Planning European Summer holidays is always fun and exciting. This year we decided to escape Melbourne’s dreary Winter and holiday in Barcelona, Spain!
Perched on the edge of the Balearic Sea, Barcelona is one of the most captivating corners of Europe. We looked forward to tasting the flavour explosions of Catalan cuisine, roaming amidst Antoni Gaudí’s distinctive architecture in Park Güell and the Sagrada Família, and losing ourselves in the cobbled backstreets of the Gothic Quarter.
First and foremost with planning any holiday is booking flights! This is when we heard about Cathay Pacific‘s new seasonal service between Hong Kong and Barcelona, running from 2nd July until 27th October. We had a great experience with Cathay Pacific earlier this year when we took a short break and visited Hong Kong. I have also never flown on an A350 aircraft before and was excited to hear that Cathay Pacific offered four flights a week on the A350 aircraft, departing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Once we booked our flights, it felt like the time flew by and it wasn’t long before we were on our way to the airport!
We had a very comfortable flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong. I felt well rested and enjoyed catching up on an array of movies and TV shows. The dining experience and service was as always, exceptional.
From Melbourne, we flew to Hong Kong where we transited comfortably in one of the five Business Class lounges offered by Cathay Pacific. Last time, we enjoyed the Pier, Business. This time, we decided to head to the Bridge lounge as it was closer to our boarding gate. The lounge is modern, cosy and comfortable and makes you feel like you are at home. We cannot recommend enough, taking a shower in-between long haul flights and used one of the nine shower suites to freshen up for the next leg. The shower suites are unbelievably well maintained and clean, stocked with all the necessary amenities, including hair dryers, tooth brushes and not to mention fluffy towels. While we waited for our next flight to board, we had a drink at the iconic Long Bar with scenic overlooks of the tarmac. We also enjoyed a variety of mouth-watering dishes from noodles to dim sum.
I was filled with excitement when we landed in Barcelona. I quickly discovered that Barcelona was teeming with delicious food, fine wines, distinctive local tradition, and incredible modernist architecture. It is not surprising to understand why the Catalan capital is easy to fall head over heels for. There is so much to see and do, I complied a list of top things to do while you are in Barcelona that is not to be missed!
1. Parc Güell
Created by Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudí Parc Güell is a fantasy-land that combines features of the natural landscape with Gaudí’s architectural extravagance to create a park that is a popular stop for visitors to Barcelona. The park offers excellent views of the city and has a fantastic pavilions, stairways, columned halls and the giant lizard that divides the grand stairway. Guadí’s former residence – Casa-Museu Gaudí – houses a collection of furnishings and memorabilia.
- Address: Carrer d’Olot, Barcelona, 08024 Barcelona, Spain
- Telephone: 90 220 0302.
- Website: http://www.parkguell.cat/
- Opening Times: Daily 8:30am-6pm (Oct-Mar); 8am-9:30pm (Mar-Oct).
2. La Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is the iconic symbol of Barcelona and is prided as Antoni Gaudí’s finest work, even though it was only a quarter complete at the time of his death. Construction has been on and off ever since, only passing the half-way point in 2010. Despite these ongoing construction works, the Sagrada Família is Barcelona’s most visited attraction and with thousands of visitors every day, queues are long (timed-tickets available online). The entrance fee goes towards the cost of construction with a projected completion date of 2026 – the centenary of Gaudí’s death. The Nativity facade and the Crypt are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Address: Carrer de Mallorca 401, Barcelona, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
- Telephone: 93 513 2060.
- Website: http://www.sagradafamilia.cat
- Opening Times: Basilica: Daily 9am-6pm (Oct-Mar); 9am-8pm (Apr-Sep).
3. Barcelona Cathedral (La Seu)
It was named after Barcelona‘s patron saint – Eulàlia – and built between the 13th and 15th centuries on the site of an earlier basilica. In what seems to be a theme with Barcelona’s religious buildings, it was not completed until the 20th century when the spire and facade were added. Highlights include the carved choir stalls, the Capella de Lepanto (Lepanto Chapel) and the tranquil cloisters containing a pond of 13 white geese. Take a lift to the rooftops for a panorama of Barcelona and beyond.
- Address: Plaça de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain
- Telephone: 93 342 8262
- Website: http://www.catedralbcn.org
- Opening Times: Mon-Sat 8am-12:45pm and 1pm-5pm; Sun 8am-1:45pm and 2pm-7:30pm.
4. Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the artist and is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. The impressive permanent collection is devoted to the artist’s early work, including a large number of childhood sketches, paintings from the Blue Period (1901-1904) and the Pink Period (1907-1920), exhibition posters, ceramics and cubist works. There is a particular focus on the artist’s life-long links with Barcelona.
- Address: Carrer Montcada 15-23, 08003 Barcelona , Spain
- Telephone: 93 256 3000.
- Website: http://www.museupicasso.bcn.
- Opening Times: Tues-Sun 10am-8pm
5. Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is a renowned building located in the centre of Barcelona and is one Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces. A remodel of a previous built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times after that.
- Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
- Telephone: 93 216 0306
- Website: https://www.casabatllo.es/en/
- Opening Times: Mon-Sun 9am-9pm (last entrance 8pm)
6. Tapas Bar
Head to an authentic tapas bar, elbow your way to the front, and get stuck into the menu – which could include everything from pan con tomato (fresh bread with tomato, oil and salt) to fideua, the Catalonian paella.
Our favourite tapas bars include:
7. Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
The narrow, winding streets of the Gothic Quarter contains an exemplary collection of gothic buildings from Catalonia’s Golden Age in the 14th and 15th centuries as well as Roman ruins, squares and restaurants.
8. Palau de la Música Catalana
The city’s main concert hall and a stunning Catalan art nouveau building that was listed by UNESCO in 1997. The Palau de la Música Catalana has played host to many of the world’s great musicians and orchestras. The programme is varied and there is a particular focus on choral singing and Catalan cultural heritage. Sunday concerts here are a Barcelona institution.
o Address: Carrer del Palau de la Música 4, Barcelona, Spain
o Telephone: 93 295 7200.
o Website: http://www.palaumusica.cat
9. La Ribera (Waterfront)
Barcelona‘s most famous street, La Rambla, is a wide pedestrian boulevard stretching from the waterfront Monument a Colom to Plaça de Catalunya in the centre of the city. Lined with trees, cafés, restaurants and shops, La Rambla is the perfect place to soak up Barcelona’s vibrant atmosphere. Along the way, visit UNESCO World Heritage site Palau Güell (Güell Palace) and Plaça Reial, one of the most attractive squares in the city.
10. La Boqueria (Market)
Barcelona’s main food market is La Boqueria, off Rambla Sant Josep. It is one of the most visited sites in Barcelona thanks to its colourful myriad of fresh produce and local fare. Packed to the rafters with fresh fruits, cheeses, olives, meats, seafood, and much more, the colourful market is a feast for etc eyes as well as the stomach – and it’s also the place to pick up a ready-made lunch.