There’s more to Barcelona than its famed boulevard, La Ramblas. The city’s skyline reads like an archeological excavation, revealing 2,000 years of urban development. To see its evolution, visit these three neighbourhoods.

1. Gothic Quarter

Photo by Margaret Stepien

Barcelona began right here. Among the labyrinthine medieval streets and churches of the former walled city, you’ll find remnants of a
Roman temple and walls.

Must do: The Museum of the History of Barcelona’s Plaça del Rei location features a reconstructed Gothic mansion and archaeology sites, including a Roman laundry workshop.

2. Eixample

Photo by Margaret Stepien

In 1860, urban planner Ildefons Cerdà began a massive development project, constructing a geometrical grid of courtyard parks surrounded by housing blocks. This iconic neighbourhood is packed with Catalan Modernism architecture and streets lined with restaurants, bars and boutiques.

Must do: Sidle up to the cava and oyster bar at the modern El Nacional Barcelona food hall.

3. Sant Martí

Photo by Margaret Stepien

The newly established 22@ tech district features eye-catching architecture such as the Gherkin-esque Torre Glòries and the cantilevered Design Museum of Barcelona.

Must do: Mercat dels Encants is one of Europe’s oldest markets, dating back to the 1300s. Today it’s held under a mirrored canopy, just off Glòries Square.

Take a Day trip to Cava

Photo by Look Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH/Alamy

Cava, the Spanish bubbly, is produced less than an hour outside of Barcelona. To reach Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, the centre of cava-making in Spain, take the Rodalies R4 line train from Plaça de Catalunya. Many wineries (including Freixenet, Recaredo and Gramona) are a short walk from the station. ¡Salud!

[This story appears in the April 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]