Consistently mentioned in “Best Of” lists across the web, it’s undeniable that there are countless reasons to visit Barcelona, Spain. Home to an unconventional arts scene, collection of innovative culinary creators, and what is arguably the world’s best football team, the city harbors a “work hard, play hard” mentality that is intoxicating to travelers. But what many individuals fail to see is that nestled alongside the city’s “must-sees” are a myriad of counterpoints that offer a refreshing alternative perspective to many of the city’s primary cultural pillars. Do yourself a favor and make an honest effort to follow those leads because the value they’ll add to your overall experience will be priceless.
In contrast to its Andalusian counterparts, Barcelona is not the romanticized Spain of your imagination. If you’re expecting to be surrounded by bloodstained bullrings and swooshing skirts of colorfully dressed flamenco dancers, you’re probably going to end up disappointed. But if you envision Barcelona as a destination harboring many layers, with something even more impressive waiting to be found around the next bend, this is the city for you. Embark on your journey with an open mind, and you’ll end up being captivated by the city’s avant-garde framework.
It will probably come as no surprise that there is far more to art in Barcelona than what is traditionally covered in textbooks. Yes, the influences of Miró, Dalí and Picasso are profound and can be uncovered throughout the city, but if you’re willing to dig a little deeper, you’ll unveil a hidden world of creativity just below the surface. Embodying an atmosphere that encourages self-expression and small-scale activity, individualism pulsates through Barcelona, showcasing forms of artistic expression that will appeal to practically every type of traveler. From unconventional galleries and progressive fashion boutiques to chefs on the forefront of the latest culinary trends, art in Barcelona comes in many forms.
As the capital of Modernism, it could be said that architecture in Barcelona could also be classified as art. The city’s skyline is colored with an array of dreamlike buildings designed by acclaimed architect, Antoni Gaudi, but much like Barcelona’s art scene, there is far more to be discovered than just the masterpieces left behind by well-known artisans. The work of Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Joseph Puig I Cadafalch are remarkable but are often overlooked by travelers who are stuck in the massive lines wrapping around Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. When visiting a city that places such high emphasis on the continued support of cutting-edge architectural concepts, you would be missing out if you passed up the unique opportunity to study the contributions and evocative design elements of these structures in further detail.
Get lost in the maze of narrow streets in Barcelona’s old town, the Barri Gòtic; a section of town situated on the right-hand side of the La Rambla, where many of the buildings date back to Medieval times, with some going back as far as the Roman era. The atmosphere you’ll feel as you walk through Barcelona’s old quarter is one that is rivaled in very few other European cities. La Rambla is the perfect setting for putting your hand on the heartbeat of the city, for living in the moment and truly appreciating the vibrancy of your surroundings. Listen to the street performers and buskers battle for bragging rights as you wander through this pedestrian-only shopping center that cuts directly through the city. Older guide books will tell you to cover this area thoroughly, but if you find yourself meandering up and down this stretch for hours on end, you’re missing out on the rest (and perhaps the best) of the city.
Traveling to a city with a strong presence in athletics is beyond exciting, but all the hype typically comes with hefty a price tag. Purchasing tickets to a FC Barcelona football match could prove to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life, but one that will undoubtedly put a significant dent in your funds. Our advice? If you’re a die-hard fan (or are traveling with one), go to the game, but if you’re only interested in feeling the pulse of a packed stadium, we’ve got a better idea. Instead of shelling out big bucks for less-than-ideal seats, pull up a stool at a local bar and experience this culture at its finest. Pat yourself on the back as you follow the lead of the regulars, cheering and chanting as the event unfolds, enjoying a drink and tapas with the money you saved.
Much of Barcelona’s medieval prosperity depended on sea trade, and present-day visitors are able to explore these once-thriving shipyards to get a stronger sense of the glory and adventure associated with the region’s maritime history. After you’ve explored the working waterfronts of days gone by, experience the sea from another angle while also perfecting your tan. Barceloneta Beach has earned high marks from National Geographic as being one of the planet’s cleanest beaches, providing travelers with gorgeous expanses of coastline, packed with sun-kissed bathers and plenty of dazzling beach-front entertainment. But this strip of sand isn’t the end-all-be-all of beach going in Barcelona; there are several other beaches worthy of sheltering your towel for the day. If you’re looking for a great travel story, you’ll find it at Mar Bella Beach (two words: clothing optional). For the more discreet traveler, Nova Icaria Beach is located within close proximity to Barcelona’s city center, and is generally less crowded than Barceloneta and more covered than Mar Bella, making it a great option for individuals who are looking for more space and less distraction.
For all of its splendors, one might think Barcelona is an incredibly pricey vacation spot, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When compared to other popular European destinations, Barcelona is actually quite affordable, allowing individuals with practically every budget the ability to experience the city’s unique charisma. Broaden your travel horizons and rent a car in Barcelona with Auto Europe during your upcoming trip. As a broker, we leverage our relationships with some of the biggest names in the car rental industry in order to offer our clients the guaranteed best rates on Barcelona rental cars, as well as access to a myriad of convenient pick-up locations, including at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport. Reserve your car rental in Spain online using our secure, three-step booking engine, or by calling us directly toll-free at 1-888-223-5555.