South African journalist
Barcelona is on the top of most people’s list of places to visit in the summer, so if you’re lucky enough to live in this exciting city – there really is no need to brave COVID chaos in a desperate bid to travel somewhere else.
Digital communications consultant Chené Koscielny shares her list of the top 11 fun things to do in Barcelona this summer.
– Barcelona has 360-view rooftop experiences for every taste – whether you fancy a bit of luxury, a trendy hangout or a more chilled space.
- Some of my favorites include the Sky Bar at Grand Hotel Central – on the 8th floor in the Gothic quarter. Non-guests can visit from 1pm and after 7pm you need a reservation with a minimum 14 Euro consumption. The vibe is stylish with a light Mediterranean menu and great cocktails. (around 16 Euros)
- For a different experience, try the rooftop chiringuito – beach shack at the charming boutique hotel, Casa Bonay in Gran Via de les Corts, Catalanes. They offer summer barbecue and tapas – try the grilled steak with chimichurri for Euros 9.5 or the Teriyaki chicken wings for Euros 7.5. They also have a natural wine selection, and your favorite cocktail will set you back 13 Euros. The rooftop bar opens at 18 and it’s better to reserve a table.
- At the Duquesa de Cardona Hotel near the Port Vell is another great option, which offers impressive views of the port and the dome of the Basilica de la Mercè and live music from Thursday to Sunday.
The bar has a luxury, yet cozy feel with teak floors and candles and Mediterranean plants.
Enjoy a cocktail for only 11 Euros!
Food options include tapas, paella and a surf and turf menu.
- Hotel Pulitzer in Carrer de Bergara pulls an afterwork crowd with cool music sessions – including live bands and DJs from various clubs and collectives on the weekends. from 17h to 23h. This terrace has a lush and exotic feel, the drinks are reasonably priced (From 12 to14 Euros) and light snacks are available. Very pleasant experience all round.
2. Nightime experiences
Don’t let the curfew cramp your style – there are still plenty of fun things to do before the clock strikes 1pm.
- Magic Nights 2021 at Gaudi’s iconic building Casa Batllo on Passeig de Gracia include a tour of the house and the new 10D experience – an insight into what inspired the artist, as well as a one-hour live music concert (flamenco, jazz, soul, rumba…) and a glass of Cava. We loved this! It was very well organized and the tables were far enough apart to comply with COVID measures. The musicians were fantastic and really engaged the crowd.
- La Pedrera Jazz – another one of Gaudi’s masterworks – Casa Milà – also in Passeig de Grácia also features jazz nights during the summer. The roof terrace transforms into a stunning setting from where to enjoy the views and the vibe. La Pedrera Jazz starts with a free visit to the whale attic — which resembles a whale’s skeleton, followed by the concert on the roof terrace and a drink.
3. Candlelight music performances
- We attended a magical open air piano concert by candlelight – a tribute to Ludovico Einaudi – in the spectacular courtyard of Sant Pau – which we highly recommend.
San Pau – a former hospital – is the world’s largest art nouveau complex and an important work of Luis Domenech i Montaner – the architect of Modernism, the Catalan Art Nouveau.
Checkout upcoming candlelight musical performances at San Pau and other venues.
You can also do a daytime guided tour of the complex – declared a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its singularity and artistic beauty.
4. Activities in CaixaForum
In Barcelona you can experience different activities every night, including expositions, documentaries and discussions – mostly in Spanish. However, watch out for the music concerts – such as an evening of Mozart opera.
A great activity for mums and daughters – is to spend a couple of hours making your own colorful espadrilles – classic Catalan shoes – in this charming shop in the Gothic Quarter of the city.
We loved the experience – which included a short, fun lesson in the history of these shoes, step-by-step guidance and assistance in making your shoes – as well as delicious churros and cava.
Cost: From 60 Euros, including your shoes.
6. We also really like the sound of the live rumba sunset concerts (9 Euros per ticket) on Sundays at Poble Espanyol – a cultural village offering open air cultural activities for all ages in the Montjuic area.
