Malte Zeeck, our founder and co-CEO and a former expatriate himself, shares his five favorite things to do in beautiful Barcelona.
While Barcelona, or “BCN”, isn’t as familiar to me as its perennial rival Madrid, I’ve had the chance to visit the capital of Catalonia repeatedly, and not only in my role as the founder of InterNations.
Recently, I was invited to a good friend’s bachelor party in the city, and all 15 of us were flitting about on rented mini-scooters to explore the town. Which reminds me of my first tip for anyone who wishes to play the tourist in Barcelona for a little while:
1) Discover the city by scooter. Inspired by my Vespa ride through Rome, I used the “Cooltra” renting company for my motorist needs in Barcelona. The distances between major sights such as the Sagrada Familia and more of Gaudí’s masterpieces, like Park Güell and the architecture along the Passeig de Gracia, are ideal to cover by scooter.
The flexibility to go wherever you please and stop whenever you want is a huge plus for anyone exploring a city of that size. However, if you don’t feel quite as confident on two wheels yet, there are also guided scooter tours through the city.
2) Explore the La Barceloneta district. This densely built district was designed on a grid. The clothing lines between the buildings, along with the traditional small eateries and bars called chiringuitos (guinguetas in Catalán), are a throwback to the days of yore when this area housed Barcelona’s fishing community.
At the end of La Barceloneta, you’ll immediately spot the W Barcelona building (nicknamed “Hotel Vela” by the locals), a stunning sight in its own right. If you end up going in that direction, be sure to head to the waterfront and check out the chiringuitos on the beach.
3) Go clubbing at Carpe Diem. Fair’s fair: after I recommended the official stadium café of Real Madrid in my last post, I should include a Barça-related activity here to balance this.
For the FC Barcelona fans that weren’t able to secure tickets for a match at Camp Nou, the Carpe Diem lounge club, owned by Dutch football star and former FCB player Patrick Kluivert, is a fun alternative. The restaurant serves high-end Asian and Arabic cuisine, and the lounge is ideal for those looking for an exclusive clubbing experience.
4) Have lunch at the Boquería. A visit to Las Ramblas is inevitable for every visitor in Barcelona, just as inevitable as getting a bit overwhelmed by the crowds. La Boquería is a market just off Las Ramblas where you can escape to for a while. This mercat has plenty of fresh produce to choose from and is a dream come true for everyone who loves shopping locally.
5) Enjoy the view at Mirablau. A panoramic view is hard to say no to – especially in a city like Barcelona with a waterfront on the Mediterranean.
Mirablau isn’t only a great venue for its view, but you’ll also enjoy the food and drinks there. If you didn’t get enough of the Barcelona nightlife at Carpe Diem, you can try your luck here and enjoy the scenic view in the early morning hours.
(Image credit: 1) & 2) Malte Zeeck/InterNations 3) & 4) iStockphoto)