers regular tours of the sacred grounds and other interactive features for the worshipful.
Nail-biting, hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping ride along the coast of the city. Do it!
Conducts tours of the City Beach, Historic Port area and Gothic Quarter.
5. Bike tours
Offers girls-weekend-friendly suites and is well-located within walking distance of the Gothic quarter. Features roomy rooftop bar and small pool.
Round hotel at the edge of the Raval neighborhood that features Liberace-lounge-worthy décor and 360 degree views from rooftop bar. Rooms are small but can be connected.
Casual tapas lunch in the Gothic Quarter
Waiters circulate with large platters of seafood, bruschetta, etc, and you can order from them on the spot. Book ahead.
Celeb chef Jordi Cruz provides a dining experience that is like Toad’s Wild Ride through cutting edge tapas gastronomy.
Menu emphasizes small plates with fresh ingredients that stimulate all five senses. Chef is Jordi Artal.
Milano – Offers live music.
Dry Martini & Speakeasy – Supposedly the best bar in Barcelona!
With thanks to Jennifer Lisle, Lori Buchanan, Tara Bowling, Christel Sandgap, Sarah Hough, Jeannette Smith, Gaelle Kundi, Ingrid Indahl
Article written and photos by Jennifer Lisle. Jennifer is a Zurich-based freelance journalist who has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Elle, among many others.