Whether you’re a fan of racing on two wheels or four, you’ll know racing in Barcelona is a season highlight. With the Spanish Grand Prix and the Catalunya MotoGP being hosted at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, the Catalan capital is on many motorsport fans’ radar for a city break each year.
Barcelona is one of the world’s top tourist honeypots. From the finest Mediterranean food, to the very pinnacle of sporting excellence, there is something for all racing fans on the coast of Catalonia.
10 things to do in Barcelona on race weekend
Step into Messi’s boots at Camp Nou
The home of one of the world’s biggest football clubs: FC Barcelona. With 27 La Liga titles, 31 Copa del Rey victories and five Champions League trophies, it is a sporting institution of gargantuan proportion.
The Camp Nou is an apt setting for the sporting giants to write yet more history – once the construction works have been finished that is! Currently under renovation, the 66 year old stadium will be ready to host Barça in the 2025 season. The team currently play their matches at the Olympic Stadium, but don’t worry, the Camp Nou Museum is still welcoming visitors to tour the iconic colosseum-like stadium.
First opened in 1957, the Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe and fourth-largest in the world, with a capacity of 99,354. The stadium has been the stage for countless historic matches over the years. This is where Manchester United sealed their famous Treble by beating Bayern Munich in the last minute of the 1999 Champions League final. It also hosted five matches at the 1982 World Cup, including eventual champions Italy’s semi-final victory over Poland.
Sporting fans from across the globe flock to the Camp Nou. The Players Experience Tour places you in the boots of your favourite players. Including VIP access to the home changing room, a walk alongside the pitch and a trip to the press conference space – ideal for photo opportunities.
Relax on one of Barcelona’s many beaches
Part of the huge draw that Barcelona on visitors from around the world is that it is a coastal city. A number of beaches stretch up the coastline where locals and tourists soak up the sun. But the key is to know where the locals go, and where the tourists relax.
The biggest beach is Playa de la Barceloneta, which is walking distance from the city centre and some of Barcelona’s biggest hotels. Naturally, this is where tourists gather and therefore one of the most notorious spots for pickpockets. The beach gets incredibly busy in the summer months, and unsuspecting tourists often return from a dip in the sea to find their belongings gone.
If you’re looking for a little more space and less likelihood of falling victim to robberies, head north along the coast to the likes of Nova Mar Bella Beach. You’ll still be able to sunbathe and pick up a volleyball, a little less hectic.
Even taking the yellow line to the metro stops Bogatell or Marbella will make a big difference in terms of quality of your beach day.
Take to the seas on a sailing cruise
Sailing tours are run throughout the summer, taking you out into the tranquil Mediterranean to check out the Catalan landmarks and the famous city skyline from a rare perspective. Or, simply relax away from the hubbub of the city and the circuit. Many packages include drinks and tapas, along with the unique chance to step aboard a luxury yacht.
Explore three countries in a single day
The more adventurous fans might be looking to explore the land as much as the sea. As Barcelona is in the north of Spain, it is within touching distance of not only the south coast of France, but the small landlocked country Andorra.
The unique ‘Three Countries in One Day’ tour takes you from Barcelona to scenic Bagà, into France, and then back down through stunning Andorra.
The tour takes around a 11-12 hours, so requires a full commitment, but it is a unique opportunity to tick off three countries and maximising your travelling experience.
Andorra is also a tax haven, making it the ideal place to stock up on alcohol and other items that are heavily taxed elsewhere.
Sample great food at Mercat de la Boqueria
Off track, a week in Spain is always going to revolve around food. If you take a stroll down the most famous street in Barcelona, Las Ramblas, you won’t miss this impressive building. Advertising itself as the best market in the world, this is where you’ll be able to browse over 200 stalls heaving with traditional Catalan food.
At Mercat de la Boqueria, you’ll find the best jamon, red meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and everything Spanish cuisine is renowned for. If you’re looking to stock up for a race picnic, head to this market rather than a local supermarket. You’ll be able to stock up on authentic food to keep you fuelled all weekend.
Try the tapas at Bodega Biarritz
However, upon your return from the Spanish Grand Prix, you’ll probably be looking for some authentic and traditional tapas. Look no further than Bodega Biarritz, one of the most popular restaurants in the city.
Doubling up as a wine and tapas bar, this is the perfect place to unwind after the race, and sample as many tastes of Spain as you can manage.
Marvel at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia
Wherever you turn in Barcelona, you’ll find building by the architect Gaudi. Fifteen of the Catalan’s 20 designs can be found in the city, and that includes the unfinished Sagrada Familia.
Building began in 1882 – around 140 years ago! Gaudi’s masterpiece is set to be completed by 2026, 144 years of work. The truly awe-inspiring basilica is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that comprises seven of the architect’s work in the city.
While you could check out the building from the ground, head to the rooftop bar at nearby Hotel Ayre, for a unique view and selfie opportunity.
Catch a performance at Palacio del Flamenco
The genre became popular in Spain in the 18th century, with ‘tablaos flamencos’ taking off in the 20th century. Here, dancers and musicians would improvise and use the dance to express themselves, and they later evolved into cafes for the public to gather and enjoy.
Palacio del Flamenco is one of the best venues you can gather for dinner and an authentic show – but be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.
The Barcelona aquarium is Europe’s largest, and home to 11,000 animals of 450 species in 35 huge tanks. The pièce de resistance is the 80-meter long underwater tunnel allows you to walk through the incredible shark tank. The enormous tank houses eels, sunfish, rays, and two species of sharks: the sand tiger, and the sandbank. They can grow to reach lengths of up to 3.2m, and are no doubt the star attractions.
While Pablo Picasso spent most of his life in France, much of his childhood was in Barcelona. It’s fitting that the Picasso Museum, which holds 4,000 pieces of his art including many formative pieces, is in the city.
You’ll see some of his early sketches from his youth in Barcelona, and observe how they progressed into one of the most iconic styles ever seen, from one of the world’s most famous artists.