MORE THAN A CITY BREAK
Experience an exhilarating blend of vibrant culture, thriving nightlife and glorious beaches on Barcelona city breaks.
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A trip to Barcelona blends city living, full of intriguing architecture and friendly people, with beautiful beaches. This vibrant, yet charming destination will entice you with its eclectic mix of things to do.
From the stunning beaches, to the cosmopolitan shopping areas and unique dining and nightlife, Barcelona is a fantastic choice for beach holidays, family getaways and city breaks. Spend your days sightseeing and your nights embracing the exquisite Catalan cuisine and diverse evening entertainment. Each area has its own character and history, from the Roman remains of Barri Gotic to the modern skyscrapers of the commercial area, Port Olimpic.
Stroll along La Rambla – a Barcelona ritual well worth observing. Or wander down Passeig de Lluis Companys, through the Arc de Triomf, and on to the Parc de la Ciutadella. Feast your eyes on Gaudi’s most famous masterpieces, like the World Heritage site Casa Mila. Visit his most treasured building, La Sagrada Familia, a spectacular sight in the evening. Make sure to hike up Montjuic, for breathtaking views and a well-deserved beer.
You’ll find something for all tastes in Barcelona’s abundant tapas bars. These delicious nibbles will tide you over until dinner, which is not traditionally eaten until late in the evening. Many places also serve a leisurely three-course lunch – the perfect way to sample traditional delicacies, accompanied by fantastic wine from the Penedès region. Barcelona is big on al fresco dining, so be sure to grab a table outside for some people-watching opportunities.
Alongside the public art and world-class architecture, you’ll also find an array of galleries and museums. The Museu de la Catedral encapsulates the city’s history and art throughout the centuries. Try the Fundacio Joan Miró, which houses the most important collection of works by modernist Joan Miró. Even its magnificent Mediterranean-style architecture, designed by Josef Lluis, makes its own artistic statement.
Barcelona has some of the best shops in Europe, with markets, boutiques, and branded chain stores popping up on every corner. Especially good is La Boqueria market on La Rambla, selling fresh fish and fruit – both a visual and culinary feast. Don’t miss the exclusive high-end boutiques on Via Laietana, try the vintage shops in El Raval, or find a bargain in the Born-Ribera district.
Traditional tea lounges and beer houses rub shoulders with fashionable restaurants and intimate bars in Barri Gotic. Dance the night away in Poble Nou, or lose yourself in the narrow streets of Gracia, beyond Eixample. If you dine late, as the Spanish do, go afterwards to an evening of live music at a club or bar. They’ll likely be open until ‘madrugada’ – a flexible closing time which means ‘whenever the customers go home’.
Enjoy a city break with a difference on Barcelona’s fantastic beaches. Combine days of sightseeing or shopping with an afternoon at the beach, or a lazy brunch on the water’s edge at Port Olimpic. Barceloneta is an area worth exploring, and is right next to the best beach. Golden sands and shallow waters make the beaches ideal for everyone. So hire a bike, pack a picnic, and laze in the sunshine.
See the sights and visit Barcelona’s top attractions with the Barcelona discount card.Find out more
Retrace the footsteps of legendary players from past and present on this self-guided tour.Find out more
Combine authentic tapas and flamenco on this three-hour evening experience.Find out more
See the sights and learn the history of Barcelona on a bike tour.Find out more
Discover the exuberance and beauty of Barcelona on an action-packed morning tour.Find out more
See the best of Barcelona on this convenient bus tour.Find out more
Enjoy a flamenco night at Barcelona's legendary Tablao Cordobes.Find out more
Enjoy a trip to Spain’s top theme park and aquatic centre.Find out more
Visit La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on a 1.5-hour skip-the-line tour.Find out more
Enjoy an audio tour around one of Gaudi's most inspired Barcelona buildings.Find out more
Discover the world of Spanish wine on this small-group day trip.Find out more
Take a trip to the iconic Tibidabo Amusement Park just outside Barcelona.Find out more
Locals can unlock the secrets of your destination. We caught up with Rosa, a local with a passion for tranquil Spanish beaches and road trips around Barcelona. Check out her recommendations for the complete Barcelona getaway, or connect with her to book an experience on the Ventoura app.Discover more about Ventoura locals
The Sala Montjuïc outdoor cinema feels more like a summertime festival than a night at the movies. Lounge chairs and picnic rugs abound as hundreds come together on the iconic Montjuïc castle’s lawns to enjoy music and cinema. While there are English films screened, visit on a night showcasing Spanish cinema and experience Spanish life and culture like a local! Be sure to arrive before the screenings to enjoy live jazz performances from local Spanish bands.
Sample Barcelona’s most weird and wonderful beers at the La Cervesera Artesana microbrewery, where Catalan creativity meets hipster beer culture. There’s always house-brewed beer on tap with styles ranging from stouts to pale ales. Beer buffs will be spoiled for choice with these experimental brews fresh from the brewery, and you can even take a class in food and beer pairing. Cheers to that!
The Gràcia district is Barcelona’s most trendy and vibrant region. During August Gràcia is home to its Festa Major, a week-long festival that sees the streets adorned with colour and decorations to celebrate Catalan life and history. Outside of the Festa Major, Gràcia is a bustling nightlife and music hub attracting local and international artists. For the ultimate spot to savour live music head to Heliogàbal, an intimate bar and gig venue that defines a good night out in Gràcia.
You’ll be dining elbow-to-elbow with locals at La Esquinica, an authentic tapas bar in Barcelona’s north. Popular amongst locals for its high-quality, speedy service and affordable prices, come here hungry and spoil yourself with an array of Catalan delights including grilled meats, seafood, and patatas bravas. Walk on the wild side and sample a Spanish speciality with the vino turbio: wine served after being shaken until frothy and cloudy.
Sunday Times Travel Magazines’ Lucy Thackray picks five of the world’s best one-artist galleries.