For the modern tourist who wants to travel to a city filled with lots of color, energy, good eats, architecture and arts, I’d point them in the direction of Barcelona. This is a city that transports you to a landscape that’s both modern and historical. While this guide won’t tell you where the best tapas or vino is, you might find it useful if you’re wanting to take in the arts, architecture, and culture of the city. Whether you’re looking to go on an architecture/art crawl or find modern boutiques to shop at, this Design Milk guide will make sure you get a little bit of everything in your trip.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Omm: You’ll probably find yourself lingering outside this member of the Design Hotels collective a little bit longer than normal before entering. Designed by architect Juli Capella, the exteriors of the hotel feature a limestone facade that “peels back” cutouts to form windows. The interiors aren’t to be missed either though; designers Sandra Tarruella and Isabel López find the perfect balance between lines, colors, and volumes within the hotel for a contemporary vibe.
Vincci Bit Hotel: For those who love art, the Vincci Bit is known for its modern art interiors. Each of the eight floors features a mural by leading illustrators and designers (we actually featured one of them here).
WHERE TO PLAY
(Pro tip: before we get into all the Dali, Picasso and Gaudi sights to see, my one tip here is to do your research and prebook tickets beforehand for most of these visits because they can sell out for the day. My travel pet peeve is getting excited to visit a place only to be turned away due to something as simple and accessible like tickets!)
Pablo Picasso Museum: This is a no brainer. The museum features over 4,000 works from Picasso from his adolescent years through the end of his life so be sure to set aside a few hours to enjoy the entire museum. There is free admission on Sundays from 3-6PM, as well as other conditions (under 18 years old, students, journalists, teachers, professors, etc). FYI, there is no photography allowed but you’ll be too busy admiring Picasso’s brush strokes and perspectives to care about that!
Sagrada Familia: Even through just browsing Instagram, I’m still blown away by this magnificent architecture by Antoni Gaudí every, single, time. If you truly need reasons to convince yourself to go, check out the comments in this post. You can pay an extra fee to take an elevator to the top and make your way down the stairs to see panoramic views of the city or get a closer look at the tiled mosaics on the facade.
Park Güell: This is basically like Disneyland for the architecture lover. Another Gaudí favorite, the site boasts vivid colors and expansive views of the city but be forewarned, tickets usually sell out fast for this must-see!
Poble Espanyol: Another site to see for architecture lovers, this architectural museum lets you walk through 117 buildings recreated to scale from different regions of Spain.
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona: The MACBA features lots of contemporary Spanish and Catalan art. Don’t forget to head to the back of the building to check out the modern street art currently featuring Keith Haring and take some time to browse the gift shop (you might spend just as much time there as you did in the museum).
Museu del Disseny de Barcelona: This museum is currently holding a David Bowie exhibition that has already been visited by 1.5 million people during its world tour. It is now in Barcelona until August 25, 2017. If you’re visiting after that date, you can still check out the permanent exhibitions including the one that showcases product design and cultural heritage.
Palau de la Música: Speaking of music, this next place is for music lovers but also history majors and architecture buffs. The Palau de la Música is a concert hall that was built in the early 1900s and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. While it may not look very modern, its curved lines, dynamic forms and ornate details is typical of Catalan modernism which was a ground-breaking movement at the turn of the 20th century.
WHERE TO SHOP
B de Barcelona: If you’re looking for souvenirs that are made by local designers and makers, you need to visit this store. It boasts a wide selection of objects so you can find pretty much anything for anyone, from jewelry and art to furniture and lamps. Not traveling to Barcelona anytime soon? You can also shop online!
Earlier this year, the government in Barcelona put in place stricter regulations to help curb the influx of tourism that was quickly gentrifying the city. My last piece of advice would be to take a break from the museums and parks to shop at local boutiques and support the small businesses in the city. Instead of buying keychains or magnets, why not head into a espadrilles shop (like La Manual Alpargatera that’s been in business since 1941!) or a nearby vinoteca to bring home a nice bottle of red? Last but not least, before you head home, be sure to stop into a bakery for some Spanish crema catalana. Have fun and be sure to tag your travels on Instagram with #designmilktravels so we can follow along!
What else am I missing? Comment below with your favorite sites to stay, visit and shop and I’ll check them out!