City break: Barcelona

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

Current page

196

Current page

197

Current page

198

Current page

199

Current page

200

Current page

201

Current page

202

Current page

203

Current page

204

When Fernando Alonso lodged in Oxford, early in his Formula 1 career with Renault, he noted that there were three particular things wrong with Britain: “You eat too early, you go to bed too early and you get up too early…”

Barcelona might not be his patch – the twice world champion hails from Oviedo, 550 miles to the west – but its fusion of culture, heritage and cuisine is a vibrant showcase for his preferred lifestyle.

The Catalan capital is unique in motor racing terms, for no other city has hosted world championship grands prix at three separate locations, and a rich seam of attractions (including the local football club, the European Museum of Modern Art and Gaudi’s architectural handiwork) means a weekend is unlikely to be sufficient to savour the full repertoire of its charms, particularly if you base your visit around a motor race.

Ever-present on the F1 calendar since 1991, when Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna all but rubbed wheels at 190mph on the main straight, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is less than half an hour from the city.

The Spanish Grand Prix was always one of Europe’s quieter races in the pre-Alonso era – and, barring an improbable turnaround, Carlos Sainz’s recruitment by McLaren is unlikely to trigger a sell-out. A three-day general admission ticket costs €140 (about £120) and restaurants in the city and its suburbs tend to be reasonably priced.

It’s just best not to turn up before 9pm…

Events

The Spanish Grand Prix (May 10-12) is likely to be the main draw for Motor Sport’s core audience, but alternative attractions include Peter Auto’s Espíritu de Montjuïc historic race meeting (April 5-7), the World Rallycross Championship (April 27-28) and MotoGP (June 14-16). With Spanish riders occupying more than one third of the grid, the whole nation being entranced by anything with two wheels and weekend tickets starting at €59 (£50), the latter will draw a full house.

The F1 weekend includes supporting double-headers for Formula 2, of which this will be the third round, and the new-look FIA F3 Championship – the very first race appearance of what is essentially a rebranding of the superseded GP3 Series. The Porsche Supercup is also on the bill.

First run last season, the Espíritu de Montjuïc meeting pays homage to the city-centre parkland circuit that hosted the Spanish GP four times between 1969 and 1975 – and was also scene of a 24-hour motorcycle enduro, that ran until 1986.

Peter Auto’s event is only for cars and features a mixture of sports racers, GTs and saloons from the 1950s through to 2000 (and slightly beyond), plus the Porsche 911 2.0 Cup and, perhaps the highlight, a Group C retrospective. Details of all meetings – and tickets – are on www.circuitcat.com/en.

The Spanish GP at Circuit de Catalunya has been a Formula 1 calendar staple
Other distractions

Barcelona is also home to both Pedralbes (the Spanish GP’s home in 1951 and 1954) and Montjuïc (1969, 1971, 1973 and 1975). Located to the west, with its main straight along what was the Avenida del Generalísimo Francisco Franco (now the Avinguda Diagonal), Pedralbes was a street circuit that was decommissioned as a result of safety fears arising from the 1955 Le Mans disaster.

Situated in a hilltop park, a short walk from the Plaça d’España, the Montjuïc circuit can easily be traced and remains largely as it was, one mini roundabout notwithstanding, despite not having been used for many years (other than during a 75th anniversary demonstration event in 2007). It was lost to F1 after 1975, when concerns about the security of barrier installations led to world champion Emerson Fittipaldi withdrawing from the meeting after three slow practice laps. The race was stopped after 29 of the 75 scheduled laps because Rolf Stommelen’s Hill lost its rear wing, vaulted the barriers and killed several bystanders.

Barcelona’s competitive past stretches farther afield, too. About 15 miles from the city, in the mountains, is the Circuito de Venta Cabrera – the ‘Spanish Spa’, a six-mile road circuit used circa 1969-’70. Along the coast road, 25 miles south-west of the city, is the Autódromo Sitges-Terramar, a banked oval that hosted the 1923 Spanish GP. The circuit was used occasionally in the 1930s and, briefly, in the 1950s. It is still largely intact, if overgrown, and privately owned. In theory it’s out of bounds, but it is possible to get close… Back in the metropolis, €8 (£7) secures admission to the Retro Auto Moto Museo (www.ramm.com.es), three floors of heritage cars and motorcycles at Carrer de Sant Pere Mes Alt 41 in the old town.

General travel advice

Budget airlines fly direct from the UK to Barcelona’s principal airport (EasyJet, recommended) and also nearby Girona (Ryanair, although you might prefer to walk the whole way), while there are also numerous options with mainstream carriers.

The city centre has obvious attractions – and a rich choice of hotels – though price hikes are inevitable at F1 o’clock. You’ll find cheaper, closer lodgings in Granollers and Mataró, but that involves evening cab fares to the city if you want to get the most from your trip.

Las Ramblas is Barcelona’s populist heartbeat, but surrounding eateries are invariably packed; El Trabuc (www.eltrabuc.com) in Granollers is five minutes by car from the circuit and has a reputation for fine food (at an average cost of about £40 per head), but isn’t terribly suitable for vegetarians.

You may also like

Related products