As the capital of Catalonia and the Costa Brava, and the second most populated city in Spain, Barcelona hardly needs an introduction. With its vibrant mix of modern design and time-honoured traditions, Barcelona is a unique city and a must-see for any tourists interested in enjoying a city break in Spain. This metropolitan city has many different strings to its bow, with distinct architecture in its gothic quarter, trendy hotels, awesome nightlife and, of course, not forgetting one of the planet’s best football teams, Barcelona is sure to please all those who choose it as their next holiday destination.
Barcelona also plays host to a number of modern art masterpieces - including the iconic Gaudi architecture - and each one is more photogenic than the last so make sure to leave plenty of memory for all your new snaps. And if all of these man-made facets aren’t enough to sway you, Barcelona always has a number of natural beauties to entice you in. How many city breaks boast such a repertoire? With a coastline over 4 kilometres, the city has a number of amazing beaches to choose from, meaning that you can mix together sightseeing and culture with sandy beaches and relaxation, leaving you with the perfect holiday blend.
With quick, cheap flights and fantastic deals on the ever popular Barcelona city breaks, holidays to Barcelona and the Costa Brava are ideal for your next adventure.
Most popular hotels in Barcelona
NH Barcelona Fira Suites
Barcelona, Costa Brava
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 2h 15m
When to go
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When coming to Barcelona, whether it’s for a weekend city break or a week, you will need to make sure you pack your itinerary as tightly as possible because there is just so much to see! A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to La Sagrada Familia. This huge Catholic Church was designed by one of the city’s favourite sons, Antonio Gaudi, and is perhaps the most iconic Barcelona sight. With a grand staircase almost all the way to the top, La Sagrada Familia is not only an amazing sight but also an amazing vantage point to see the rest of Barcelona.
When you’re finished there, why not swing by one of the most famous football stadiums in the world and visit Camp Nou? With a plethora of different tour options, make sure you witness the jam-packed trophy room, pristine pitch and the amazing views from the very top of the almost 100,000 seater stadium. And if you’re there on a home game week then make sure you pick up a ticket to watch Messi and co.
Why not tie everything together with an amazing performance at the Palace of Catalan Music? This amazing structure is over a 100 years old and it has one of the best environments for listening to music the world over. With performances as varied as opera, symphonies and even a Metallica tribute act, there is sure to be something worth seeing during your stay.
Wine and Dine
Food is important wherever you go, so picking a place that will serve your stomach well will always benefit you immensely, and boy does Barcelona do that! As one of the best foodie city breaks in Europe, Catalan cuisine has a number of amazingly unique dishes to offer, so make sure you remember to pack your appetite. Tapas is key here, so get ready to try a plethora of new dishes.
As it’s a coastal city, there are many amazing fresh fish and seafood dishes to choose from, a local favourite is stewy fish zarzuela with half a lobster. Alternatively you could also try the paella which is changed daily, from classics like prawns and shellfish to rarer options of rabbit and even snails. In addition to the many dishes originating from the sea, there are also a number of famous Catalan meat dishes like a herbed black-bean stew with pork sausage, roast pig’s feet and of course the many delicious tapas dishes on offer.
One of the most endearing things about Barcelona is that many of its local activities include children in seemingly adult activities. Going out to eat or sipping a beer at a terrace bar or restaurant needn’t mean leaving children behind, as many locals take their kids out all the time and don’t worry too much about keeping them up late. So why not do as the Catalans do?
The spectacle of La Rambla fascinates kids as much as adults, this tree-lined pedestrian boulevard is an amazing stage for street performers, with acts as diverse as flamenco dancers to fire-eaters. A walk down La Rambla is fun for all the family! For a bird’s eye view of Barcelona and assuming your kids aren't scared of heights, head to the top of the Monument a Colom for dazzling views of the harbour. And the La Sagrada Familia is such a unique building that even the little ones will be stunned by Gaudi's architecture. And when you want to escape the hot weather and cool down, head to The L’Aquàrium and witness the 80m-long shark tunnel, 11,000 fish and special children’s activities they have to offer.
