When coming to any foreign city for the first time there is always the excitement of exploring a new place. Barcelona is one that is rich in variety and culture. In the city centre you have the Gothic area which dates back nearly 2000 years, there are stunning churches such as Sagrada Familia, there are many museums and art galleries. Then there is the fun side of the city, showcasing a huge variety of restaurants, bars, night clubs and beaches.
When you walk down to the Barceloneta beach to enjoy a lazy day on the sand take a look to your left. You will see two huge towers and a bronze statue of a fish. This area is known as the Port Olimpic and is one of the most thriving and newest parts of the city. Before the Olympic games in 1992 it was a waste land and was not a place where anyone would want to go to voluntarily. In fact people were warned to stay way from the area as it was mostly inhabited by robbers and prostitutes at the time! The whole area was then completely revamped and rebuilt for the Olympic Games, hence why it is now know as the Port Olympic. It is now one of the most popular areas of the city as it is full of bars, restaurants, leisure facilities, modern sculptures and the biggest and best nightclubs in the city.
The area was originally built to house all the athletes who came to the games. The apartment blocks are still there, many of them are now rental apartments, and are still named after the countries from whom the athletes who stayed in them. The skyscrapers were in fact built as part of the Olympic village to put the athletes during the games and are now Mapfre, and office building and a 5 star hotel called Arts House which is one of the most expensive hotels in the city. The penthouse suite goes for more than 10,000 euros a night! They also form the perfect landmark for any disorientated tourists as they can be seen from almost every point along the sands. At the base of the buildings is the gleaming copper sculpture that has become the emblem of the port. It is known as ‘El Peix d’Or’ or ‘The Golden Fish’ This futuristic landmark was designed Frank Gehry who is also well known for the Guggenheim Museam in Bilbao.
The core of the district is naturally the square shaped marina, which juts out in to the Mediterranean which shines with the paint of bright white sailing boats and yachts from where the rich and famous set out to sea. If you are looking for water sports this is the place you come to. Along the lower level is Moll Mestrall and here you can find places to book jet skis, banana boats, power boating and even para sailing where you are hooked up to a parachute and lifted up behind a speed boat so you can enjoy a unique and spectacular view of the city high about the Mediterranean.
There is a huge variety of entertainment in the area. At night the Port Olimpic transforms into the coolest hot spot in the city. Along Moll Mestrall you will find a strip of bars to start the evening off where you can enjoy some cheaper drinks before heading on to the clubs. If you are looking on having a bit more of a relaxing evening then there are slightly quieter spots such as shisha lounges there as well. If you like to gamble then the main Casino is here as are the nightclubs.
These super clubs such as Opium, Pacha and Catwalk are among best in Europe. Some of the biggest DJs in the world come and play at these clubs throughout the summer. They do start very late by many standards, if you are there before 1am you will be there on your own! Generally they don’t really get busy until after 2am before closing up around 6. After that you are right on the beach and can wander down to the sand and enjoy the sunrise over the sea. In the daytime these clubs open up into beautiful restaurants along the beach front offering some delicious Mediterranean platters. If you are looking for a slightly cheaper option of lunch than the restaurants in the clubs above the Moll Mestrall there are a couple of cheap eats such as Burger King where you can buy a quick bite.
This part of the beach is far more open than the crowded areas that are closer to the W hotel at the other end of Barceloneta beach. Comfortable lounge chairs and umbrellas are available for rent to make your stay on the sand a more relaxing one. If you are feeling particularly lethargic and cant be bothered to take a walk to the shops you are in luck as beer and mojito sellers walk around the beach. My advice is to stick to the beers as the mojitos are a far cry from what you would buy in one of the near by bars!
The Port Olimpic is a safe area. Like the rest of Barcelona violent crime is low but the city does have an unsavoury reputation for pickpockets. Their easiest prey are drunk people at night time which the Port Olimpic area does have plenty of! Do be a little bit wary of dodgy looking characters hanging around after hours, especially if you head onto the beach with a new friend for a little hanky panky at night time. Keep your possessions close or you may find you lose more than your underwear!
There is so much to see in Barcelona but during your stay make sure you head down to the Port Olimpic and take advantage of all there is to offer in the newest part of the city. Whether you want to jump on a jet ski, lie on the beach or dance the night away it is all there waiting for you!