Barcelona: where ships, sculpture and the sea meet the city

Walking down the famed pedestrian walkway of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, the smell of salty sea air starts to pervade.

Heading south-east, the old architecture of the city peters out, as the cityscape turns to the seascape of Port Vell at the Columbus Monument, smack in the middle of a wide breezy plaza.

The vista from here is a world away from the Gaudí architecture for which Barcelona is famed.

Stroll over the sea

At Port Vell, Las Ramblas migrates into the Rambla de Mar in a fusion of architectural modernity at an over-sea wooden pedestrian walkway. Stroll over the water to cinemas and Barcelona’s L’aquàrium.

Port Vell. Barcelona sculpture sea

Port Vell. Photo by Meghan Hernandez via

Inside, there are 14 aquariums showcasing the best of the Mediterranean, including sand tiger sharks and sandbar sharks.

I see ships! And sculpture …

Turning east from the Columbus Monument you can slalom around palm trees whilst admiring the multi-million dollar super-yachts of the Marina Port Vell, regenerated for the sailing events of the 1992 Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, a block inland on Passeig Colom, modern sculpture adorns the park-like boulevard. It’s here you can shake claws with Gambrinus, Javier Mariscal’s lobster/prawn statue, and outstare the infamous Barcelona Face, designed by artist Roy Lichtenstein for the 1992 Olympic Games.

Barcelona Face. Barcelona sculpture sea

Barcelona Face. Photo by KM via

The sculptures make for stark and beautiful photo opportunities against the blue sky.

Saunter to some seafood

La Barceloneta. Barcelona sculpture sea seafood

La Barceloneta. Photo by Renee O via

Beyond the Port Vell marina, the road and footpaths bear south to La Barceloneta, the former fisherman’s quarter and onetime slum; now home to restored 18th century homes and numerous seafood restaurants.

If you’re looking for a place to sample real-life lobster/prawns, complete with a view of the marina or the golden sands of Playa de la Barceloneta, then this is it.

Hotels in Barcelona

For a sunset with sangria, you could do far worse than soaking up a view of the whole shebang from the deck at the iconic W Hotel. Perched at the tip of La Barceloneta, The W in the epitome of modern city chic, with its sail-inspired glass design shimmering over the city; and a 26th floor bar, Eclipse, delivering Eurotune beats to a hip and happening crowd.

For a serious 5-star treat you can stay at the W. Browse your options here for accommodation choices from hostels to boutique and business-style hotels. Booking through these links doesn’t cost you any more and I receive a small commission which helps me run this site. Thank you 🙂

Transport in Barcelona

With stops at Drassanes (for Port Vell) and Barceloneta, Barcelona’s metro makes for a simple way to get around. Be prepared for signs in Catalan first, then Spanish, then (maybe) English. A phrase book or a few words of Spanish can come in handy.

For a two-wheeled alternative, you could also try a Segway tour.

Barcelona’s seaside sights: summed up

Regenerated and spruced up for the 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona’s seaside sights make up an integral part of the city. From sharks to ships, seafood to sand, take your time to stroll around this eminently walkable area of this proudly Catalan city.

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