Barcelona is designed for celebrating life. It is propelled by a sense of youthful playfulness and constant evolution, yet never fails to embrace its unique historical heritage and traditions. It's a city with fervid passion for good food and wine, for art, music and culture. From its palm-filled squares and parks to its Mediterranean-kissed beaches and bustling tapas bars, inspiration is never far away. The perfect place to slow down, unwind and live more deliberately.
When to Go
Spring runs from May to June and is arguably the best time to visit, with temperatures hovering around the mid-70s. Running from July to August, summer sees the largest crowds and most inflated prices, with high humidity and sticky nights. Tourist numbers wane in September and October, while temperatures in the high to low 70s continue to make this a fantastic time of year to visit. November and December enjoy bright days and fewer visitors.
La Mercè (September 24th) is the most explosive celebration and sees the city burst to life for five days of parading giants, 'fire runs' and human towers. Held on April 23rd, Sant Jordi is Catalonia's equivalent of Valentine's Day, while Sant Joan (June 23rd) is another notoriously fiery fiesta known as "The Night of Fire." The Gràcia festival is a week-long fiesta (every August) which sees crowds gather to revel in all-night street parties.
What to Eat
Calçots are the most Catalan of all Catalan delicacies, a sort of giant spring onion served with a nutty romesco salsa and local sausages called botifarra. Escalivada is another rustic classic: chargrilled aubergine and peppers served over toasted bread and topped with anchovies. Like their French neighbors, the Catalans also have a penchant for 'caracols' (snails), and the signature dessert of crema Catalana is, for all intents and purposes, the same as France's crème brûlée.
Souvenir to Take Home
Tour Barcelona's iconic Boqueria market and countless wine bodegas to pick up a selection of edible and quaffable souvenirs. Vacuum-sealed packs of Iberico jamón travel beautifully well and don't take up too much space in your luggage, while a bottle of Catalan Cava (local sparkling wine) is the perfect way to take a little taste of la fiesta home with you. Stop off at the modernist marvel of Casa Amatller for beautifully packaged artisanal chocolate.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
Barcelona's maze-like Old Town is perfect for exploring on foot, as are the leafy boulevards of the modernist Eixample barrio. The metro system is affordable and refreshingly easy to navigate, although the constantly expanding cycle lane network makes it just as quick to traverse the entire city without having to go underground. Bike rental shops are readily available, as are skate shops for those who want to cruise the beach boardwalk in local fashion.
Barcelona's streets appear to have been designed as an envy-inducing backdrop for the 'gram, but there are a few extra-special spots for those all-important skyline snaps. Antoni Gaudí's beautifully bizarre Park Güell offers iconic mosaics vivid color and sweeping views over the city. The lesser-known Carmel Bunkers were built as part of an anti-aircraft battery unit to protect Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and offer uninterrupted views across the city and smaller crowds.