Catalonia is one of the most fantastic regions of Spain. With plenty of stunning coastline, a rich culinary heritage and some of the most spectacular buildings in the whole country, it’s the perfect place for travellers wanting to experience an authentic taste of Spain. We’ve picked Barcelona as the city to base this guide in, as not only are there several important landmarks here, but it’s easy to travel to internationally and makes a great jumping-off point for those wanting to carry on the travels throughout the rest of the region. Couple this with fantastic weather, a population who are well-versed in speaking English, and a plethora of pretty hotels to choose from, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a holiday to remember.
Marvel at the Sagrada Família
There’s a reason why some places become tourist destinations and whilst it can be nice to get off the beaten track a little, there are some of these spots that are an absolute must-see. This is certainly the case with the magnificent Sagrada Família, which ought to be the first stop on any trip to Barcelona. This gigantic cathedral is ornately carved and decorated, towering above the surrounding buildings. It was dreamt up by Antoni Gaudí, without a doubt the most famous architect to have ever lived in Barcelona. He conceived the building in the 1880s, knowing only too well that he wouldn’t live to see it completed. Now in 2023, it’s predicted that the monumental cathedral will be finished before the end of the decade. To design a work so lengthy and beautiful took a real genius, which anyone who visits will be aware of immediately. Whilst the building is undoubtedly stunning from the outside, it’s well worth braving the queues to enjoy the interior as well. Booking in advance could save you a full morning, so it’s well worth the additional admin.
Enjoy Catalan Cuisine at L’Antic Magatzem
Photo: The food here is hearty and comforting
After a morning of sightseeing, it’s time for perhaps the best Catalan pastime, a lengthy lunch. There are so many brilliant restaurants in Barcelona that it was hard to choose a lunchtime spot, but this gem that’s just a stone’s throw from the Parallel metro station is too good to miss. Many tapas restaurants try to do too much in order to cater for the biggest crowds possible, but L’Antic Magatzem has a simple set menu that changes every day. It is written entirely in Catalan, but using Google Translate or asking the friendly owner is all you need to do. There are usually a selection of three starters and main courses to choose from, as well as a choice of two desserts as part of the lunchtime set menu. This tends to work out at between 10 and 12 euros per person, with drinks as an addition. If you’re lucky enough to arrive on a day when the Crema Catalana is an option, then be sure to pick that. There’s usually a stew as an option in the main courses, so if you spot sausages, beans, or braised pork on the mains then you can’t go wrong.
Visit the Casino Barcelona
After lunch, visiting the Casino Barcelona is a great way to while away the afternoon. This casino is right by the sea and there are some stunning views from outside which are well worth taking in. Once inside, you can play hundreds of different slot machines and a selection of table games too. It’s also worth noting that Barcelona is the home of the Spanish leg of the European Poker Tournament, and has been for some time now. The results from last year’s event saw Giuliano Bendinelli take home the main event prize, but there’s still a while to go until this year’s tour begins in October. So, if you think you’ve got what it takes, there’s nothing to stop you from trying.
Climb Montjuic Hill
Finish off your trip with a sunset that would rival even the most beautiful of the Canary Islands. To the East of Barcelona is Montjuic hill, that’s home to the botanical gardens and arguably the best view in the city. You can take a cable car to the top if you’re feeling a little tuckered out, but otherwise the walk is possible in about an hour. Once you reach the summit, you can turn around and be rewarded by a stunning sunset that goes down over the sea, illuminating the city in a bath of orange. The perfect end to a perfect day in Catalonia.