Barcelona is one of the most vibrant and celebrated tourist destinations in the world; it is particularly welcoming of the gay community. This Mediterranean port city is one of Europe’s busiest and is frequently included in gay cruise itineraries. Located on Spain’s northeast coast, Barcelona is one of the top destinations for gay Canadian travellers.
The L’Eixample quarter — commonly referred to as Gayxample — is the heart of the gay neighbourhood. With its many clubs, bars, restaurants and shops, it buzzes with activity both day and night.
Chic and elegant, the gay-owned and -operated Axel Hotel, with its amazing rooftop terrace, pool and cocktail lounge, is a full-service boutique hotel in L’Eixample that delivers superior dining, comfort and style.
Also located in Gayxample is H10 Casanova Hotel; it offers all the modern conveniences with class and style and is within walking distance of the hottest bars and clubs.
Barcelona is home to some of the best gay events in Europe, with the Pride Barcelona and Circuit Festival showcasing diversity at its best. One of the main events during Circuit Festival is Water Park Day. Check out all the fun at circuitfestival.net.
The beaches along the coast, just minutes from the city, are simply breathtaking; the most popular gay beach, Barceloneta, is considered one of the best urban beaches in the world. Hidden behind a stand of bamboo is Mar Bella, the gay nude beach. The metro is the best way to get to the beaches, but the bus service is a great alternative during off-peak times.
The pedestrian zone of Las Ramblas, with its shops, cafés and street performers, is a must-see in Barcelona. Equally important is the work of Antoni Gaudí, the famous Catalonian architect. One cannot leave the city without a visit to Casa-Museu Gaudí and to Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família basilica.
Air Canada and Lufthansa offer both direct and connecting flights from Toronto to Barcelona; seven other airlines offer a range of connecting flights with one or two stops. Barcelona’s El Prat Airport is a short 20-minute train ride from the city.
Seaside in Sitges
Sitges is a hidden gem a short 20-minute train ride southwest of Barcelona. A beautiful town with narrow cobblestone streets, colonial-style architecture and a breathtaking beachfront that stretches for miles, Sitges’ bohemian history has provided inspiration for such artists and writers as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Tennessee Williams. It is no wonder this resort has become a mecca for gay visitors from around the world.
There are three main gay beaches in Sitges: the central Playa de la Bassa Rodona, opposite the Hotel Calipolis; Playa de las Balmins, a 15-minute walk east past the town church; and the secluded Playa del Muerto, a 10-minute taxi ride followed by a 10-minute walk past Terramar Hotel. The latter two beaches are mixed, with nude bathing in designated areas.
The centre of town can be best described as a labyrinth, with charming hidden nooks and quaint side streets where you will find designer boutiques, ice cream parlours, martini bars and galleries showcasing work from local artisans. Getting around is easy, as most places of interest are within walking distance.
Nightlife in Sitges, like most Spanish cities, doesn’t get busy until after 1am, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from. Spotting same-sex couples holding hands, embracing and kissing is a common occurrence in this live-and-let-live town.
The Hotel Calipolis is conveniently located directly across from Playa de la Bassa Rodona. Light sleepers might consider requesting one of the top floors, however, as the city tends to get very festive in the wee hours. Apartments and bed-and-breakfast accommodation are available and affordable if four or more are sharing. Book well in advance to secure your accommodation, especially if you’re travelling during July or August.
Piknic Électronik goes Catalan
The popular Montreal music fest Piknic Électronik will launch a satellite season in Barcelona in July. Fans of electronic music will enjoy 10 dates over the summer at Barcelona’s magnificent downtown Montjuïc Park.
Two years in the planning, the Catalan expansion marks the 10th anniversary of Piknic Électronik, a fun-in-the-sun music celebration that is one of Montreal’s summer culture mainstays.
Piknic expanded into Canada’s National Capital Region by adding Gatineau as a locale last summer. The Gatineau Piknic will return for a second season at the gardens of the Canadian Museum of Civilization starting June 10.
Piknic also hopes to be in Vancouver in June for a third edition and is actively working to confirm summer dates in Quebec City.
Visit piknicelectronik.com for complete details.