Everything you need to know about Barcelona!
So you’ve no doubt absolutely had it with the English weather and have decided it’s finally time for some well-deserved sunshine…I wouldn’t blame you, the weather’s been quite shocking this year. However, there’s no need to begin trawling the internet in search of far-off locations with eyed watering (not to mention non-student friendly) airplane fares and hotel rooms.
Why not consider Spain?
Within Europe and often between the high 20-30°C, it’s a great destination that will see you hopping straight off an EasyJet flight and strolling along the seafront in no time. It’s a big country though, with plenty of places to visit, but one of the nicest, most exciting seaside cities is Barcelona.
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Languages: Spanish, but it’s a home to a buzzing tourist trade so many people do speak a little English as well.
Places to visit: La Barceloneta – A.K.A the beach. It isn’t actually a very long beach and fills up quickly on a sunny day (every day) so to find a good spot may mean you wake up a little earlier in the morning to get down before the crowds. You can always doze off on the sand anyway.
The Sagrada Familia and Park Güell – Gaudi’s world-renowned cathedral is a must, even if it’s just to see it from the outside. You’ll have your neck craned up towards the sky, in awe of the intricacy of the stone and glass work, the enormity of the church something to truly marvel at.
Park Güell is nestled up on Carmel Hill, many steps walk to the top, where there you will find something to really gape at. A panoramic view of the entire city pans out before you, stretching far and wide to the sea. Bring a camera because it’s an amazingly impressive view you’ll want to snap a thousand times, unable to do the real thing justice. If you’re one for art, there’s also the chance to visit Gaudi’s house, which has been transformed into a museum, as well as other buildings and projects he left behind for visitors to enjoy.
Las Ramblas: This isn’t particularly a sight but actually the main street that runs over a kilometre from the Placa Catalunya down to the beach, lined with market stalls, shops and restaurants. It’s a great way to unwind and spend an hour or so, wandering along the flagstones (but be wary about pickpockets, the city is infamous for them – keep a hand on your bag at all times)
The aquarium – a great place to escape the scorching heat outside for a couple of hours, the aquarium is home to thousands of marine species. It has a tunnel where sharks swim overhead and even houses penguins, so don’t miss out just because you might think aquariums are only for children. It really is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Port Olìmpic – looking to go out at night? Try this quarter and you’ll find it hiving once the wee hours of the morning come around, packed with people hopping from one club to another.
Port Aventura – this isn’t actually in Barcelona and is around an hour and half’s drive from the city but it seemed worth a mention considering it’s a theme park For an all day trip, most people probably don’t mind making the journey and it’s a fantastic place, filled with screams of fear and joy. It will obviously be on the more expensive side too but you can be guaranteed it’ll be money well spent when you stumble back in the evening, wrecked with exhaustion from shouting at the top of your lungs.
Food/Restaurants to try:
Now, this is the part I loved. The prices are often really reasonable and the food is great.
- Makamaka – a very casual, eccentric lunch place by the beach. It does great burgers and also delicious, healthy salads to suit everyone, and it’s cheap. Drinks are always on the cards in Spain as well, so why not indulge in a little afternoon Mojito?
- The Surf House – the name says it all. Surrounded by surf memorabilia, sitting just opposite the beach, you can get a great brunch here; delicious pancake stacks, hipster acai bowls, eggs of all kinds and avo toast. Being in Spain, you can take your time getting there as most places open later than in the UK. Also, try Brunch & Cake, further inland but equally delicious. The Boqueria market - This is a market on Las Ramblas, open daily to visitors. Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of fresh fruit and veg, smoothies, meat and fish, sweets, crêpes, anything that can tempt your palate, they can provide!
- Eyescream and friends – for a bit of dairy indulgence, head on over here; shaved ice-cream of different flavours with a large choice of toppings, it’s a brilliant pit stop during the lull of the hot afternoon.
Tips and tricks:
- The underground is really simple to navigate and decently priced so don’t be put off because it’s an unfamiliar situation. However, in the summer, it really is nicer to walk places or hop on a bus as they around the city, so try that as well.
- Again, keep an eye and a hand on your things all the time because you don’t want to tempt fate – things do get taken, all the time. Make the effort of using a phrase book or learning a few key sentences in Spanish because it really helps people warm to you and want to help.
- Check the opening times of places before you go because Spain has its ‘siesta’ time mid-afternoon when lots of businesses close before opening again later.
- Look into renting an Air BnB whilst you’re in the city because really cheap places are easy to find and it means you can save money on eating out by cooking your own food sometimes (if you can be bothered).
- Walk. Everywhere. It’s an amazingly vibrant city but you won’t many parts of it unless you take a stroll. Head down the narrow side streets of the Barri Gotic or anywhere your feet take you. Be adventurous! And have fun.
Katie Harwood, 19. English Literature student.