Barcelona is well worth a visit any time of the year. The city that first came to the world’s attention thanks to the 1992 Olympic Games is all grown up. 12 million visitors drink in its magnificent architectural splendour, iconic locations and vibrant cultural life every year. At Cala Llevadó you are snugly nestled in the natural world, but it’s worth dragging yourself away – if only for a day – from the peace and quiet to enjoy the hustle, bustle and beauty of one of the Mediterranean’s most charming cities.
OK. Let’s get going. We only have one day to visit Barcelona and we want to make the most of it. What are some of the city’s highlights? Regardless of whether you’re religious or passionate about architecture, the Sagrada Familia is a must-visit. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí: chief exponent of modernism, the architectural movement that transformed Catalan society during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Construction of this enormous church began in 1882 and is still not finished. When you see outside and inside of Sagrada Familia you’ll get an idea of the genius of Gaudí and a greater understanding of Catalan culture. You’ll be amazed.
Let’s head towards to the centre of the city through the neighbourhood of Eixample: meticulously designed into a grid of straight streets and square blocks by Ildefons Cerdà. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes as we’ll be doing lots of walking. A good starting point is Diagonal Metro station. From there, take Passeig de Gracia downwards, towards the sea. Along this long, wide avenue you’ll find many of the city’s greatest modernist jewels, such as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. After a while, you’ll reach Plaça de Catalunya. Cross this huge square and you’ll hit Barcelona’s most famous street: la Rambla. It’s hard to find a time of day when this street is not busy. A few locals say that all the tourism has caused la Rambla to lose some of the charm and essence that once made it famous. Even so, la Rambla is a symbol of cosmopolitan Barcelona: a city that is open to the world.
By now you’ve reached the Old City. If you take a left down Calle Portaferrissa or Calle Ferran, you’ll soon find yourselves lost among what were once the city’s main arteries. Take a stroll around Plaza Sant Jaume, seat of the local government (Generalitat) and City Hall (Ayuntamiento). Then head to el Born. In this picturesque neighbourhood ancient Barcelona lives alongside innovative art, fashion and food shops. You’ll also find Museo Picasso, with the greatest collection of the artist’s paintings anywhere in the world. And, of course, the stripped-back beauty of Santa María del Mar.
So what about the sea? Barcelona is, of course, a Mediterranean city. We suggest you walk to the shore via the city’s old fishing district: la Barceloneta. The sea has shaped this city throughout its history, just as it has the Costa Brava coast, 85 kilometres to the north.