Spain’s second most populous city and capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, is one of the best places to take a holiday in Europe. From beaches to bars to its beautiful atmosphere, it’s got something for everyone. It’s large enough to have an open cosmopolitan culture and a sense of buzz, but also quiet enough that it rarely feels too crowded.
There’s more than enough unique culture to take in, and much of it is very accessible to all. Read on for some of the very best things you can do while exploring this world-class city.
Tour the Gothic Quarter
Where better to start your experience of Barcelona than in the Gothic quarter? Often regarded as the town’s heart, this charismatic neighbourhood is the perfect place to get a feel for the city. The Easy Walking Tour Gótic is perhaps the best way to do that, taking in the quarter’s excellent shops and incredible architecture. Expect to take about an hour, though tour operators are very happy to let guests set the pace.
- Adaptations for people with limited sight.
- A fully wheelchair-accessible route and lightweight chairs available to rent.
- Small group sizes, so no one feels pressured to rush.
Nineteenth-century architect Antoni Gaudi remains one of Catalonia’s most celebrated sons more than 90 years after his death. Though associated with the Catalan search for a unique artistic and cultural identity, he’s also renowned as a one of a kind figure. You don’t need to know anything about architecture to recognise the uniqueness of his work, and many of the best examples can be found in Barcelona.
La Sagrada Familia
Perhaps Gaudi’s most famous work, La Sagrada Familia is an imposing, unforgettable cathedral. Though it was consecrated as an official Catholic church in 2010, guests flock to it mostly for its cultural importance and for the sheer spectacle, from the extravagant decorations and the enormous main hall to the museum and its construction underneath.
- Visitors with ‘proof of disability’ can get up to two free tickets each.
- A separate entrance with disabled access.
- The main hall and museum are fully accessible to those with reduced mobility.
You may have noted that 2010 seems extraordinarily late for this site to get consecrated (especially as Gaudi died in 1926). In truth, La Sagrada Familia is still not completed! The project began in 1882, but a long history of delays and disruptions has left it incomplete to this day. The official estimate for completion currently sits at the year 2032.
The second on the city’s list of incredible Gaudi works, this 1904 redesign was added to the edifice of an existing building.
This architectural wonder was adapted to provide a full and unique experience to visitors with partial or no sight. It makes use of its unique textures to provide guests with a variety of different tactile sensations as they explore. There’s even a full 3D model of the façade to feel.
Other features include
- Relief plans and other information in braille.
- Printed guides in multiple languages.
- Complete audio guides for all guests.
Casa Batlló is known by locals as Casa del Ossos, the House of Bones. Though it gets its name from its skeletal appearance, some have also speculated that its design evokes St George slaying a dragon.
Come out of these imposing, atmospheric buildings to experience the open spaces and tranquillity of Park Güell, designed by Gaudi to complement the natural environment surrounding it.
- Braille is available, and guests are encouraged to touch the park’s sculptures.
- A wheelchair-accessible route is clearly outlined on the map.
- Two major accessible bus routes, the 24 and 92, stop right outside the park.
Don’t miss the mosaic bench running around the outskirts of the park. It’s one of the area’s most iconic features and it’s as astounding to touch as it is to look at.
Relax on the Beautiful Beaches
After all this culture, you’ve earned a spot of relaxation on the beach. Luckily, Barcelona has eight incredible ones on offer, each with a great selection of cafés and restaurants.
- Disabled toilets are widely available at all beaches.
- Each has wooden platforms to provide a stable base for wheelchair users.
People with reduced mobility should head to the Nova Icária, Barceloneta or Fórum areas; each offer help bathing to those with reduced mobility. With an assistant on hand at all times and a system of hoists to transfer you, you’ll be able to experience a dip in the Mediterranean with no fuss.
Where to Stay
Bcn Urban Hotels Gran Rosellon: With free WiFi, airconditioned rooms, accessible bathrooms and complementary toiletries, the Gran Rosellon has all the amenities you’d expect as well as decent food and drink, a sun terrace and a seasonal outdoor pool.
Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona: Located close to Nova Mar Bella Beach is the Hilton; it’s a great place to base yourself for your city break. Several bars, including a lounge and terrace bar, offer cocktails and spirits, while two restaurants offer a mix of cuisines including local and international food. Rooms are air conditioned, and the pool, fitness centre, entrances and bathrooms are all fully accessible to those with limited mobility.
How to Get to Barcelona
Flights from London are readily available, with eight airlines offering over 200 journeys a week to Barcelona Airport (BCN). Once you land, a short 30-minute transfer via Shuttle Direct can get you into town with little fuss. For the best experience, let them know ahead of time if you’ll need any support and their drivers will be happy to adjust.
- UK to BCN Flight Time: 2 hours
- BCN to Barcelona Distance: 17 kilometres
- Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: 30 minutes
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is one of the best transfer operators in Europe and North Africa. Our drivers are friendly and accommodating and often give guests great local recommendations and other tips… and our goal is always to get you where you need to go safely and without any fuss.