Action and Adventure
Those seeking adventure won’t exactly find the most extreme of activities in Barcelona, but they will find some outdoor activities that more than make up for it in the scenery department. Walking around the national parks of Parc Guell and Parc de la Ciutadella, will amaze you with beautiful open spaces and the beautiful lake. You can take a short boat trip, indulge in a picnic or even take a Segway tour around the grounds.
In fact many of the city’s landmarks are available to see from a cycle, Segway or e-bike. So if you’re after a bit of activity along with your sightseeing, these could be the best options for you.
Life's a Beach
Although not known primarily as a beach destination, Barcelona is certainly no slouch when it comes to providing quality sands for tourists to relax upon. The city has over 4 kilometres of beach areas and they are also exceedingly close to the city centre.
Barceloneta Beach is perhaps the most famous of these beaches and it is the first one you can get to from the city, it is also the most popular. Making the most of Barcelona’s amazing rays, this sandy wonder is a great place to pop down your towel, get out your book and relax. Just a ten minute walk from the metro station, it’s a convenient distance away from most hotels in the city. Sailing is a popular activity on the beach and you’ll find many local swimmers all year round.
In addition there is also the smaller Icària Beach, the nudist Marbella Beach and the more remote Sitges Beaches which is about 30 minutes away. Of course, you're right in the centre of the Costa Brava, so anywhere you head on the coast is going to boast some fantastic beaches.
Barcelona is packed with night entertainment, it is a city full of young people, ex-pats and it never sleeps. Restaurants and bars are all open late into the night so you can continue eating and drinking as long as you want. Las Ramblas is the busiest and most popular of the neighbourhoods, there are plenty of tapas bars or barrios (bars) here as well as excellent cocktail bars. The Gothic quarter is where you will find the Irish and English bars so you will find lots of ex-pats here as well as flamenco nights in one of the many clubs around the central square. If you want to find somewhere more local and away from the tourists, then the Raval area has lotsa of trendy bars and clubs. Try the Sutton Club for an upmarket clubbing experience or Sala Razzmatazz with 5 rooms to choose from and many different kinds of music. Alternatively, if you head out of the city central and to the beach you can party the night away at El Boo, a trendy bar on the pier with a rooftop cocktail bar or one of the many bars that spill out onto the beach.
Widely known for its gastronomy, architecture and nightlife, Barcelona is a Mediterranean playground designed for lovers. It strikes a healthy mix of romance and leisure and no matter your taste, most activities within the city have a romantic tilt. A European city break is a romantic adventure, and where better than Barcelona?
Whether you're visiting Gaudi's Park Guell and overlooking the gorgeous city views hand in hand, cuddling in the shadow of the La Sagrada Familia, or taking a bike ride along the boardwalk, or even touring Picasso's Museum, the city's rich history and striking buildings can't help but provide for an extremely romantic vibe. And when you’re finished sightseeing, one of the many nationally renowned restaurants will provide candlelit romance to cap off an amazing trip.
Barcelona is chock full of museums of art and history to soak up the varied and long history of the country. Many museums hold a free Sunday entrance as well so if you are ready for the queues this is an excellent way to absorb some history. Barcelona hosts many festivals all year round, and Catholic festivals are celebrated with great aplomb so if you are visiting in January then Epiphany means a spectacular procession with floats and music. Barcelona holds a carnival in Feb/March just before Lent. The festival was banned by Franco until the 80’s and now is back in force with extravagant fancy dress, processions and fireworks throughout the city. Through the summer there are several music festivals just outside the city including Primavera (rock and dance) festival, Sonar (electronic music) and Benacassim (indie and rock). Grec festival in June – August is a collection of many different entertainments including theatre in the ancient Greek style amphitheatre. The festival of Saint Joan is a national holiday (24th June) and the city throws huge parties on the 23rd June) expect street parties, fireworks and much drinking and dancing through the night. If you fancy an evening under the stars then you can catch some outdoor cinema and jazz outside the Montjuic fortress. Another huge festival is the Festa Major de Gracia in mid-August, lasting a week, the city is decorated with lanterns and statues and paper machier sculptures. Not to be missed.