Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, is perfect for solo travellers wanting to get lost in the streets and embrace the local flavour. This city is great for walking, allowing you to explore the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven of which were designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi. There’s no doubt about it: Barcelona is a destination filled with incredible beauty.
Where to stay
Renting apartments, even if it’s for a short stay, is a very popular option in Barcelona. There are various price points and locations that you can check out here.
If you’re looking for something a little plusher and want to treat yourself, then the Duquesa de Cardona (above) is the perfect spot. Located in the heart of Barcelona, this hotel is a 12-minute walk from the beach and is right opposite the Gothic Quarter. The magnificent rooftop terrace will give you panoramic city views and has a pool and bar.
The hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Barceloneta Beach (main photo), one of the most picturesque beaches in the world. All year round, you’ll find vendors roaming the sand offering beer and ice cream to keep you cool. Restaurants line the streets and you’ll be able to cross the road and grab some tapas when you get hungry.
Tip: Foodies should find accommodation in Saint Antoni while the Poblenou is the perfect location if you want to check out Barcelona’s contemporary art scene.
Embrace the city’s rich history
One of Barcelona’s top-rated sightseeing activities is the Montserrat Monastery (below). We’d suggest opting for a full-day excursion where you’ll be given the chance to discover 12th-century carvings and holy pilgrimage sites with a guide.
There’s also the option of doing a hiking tour throughout the area and it is here that you can take a glass-bottomed railway to perfectly view the area’s flora and fauna.
SEE ALSO: Urban cycling around Barcelona, Amsterdam and beyond: Where to rent, ride and stay
You’re travelling solo and a selfie stick may be able to help you get some shots, but nothing replaces a professional photographer. You can bike your way around Barcelona on a four-hour e-bike tour (above), accompanied by a professional photographer guide. This tour will take you to the Parc de la Ciutadella and Barceloneta beach. You’ll see masterpieces including the Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.
Whether or not you’re a lover of architecture and art, you’ll be attracted by some of Antoni Gaudi’s works as you explore the city including the Sagrada Familia (above) and the Park Güell – the stuff fairy tales are made of. Other venues which generally don’t attract as much attention but are most definitely worth the visit are the Casa Vicens, Palau Güell and Torre Bellesguard.
There are many parks in Barcelona that you’ll be able to simply sit in and take in your surroundings. Throughout the day, locals and tourists will spend time at the Parc de la Ciutadella, Park Güell and Parc de Montjuïc. Some parts of the parks many require an entrance fee, but if you aren’t keen to fork out a few euros then just make your way to another entrance where you don’t have to pay.
This city is filled with wonderful concert halls like the Gran Teatre del Liceu (above); with its rich red carpets and ornate carvings, you’ll feel transported back to another era. There’s also the Palau de la Música Catalana which hosts a number of concerts.
Experience local culture through food
Food is everything to Spaniards and there are many options in Barcelona. Grabbing a beer and tapas is easy and delicious but there is so much more to experience that will certainly bring out your inner foodie. Each region, town and city in Spain boasts its own specialities. Here are some you have to try.
Escudella d’Olla (above) is a traditional hearty stew and you’re likely to find this on menus between October and May. It is usually served in two courses: first the broth, then the solid ingredients which can include veggies, pasta and lots of meat.
Many people expect paella to be in abundance in Spain, but fewer know its wonderful noodle version, the fideuà. It’s also made in a large, shallow pan and will always include lots of fresh seafood.
Crema Catalana is similar to crème brûlée but is a lot lighter with citrus and cinnamon flavours. The dessert’s history goes back many years with the recipes first appearing in cookbooks in the 14th century.
If you don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but have a hankering for something to tantalise your taste buds, then the Mel i Mato (above) is the perfect option for you. Translated, it means honey and Mato cheese, which is a fresh and unsalted soft cheese. It’s often topped with walnuts to add that extra crunch.
Tip: You won’t find a Spaniard eating out before 9pm; that’s really when the buzz starts. It’s also important to find out when the traditional holidays are as many stores will be closed at this time.
You’re going to be looking for some restaurants to dine at and Tickets (above) has to be on your list. Albert Adrià has done a sterling job in updating tapas for a fun and modern feel. The theme is Barcelona’s golden era of theatre, glamour and cabaret. At midnight daily, online bookings open for two months ahead of time.
Quitmet & Quitmet is an antique bar from 1914 and is always packed. There’s a large selection of wines and homemade beers, as well as delicious tapas that offer the perfect solution if you’re feeling peckish.
Did you know?
It’s not known to be a yoga retreat location, but don’t be fooled. Barcelona is filled with an abundance of retreat options. Whether you’re looking to become a teacher, attend a city tour or just a daily class, the options are unlimited.
– TEXT BY JESSICA FARAH
PHOTOS: HOTEL DUQUESA DE CARDONA, INSTAGRAM, 123RF.COM, PHOTO BIKE TOUR BARCELONA FACEBOOK, GRAN TEATRE DEL LICEU FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.