Barcelona is (one of) the best cities in the world, and here’s why....
Barcelona, for many, is known for its beaches, sun, and cava seducing travelers in their masses worldwide. But there is so much more to the city. Things that make people come back again and again, and for many, eventually calling home. For some, it’s the ‘Dolce Vita’ lifestyle, with its warm summer evenings, streets lined with terraces, and the rooftops filled with bars, it’s a great city to enjoy life. The sun shines more days than not, making you leap from bed every morning looking forward to the day ahead.
It’s a happy city where life feels easy, and with the Spaniard’s tendency to celebrate at any given opportunity there is always fun to be had. If you come from big, high-stress cities as we at VDB all do, it’s a breath of fresh air. Although it may be a busy, bustling city filled with opportunity, the way the Spaniards work is different, emphasizing the importance of taking life day by day, making it a simple, stress-free life.
Barcelona is famous for many things, but arguably mostly for its architecture… Gaudi and Lluis Domenech i Montaner being the reason for this. In fact, Barcelona is actually the first and only city to receive a Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1999, on behalf of the British Monarch. Astonishingly, Barcelona has nine UNESCO- protected monuments, some being the Palau de la Musica, (which is minutes away from our own architectural wonder Casa Bures), the Hospital de Sant Pau, Park Güell, Casa Vicens …and the Sagrada Familia, but we’re all still waiting to see that masterpiece finished in all its glory.
This explains some of why Barcelona, and Cataluña in general, are so appealing, bringing in more people in 2019 than ever before. In fact, Cataluña is the most favorable destination in Spain. Barcelona has also been the first city in the world to get the “Biosphere World Class Destination” certification for its sustainability within the tourism industry… and yes, being the first seems to be a common theme with Barcelona. On that note, we may as well throw in that it’s famous Camp Nou football stadium is the second biggest in the world. It holds a lot of great titles for such a sweet and romantic city.
And if that doesn’t get your attention, the food and wine culture most certainly will…
In the words of Anthony Bourdain himself, “You’d have a hard time finding anything better than Barcelona for food, as far as being a hub.” And if Anthony Bourdain said it, we know it’s true. A truly Catalan dish is the infamous calçots, a type of onion that is only grown locally, charred, and served with romesco sauce. And of course, there is a celebration for them too. Delicious.
Neighbouring one of VDB Luxury Property Managament’s wonderful properties, Casa Bures, is the quaint and idyllic area of El Born, a beautiful part of the old town with plenty to take in, food and culture. Filled with hidden gems, you could spend all day exploring its wonders, croissant in hand from our favourite bakery Bubo, hidden behind the less-known but even more charming Catedral del Mar, once famously written about by Ildefonso Falcones in Cathedral of The Sea.
There are over 20 Michelin-starred restaurants in Barcelona, with food from all over the world, so be assured your culinary-cravings will be satisfied, and some more. To avoid tourist traps, opt for restaurants where you’ll find upper-class Catalan’s dining in restaurants such as Xemei, or Pepa Pla, sister restaurant to the famous Bar del Pla. Alternatively, you can join the local fishermen and shove down some pescadito frito with your hands in a salt-of-the-earth type of place in the old Barceloneta.
There’s nothing more typical than a vermouth and tapa midday on a Sunday, but if you’d rather opt for the brunch option, there are plenty, with Cecconi’s offering oysters ‘a volonte’ in their grand, luxurious salon.
Afterward, you can choose to spend the rest of your day in one of Barcelona’s many rooftop bars. A great way to spend a warm evening, many of the luxury hotels flaunt their views, so you can share them without being a guest. The most exclusive may be the Grand Hotel Central but equally The Edition Hotel is one that can not go unmentioned, with their exquisite cocktail menu and views of the city, it’s a must…and if you find yourself there until the early hours, the cabaret club open’s up below. The bohemian Casa Bonay, a couple of blocks from Casa Bures, is also one to see. Should you be a member of Soho house, you’ll find another picturesque rooftop with a pool overlooking the marina, as well as Soho Beach House just outside of Barcelona.
Home sparkling wine, Cava is produced in the Catalonian region of Penedes, which holds almost 180 wine cellars and has around 2,800 wine farmers. Being so close to Barcelona city, it makes for memorable day trips, with the Penedes region being so small you can drive through it in under the hour.
Planted some 2,500 years ago by the Greek’s, the first grapevines evolved, making Catalonia famous for producing wine as we know it today. Some of the closest regions to Barcelona being Alella and Tarragona, who have been delighting our taste buds since the 1930s. If you’re not just passing through Barcelona, a great wine importer to know about is Vila Viniteca who specializes in Spanish wines.
One of the greatest charms of Barcelona is not knowing what hidden treasure you’ll stumble upon around any corner. A moment’s away from Casa Bures is the beautiful concept store DARIAL, which also has a new restaurant Le Leopard, and a bookshop. Cross Via Laietana and you can find yourself in traditional hat heaven at Sombrereria Mil, or stroll through Gotico and overwhelm yourself with interior shops, or hand- made espadrilles boutiques such as La Manual Alpargatera or 2 Espadrilles from Barcelona.
A place of inspiration…
Woody Allen, as well as many other film directors, photographers, and writers chose Barcelona as their backdrop or ‘studio’ producing their classic art pieces. The beauty and serenity of the area is undeniable and widely recognized, with many of the famous having secondary home’s here.
Ibiza, Fortmentera, Mallorca, Menorca, Costa Brava, Cadaques… and direct flights from all over the world!
The list of easily accessible destinations is never-ending, adding to our list of reasons for loving Barcelona so. You can visit Salvador Dali’s house in Cadaques, stroll through the streets of Palma, or explore the Costa Brava. There are ferries leaving from Barcelona multiple times a day to the islands, or if you’d rather fly, the airport is only a twenty-minute drive from the center of town.
Also, slightly further, but nonetheless easily accessible, there are direct flights all around the world, destinations like New York, Miami, Buenos Aires, Dubai, and many more, so if you’re coming from outside Europe, you’re never too far away from home.
And lastly, a theory…
It has been said that Barcelona may have been founded by Hercules, a whole 400 years before Rome. Perhaps you could tell us if that’s true?