- BON DIA -
As you probably can guess, I am entirely smitten with Spain. It's the first country that we have made a home abroad and with that comes a lifetime of unforgettable memories from the foothills of the Picos to the coastal town of Moncofa. However, Barcelona is a whole different ball game. I always love explaining to people how so much of Spain is different from the rest. How the cosmopolitan feel of Madrid is a different feel to that of Barcelona and that the region of Asturias holds a much different culture than that of Castellon.
So, let's get into why you should put Barcelona at the top of your Spanish Bucket List!
Here are 15 reasons in no particular order :)
1. Catalan Culture
The colors of Catalonia are painted all over the city, and the local Catalans need for independence from Spain is a loud cry. Throughout the barrios, you will see several Catalonian flags draped from balconies, and you'll also notice that the language you're hearing isn't Spanish, it's Catalan, which actually shares more similarities with French and Italian than it does with Spanish. Catalans also have their own style, (I'm looking at you, Salvador Dali) which has led to their unique development of literature, art, and film that is unique to the region. Catalonia, or Cataluña, is geographically and politically part of Spain (for now), it differs from western Spain as a distinct region with its own unique culture and history. Catalan traditions are very rooted, and locals are very proud of them, the best way to know and feel them all is coming to Barcelona.
2. Parc de la Ciutadella
So I may be a little biased since we lived just a block away from this beautiful space, but I love it! Parc de la Ciutadella really is the NYC Central Park of Barcelona. The rowboats in the pond give such a sweet charm, and the fountains are something out of a fairytale.
3. GÓTICO (The Gothic Quarter)
The Gothic quarter is full of some of the most creative people in the world! It's riddled with narrow medieval streets and artisans selling goods like jewelry and leather. You could easily spend an entire day wandering the alleys listening to singers on the street and just marveling at the arches taking you back to The Middle Ages. It's one of the oldest areas in Barcelona, with amazing Gothic influences throughout.
4. a great art scene
I could spend all day naming the museums in Barcelona which means if you are an art buff you'll have the time of your life spending days taking in the creative juices that engulf the city. From Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya to the Museum of Modernism, you are bound to find one you love! My favorite is the MEAM; I went for an exhibition by Luisa Granero called The Strength of a Woman and immediately fell in love! Barcelona is also home to The Picasso Museum holding more than 3,500 pieces!
5. Gaudi at every corner
So here's the thing, I really didn't care all that much about architecture until we moved to Barcelona. I generally preferred natural landscapes to anything manmade, and while this is still true for me, I was completely in awe of Gaudi architecture! From Parc Guell to Sagrada Familia to Casa Batillo, there is no shortage of masterpieces to see. Gaudi was and still is a Catalonian legend; his appreciation for the Catholic Church and constant analogies to nature in his work inspire people all over the world. Gaudi once said, "There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature." This thought explains his unique and flowy style found throughout his work. 6. Stellar Beaches
Along with the cultural melting pot that is Barcelona, there's also the beach! National Geographic named Barceloneta in the Top 10 Beach Cities of the World! Barcelona holds a very high standard for the cleanliness of their beaches, especially in the larger communal areas.
7. Hidden cafes & charming boutiques
Barcelona's small business game is STRONG. The city is dotted with small lovely boutiques and cafes of every kind! You'd be hard pressed to find these places on Google maps, too. You'll just have to walk around and see what you find! You won't be disappointed, from unique clothing shops to handmade goods; there is something for everyone! You could easily visit a different shop every day for a year and not have the same experience twice. The best cafes are the ones tucked away on the side streets that hold a cozy feel that you just don't get at a Starbucks or the CapUKccinos. My favorite cafe that I wrote at nearly every day is Bornet, just around the corner from the Picasso museum in the heart of El Born.
8. rich History
I'm sure if you are from the states, you can give a whole new appreciation to European history! Given that Europe has thousands of years of history vs. our little few hundred. The Cathedral de Barcelona pictured here, was built in 1298 and Barcelona itself is over 2,000 years old. Its history stretches back to the original Iberian village settlement named Barkeno! The Catalonian aspect of it all, only makes it more interesting. Especially if you have followed the more recent years of history regarding the Catalonian Independence. If you're not, just know that the Spanish government is basically cheating the Hell out of Catalonia and their desire to be an independent nation.
