I'm a second year Politics student from England, currently studying in Scotland and travelling every time I get the chance. Find me on Instagram @andrewjrb
Published February 22nd 2018
Barcelona is a beautiful city to visit all year round, with its mild winter and gorgeous hot summers. Most UK airports offer cheap flights, and with great transport links into the city from Barcelona's airport, it is definitely a destination worth considering this year. Spending time living and working in Barcelona as an English teacher last year, I had ample opportunity to do both the typical touristy stuff, as well as discover some gems slightly further from the beaten path. On that note, here are my top 5 things you need to see or do when you're visiting Barcelona.
1. Tibidabo A family-oriented theme park with the best views around, a visit to Tibidabo is an absolute must. By taking a bus or train to the foot of the mountains, you can then buy a ticket for the funicular, which will take you the rest of the way up to Tibidabo park. As well as being a family-oriented theme park, Tibidabo offers stunning views of the city skyline. The large viewing platform is a great spot to take photos, stop for lunch or chill out after visiting the theme park. Whilst you need to pay to enter the park and ride the attractions, the viewing platform is not actually within the park and is free to visit (other than the costs of public transport to get there).
Tbidabo's website offers further explanation of how to get to get to the park here.
2. The Beach Whilst this may seem like an obvious one, I was unaware of Barcelona's beautiful and extensive beaches when I first arrived in the city, as I wasn't expecting such a large and bustling metropolitan area to feature any typical sandy Mediterranean beaches. However, Barcelona boasts beaches that any popular summer resort should be jealous of, and within such close proximity to the city centre, you're never far from shops, restaurants, or other amenities. Reachable on foot or by public transport, Spain's warm sands and clear waters offer a much more natural setting to relax than your hotel room.
3. Plaça De Catalunya, Las Ramblas & Passeig De Gracia An unmissable feature of the city centre, Plaça De Catalunya is an iconic city square on the edge of the old town. A hub for public transport, the plaça is surrounded by a number of shops and restaurants, including El Corte Ingles (a large department store), a sizeable Apple store, and is home to Barcelona's central tourist information centre. From Plaça De Catalunya heading towards the beach is Las Ramblas, a wide, highly pedestrianised street full of stalls and street performers, and lined by shops and cafes/restaurant. In the other direction, Passeig De Gracia offers further shopping, as well as 2 of Antoni Gaudi's famous architectural works - Casa Battló and Casa Milà.
4. The Sagrada Familia & Park Guell Arguably one of Spain's most famous artists/architects, Antoni Gaudi's impact on Barcelona is an important part of the cities culture and a must-see for tourists. The Sagrada Familia occupies a central, easy to reach location, and is a stunning piece of architecture. Tickets for individuals and groups can be bought in advance online at the Sagrada's website, and these allow you to visit the inside of the basilica, with its beautiful stained glass windows and quirky design which isn't just limited to the outside of the building. In addition to the truly majestic inside of the basilica, you can also take in the surrounding area from the roof, which offers great views and different perspective of the city than simply walking past the Sagrada would give you.
Park Guell is another of Gaudi's masterpieces in the city, still located close to the centre on an expansive hillside area that is easily accessible via public transport. Like the Sagrada Familia, the Park has some fantastic viewpoints to take in the city skyline and is full of typically colourful and quirky work by Gaudi.
5. Montjuic On the opposite side of the city to Tibidabo Park is the area of Parc Montjuic. Featuring a 17th-century hilltop fortress which now houses a military museum, impressive views across the city, the 1992 Olympic stadium and multiple smaller parks, this is an ideal place to spend an afternoon if you're looking for something more relaxing than the city centre. Accessible by funicular, cable car or on foot (bear in mind it is a steep hill climb), Montjuic is the ideal addition to your itinerary, allowing you to take in culture, history and an incredible city skyline panorama.