Things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona! Like a jewel in the sun!

So go the lyrics of the well known song recorded by the late Freddie Mercury and Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballe as the anthem for the 1992 Olympics, before his untimely death in 1991. Who doesn’t think of that song whenever Barcelona is mentioned, even if the only lyric they remember is “Barcelona!”

Prior to the 1992 Olympics,  Barcelona was often overlooked as a holiday destination, but playing host to the Games boosted the city’s profile to become the tourist hub it is today. Whether you are wanting an action packed city break, or are looking for a base from which to explore the surrounding countryside or visit theme parks and family attractions in the city or nearby, Barcelona offers so many things to see and do that you will probably want a return visit, whatever your age or holiday requirements. Some of the most popular attractions are listed below – if you have discovered any personal “jewels in the sun” when in Barcelona, please let us know!

Barcelona Sightseeing Tour

FC Barcelona Nou Camp

Football fans visiting Barcelona can take a trip to the world famous Nou Camp and immerse themselves in all things footy! First, learn about the history of Barcelona FC and its star players past and present in the high tech multimedia museum. There is now a new display dedicated to Lionel Messi showing his two golden boots and four Ballons D’Or as well as the impressive showcases of trophies, club strips through the years.

Nou Camp has the largest seating capacity of all European stadiums, accommodating up to 100,000 spectators and you can live out your football star fantasies as you tour the changing rooms, chapel (to pray for “the hand of God, or atone for missed penalties in!)  VIP lounge, presidential box, then walk through the tunnel onto the pitch side. Your ticket gives you fast track entry to the museum and children under 6 years go free. You can also combine this attraction with a another sightseeing tour such as a visit to Barcelona Zoo, and save pounds.

Nou Camp Stadium Tour

El Molino Burlesque Fever Show

The recent  film “Burlesque” and the emergence of the talented Dita Von Teese, who has as many female fans as she has male, has brought this genre of entertainment into the spotlight once more. The word burlesque comes from the Italian “burla” – to make fun of, or parody, so although these shows are saucy they are not sleazy because of the use of humour in the acts.

The name El Molino (the mill) is a nod to the Moulin Rouge,  as the venue in the old town of Barcelona has a windmill sail as part of its facade and the sumptuous Golden Bar upstairs where you can enjoy a complimentary pre-show drink. Seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis, and the show starts at 9.30pm. The El Molino show is modern and fast paced, using lighting effects and lively music to complement the dance routines and as well as the usual women in corsets, suspenders, feathers and sequins, you can expect bare-chested young men stamping about flamenco style, and some comical  cross-dressing.

Loads of fun and nothing offensive, it’s a great night out for stags, hens, and anyone over 16.

El Molino Burlesque Fever

Bloodless Bullfighting

The traditional bullfight, which involved the slow and painful death of a bull, was banned in Catalonia around the same time as fox hunting was in the UK, and has been replaced by “bull dodging” displays, such as the Taurino Show, which takes place on a farm outside of Barcelona. Animal loving Brits can rest assured that the bull will be going back to its pen for a well earned siesta after the show!

The Taurino bullfighter of today is more likely to be wearing street clothes and trainers than a “suit of light”, although he still uses the traditional red cape.  There is still an element of danger – the bullfighter could be gored – and skilful acrobats known as “trimmers” perform jumps and somersaults over the bull as it charges towards them.

On arrival at the farm you will have time to look around the farmhouse, its chapel, and the bullring and enjoy some tapas, before you settle down to watch the show with  glass or two of sangria. After a break for a seafood paella lunch  (and more sangria!) you will be entertained by skilful stunt horse riders followed by a flamenco music and a song and dance show – a “full Monty” Spanish experience, which may be a little “touristy” but is also a lot of fun!

Kate Quigley

Kate Quigley Travel Writer

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