Hooray! Summer has arrived in Barcelona. And the living is definitely easy…
The season we’ve been longing for has finally arrived, dousing the city in glimmering light and luscious heat. The long, hot days are the perfect excuse to pack your bags and head off into the sun. But why choose to spend your precious holidays in Barcelona? Well, there really are too many reasons to list – and in any case, more time reading means less time doing! So here are just a few of Barcelona’s highlights and we’ll leave you to discover the rest this summer.
To the beach!
Let’s start with the obvious attraction– Barcelona is a city with beaches! Seven of them in fact, which take up 4.5km of the coastline.
The most popular are Barceloneta and Nova Icaria, thanks to their central location and extensive amenities. However, as they are usually packed, these beaches aren’t for those of you who fancy a bit of peace and quiet. If you’re looking for a more tranquil place to relax with the sun, sand and sea, go to Bogatell or Mar Bella, which are located just a little further north (but still within walking distance of the Metro).
If a spot of sunbathing and paddling in the sea doesn’t excite you, there are a huge range of water sports which are sure to get your blood pumping.
If the thought of swimming in and among the fish doesn’t take your fancy, don’t worry – the sea is not the only place in the city you take a dip. On Montjuïc hill you will find, not one, but two swimming pools: Piscina Municipial de Montjuic is set against a stunning backdrop of the city landscape. It’s so picturesque that Kylie Minogue’s ‘Slow’ video was filmed there (something for the next pub quiz). Piscines Bernat Picornell, built for the 1992 Olympic Games, has multiple swimming pools and many additional facilities to keep you entertained.
Summer is the perfect season for outdoor events, and there’s certainly no shortage of them here.
The season kicks off with the cutting-edge Sonar music festival in mid-June. This has a full line-up of emerging and established talent from the world of electronic and pop music, and multimedia art. Hot on its heels is the festival of Sant Joan on 23 June, marking the summer solstice with a party like no other.
The various neighbourhoods of Barcelona also organise their own local street celebrations throughout the year. If you’re visiting in mid-August, head uptown to the Festa Mayor de Gràcia to enjoy the colourful parades, giant carnival figures, human pyramids and feasts.
La Mercè, taking place around 24 September, is a fitting way to see off the summer. Held in honour of our Lady of Mercy, this is Barcelona’s biggest festival. A carnival atmosphere takes over the entire city which becomes filled with fire-breathing dragons, processions of devils, music, dancing and all-round revelry. Celebrations are helped along by copious amounts of Cava.
Dancing in the moonlight
Barcelonans love to live life outdoors, and even when darkness descends, it’s no different. A huge number of the city’s bars have pavement terraces where you can sip on cocktails and soak up the summer night vibe.
After this you can move onto one of the numerous and diverse nightclubs. Even if clubbing isn’t really your thing, it’s worth sampling at least one for the real Barcelona experience.
Nestled up on Montjuïc hill, in the middle of the Poble Espanyol village complex, is La Terrazza – an outdoor club with a unique atmosphere. Given its location, you’ll need to get a taxi there (getting lost trying to find it in high heels would not be fun).
Down in the Port Olímpic marina, you’ll find a string of seafront clubs where hedonism is rife. Two of the most well-known are Opium Mar, with its cool, modern interior, and CDLC, with its exotic décor. Popular with the fashionable crowd, they both boast an outdoor terrace just off the beach where the party goes on till dawn.
Sensible summer advice
Barcelona in the summer is HOT. Great, we hear you cry – and indeed it is. However soaring temperatures have a habit of making life uncomfortable if you’re not prepared. Common sense applies – use lots of sun cream, drink plenty of water and, if you’re susceptible to mosquito bites, make sure you pick up some insect repellent. Decent sunglasses are an absolute must – even the locals don’t leave home without them – and a hat is definitely recommended.
The sea off Barcelona’s coast is quite calm and there are life guard stations all the way along the beaches. However you still need to play safe in the water and listen to the tannoy announcements giving out safety advice.
If the heat tends to bother you, we advise you to rent an apartment or book a hotel room which has air conditioning. Most hotels have this as standard, but not every apartment does, so make sure you check before you book. Talking of accommodation, you might also want to take a look at our guide to booking a holiday apartment for some advice and answers to frequently asked questions.