How to Spend a Barcelona Staycation
Get the most out of your Barcelona staycation with our guide to the Catalonian capital.
In Barcelona, with its warm, favourable climate and late summer nights, residents enjoy spending life “en la calle” (on the streets). Offering brazenly beautiful architecture, open-air plazas and a maze of historic streets, this is one of Spain’s greatest assets – and there’s never been a better time to explore it. A Barcelona staycation offers a real glimpse into the contemporary life of Catalonia. Both ancient and cutting-edge, the city receives the lion’s share of visitors to Northern Spain, but somehow never loses its magic.
As lockdown gradually eases, it’s time to start exploring it again. And, while it’s not possible to sample everything this city has to offer, there are plenty of interesting sights, strolls and excursions to get involved with. Revel in the splendour of Barcelona’s world-famous architecture without selfie-sticks getting in your way; or explore its tangleof cobblestoned streets, grabbing a drink-to-go as you meander towards the beach. The once traffic-choked roads of Gran Via and Diagonal are newly pedestrianised, so it’s easier than ever to discover this increasingly green, laid-back city by foot. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of a Barcelona staycation.
Barcelona is always breathtakingly beautiful, but post-lockdown, it’s easier to imagine the city as it once was. As you wander past the swirling, candy-like rooftops of La Sagrada Família, take time to marvel at the intricacy of this incredible piece of architecture – it took over 140 years to complete. And now, you can enjoy it without tourists interrupting your view.
Take a virtual tour of the Picasso Museum
One of Barcelona’s biggest cultural draws, the Picasso Museum features 4,000 works by the twentieth-century great – from his nascent, lifelike portraits and landscapes to his early adventures into cubism. The museum is currently closed, but the virtual tour provides an impressively detailed glimpse into the mind of Spain’s most iconic painter. Check out the temporary exhibits, too – imaginative and fun, they always manage to offer a new take on his painterly genius.
Hit the beach
Barcelona is fringed by 4.5km of pristine coastline. From socially-distanced sunbathing, to swimming in the Med – it’s time to take advantage of the city’s beaches without having to jostle for a place to put your towel. Some of the beach bars (called chiringuitos) are open for (takeaway) business again - the perfect opportunity to toast the sunset with a cocktail.
A kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes, this is easily one of the most impressive public parks in the world. Gaudi’s mosaic wonderland, Park Güell is a crazy-paved garden featuring some of the artist’s most stunningly expressive creations. Usually, it’s a chock-a-block with tourists, but at the moment, you can explore the gardens at your own pace – without the usual throng of visitors.
Ramble along La Rambla
La Rambla is never boring. Barcelona’s iconic boulevard is a confusing lattice of alleyways, and represents the best and worst aspects of the city. Dotted with galleries and museums, and its seamier ‘red light district’, La Rambla has lost its usual thronging, circus-like atmosphere, and it’s becoming a joy to explore on-foot, thanks to the noticeable lack of crowds.
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Grab a gelato to go
When it comes to gelato, it’s widely accepted that Italy rules the roost. However, outside of Florence, Barcelona provides some of the finest ice-cream on this side of the Med that you can enjoy during your staycation. The Gothic Quarter is brimming with gelato stalls, and luckily, they’re starting to reopen for business. In particular, look for Swiit, a chic dessert shop with a dizzying range of options, including vegan and gluten-free treats.
Discover outdoor art
The galleries are currently closed, but you’ll find just as much creativity on the streets when you explore the open-air museums of Barcelona’s street art scene. From its rashes of graffiti to vibrantly-painted murals, every inch of this city is covered in art. Check out one of the city’s sprawling urban canvases, just across the road from Parc del Centre del Poblenou – or the impressive mural dedicated to Barcelona’s own Joan Miró, on the corner of Riereta and Sant Pau.
Life in Barcelona takes place on the streets. Designed for outdoor, communal living, there’s nothing better than sitting in one of its countless open-air terraces, enjoying the cool evening breeze. Usually bustling all-night, residents while away the night chatting, drinking and smoking. This is the best way to get under the skin of the city; its plazas are living monuments, and just as important as any of Barcelona’s historical treasures.