The dreamy Barcelona. We all have heard of it and dreamed about it sometime. A city with corners to be discovered every day. Impossible not to love it, but most of all, to love the way it makes you feel when letting go to its magic.
I have had the chance the embrace this place, to have it all for myself and to sense it from head to bottom, from mountain to coast line, from iconic places to hidden undiscovered corners. Learning things to do in Barcelona almost on daily basis.
So please let me take you into these gothic old streets, into the most perfectly built neighborhood and into some greatest spots in history, in art, in culture, in food-n-drinks tasting. Let me get you inspired into sensing this unique city we all have heard about: Barcelona!
Definitely a great quantity of things to see in this city, but you all know where to find the usual stuff, right? So let’s not stop here and let’s keep moving forward to what you won’t find on a common travel guide.
Montjuic Magic Fountain: the best and most beautiful free water fountains we have seen in our travels, these fountains in Barcelona are not to be missed. With a winter schedule (Friday-Saturday 7-9pm) and a summer schedule (Thursday-Sunday 9-11:30 pm) you will have an endless opportunity to enjoy this show. Music, colours and water become alive all together in a beautiful set of artistic display.
View of Barcelona from down under the W Hotel. Right on the corner of Barceloneta Beach, you will find a surprising spot, not as touristy as one might think, with plenty of coffee places in order to enjoy the afternoon, winter or summer. Even a mojito if you please on a new “chiringuito” or beach bar for quite a low budget. Feel free to walk, rent a bike, roller skates, or even take the bus. Just make sure you don’t miss this secret spot. One city view you won’t get from anywhere else in town!
Castellers: traditional and local human towers! You read that right. Declared as a Human Heritage, this local activity has it all for your sight: from amazement to stressful balancing moments. Every neighborhood and every town has its own group of castellers. They don’t perform daily or weekly, but you can definitely search or ask for the next presentation closest to you. And it is always a free attraction, so write this down as I write and you read.
Unfortunately, salty-sea smell is not an option here. Despite being such a salty sea, the Mediterranean Sea has not a great or strong sea-like aroma. But it doesn’t really matter when you have such a city right on its side.
Barcelona has appeared to my nose as a fantastic lab many times, even for all senses. But I have found out it is mostly about the scents on the street. Like what? Well, bakery and chocolate shops. Not to leave fresh fruit markets aside of course. But to me, bakeries, pastry shops and bread shops are the winners to my scent-album! So many of them throughout town and all of them so worth even a little taste, not only a deep smell.
Besides, it’s quite cheap! So don’t hesitate on trying any good “patisserie” whenever in town (even better if hidden from main touristy streets or areas). Sit down peacefully or why not, take away to that little corner at the beach. It will all be worthwhile and you will enjoy the moment forever.
Also, do not doubt indulging your nose with some fresh market scents. It is all about juicy fruits, jumping next to the fish section with quite a different smell. Then hitting the isle down to the sausages and meat stands, just to finally and happily end up at the chocolates stand. Open your lungs, close your eyes, grab your purse and take a long deep breath right there. Your soul will regain energy afterwards.
Traditional castellers’ music: a small band particularly known as cobla are the ones in charge of playing some air instruments with one unique kind of sound, as part of their human towers ritual, setting the right time and rhythm of the ascending. Nothing like we have heard before. It certainly gives some emotion and feeling to the whole event. Once more, castellers and their music is worth mentioning here. As a free activity, you can put two senses to good practice while enjoying this incredible performance.
Sagrada Familia’s bells during christmas time: no words needed in order to describe this one. As simple as it sounds. So if you are around during christmas time, make sure you go visit and sit somewhere around this church, preferably on the night of December 24th. Then just sit and let go into an overwhelming experience as the church become alive to the sounds of bells playing the Holy Night.
Food and flavours in Barcelona is all about one thing: traditions. And with these, let me give you a few but tasty tips on what to taste, depending on the season you are visiting the city. Don’t worry, there is something for everyone!
Calçots: a winter onion-like dish full of fun! Get your glove and bib ready to dip these onions into the most exquisite homemade special sauce.
Fideua: a paella made with tiny noodles and served with alioli. Couldn’t get better!
Cava with lemon sorbet: happy new years! Unbelievable fresh and classy drink, easy to make and ready to welcome a new year full of adventures.
Panellets: Easter week time brings some delightful little pastries of several kinds. They are called panellets and are sold by weight. Go by a pastry shop and buy one of each, then head to the nearest park and enjoy with a nice cuppa coffee or even some more Cava. Cozy, warm and sweet flavour.
The toughest sense to discover and describe, but also the most memorable one within our sensory album of life.
Barcelona is the heart and home for Modernism, which brings a special detail to be touched. Something you will barely find in any other place in the world.
Trencadís: this is the name for the very popular technique by Antonio Gaudi, the one with lots of ceramic pieces, with tons of colors and images, even hidden messages. This technique makes a unique surface, which can be found extensively at the Parc Guell mainly, but also at many other of Gaudi’s art, such as Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
San Jordi’s City Door: a magnificent historical monument at the the Crown’s Archive building right in the heart of the Gothic neighbourhood. Made with bronze in 1975 by Josep Maria Subirachs, this huge door gives a great overview to the history of Catalonia, all within the Sant Jordi legend: a saint who defeated a dragon in order to save an entire town and a princess. Its greatest figures and irregular surface lets people enjoy some learning while touching history itself.
After these experiences, you will certainly have some great stories to share and many memories through the senses that will make you want to come back to Barcelona.
*For more travel tips, check my “Things to do in Barcelona” Guide for yTravel Blog.