Barcelona, one of the greatest and happiest cities in the world

The website Online Mortgage Advisor made a list of the cities with the most beautiful architecture in the world, and Barcelona took the third place, only below Venice and Rome. Similarly, Club Med published an article listing the world’s happiest destinations in 2022, and Barcelona was ranked the fourth in the world and the number one in Spain. One of the happiest and most beautiful cities in the world, that must mean something!

If Barcelona was described a person, her eyes would probably be as blue as the sky above. Perhaps small gray specks would dot her iris, gray like the smoke flowing away from cars or its industrial zones. Her skin would be made of trencadis. And her feet would undoubtedly be bicycle wheels. But Barcelona is more than it seems. Barcelona is so big and has such a network of streets, that delving into its entrails is both difficult and exciting. These are the keys to get to know one of the most touristic cities in the world beyond its first impression, a perfect article for those who want to organize their first trip or know what to do in Barcelona.

Her look: a quick review of the most typical spots

When you start getting to know someone, the first thing you look at is their appearance. A tour of the Born Quarter and the Gothic Quarter is the most basic choice, something that can be done in a day, always accompanied by a visit to the cathedral of Barcelona and another to the famous Santa Maria del Mar. Going to see the eternally under construction facade of the Sagrada Familia is a must in Barcelona. Walking through the Boqueria market after a stroll along the long street of La Rambla, essential. The Paseo de Gracia (full of modernist buildings), the Montjuic area next to the Plaza de España or Park Güell are other must-see places in the city. Not forgetting, of course, the coast: La Barceloneta.

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Panoramic view of Barcelona, where the Sagrada Familia stands out. | Shutterstock

Getting to know her personality

If Barcelona were a person, you could describe her as someone active, used to go everywhere by bike or rollerblades with a nice outfit. Sounds like an indie movie, doesn’t it? She would also be a virtuous person: she would either know how to play some kind of instrument or master some kind of dance style and show it off in the streets on a sunny Sunday morning. These are some of the best plans to get to know her better.

A concert at the Palau de la Música

If Barcelona can boast of something is to have a multitude of modernist facades, which give the city a personality of its own. In this sense, the Palau de la Música Catalana shines on the outside, but is even more impressive on the inside. Although a visit to the building designed by Lluís Domènech is expensive at around 14 euros, it is much more pragmatic if it is accompanied by a concert. The performances in the auditorium, the jewel in the crown of the Palau, vary greatly in price, but some can go for as little as 15 euros. With this option you will not only enjoy one of the most emblematic buildings of the city, but you will also have the opportunity to enjoy the local music. Because Barcelona is, among many other things, a musical enclave.

Concert hall of the Palau.

Concert hall of the Palau.

The nerdy side of Barcelona

Among the many people who live in or visit Barcelona, a large number are geeks. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars… comic book or fantasy literature lovers. Well, these people will find in Barcelona their ideal companion. So, if you are one of these individuals, you can not miss the Maldá galleries or the so-called Friki Triangle or Friki Valley. In the first case, we are talking about a small enclosure located in the Gothic Quarter, very close to the cathedral. Going through the doors of the Maldá galleries is to go through the doors of fantasy. Nintendo, Disney, Harry Potter or Tim Burton stores are interspersed between cosplay boutiques. The vendors are characterized and the decoration on the walls and ceilings invites the imagination.

On the other hand, the Triangle Friki, located between the Arc de Triomf, Passeig de Sant Joan and Ronda de Sant Pere, concentrates numerous bookstores and video game and board game stores that delight any nerd. The bookstores Gigamesh, Norma Cómics or Freaks are a must.

A visit to a modernist house

Modernism arrived in Catalonia between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where it acquired its own personality and differential with respect to the rest of the world, especially in Barcelona. That is why one does not really know this city until you have not entered one of the modernist houses that stretch along the Paseo de Gracia and its surroundings. It is not necessary to enter all of them, but it is a must to visit at least one. Casa Batlló, Casa Vicens or La Pedrera are some of the most common options.

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Balconies of Casa Batlló representing death and bones. | Shutterstock

Skateboarding along the promenade

Maybe not everyone who lives here is an athlete, but it is true that everywhere you can see people running, cycling or skating, especially on the promenade located next to La Barceloneta. That is why this sporty city could not miss a plan according to this feature of his personality. Thus, touring this promenade with some skates can be an original way to get to know the area.

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Promenade next to Barceloneta beach. | Shutterstock

To know its past

The roots of the Barcelona are deep and old and go back as far as 4,000 years ago. Barcelona is an old lady with a spirit, however, young and fresh and with a future that promises to be prosperous.

A visit to the Barcelona History Museum

Although at first glance it may not seem so, Barcelona has its origins in a Roman colony: Barcino. From time to time, when excavations are carried out, sites from this period come to light. However, the largest collection of remains from Barcino can be found in the Barcelona History Museum, underground.

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Remains of a Roman building in Barcelona. | Shutterstock

A visit to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

As a mixture of memories, history and culture, cities often have museums. In Barcelona there are many, but on this occasion we will refer to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Why choose this one out of all? Because, first of all, this art gallery has the best collection of Romanesque mural painting in the world. Paintings torn from the walls of its churches and monasteries are now displayed on the partitions of the Palau Nacional, that great building that crowns the Montjuic area and from the exit of which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Of the museum, this collection is undoubtedly the most important. However, the building also houses Gothic and Renaissance works along with more contemporary creations.

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Lobby of the Museu d’Art Nacional de Catalunya. | EG

Its friends: an escape to the surroundings

‘Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are’. Because you don’t know a place until you know your friends, your family or your partner. In short: your circles. Barcelona, in this sense, is surrounded by many villages, natural parks and beaches. The list could be immense.

A visit to Sitges

Ranked as one of the most beautiful villages of Barcelona, Sitges is located just 40 kilometers from the city, which can mean just half an hour by public transport. An emblematic place of Spanish culture, this famous town stands out for its beaches and its artistic and festive air. The jewel in the crown is the Palau Maricel, built between 1913 and 1916 in the noucentista style.


Town of Sitges in Catalonia. | Shutterstock

Route to the turó de l’Home in the Natural Park of Montseny.
Slightly further away, an hour and a half drive from the Catalan capital, is the Montseny Natural Park, listed as a Biosphere Reserve. It is an ideal place to escape and disconnect from the routine. With an altitude of 1706.9 meters, the Turó de l’Home is its highest peak. To get there you would have to walk from the parking lot of Santa Fe and cross a beech forest. Then, the descent would have to be done on the opposite side until returning to the parking lot. It is a route of 13.6 kilometers.

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Top of the Turó de l’Home in the Montseny Natural Park | Shutterstock

Nice to meet you, Barcelona

A traveler heads to the station of France, next to the old Born market. Then leaves with his camera full of pictures, an empty wallet and a full heart. Because that is the effect this city has on many of its tourists. Few escape its magnetism. Before boarding the train, the visitor takes one last look at the surroundings and whispers: ‘Nice to meet you, Barcelona‘.

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