‘Would you go to Barcelona in Winter?’
That’s what my friends said to me as I asked where was best to go in February for a long weekend. I confess I’ve never been abroad in Europe in winter and I was pretty intrigued to find out. So where in sunny Spain would I go?
There was no contest.
Barcelona would be my port of call for a long weekend as there are frequent cheap flights there from London with British Airways.
So what did I do in Barcelona over four days? Let’s find out.
What to See
La Sagrada Familia
The centrepiece of Barcelona. This Gaudi art masterpiece is officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site that started construction in 1882 and is still being built to this day combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Relying on only private donations, the Sagrada Familia is expected to be finished building in 2026. However, you can still enter the Church that display epic biblical scenes on the exterior of the church but you will be surprised that inside, there are none. But you aren’t disappointed as you will be gobsmacked in awe at the nature and rounded architecture that dominates the interior. A must see visit, indeed.
TIP: Book your ticket to view the Sagrada Familia in advance as there are huge queues on the day.
You never know what quite to expect of Barcelona as you go round every corner. This is thanks to Barcelona’s most famous architect, Gaudi. His unique and individualistic designs were part of the Modern movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and still remains popular to this day. As you walk north from the Gothic Quarter through Exiample district, you will definitely see crowds a buzzing in front of three highly experimental and pleasing buildings: Casa Mila, Casa Batilo and Casa Botines. Their rounded designs has divided public opinion but for this backpacking tourist, I just adore Casa Batilo (see pictured).
If you’re looking to go back into the past, I would recommend taking a wander in Barcelona’s Old Gothic Quarter. With their narrow streets, large squares and ancient Gothic buildings, you are often surprised as you stumble across quirks and gems within that will bemuse you. But remember to keep your eyes peeled up to the sky as the wonderful architecture will bestow history upon you making you feel you are transported to another world.
Marina Port Vell
Luxury can be found on Marina Port Vell where expensive tastes can be sated here. You do get the sense of ‘Hollywood’ here that this is where Spanish celebrities and A-Listers could attend as they come in their large yachts and dine in style on the waterfront. This is a perfect place where you can take a walk but remember to slap on some sunscreen to avoid getting sunburnt.
Overlooked due to Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Barcelona must not be missed out. This understated yet grandiose building is pleasing to the eye and a perfect backdrop as you shop for local wares in the markets in front. Just watch out for pickpockets here.
You must check out Citadel Park when you are in Barcelona. The site of the grand military fortress was only built to control the rebellious Barcelona residents, however, the fortifications are now gone and replaced with green spaces for the residents and tourists to enjoy. It’s a perfect place for a spot of picnic in front of the waterfall, the Cascada, and the beautiful plant house. I just used it an excuse to get a jumping picture!
You might not want to hit the beaches in Winter but it is the perfect place to take a walk in the evening as you wrap up to enjoy that fresh sea air while you look at the city of Barcelona glittering against the backdrop of dusk. Perhaps warm yourself up with a few cocktails there? You can’t possibly say no…
Which Tour To Go On?
With so many attractions to see and do in a long weekend, it may be recommended to use a tour group to help you see the best of the city. Here’s the two I used.
Rainbow Barcelona Tours
Rainbow Barcelona Tours have demonstrated themselves to be one of the best tour guide options to discover the important monuments and sightseeing places of the cities, unhurried and at your own pace. And what’s more their LGBT-friendly tour guides will give you all of the detailed information on what you will see, along with the possibility to enjoy one of their gay activities while you stay in Barcelona. I opted to go on the Old Town Walking Tour and the Lesson in Gaudi and Modernism. Both came with highly experienced tour guides that made the day fly by with their interesting facts and anecdotes. I would very highly recommend them.
Barcelona Bus Turistic Sightseeing Tour
If you’re looking to sightsee all of Barcelona’s sights from afar within a few hours, I would use the Barcelona Bus Turistic Sightseeing Tour, where you will observe all the attractions from the comforts of an open top bus. Their audio guides are pretty interactive and will provide you with the latest information you need to learn about and explore Barcelona.
Where To Stay
If you’re looking to stay in Barcelona on a budget yet still have a luxury taste to make your stay lovely in comfort, I would definitely recommend TOC Hostels in the heart of Barcelona’s local district, Exiample. With private en-suite rooms for couples, families and even the solo traveller, you can relax in style whilst making the most of the communal spaces include their very own bar, tv room and a healthy Catalan style breakfast. Conveniently located, there are frequent bus stops, trams and metros to use close by or you can walk to Barcelona’s Old Gothic Quarter only minutes away.
Where To Eat
There are two places I would recommend for good hearty Catalan food to get your local taste of the place. The first is just round the corner from TOC Hostels called Foz Restaurant where only Catalan must be spoken in this hidden restaurant frequented only by locals. Good quality and fine dining can be found there.
The second is found within Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter where you will find Schilling Bar, recommended by Rainbow Barcelona, where you find the perfect opportunity to sample a wide range of Spanish delectable delights for your lunch break. Remember to try the wine, it’s gorgeous!
Where To Drink
If you fancy relaxing with a beer, how about in Barcelona’s own famous and quirky brewery, Fabrica Moritz? You can learn about how the beer is made but I suspect you will soon discover it at the bottom of the glass! But with great service and plentiful beer, this may be the place to make merriment with your fellow travellers.
But if the nightlife partying is your scene, you only have to walk a few minutes from TOC Hostels to the Arena night clubs found in three separate buildings, each playing a different style of music. You only have to pay entry (12€) at one to get access to all three. Be warned, the Catalans like to party from midnight until dawn!
What else is there to see next?
It’s hard to see all the sights within a long weekend and actually, a week still wouldn’t be enough to see all of them! But other sights have I missed out that I desperately wanted to see that I think you should check out as well?
How about Barcelona’s own Montjuic Mountain where you can hitch on a cable car to the top and explore the Olympic Park?
Or how about catching a colourful show at dusk at the Magic Fountain where a thrilling water show will certainly put you in the mood to enjoy Barcelona where you simply have to return to this fantastic city again and again in your lifetime.
I’ll be back in summer and maybe next year.
Just stop me.
I just love Barcelona. And that’s a Fact.
*This article first appeared in ‘The Journal.’