What place comes to mind when I mention beaches, sunshine, art, and Europe? Barcelona naturally! Barcelona is a beautiful city on the east coast of Spain. As the heart of Catalan country, this place inspires and awes travelers for its culture, beauty, and history.
Barcelona was the first city I ever visited in Spain as warm sunshine and Catalonian culture welcomed me like an old friend. As I backpacked through Spain and Portugal, Barcelona became one of my favorite cities. While many people prefer beauty and the beaches, Barcelona is a Catalan mecca of art, culture, and sports.
Basking in the sun on a Barcelona beach
With one of the best urban beaches in the world, Barceloneta beach is located in the Ciutat Vella district in Barcelona. While long white stretches of sand have been the seaside playground for locals and tourists since the 18th century, the popularity of this beach has taken off in recent years.
The beach features plenty of sand, restaurants, art, and showers so people can eat, play, and enjoy. During the summer, the beaches are packed. However, you can also enjoy a stroll or a nice bike ride on the pedestrian path that extends the length of the beach.
The Metro is the best way to get to the beach as parking is limited. The easiest way to get there is to take the Barcelona Metro to Barceloneta and walk the Passeig Joan de Borbó avenue for a lovely 15 minute stroll down to the beach.
Barcelona football is part of the culture
During the reign of Franco, the Catalan language and most of the culture were forbidden. Catalan flags were not allowed and the people could only speak Spanish. So what united the people and kept the culture alive? The FC Barcelona football team.
While many people in Europe and around the world are passionate about their football team, Barcelona’s main football club extends beyond the world of sports and connects people with the local culture. When the people could no longer be Catalonian, they found a way to remain Catalans – through football and the FC Barcelona flag.
Today, a passion for the team still exists and is a sense of pride for everyone in the area – whether they love football or not. To get an experience of the culture, attend a football match at the Camp Nou along with 95,000 Catalunyans. Even if you aren’t a fan of sports, a match here is something special. And you get to see a great football team as well!
Sports has been a vital part of Barcelona for many years. Beyond the world of football, this city was able to share their passion with the world in the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Antoni Gaudi and the beauty of art in Barcelona
For the more artistic side of life in Barcelona, Antoni Gaudí is a name synonymous with the city. Gaudí’s unique take on the Art Nouveau style is displayed throughout the city making the locals proud to call him a native son.
In the Eixample district of Barcelona, a walk down the Passeig de Gracia is a window, door, and an artistic welcome mat to the unique architecture of Gaudí. Of all the buildings he created, one of the his most famous pieces of work is found at Casa Mila.
Built for a wealthy couple in the city, Casa Mila features a number of unique spiritual works with angels and statues as well as his unique style known as Modernisme. One of the best views of the city is from the rooftop view of Casa Mila as you get a view of every day life in Barcelona passing by on the streets of the city.
While Casa Mila is a fine example of his work, Gaudí designed a place for those who love the outdoors as well. Located close to the city center is Parc Guell – a unique city park that was designated as the site of an upper class neighborhood. While the plans for this upscale urban residence didn’t work out, locals and tourists get to appreciate his unique designs and styles among the trees and green grass as they enjoy fabulous views of the city and beaches.
Gaudi’s masterpiece – La Sagrada Familia
The most famous work of his life has extended well beyond his years and is still a work in progress today. Because of his faith and devotion to the Catholic church, Gaudí was commissioned to create his life defining piece – the holy La Sagrada Familia.
Construction began in 1882 and continued until his death in 1926. During that time, only a quarter of the church was completed. While building slowed during the Spanish Civil War, construction continues today with plans for completion in 2026.
The spires, large nave, and the three facades of the Passion, Nativity, and Glory scenes give La Sagrada Familia its unique look. While the project continues, millions of visitors continue to visit and be inspired by the vision and construction of this yet-to-be-completed masterpiece by Gaudí.
Experience Catalan culture through art, football, and beaches
Barcelona is the cultural capital and heart of Catalan culture. Whether you enjoy a stroll on the beach, a FC Barcelona football match at Camp Nou, or the artistic styles and designs of Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona connects you with the people and culture of Catalonia.
Barcelona is a urban city, unique in its history and culture, with something to offer everyone who visits. While many people escape to its beaches, dig deeper to find the beauty in its people. From those with a flair for the Art Nouveau and Modernisme style like Antoni Gaudi to its modern day people and their love of football, go beyond the sights and experience what this city and the people of Catalonia have to offer.
Have you been to Barcelona? What is your favorite thing to do and see in the city?
All opinions expressed on Barcelona are my own and reflect the experiences I enjoyed in the city.