With the incredible Balearic Islands so close by, Barcelona and Costa Brava destinations heading north to the South of France are often overlooked. Yet Barcelona is one of the Mediterranean‘s most important cultural hubs preserving much of its heritage while the thriving street markets such as the Ramblas, and street artists and musicians bring living colour to the picturesque streets.
CharterWorld broker, Colin Srivastava recently returned from a FAM trip in Barcelona and the Costa Brava, organized be the OneOcean Port Vell Marina. Full of enthusiasm and excitement for this unique and thriving metropolitan city and surrounding cruising grounds, he explains:
“Barcelona has always been in the shadow of the Balearics when it comes to yacht chartering, but with the excellent new facilities in Port Vell marina and a superb and varied itinerary either cruising north through Girona, Roses and Cadaquès, or en route from France to the Balearics, it has become a must-see addition to any charter plan in Spain.”
Barcelona features no fewer than nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, has over 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, is one of the Top 10 Visited Cities in the World (Forbes), and is the Best Beach City in the World according to National Geographic.
The Gothic quarter is only a 10 minute walk from the OneOcean Port Vell marina and is a photographer’s delight: archways and narrow streets lined with bespoke family shops open up into large palm-lined squares where school children play and locals gather to catch up on the latest news. Roman architecture has been carefully preserved, with part of an ancient temple and two guard towers reminding residents and visitors alike of the long hand of influence the Roman empire once wielded over Europe and even farther afield.
No visit to the Gothic Quarter is complete without a visit to The Picasso Museum, tucked away within five incredible mansions and chronicling his work from his boyhood years through to his retirement. The best collection of his work anywhere in the world, tourists can watch his style evolve from realism into experimentation.
For anyone looking for artwork that can be lived in, the Eixample sector of Barcelona city is a true delight, showcasing the late 19th Century’s expressive styles. Modernism was Catalonia’s alternative interpretation of the Art Noveau movement, which developed an organic element upon the glamour of Art Deco design. Barcelona has arguably the best examples of Modernism anywhere in the world: While Art Noveau embellished with natural motifs and colours, architects such as Gaudi incorporated the natural flowing forms of nature into the very architecture itself to create incredible spectacles such as the ‘Block of Discord’, where each building offered something completely unique. See the iconic Casa Mila, visit Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family) or Park Guell before making time to visit the Monastery of Montserrat, a beautiful and important pilgrimage site with an awe-inspiring interior of browns and golds.
Cadaquès is not to be missed by lovers of Surrealism: The sleepy town was where Salvador Dali lived and his home is open to the public, where guests can gain insight into the artist’s life and walk among his labyrinthine grounds. Among the other whitewashed and orange-tiled buildings of Cadaquès are churches and museums dedicated to local history, and there is always a seaside bar for afternoon refreshments or partying with the locals through the night.
The ancient city of Girona is nestled between the mountainous Les Guilleries and Massís de les Cadiretes. The rivers Galligants, Güell, Ter and Onyar converge within the settlement and create waterways overlooked by colourful modern houses and medieval architecture alike. Walk along the fortifications and look across the plains to see the vineyards, fields, and mountains that add astounding natural beauty to a city that already features intricate man-made designs.
Roses is an area of incredible natural beauty believed to be settled as early as 8th Century BC by Greeks from the island of Rhodes. As a result, visitors to the region are treated to panoramic hillside vistas, ancient ruins, old forts and plenty of opportunities to get out the water toys and for paddling or high-adrenaline fun. The location within the Gulf of Roses provides great anchorages her as well as in the nearby bays, while the stretch of beach reaches almost to L’Escala to the south, so your guests will always have a strip of deserted beach to themselves.