1. La Carboneria
La Carboneria (the coal-house) was built in 1864 and was used as a squat from 2008 to 2014 until the occupants were evicted by the police and the building was earmarked for destruction. However, the city council intervened and the building was preserved as a site of historic and artistic interest. The large mural on the exterior wall means it’s now one of the best places to see street art in Barcelona.
2. El Raval
Once one of Barcelona’s most notorious districts, El Raval has been rejuvenated in recent years thanks, in part, to its central location near Las Ramblas. Nowadays it’s one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Barcelona and the region’s cuisine and nightlife have benefited from this influx of influences. To get a sense of El Raval’s difficult past, visit the ‘Baby Drop-Off’ at Carrer de les Ramelleres, a wooden hole in the wall where destitute mothers used to leave their children to the care of the Church.
3. Olympic Stadium
Built in 1929, the original Olympic Stadium was intended to host the 1936 Olympics, a privilege that was ultimately awarded to Berlin. Barcelona finally got its chance to host the games in 1992 and the lighting of the torch by archer Antonio Rebollo remains one of the most iconic moments in sports history. The Olympics were instrumental in revitalizing Barcelona, both economically and architecturally, so the place is vital to understanding modern-day Barcelona and is well worth a visit, whether you’re a sports fan or not. Moreover, if you can catch a concert at the Olympic Stadium, that’ll surely be a night to remember!
4. Drive an F1 Car on the Spanish Grand Prix Circuit
If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a bit tasty behind the wheel then now’s the time to prove it. The Spanish Grand Prix has been held in Barcelona since 1992 and motorheads have the chance to prove their mettle by taking to the same circuit. A range of F1 cars are available but the 2011 Williams is the most current F1 car available to drive anywhere in the world. You’ll need a driving license (obviously) and *very* deep pockets, but cheaper alternatives in Ferraris are available too.
5. Carmel Bunkers
Because Barcelona is backed by mountains there are many spots that offer awe-inspiring vistas over the city but, if you’re looking for a place that’s secluded and inexpensive, the Carmel Bunkers should be at the top of your list. Built as anti-aircraft fortifications during the Spanish Civil War, the bunkers then fell into disrepair, before being salvaged by city officials keen to preserve the history and unique city-views this spot holds.
Lively, independent, and full of enticing restaurants and bars, Barceloneta is one of the prime locations to experience local life in the city. You can take a visit to the zoo, hit the beach, or ride a cable car for some awesome views over the city. The streets really come alive during the Festival de Saint Joan—held on the Summer Solstice each year—when locals party and let off fireworks late into the night. If you want to get a taste of the festival, take a listen to ‘Barceloneta Heat’ by musician Greg Tank (below), a track inspired by the celebrations.
After spending the day in the Spanish sunshine, what could be better than a nice cooling drink? At Icebarcelona you can walk from the beachfront into freezing temperatures for a cocktail served in an ice glass. Enjoy the ice sculptures and chat with locals and tourists alike, before heading back out into the warm evening air.
8. Mount Tibidabo
Tibidabo might not be Barcelona’s most famous mountain but it’s still well worth a visit, especially if you have kids with you. At the summit is the spectacular Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, a masterpiece of modern ecclesiastical architecture. Nearby is also Tibidabo Amusement Park, an old-fashioned theme park with many rides that offer panoramic views over the city and to the Balearic Sea beyond.
9. Camp Nou
Ok, this one might not be that surprising but I had to include it nonetheless. As a lifelong football (soccer) fan, I had to make a visit to Camp Nou, the largest football stadium in Europe and one of its most historic. Over the years this arena has been the home to the greatest footballers to have ever played the game, and even if you’re not a football fan, there is something about being nestled within 100,000 of the most passionate fans in world football that will send electricity right through your body. Win, lose or draw, it’s guaranteed to be an experience you will never forget.
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