Barcelona is a city with a unique personality. Its inhabitants are proud of the special Catalan culture and traditions, embracing everyone who comes to enjoy the perfect mix of city, sun, sea and mountains, art, music, lights and cuisine.
Growing up in the Sants neighbourhood on the slopes of Montjuic, right in the centre of the city, I enjoy planning tours and welcoming people to my wonderful hometown. Set between the sea and mountains, the location of Barcelona is truly special with landscapes for every taste. Whether you want to enjoy sunbathing and mojitos on the beach, tapas and vino to dance the night away or a forest hike through the Tibidabo mountain range, Barcelona has something for everyone.
A major part of Catalan culture is community celebrations. Each neighbourhood has a casal (cultural association) which organises all sorts of activities from cooking, dancing, languages and painting classes as well as parades through the streets on our many saint days. On these days of celebration, we see fire throwers (correfoc) regional dances (sardanes), towers of people balancing on each other (castellers) and large paper mache costumes (cap grossos).
If you want to be like a real Catalan, you must drink vermut (sweet aperitif wine). Old bodegas with wooden chairs serve vermut from barrels on the walls with speciality tapas from different places. Olives stuffed with anchovies and pork scratchings are a lovely aperitvo whilst you sit on a terrace enjoying the sun to get hungry before a nice “menu del dia” meal. And of course, you have to try churros from the traditional old coffee houses on Carrer Petritxol with waiters in bow ties!
The old city is a labyrinth of small streets full of independent shops, bars and restaurants. Gotico has one of the main cathedrals of the city and you can even see the remains of the old Roman city of Barcino underneath Plaza del Rei. On the other side of Via Layetana, one of the main streets heading to the sea, you can find the neighbourhood of Born. Here you can find the Picasso Museum as well as narrow, charming streets to get lost in as you make your way to the grand majesty of the Santa Maria del Mar cathedral. In the Mercat del Born you can also visit more archaeological remains from when part of the city was destroyed in 1714 and a museum detailing objects from this period of Catalan history. Continuing through Born you will get to Parc de la Ciutadella where the locals go for picnics in the sun, whilst listening to all sorts of artists rehearsing their music and performances.
Of course, architecturally Barcelona is famous for the modernism buildings designed by Gaudi. From Casa Batllo and Casa Mila to Parc Guell and the formidable Sagrada Familia, everyone always marvels at the intriguing, magical and fantastical designs. Art lovers also shouldn’t miss the National Art Museum and the Museum Miro on Montjuic or the Palau de la Virreina for temporary exhibitions. Some of the best sunsets are to be had from up on Montjuic, including rumba and sardines at la Caseta del Mitgdia and the Magic Fountain display.
To get to the sea, you can take the small red teleferic (cable car) from Montjuic to Barceloneta. Whilst sometimes a tourist hotspot due to the beach, the narrow streets still have old bodegas and clothes hanging on washing lines. It’s always a privilege to be by the sea eating gambas (prawns) and calamares (squid).
I hope I’ve given you a taste of my magical city – come and visit soon so that you have more chances to return!
Laura Soler Alvarez
Business Development Executive