Other activities at the village include craft workshops, contemporary art, architecture, terraces, etc.
7. Cinema under the stars
Whether it’s on the beach after a day in the sun or chilling in a lounge chair on a balmy summer’s evening – Barcelona’s open-air cinemas is another great staycation evening entertainment option. Here are two of the classic and very popular venues showing films this summer:
- The Sala Montjuic is an outdoor cinema at the foot of the Montjuic castle featuring a variety of films – including contemporary movies and classics. Each film is preceded by a short live music performance and a short film screening. Rent a comfy lounge chair or bring your own blanket. (You are not allowed to bring your own chairs this year.)
The films are projected in original version – with Spanish subtitles.
Basic entrance costs 7.50 Euros, but there are also other combination tickets which include live music or a visit to the castle. Films are shown on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until the 6th of August.
Tickets must be booked in advance via the official website.
- Cinema Lliure in Barceloneta (Playa de la Mar Bella) offers films on Thursday and Sunday nights on the beach – Space is limited, though, so get there early!
This year the festival has been extended to screenings in El Prat, Mataró, Palamós and Tossa de Mar.
The line-up includes alternative and avant-garde films. Prior reservation is necessary and opens about one week before each session. Bring your own food and blanket.
8. City beaches
Cooling off is a top priority and Barcelona’s beaches offer experiences for all. City beaches such as San Sebastian and Mar Bella in Barceloneta and the beaches of Poblenou are great for playing volleyball, walking, rollerblading and cooling off – though for clearer water and less crowded and quieter beaches, it’s worth venturing out a bit further.
Nearby beach options that can be reached by car and/or train include Sitges, Gava Mar and Castelldefels, each with its own character.
We like Gava Mar (20 minutes by car) and Castelldefels (20-30 minutes) for their beautiful stretches of white sandy beach.
Gava Mar doesn’t have many chiringuitos (beach bars and restaurants on the beach), whereas you’re spoilt for choice in Castelldefels.
Sitges is another nice option, a former fishing village popular with expats, with different beaches to choose from and a lovely town with whitewashed buildings and a Bohemian character with many nice restaurants and shops to explore.
Outdoor Swimming Pools
Our favorite outdoor pools in the city are the Piscina Municipal de Montjuic for its spectacular views of the city.
Built for the 1992 Olympics, the 25-meter pool offers fairly basic facilities. It can be reached via the Montjuic Funicular or by bus (55.)
Club Natació Atlètic in Barceloneta – is a seafront swimming club on the Sant Sebastiá beach. There are two outdoor pools – one for swimmers and the other one for leisure. Facilities include sun loungers.
If you’re looking for a day of thrills and spills – Port Aventura is about one hour’s drive from Barcelona and is great for kids of all ages. Apart from the more than 40 themed roller coasters and other thrilling rides, the complex also features a separate aquatic park and the Ferrari land theme park – a live Ferrari experience for the whole family.
For me the city has offered a richness of life unparallel to any of the other cities where I lived. If you’re looking for a vibrant remote working base and you are keen to integrate and contribute to the city, you should definitely consider Barcelona!
10. La Roca Village
(about 40 minutes by car from Barcelona) – is a great option if you’re into shopping and like your designer brands. The outlet features top brands at discounted prices in a charming shopping village atmosphere with many restaurants where you can refuel before hitting the shops again.
This August, La Roca Village organizes the Summer Fest. During your shopping experience, you will be able to enjoy live music, refreshing culinary delights and unique artistic installations in the open air. And don’t miss Corso Iluzione, new restaurant that barcelona decoration firm Luzi, opened in the new expansion of the shopping center.
11. If you’re into football – the FC Barcelona Museum
Located in the Camp Nou Stadium in the district of Les Corts, is the best place to get to know one of the world’s best football clubs – the museum features a trophy area, multimedia space, Messi area, art collection, Futbolart collection and temporary exhibitions.