Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world. At the same time, it is one of the most densely built cities in Europe. These two facts might make the atmosphere explode in the middle of summer. But they are the same reason why Barcelona has always been a leader in cultural, artistic and other creative movements. On its streets, squares, and parks you can sense an incredible cosmopolitan energy. There are countless things to do and see, and getting off the beaten track is not such an arduous task. There is just a small trick to it: you must know Barcelona!
Milos’ Barcelona Favorites
I fell in love with Barcelona a long time ago. At that time perhaps a more innocent, fragile and naïve city. Since then it has matured, and come out of several challenges stronger and smarter. We locals know why everybody loves visiting: Barcelona is simply irresistible! The main landmarks are popular and crowded for a reason. It’s such a pleasure to walk about the Old Town, the famous La Rambla Street, admire Gaudi’s masterpieces, stroll about Montjuic Hill and chill on any of the beaches that dot our 5 km long coast.
However, there is far more to our city. Barcelona was once amongst the leading centers of the Art Nouveau movement. Thus, there are lavish buildings all around (not only Gaudi’s). Another thing you may not know is that Barcelona is, in fact, a sum of different Old Towns, each with a different physiognomy and character. I usually gravitate towards these Old Towns, far from the eyes of massive tourism.
This is a list of my favorite places in Barcelona:
Favorite Park: Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera
Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden is an outstanding botanical garden that gathers numerous species from dessert, sub-desert and tropical areas. Over 800 types of Cacti and plants occupy 6 hectares on the southern slope of Montjuic hill. Even though the place is somehow isolated getting here is fairly easy. You can either climb the hill towards the Miramar Hotel or take the alternative road surrounding the hill, with fewer people and better views!
Favorite Square: Plaça de la Concòrdia
The charming Concòrdia Square is Les Corts’ main square. Les Corts was a rural suburb until Barcelona absorbed it in 1897. Today it is the smallest district in terms of population and one of the least visited by tourists. The rectangular square is home to the Santa Maria del Remei church, a Civic center and several bars and restaurants. I especially enjoy visiting it on a working day. It is tucked away in a residential area not far from the metro station.
Favorite Street: Joaquín Costa
The relatively rundown neighborhood of Raval is still Barcelona’s most controversial. Local authorities have invested abundant funds to break the old matrix that has attracted prostitution and drug dealers for ages. At the same time, the city’s coolest bars settled in this decadent area. Joaquín Costa Street is probably the best place to have a drink or two, lined with cool bars, each with a different vibe. One of my favorites is owned by an extravagant old lady full of interesting stories!
Favorite Building: Palau de la Música
I must admit that I am sentimental! I have special feelings related to this outstanding Palace. Almost a decade ago I performed here with a local choir and several others and My God what a pleasure it was. Palau de la Música is one of the city’s best concert halls in terms of acoustics and the repertoire. If you think its colorful Art Nouveau façade is outrageously beautiful, check the inside out and you’ll be left speechless. And it’s not even Gaudi’s! I strongly suggest attending a concert.
Favorite Neighborhood: Poblenou
Northeast of the City center lies the giant Poblenou neighborhood. Several obsolete industrial plants stand next to elegant buildings, small houses and high-tech architecture. Once in oblivion, it is now booming with life thanks to creative young people who opened all sorts of businesses here. My favorites are Rambla de Raval, less frequented and equally beautiful as la Rambla, the old area until Bilbao street and the new fancy buildings next to the Glòries Square.
Favorite Beach: Sant Sebastià beach in Sitges
Due to our privileged and wonderful weather all year round, all of Barcelona’s 10 beaches are very popular and often overcrowded. I personally think Barcelona’s beaches are not bad at all. I mean is there any other major European city with a beach in its very own center? But Catalonia offers a beach for pretty much every taste. The small town of Sitges is just 30 minutes away from Barcelona and is home to long stretches of coast. Pretty Sant Sebastià beach is somehow on its own, cut off by the Old Town. Thus, very private.
More Travel Favotites…
Check out Milos’ own site, ‘The Happy Frog‘, if you want more of his awesome tips!