While Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is only Spain’s second-largest city, it often stands foremost in tourists’ minds, as many Royal Holiday members have discovered over the decades. The city has roots stretching back more than 2,000 years, but today it represents one of the most modern and exciting European cities. With its incredible wealth of architecture spanning the ages, a vibrant culture that produces incredible art, and some of the best food on the planet, Barcelona has everything a Royal Holiday traveler might want to experience on a vacation to Europe.
Royal Holiday’s affiliate in the city, Citadines Ramblas Barcelona, sits in the heart of downtown on La Rambla, the famous street that leads to the sea. This charming hotel features cozy studio apartment-style spaces, with handsome vistas of the city as well as a fully equipped kitchen. In addition to enjoying their comfortable rooms, Royal Holiday members will do well to take advantage of the hotel’s rooftop terrace. Viewing the city from atop its skyline is a Barcelona tradition, and enjoying a drink while lounging in the sun on Citadines Ramblas’ roof will provide an excellent respite from the bustle of the city.
Ancient legends alternately cite general Hamilcar Barca and mythic figure Hercules as Barcelona’s founder. While historians argue over its founding, they do agree that the city has existed in some form since Iberian villagers first settled the region well over 2,000 years ago. It once served as a Roman colony, leaving behind several impressive ruins Royal Holiday visitors should explore, especially those nearby the excellent Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA) under the Plaça del Rei. For the past 500 years, the city has served as the center of Catalonian culture within Spain. Royal Holiday members looking to sample Barcelona’s fascinating story will do well to take the MUHBA tour or stop by the Born Centre Cultural and the shipyard museum at the Museu Maritím.
Despite its ancient history, however, Barcelona has stepped resolutely into the present. A walk through the city offers many opportunities to admire the work of master modernist architects, particularly the work of Antoni Gaudí, whose La Pedrera, Park Güell, and other buildings speak of the city’s dedication to beauty. The area’s lively party scene, which includes high-flying nightclubs and easy-going beaches, will provide endless adult entertainment, while Royal Holiday’s shopping enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the Els Encants flea market, an open-air affair that has been hosting vendors since the 1300s.
No visit to Barcelona would be complete without sampling its famed cuisine. Those who don’t want to leave the seaside will want to encamp at Barceloneta, a crowded beach with ample Chiringuitos, or beach bars. Royal Holiday members who are serious about food, however, will want to take a tour of restaurants specializing in tapas and pintxos, as well as Catalonian food specialists like Cinc Sentits, Moments, or Dos Cielos. Those who would like to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, however, should take a trip on the metro to Sitges, the upscale vacation spot near the city, or explore the urban wilderness, like the parkland atop Montjuïc Mountain or the amusing labyrinth within the Parc del Laberint d’Horta.