The Catalonian capital is famed for its storied architecture, enchanting parks, art galleries, music festivals and all-night-long gastronomy. Culture abounds in this colourful city, where the beach is never far away and Gaudí is your guide. Heading to Barcelona? Here are five things to do in this energetic, seaside city
La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família awes from every angle. This towering, jagged masterpiece was built by Gaudí in 1882 and is currently under construction, hoping to be completed in 2026, coinciding with the centenary of the architect's death. Book your ticket in advance and explore the otherworldly, gothic church, built with 18 beguiling towers.
The world-renowned Park Güell offers a rare chance to explore Gaudí's extraordinary architecture. This enchanting Unesco-listed site was originally commissioned by Spanish entrepreneur Eusebi Güell and became a public park in 1926. It showcases Gaudí's organic shapes, ornamental design and vivid imagination, including and an astonishing open-air pavilion embellished with mosaic medallions.
Hotel Arts Barcelona
Head to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts Barcelona for a sundowner with unrivalled views of the beach and Frank Gehry's gargantuan, shimmering golden fish sculpture. This five-star, sprawling seafront hotel has six restaurants and bars, including two-Michelin starred Enoteca and the super-chic Arola.
During the summer months, Arola’s mezzanine terrace is a magnet for bright young Barcelonans. The theatrical, Instagram-famous cocktails are renowned, shaken by award-winning bartender Diego Baud (my Negroni arrives elegantly perched on its own miniature chair).
Playfully coined Let Us Surprise You, the tapas-style tasting menu offers creative and colourful, modern Mediterranean dishes – each one presented like a vibrant piece of art. Deft flavours, exquisite presentation and pin-sharp, friendly service make this a popular spot for families and couples alike.
Boca Chica Cocktail Bar
Head to Boca Chica for cocktails, perched atop Boca Grande restaurant in Barcelona’s Eixample neighbourhood. The seductive cocktail lair is both laidback and luxurious, furnished with Persian carpets, cowhide stools and lavish colonial touches, from stag heads to vintage trinkets. The multi-mirrored bathroom is an Instagram delight and there is a summer terrace for warmer evenings. The enticing menu features classic and signature cocktails, devised by master mixologist Sergio Padilla.
Koetània & other shops
Koetània is a contemporary jewellery boutique owned by sculptor Daniel Bellido and architect Marta S. Blanco. It is renowned for its innovative, one-of-a-kind designs that flout convention, crafted from glass, stone, silver and gold. Unsurprisingly, the shop is equally fascinating, with a buzzing workshop onsite.
A stroll along Passeig de Gràcia also makes for sartorial indulgence. Bulgari, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Prada and Valentino are among high-end boutiques on offer, plus Barcelona’s oldest design house, Santa Eulalia.