Travel

¿costa del qué?

If you’re looking for a city break, think Barcelona. The city guarantees sun, good food, shopping, and culture. 
 
Situated on the Mediterranean, you can jump right from a busy day wandering the city’s streets into the lush blue sea. Whether you’re there for a short break or a longer period, these are five attractions not to miss out on.
 
Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is the heart of the city. It’s just as popular with the locals as it is with tourists, you can find anything on the stalls that line the street. 
 
There is an abundance of restaurants, but you would be well advised to avoid what the locals call ‘street vendors’, let’s leave it at that! 
 
However, if it’s a bargain you’re looking for you can find just about anything – souvenirs, clothes, seeds (for legal things of course) and jewellery. 
 
Stretching from Plaça de Catalunya in the centre to the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell, you could spend anything from a few hours to a day happily wandering Las Ramblas.
 
One thing to be wary of on Las Ramblas is pickpockets, so just keep an eye out. Strolling up and down the bustling activity of Las Ramblas really gives you a sense of the vibrant city.
 
Barcelona Aquarium
This is off the beaten track, but the aquarium is well worth a visit.  It would be a good place to visit in conjunction with your visit to Las Ramblas because it’s at the heart of Port Vell where Las Ramblas ends.
 
It is the largest Mediterranean aquarium in the world containing 450 different species. The highlight is the ocean tank which is home to sharks, rays and a whole host of other larger fish. 
 
The unique 80 metre “shark tunnel” allows you to walk underneath to get a close-up view of the sea predators. 
 
Indeed, you catch a sense of what it may be like to be their prey. Fear not, however, there’s a solid tank saving you from becoming their dinner!
 
Camp Nou
For football lovers or those with no interest in the game, a visit to the home of FC Barcelona is a highly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. 
 
The stadium is steeped in history. The circular arena has a coliseum-like feel to it. The first team often hold open training sessions in the pitch beside the entrance to the arena so you might be lucky enough to see Messi and co making the magic happen. 
 
Even better, you could see the team in action with a full stadium roaring them on, tickets can be purchased at stalls all along Las Ramblas.
 
La Sagrada Familia
You don’t have to be religious to recognise the magnificence of Gaudi’s famous cathedral. The stunning architecture may even convert the atheists among you! 
 
The UNESCO world heritage site is one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona. The throngs of people snaking around to get their chance to see inside is a sight in itself. And if you happen to miss the views inside, the façade itself is worth the trip.
 
The Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. Walking along the narrow streets feels like taking a trip back in time. The buildings are mostly preserved and have a medieval feeling to them. 
 
For those of you who burn easily in the midsummer heat (ignoring your mammy’s constant nagging to wear factor 50) the many squares in the Gothic quarter offer some shade while not completely blocking out the midday sun. 
 
The remains of some of the old Roman buildings in the city are magnificent. The most spectacular of these is the Roman Wall in the north of the Gothic Quarter. The remains of this huge structure are an absolute must see. 
 
And who said the Irish didn’t go everywhere the Roman’s did? At the northerly point of the Roman Wall a single Irish pub called Dunne’s faces the ancient structure with its beer garden boasting a great view. 
 
The perfect end to a day of sight-seeing. Sláinte! 
 
Photo: Moyan Brenn/ Flickr