It is all too easy to spend a weekend in Barcelona, visit the Sagrada Familia, hang out at the beach and then leave. There is SO much more to Barcelona, and here are my top tips to spending an alternative and cultural weekend in Barcelona.
Stroll the Gothic Quarter
Strolling around the old city, and especially the Gothic quarter – which is situated right next to the popular La Ramblas area – is a great way to experience the flavour of this ancient city. It oozes history and, from the old Jewish quarter to the secluded medieval alleyways that define the streets, you’ll find adorable little plazas and buildings that are open to the public, such as the historical archive of the city or the Roman Temple of Augustus.
Experience the Santa Maria del Mar
Built in the 14th century, the church of Santa Maria del Mar is one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals ever built, not only in Spain, but the whole world. While Barcelona’s cathedral was the centre of the old city, this church became the main building of what was then the new part of the city where hoards of merchants and shipowners settled. This grand church was built in only 55 years which back then usually took longer than a century to fully construct. You have to see this church to believe it.
Wander around the local parks
As the population density is quite high in Barcelona, there aren’t a whole bunch of parks to visit. People mostly live in high rise apartment buildings. However, both the coast and the mountains are just around the corner so the city’s main green space, Parc de la Ciutadella, is more than sufficient. It’s on the site of an old military and also has a lake and zoo full of exotic animals, and is just adjacent to the houses the Catalan Parliament. Visit the Montjuïc hill for a mix of nature, great views and culture – you’ll find the the National Museum of Art and the Joan Miró Foundation.