The nightlife in Spain, notably Barcelona, is some of the best in the world with some clubs staying open until 6 AM! Unfortunately, I didn't indulge too much in the club scene but instead stuck to more relaxed bars with great Cava and tapas! There are so many trendy bars that give such great atmosphere to indulge in a drink or five! Our two favorite spots were Paspartu and Berimbau in the Born area. If you are looking for a crazy unique and an I-guarantee-you've-never-had-this-drink-before type place, check out Dr. Stavinsky-it's right around the corner from Bornet ;)
10. Tapas everywhere...seriously.
The traditional slow-paced lifestyle is alive and well. Enjoying a meal of several smaller plates and stretching dinners out for hours is something the Spanish do simply because it's Tuesday. That said, Barcelona has some of the greatest tapas (or 'tapes' in Catalan) bars in all of Spain. Catalan cuisine is related to, but not the same as Spanish cuisine, so you are broadening your cultural tastebud palate, too! Cava is Catalonian and probably their most famous export! It's enjoyed across the rest of Spain and the world. There’s also the classic "pa amb tomàquet" (bread with tomato) – the quintessential Catalan breakfast of bread with tomato rubbed on it and a drizzle of olive oil over the top. My all time fave tapa is and always will be pimientos de Padron as pictured here!
11. LA RAMBLA
Okay, I won't lie, I have a mild anxiety attack whenever I attempt walking down Rambla. The crowds are CRAZY, every Karen with a fanny pack and teen with a selfie stick is out and on the prowl. Nonetheless, it's the most famous street in Barcelona and is jam-packed with great things to see! I recommend stopping at La Boqueria, an enormous market that "officially" opened in 1840 but is mentioned as early as 1217. Just take a stroll, and something is bound to catch your eye!
12. SPANISH Sunsets
Barcelona has a seriously gorgeous skyline with so many landmarks to take in while you watch the sunset. You can enjoy the breathtaking views at one Barcelona's many rooftop bars or give Montjuic a visit! It's even better in the summer when the sun doesn't set until 10 PM!
13. The Weather
Okay, so maybe we had a bit of a record-breaking heat wave this past Summer in Europe...but I'm from Texas where the concrete melts, and you don't wear makeup or fix your hair from June-August because it's literally Hell on Earth. I can count on one hand the number of times it rained while we were in Barcelona - 3 days out of the 4 months we lived there! Barcelona keeps a mild and comfortable climate year round, making all of the outdoor activities even better! Brett and I THRIVE outside and were able to walk to Parc de la Ciutadella nearly every day and spend around 80% of our time outside without a heat stroke.
The Spaniards are known for their celebratory attitude and having vibrant festivals all year round! Barcelona is no exception: from Dia De Los Reyes Magos in January( Celebrating Three Kings Day and is the biggest Christmas festival in Spain) to the Spanish Carnival in February, the Fest la Gracia in August, to Festa de la Marce in September just to name a few! There is always a huge celebration going on! Barcelona is also home to the best music festivals in Spain such as Primavera Sound and Sonar!
15. It is 100% a dog's city!
The last, and probably most important!
I don't think Oliver has ever been more spoiled than when walking the streets of Barcelona! There are so many dog-friendly restaurants and cafes! As if that weren't enough, anywhere and everywhere he went people were continually petting him! (This is not limited to drunk girls that you'd think have never seen a dog before) I mean it, I couldn't take five steps without someone stopping to pet Oliver and remind him that he is "¡muy muy guapo!" We took him pretty much everywhere with us, and he loved every second!
Barcelona will always hold such a special place in my heart and will always be a small piece of home! I put together 15 reasons why I think everyone should visit...I may or may not have narrowed it down from 50! I hope this post inspires you to visit the amazing Catalan capital, I'd love to hear about it! My soul will always be drawn to this colorful, vibrant, beautiful Catalan paradise. XO
BEFORE YOU GO...