Taste Catalan culture in Barcelona

For a short city break, Barcelona is hard to beat. Its close proximity to the UK and the availability of inexpensive flights makes it an ideal destination for a quick jaunt in the sun, as well as providing some great food, drink and culture.

If you’re only visiting Barcelona during a short break, perhaps over a weekend, you’ll likely find the city can be overwhelming as there are so many things to see and do. On top of this, you’ll also need time to relax as well as sample some authentic Catalan cuisine while and hopefully, squeeze in enough time to experience the city’s abundant nightlife. As a result, it may be worthwhile planning an extra day or two in order to balance cultural with recreational pursuits and maintain a relaxed pace.

To tick the culture box, head to the Picasso museum. There is no mistaking why this is the most visited museum in the city, as it houses some of the very early works of the artist. Most known for his abstract works, such as his cubist style, the early drawings and artwork on display reveals first hand the natural talent and precision Picasso exhibited throughout his life. The museum also houses works from his dark blue period and Las Meninas series; major draws for art fans.

Once in the city you will hear the distinct Spanish that is spoken there. The Spanish dialect in Barcelona is highly influenced by Catalan, the other major language of the region. It becomes quickly evident why the Catalan people are known for being extremely proud of their regional identity, culture and language. The city is clearly different from other Spanish cities in terms of the people, architecture and culture, while for a glimpse deeper Catalan culture, head to the Gothic Quarter and old port areas. On you way, don’t miss a stroll down the famed Las Ramblas – arguably Spain’s most famous boulevard. Although often packed with tourists, it hard to beat for people-watching, shopping and eating.

When it comes to food, the cuisine of Barcelona is distinct from traditional Spanish fare, despite using similar ingredients such as garlic, olive oil and tomatoes. Catalan cuisine also reflects the food found in other countries that lie on the Mediterranean, such as northern Africa, and you’ll likely find dishes which include raisins, nuts, snails and meat cooked with fruit on many menus.

Although quite distinct from the rest of Spain, Barcelona also prescribes to the same eating patterns: a lengthy, late lunch followed by an afternoon snack and a similarly lengthy, late dinner. If not travelling to anywhere else in Spain, having little plates of food called ‘tapas’, accompanied by a pitcher of sangria is a must.

The architecture of the city is highly influenced by the works of Antoni Gaudi, and for a more in depth look at his creations, a visit to La Sagrada Familia is a must. Gaudi devoted much of his life to the building of this cathedral, where work still continues today. The work is intricate, unique and like no other cathedral ever visited.

A Barcelona city break is perfect for a quick getaway. Accommodation ranges from impossibly cheap to five star hotels. Any taste can be suited for and any whim practically guaranteed from this Spanish city. The prevalence of flights leaving from Britain also makes Barcelona an easily managed destination – especially if you are keen to brush up on your Spanish.