B A R C E L O N A
THE ENCHANTING JEWEL OF SPAIN
- Did You Know -
It’s true that Barcelona is famous for its sunny blue skies, stylish Mediterranean vibe, and quirky architecture, but did you know the city is also home to the biggest metropolitan park in the world?
1. Older than Rome
One theory about the origins of Barcelona says the city may have been founded by Hercules, 400 years before Rome was built, but the truth is, no one really knows…
2. The most visited city in Spain
Barcelona comes 4th on 2016’s ranking of Europe’s most visited cities, after London, Paris, and Istanbul, yet before Rome, Milan, and Amsterdam. With over 8.20 million international visitors per year (2016), the Catalan capital is also the 12th most visited city in the world, surpassing Taipei (15th) and Shanghai (19th).
3. Could have been home to the Eiffel Tower
That’s right if everything had gone according to Gustave Eiffel’s initial plan, Paris’ most famous landmark would now be in Barcelona. Unfortunately, Spain rejected the architect’s project, deciding that it was too “radical” and did not fit the city’s aesthetics.
4. Home to the largest football stadium in Europe
Covering a surface area of 55,000 square meters, Camp Nou, FC Barcelona club’s home stadium, has a capacity of 99,354 people and is not only
the largest football stadium in Europe, but also the 2nd biggest in the world, after Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea.
5. Has more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants
Expect insanely creative chefs, a unique take on tapas, and the best of old and new Catalan cuisine
BARCELONA: THE ENCHANTING JEWEL OF SPAIN.
Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya, a region of Northern Spain that has its own unique culture, traditions, and personality. Barcelona city is one of a kind.
There are few European cities can offer you the diversity of cultural experience that can be found in Barcelona. Add to that, the luxury of 4.2 km of beach only a short walk from the city center, warm sunshine most of the year and you have all the makings of an opulent holiday in Spain.
There are so many great painters and artists that worked in Barcelona at some point in their artistic careers and their influence is still evident throughout the city. Two of the most famous are Picasso and Miró who have museums dedicated to many of their more important works of art. There are also dozens of other museums and art galleries dotted all around the city so there is always plenty to experience while visiting here.
One of the most enjoyable activities in Barcelona is relaxing the day away on one of Barcelona's sandy beaches that only a short walk from the city center. Enjoy a sangria at one of the bars, sit back and bask in the sun, and soak in the view. Sample some of the best seafood the Mediterranean has to offer or visit one of the excellent restaurants and bars that offer tapas. Visitors can also sample the many restaurants providing more conventional dishes and traditional meals.
Barcelona's architecture are each a masterpiece of art in themselves and are treasures that span over 2000 years. The famous architect Antoni Gaudí's most unique and distinctive style is admired by architects worldwide and one of his most well-known works, La Sagrada Família, a giant basilica which was started in 1882 is still being built today.
Before Gaudi, the Roman influence can be seen in towering temple columns, ancient city walls, and subterranean stone corridors. Each provides a window into the past of Barcelona. Fast forward a thousand years or so to the Middle Ages by taking a stroll through the shadowy lanes of the Gothic quarter, past tranquil plazas and soaring 14th-century cathedrals.
Twenty-four-hour Party People
The nightlife in Barcelona has something for everyone. Start with sunset drinks on a panoramic terrace, relax in the sand at a rustic beachside chiringuito (temporary snack bar). Live music transforms the city with the rapid-fire rhythms of flamenco, brassy jazz, and the more modern indie-rock after dark. Towards midnight old-school taverns adorned with 19th-century murals, plush lounges in lamp-lit medieval chambers, or boisterous cava bars fill. At 3 am hit the clubs and explore Barcelona's unabashed wild side before going back to your hotel for a well-earned rest.
Barcelona, centre of the wise, model of purity, quarry of Kings
Spain's culinary traditions rely on an abundance of locally grown vegetables and fruits as well as meats and poultry. Jamón Serrano, a cured ham, and chorizo, a seasoned sausage, are popular. Seafood and fish are popular in coastal areas.
The best-known Spanish dish, a stew called paella (pie-AY-ah), originated in Valencia, an eastern province on the Mediterranean Sea. Rice, the main ingredient, is grown in Valencia's tidal flatlands. Though there are numerous variations, paella is usually made of a variety of shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, crab, and lobster), chorizo (sausage), vegetables (tomatoes, peas, and asparagus), chicken and/or rabbit, and long-grained rice. Broth, onion, garlic, wine, pimiento (sweet red pepper), and saffron add flavor to the stew.
Every region has its own distinct cuisine and specialties. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, comes from Andalucía in southern Spain. Andalusians also enjoy freidurías (fish, such as sole or anchovies, fried in batter).
Cataluña (Catalonia), in northeastern Spain, is known for its inventive dishes combining seafood, meat, poultry, and local fruits. In the northern Basque country (país Vasco), fish is important to the diet, with cod, eel, and squid featured prominently.
The signature dish of Asturias, in northwestern Spain, is fabada, a bean stew. In the interior regions, such as Castilla, meats play a starring role. Tortilla española, a potato omelet, is served throughout the country. It can be prepared quickly and makes a hearty but simple dinner.
Although it is easy to assume that the Spanish specialize in savory cuisine that would be to overlook the many varied sweet dishes which the country also enjoys. You will find many traditional sweets all over Spain, some so delicious that tourists and natives travel to that region just to purchase their favorites.
Family life revolves around buying, cooking and eating food and hand me down recipes are a staple of any Spanish kitchen. Sitting down to enjoy dishes with the family is the culmination of the day's events. Spanish are passionate about their food and this is passed on from generation to generation.
