A bold title, I agree, but everybody I have met to date has claimed that Barcelona is their favourite European city. It’s very, very hard to not like the city, because after all, what’s not to like?
Can you honestly say that the festive atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter doesn’t get you going? That Camp Nou doesn’t captivate you, even if you’re not a football fan? What about the magnificent street art that colours the cityscape, transporting you into a happy world of delicious Spanish paella, garlic prawns, white wine, red wine, gin, pumping nightclubs with flare, pulsating alleyway bars with class, and a perfect beach adorned with famous clubs such as Opium, and relaxing restaurants serving up patrons in the sun?
Barcelona is my favourite city, as it no doubt is yours. If you disagree, I’d love to hear what makes your favourite city, well, your favourite city! But for now, let’s concentrate on the reasons why every backpacker should visit Barcelona. I’ll try to give a brief outline that doesn’t ruin the magic for those who haven’t been – otherwise it would be like explaining to you why the Notebook is so sad, because everybody dies in the end (that spoiler alert was purposely after the fact): If I delve too much into the detail of Barcelona’s story, then your experience will be less of a surprise, and more of an expected showcase. And honestly, as a backpacker, I don’t want to ruin new experiences for anyone.
Las Ramblas is the street that most people tend to talk about most. It has everything you can think of when it comes to nightlife, and is a central area for tourists. Restaurants and bars line both sides of the street, as well as a middle island that separates both road lanes. Las Ramblas is, if nothing else, exhilarating for the amount of people it packs in, who are either trying to lure you into their ridiculously overpriced restaurants and bars, or are trying to sell you coke on the street. I wouldn’t say Las Ramblas is shady, although the common thought of drug dealers would scare most people away (they aren’t scary, they’re trying to make a living off tourists in a collapsed economy – not that that’s an excuse for drug dealing, but it’s a reality of the world we live in, so it must be accepted).
How should you prepare for Las Ramblas though? Especially when you hear about how touristy it is? Instead of giving away the flavour of the strip, I’ll just say this: Las Ramblas should be approached with the same expectations and realities that come with Times Square (NYC), Piccadilly Circus (London), and Rome (Italy): It’s interesting, overpriced, and a bit of a tourist trap when it comes to the genuine culture of the place. There is by no means anything wrong with the aforementioned areas, but if you really want to experience Barca, this is what you should do:
A maze of ancient streets, each with tiny shops, bars, and tapas restaurants. Hole-in-the-wall kind of places to hang out in. Beautiful, fashionable people. Want to hit the clubs while staying in the Gothic Quarter? Well, why do that when the alleys are filled with hipsters, boom boxes, and people dancing in the streets? That’s right, the Gothic Quarter of Barca is filled with enough vibrant night activity to really keep you going. After all, you can go to a nightclub at home, but can you party in the festive streets with an endless stream of friendly Spaniards? I think not.
Hit the beach:
Going to Barca and not hitting the beach on the daily, is like going to Italy and not seeing Venice: It might be packed, but you’ll still regret it.
The beach is a bright topaz blue, and it is immensely popular in the summertime. There is plenty of space on the beach and on the sidewalk (where my dad fell asleep as people walked on by), and just off the boardwalk, you’ll find plenty of places to indulge in Spanish cuisine and local wines. People watching is a real spectacle here, and even the typical tourist shops selling cheap merchandise can be fun to check out.
Barca has one of the best beaches I have been to in Europe, outside of the Greek islands, and it’s highly recommended you go here at least twice during your Spanish adventure.
If you don’t know what this in, then here’s a hint: You know how you’ve been following my travel blog, or other travel blogs, and reading up on Barcelona, looking at all the colourful photos and vibrant streets? You know how you’ve been Google Imaging Barcelona for the past few hours, and thinking to yourself “This looks so beautiful,”? Well, all those images you’ve been looking at are of Park Güel, a real life “Alice In Wonderland” by architect Antoni Gaudí, who started construction on this renowned park in the early 1900s.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling once you arrive here. You feel like you’ve recaptured your childhood as you explore eye-catching building designs, benches, and towers, all within the confines of a lush, green garden. Spanish mosaics make an appearance or two, and at the end of your massive walk around the hills, you begin to wonder to yourself: Why doesn’t the rest of the world look this good?
If you’re not a football fan, it doesn’t matter. It’s sacrilegious to not visit the beating heart of this illustrious city. Camp Nou is home to football powerhouse Barcelona FC, the team of one of the greatest footballers in history – Lionel Messi. Camp Nou is impressive: While the stadium itself is huge, and the pitch well maintained and exceptionally green, the real treat of going to Camp Nou resides in its museum.
Yes, Camp Nou has a museum.
Featuring countless trophies from the club’s history, as well as projectors playing important moments from past games, the glory of this superior team can be felt emphatically. Emotional, uplifting, cinematic music plays all around you, while you observe pop art by Australian artists on the walls, tributes to legendary players, take a walk in the change rooms, and eventually, find yourself in the club’s official store, which is complete with the coolest sneakers, jerseys, and merchandise that money can buy.
I know people who have zero interest in football and still loved it here. So next time you’re in Barca, make sure to check it out. After all, the club is the talking point of the city!
What are your experiences of Barcelona? Share below so our readers can learn even more about this iconic city!