Inhabitants: approx. 1,636,762
Area: 101.4 km2
Famous landmark: Antoni Gaudí's life's work Sagrada Família
This is probably how many visitors experience the lively Catalonia metropolis with its wide beach, the old fishing village of Barceloneta, whose shutters keep the sun out on hot days, and of course buildings from 2,000 years of city history, from Roman times to Art Nouveau and modern landmarks.
Antoni Gaudí left his architectural mark on the city with his unfinished Sagrada Família Cathedral (C/ de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona), Park Güell and Casa Batlló. But modern landmarks also impress visitors from all over the world, including buildings by Toyo Ito (Torres Porta Fira), Jean Nouvel (Torre Agbar) or Santiago Calatrava (Montjuic TV Tower). On the beach promenade of La Barceloneta, Frank Gehry's Golden Fish greets visitors, and in Herzog & de Meuron's Natural History Museum, guests marvel at the exhibits as much as at their dwellings.
In addition to the magnificent works of renowned architects, there are also gems that have yet to be found: In the hills of the Gracia district, not far from Park Güell, stretches a heterogeneous residential area of historic farmhouses, buildings from the beginning of the 20th century and simple residential buildings. Here, the architecture firm MACH has built the 'Collumpio House', a small residential building that exudes bright yellow industrial charm, inspired by late-modern high-tech architecture - a stack of three glass cubes on a concrete base. An eye-catcher for strollers in the neighbourhood.
Anyone visiting Barcelona will naturally also visit the Gothic quarter, the Barri Gòtic, with its exciting buildings, various museums and historical ambience. Cosy alleyways with small boutiques invite you to stroll. The Gothic cathedral, the neo-Gothic 'Bridge of Sighs' and the Museum of the City's History are well worth a visit. The best place for a coffee break is the Plaça Reial, where one café follows the next.
In the south of Barcelona is the local mountain, Montjuic. From here you can enjoy a fantastic view. It was also the site of the 1929 World's Fair and the 1992 Summer Olympics. There are many museums, including the Joan Miró Museum and the former defensive fortress Castell de Montjuic, which now houses the Military Museum. Also not to be missed up here are the Botanical Gardens, the Museu National d'Art de Catalunya and the Cementiri de Montjuïc cemetery with its mystical atmosphere.
No visit to Barcelona is complete without a stroll along the Rambla. The world-famous shopping street should not be missed, even if the prices here do not tempt you to buy anything. In any case, you should visit the market hall 'Mercat de la Boqueria' and enjoy the advertised delicacies, fruit, vegetables and much more. Freshly squeezed juices and local specialities from the grill can be enjoyed here in a very special flair directly at the market stall. Image rambla / Image mercat
Address: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona
Barcelona has so much to offer in the way of sights and architectural gems that it's good to just stick your feet in the sand and rest in between. How convenient that there are some wonderful beaches. Barceloneta beach is close to the city centre, but it is very busy. Those who want space and peace and quiet with a view of the sea will find both at the surrounding beaches, for example at Icària beach or in Sitges.
As far as food is concerned, you are well advised in Barcelona at lunchtime with the usually three-course, reasonably priced daily menu 'menú del dia'. Of course, there is also a lot of fish on offer, especially in the Barceloneta district. Those who like sweet things should try 'churros', fried pastries with sugar or hot thick chocolate.
Tapas are also very popular in Barcelona, but here they are called pintxos. There are plenty of cosy pintxos bars, including 'Bormuth': cosy atmosphere, traditional food and also some outdoor tables.
Address: Plaça Comercial, 1, 08003 Barcelona
By the way: Vermouth is drunk in the region with meals, before, after or even in between. The liqueur wine, refined with spices and herbs, is served in a 0.1-litre glass, often with ice cubes and olives. Fried sardines or pickled anchovy fillets go well with it. And so the 'Vermuteo' is a tradition that most closely resembles a morning pint. At the weekend, from late morning onwards, people line up in large bunches in front of the bars with their vermouth in hand. If you want to indulge in vermuteo, the best place to do so is in the Barceloneta and Poble Sec districts.
A few recommendations for vermouth bars in Barcelona... Celler Cal Marino: Fantastic vermouth at unbeatable prices in an old motorbike workshop (Carrer de Margarit, 54). Bar Calders with a shady terrace in the trendy Sant Antoni district (Carrer del Parlament, 25). Bar La Plata in the Gótico with beautiful tiles on the walls and specialities from the kitchen - allegedly the favourite bar of actor Daniel Brühl (Carrer de la Mercè, 28). Bar Pietro in the Gràcia neighbourhood, serving homemade vermouth on a street corner (Travessera de Gràcia, 197). Local atmosphere, delicious vermouth and typical hospitality can be experienced at Bodega Fermín (Carrer de Sant Carles, 18).
Barcelona is also richly blessed with cafés and bakeries. The notorious 'Baluard' bakery, for example, has several branches. Here, the baked goods are prepared in front of the guests in the open kitchen - delicious and fresh. A special recommendation is 'La Dolça' in the well-known restaurant 'Tickets', which ranks 29th in the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world. La Dolça not only offers excellent desserts, but also takes visitors back to a fantastic childhood world. The ceiling is decorated with a colourful mix of strawberries, blueberries and flowers, and the whole pastry shop is reminiscent of magical stories like 'Alice in Wonderland' or 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.
Address: Avinguda de Paralel 164, 08015 Barcelona
The 520-metre high Tibidabo mountain, which is best climbed with the funicular railway 'Funicular de Montjuïc', offers a particularly great view. In addition to an amusement park, there is also the 'Sagrat Cor' church and the 'Torre de Collserola' television tower with a viewing platform on Tibidabo. It is also a great place for hiking.
Day trip to Montserrat or Sitges: In the Montserrat mountains, a visit to the monastery of the same name is worthwhile. You can enjoy fantastic views and wonderful hiking. Sitges, a town with 25,000 inhabitants, is located about 35 kilometres southwest of Barcelona and offers culture, beaches and sun. It's a great place to go out and party. Thanks to its beautiful sandy beaches and good water quality, Sitges also attracts bathers, who can also find numerous bars, cafés and restaurants in the picturesque alleys of the old town.
In the village of Valls near Tarragona, a farmer is said to have slipped a bunch of spring onions into an open fire more than 150 years ago. He took them out of the embers, removed the burnt layer, tasted - and found the inside of the onion to be delicious. He tried a new cultivation method, put the bulbs of the already harvested onions back into the ground and harvested onions with a fine taste, the calçots (the name goes back to the word for pants). Initially, the speciality was only eaten at home or in the fields, but in 1982 it became a street festival in Valls, the calçotada. The onions are grilled black over an open fire, then wrapped in newspaper and eaten out of hand. They are held by the inner leaves and the black outer skin is removed. Then the inside of the onion is dipped in a spicy sauce. Today, the onion festival is celebrated in the region around Barcelona from January to April.