The Spanish have a relaxed attitude when it comes to drinking with groups gathering around local bars or sitting on terraces as they relax during evenings with a slow drink in hand. Teenagers drink wine with their family during a meal or natives to have a beer Clara de Limón (beer with lemon soda) or Tinto de Verano (red wine with lemon juice or carbonated water) but drinking is done in moderation.
Free tapas are regularly served alongside a drink when you order in a bar. It’s not unheard of for locals to specifically favor certain bars for the standard and range of tapas they offer. Groups of younger Spaniards gather socially with their own alcohol in public spaces before heading late to a bar or club.
Coffee is a hot beverage to be savored daily with most having it in the form of a cortado (macchiato style), café con leche (latte) or solo (espresso). During breakfast, many will also have orange juice along with their coffee. Water is always on the table when it comes to eating out and in.
When the foundation stone of the Basílica I Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família was laid in 1882, Spaniards never anticipated that the construction of this church would take well over a century. But when architect Antoni Gaudí took charge of the project a year later, he tossed the original neo-Gothic design and replaced it for a grander vision, unlike any the world had ever seen.
Gaudí worked steadily on his masterpiece until his death in 1926, at which point an estimated 25 percent of the total design was complete. Since then a series of architects have attempted to continue his legacy but progress on Sagrada Família’s construction faced a few setbacks over more than a century. Following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, vandalism resulted in the destruction of many of Gaudí’s models.
When finally completed, the church will be comprised of three facades, two of which (the Passion facade and the Nativity façade) have already been completed, while construction of the Glory facade remains ongoing and is expected to be the largest and most impressive of the three. Some projections have Sagrada Família’s completion date as 2026, the centennial anniversary of Gaudí’s death, while others estimate construction could continue into the 2040s.
The church’s interior is defined by columns that stretch like tree branches toward the ceiling. Gaudí’s plans also called for 18 spires, eight of which are complete, as well as numerous towers, chapels, portals, and other interior features. When built, the tallest spire, which symbolizes Jesus Christ, will secure Sagrada Família’s place as the world’s largest church building.
Though still incomplete, the church sees an estimated 2.8 million visitors each year. The best to visit in the early morning or late evening as the sun shines through the stained glass windows on the walls filling the church with an abundance of color.
excursions & tours
'Game Of Thrones' Tour In Girona
Duration: 8 hours
Follow in the footsteps of the Lannisters and the Targaryens on this 8-hour 'Game of Thrones' tour in Girona. This experience allows you to explore the medieval city through the eyes of key characters such as Tyrion Lannister, and stop at filming sites from the show. Sample 'King’s Hand' ice cream, a flavour invented by locals in honour of the series, and enjoy free time to see the city’s Roman walls and Jewish district. Ice cream isn't the only food provided—you'll also enjoy lunch.
Ebike Tour with Cable Car Ride
and Boat Cruise
Duration: 7 hours
See all of Barcelona’s legendary landmarks on a half- or full-day electric bike tour of the city. Sagrada Familia skip the line ticket included in the full day option. Explore the captivating Catalonian capital at a leisurely pace on your state-of-the-art bicycle. Cycle around the iconic Olympic Stadium, gaze at panoramic vistas of the city from a cable car and then sail the sea in an eco-friendly catamaran on a short cruise. Immerse yourself in the modern magnificence of Gaudi’s Park Güell and enjoy an intimate atmosphere on this small-group tour, with number limits of 12.
Cava and Wine Tasting Small Group
Duration: 6 hours
Become more acquainted with Spain’s Penedes region on this cava-and-wine-tasting tour that sets off from Barcelona. Visit a winery which has been cultivating vines for more than 2,000 years, where you’ll travel through its vineyards on a 4x4 Jeep. Hear from a viticulturist who can explain the nitty-gritty of wine production. Plus, during your tour, get the opportunity to taste four wines, four glasses of cava, and indulge in a variety of tapas dishes.
Monseratte Royal Basilica
Duration: 5 1/2 hours
Explore the Royal Basilica and Monastery of Montserrat independently on this 5.5-hour trip from Barcelona. Travel by coach to the spectacular, mountainside Benedictine abbey, one of Spain’s most popular pilgrimage sites for its revered Black Madonna statue. Then, enjoy free time to explore, making this one of the most flexible Montserrat tours from Barcelona available. Admire the views from the mountainside, see the vast basilica and venerated statue, visit the audiovisual museum, and perhaps hear the Escolania, one of Europe’s best-known boys’ choirs before your return to Barcelona.
Skip The Line-La Sagrada Familia
Duration: 6 hours
When your cruise ship sails into the vibrant harbour of Barcelona, get acquainted with the Catalonian capital’s rich cultural tapestry on a half- or full-day sightseeing shore excursion. With a knowledgeable guide, sail past long lines outside of La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famously unfinished modernist masterpiece, and ascend to the vertiginous summit of Montjuic hill. Stroll the Gothic Quarter to discover Barcelona’s medieval heritage and enjoy personalized attention from your guide on this small-group tour. Upgrade to the full-day tour to include visits to Park Güell and La Pedrera.
Barcelona Gourmet Tapas Walking Tour and Flamenco Show
Duration: 3 hours
Take a bite out of Barcelona’s legendary nightlife during this 3-hour combined tapas crawl and flamenco show with a small group. Eat like a local as you walk to local tapas bars to sample tasty snacks like ‘pa amb tomàquet,’ Manchego cheese and cured 'Serrano' ham. Then continue your stroll through the city’s atmospheric Gothic Quarter, passing the Barcelona Cathedral en route, to arrive at a happening flamenco bar in the Plaça Reial. Quaff some sangria and enjoy some more tapas as you savour a 45-minute flamenco show featuring some of the genre’s hottest young performers set to fiery flamenco music. This small-group trip, limited to just 20 guests, also includes a guide, tapas, drinks and show admission.