Matthew Debnam



Barcelona: Six reasons to stay on

With its energetic culture, intricate history and iconic architecture, Barcelona is an intriguing city. If you think you’ve seen it all, think again. Local travel writer Matthew Debnam uncloaks six great reasons to stay on in the Catalan capital


Edible encounters

Locals loyally occupy the tables at Gut, thanks to the flavoursome and creative dishes. Despite its modest size, the quality of food, friendly staff and pleasant ambience make for one of the city’s most delicious encounters. Around €25 per person, a la carte.


Sophisticated sounds

Most venues offer performances only in Catalan or Spanish, but some acts transcend the language barrier. Palau de la Música Catalana hosts wonderful concertos and orchestral performances. October sees Sevillian dancer Farruquito celebrate the 45th anniversary of famed flamenco club Tablao Cordobes. Remember to look around you: the modernist art nouveau hall, with its colourful stained-glass skylight, is beautiful.


A secret tower

Despite being a Gaudi original, the hidden location of Torre Bellesguard means you’re unlikely to find it in a guidebook. Its alluring mixture of neo-gothic and art nouveau styles takes you on a journey through Catalan history, offering striking rooftop views and architectural quirks. During the warmer months there are nightly performances from musicians in the courtyard, accompanied by food and fizz.


Marathon shopping sprees

Step away from the crowded Passeig de Gracia high street, and instead roam Avinguda Diagonal from Maria Cristina station. You’ll find endless shopping options from Armani to Zara, plus the El Corte Ingles department store full of designer brands. Within a 10-minute walk are Pedralbes Centre and L’Illa – home to Yerse (leader in chic knitwear for the past 50 years) and El Ganso, where you can pick up a pair of its iconic canvas pumps.


Authentic lifestyle

If there’s one neighbourhood that encapsulates Barcelona’s essence, it’s Gràcia. It’s not inundated with tourists and you get a sense of the local lifestyle simply by strolling through the streets and squares. Watch children play, residents gossip and friends hang out on the countless terraces of local bars. You’ll soon feel like a local.


Unforgettable views

For a memorable day, head up to the peak of Tibidabo and admire the views. The name comes from Latin, meaning ‘To thee I give’, referencing a Bible passage where Lucifer tries to tempt Jesus with similar views atop a mountain. While here, visit the funfair and admire the 20th-century Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, designed by Catalan architect Sagnier. Finish with dinner under the stars at the Observatory (June–October).

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This article has been tagged Destination, Travel Tips