For lovers, striking landmarks provide brilliant backdrops for romantic portraits — anything from casual snaps to commissioned pre-wedding or honeymoon photography shoots. And possibly nowhere in the world can match the architectural vigour of Barcelona, where traditional Catalan and Gothic edifices from legendary folks such as Gaudí blend powerfully with modern structures designed by the likes of contemporary giants Richard Meier and Frank Gehry.
But, the capital of Catalonia and the second-most populated city in Spain has much more romanticism to offer beyond gorgeous architecture. Equally charismatic are its intimate parks seductively illuminated with the Mediterranean sun, old-school quarters and theme parks that lend a vintage feel, and the colours of an amazing array of Catalan fare and Spanish tapas.
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Not sure where to start? Barcelona-based wedding photographer Veronica Hansen shares the inside scoop on the best locations to celebrate love with a couple or wedding photography session in the city of Gaudí.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta
Located in the northern part of Barcelona, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Labyrinth Park is a true hidden jewel. Few tourists ever arrive here, and the ones that do are enchanted by its immaculate gardens and peaceful ambiance. This historic park was privately built in the 18th century, and its most appealing attractions are the trimmed cypress trees that form an elaborate maze. Come prepared with a picnic basket and then spend a few hours admiring the park’s collection of fountains, waterfalls, historic architecture, and lush gardens. The park is open daily, giving you many chances to defeat the maze. You’ll need them!
It’s well-known that Barrio Gotico is the classic of all classics in Barcelona. But it’s a hugely popular tourist attraction for a reason: it is amazingly beautiful and romantic! From its gaslight lanterns, to the cobblestone streets, the Gothic Quarter is the visual heart of Barcelona. And even though it’s called the Gothic Quarter, here you can find a mix of architectural styles dating back to the Roman era, Medieval times, and even the recent 1900s. But this mix of styles only makes the area more charming. In fact, in the 20th century much of it was dilapidated. The city then restored and revitalised it, making the present Gothic Quarter a vision of what the city might have looked like 800 years ago.
Amongst its sun-drenched plazas, you’ll find intricately designed stone arches, vaulted stained-glass windows, scary gargoyles, and even tall-standing 2,000 year-old Roman columns that are fully intact. If this isn’t enough to blow your historical mind, according to legend, in the Gothic Quarter’s Plaza del Rei, you can find the steps where Christopher Columbus arrived after his discovery of America.
After you wander through the quarter’s winding labyrinth streets, rest in Plaza del Pi, where you can share a refreshing orxata (traditional ground almond beverage) as you watch local artists paint the Gothic-style church. Then, as you make your way toward the city’s cathedral, explore the hidden wonders of the many antique shops located in the quarter’s historic Jewish neighbourhood El Call. In an area so rich in history, you’ll want at least an entire morning or afternoon to roam around and soak in everything.
Parc Natural de Collserola
You’ll often hear Barcelonians boast that their city has the best of both worlds: the mountains and the sea. Barcelona is idyllically sandwiched between the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and the small mountain range of Serra de Collserola. The peaks and valleys of Collserola are filled with hiking and biking trails, Medieval ruins, and authentic Catalan barbeque restaurants. At 22 times the size of Central Park, you can easily spend an entire day exploring its diverse nature paths. Since it’s a protected national park, don’t be surprised by the abundant flora and fauna you will find here.
Also, if the mini-Mountains of Collserola aren’t enough to tame your inner adventurer, Barcelona is only a few hours away from the expansive Pyrenees mountain range, where you can ski, snowboard, hike, raft, and even repel down cliffs!
Arguably Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí’s most famous monument, this ample park lives up to the hype. Park Güell is completely designed according to inspiring elements found in nature. That’s why a ‘forest’ of columns reach up into the sky, imitating high-soaring tree tops, and why the park’s benches and tunnels bend and curve resembling the shape of a snake’s body. Being amongst these innovative designs will truly help you to better understand the mind of this genius architect. But perhaps, most disarming are the mosaic-tiled benches from where you can enjoy views of the entire city. The tiles proudly boast a mish-mash of patterns and colours, resembling the flower patches of the park’s gardens. From the benches, you can reflect on the true beauty of Barcelona, as you watch the shimmering light bounce off the skyline and sea below.
Another great place for a romantic cuddle while admiring the breathtaking views of Barcelona is the vintage theme-park of Tibidabo. As one of the highest look-out points in Barcelona, the entire city below is yours to bask in. Additionally, you are able to enjoy this spectacular view without purchasing a ticket to the actual park. Rather, you can access the Tibidabo Skywalk with free entry and just pay-as-you-go rides. Some of the recommended rides are the towering Ferris wheel, the flying airplane, and the antique merry-go-round. They will all make you feel like a child again, as most boast a vintage feel!
La Barceloneta is definitely an all all-time favourite neighbourhood in all of Barcelona! Its main claims to fame are a fun and lively beach scene and many delicious seafood restaurants. The beach has many gorgeous look-out points and benches for stopping and enjoying the views with your significant other. It also has a boardwalk where you can bike and roller-blade, or better yet, stop for mojitos in one of the many ‘chiringuito’ beach bars. La Barceloneta is also very familiar neighbourhood filled with local people. You can find grandpas playing dominos on the beach or life-long friends drinking vermouths in local bodegas. Historically, this neighbourhood was a small fishing village where all the seamen lived, so it still has a close-knit community feel. Walk around this local area and get a feel of how the Spanish really live!
Veronica Hansen is a portrait and wedding photographer in Barcelona, mainly because she can’t find anyone to pay her to pet dogs all day! She loves dreamy light, coffee, hiking in nature, reading on terraces, and foot massages. She is originally from Texas, the land of barbecue and beautiful sunsets. After studying photography at university, she taught photography around the world and eventually landed in Barcelona, which she has called home for the past three years. Over the years, Veronica has developed a knack for understanding the taste of international travellers, and for offering the right balance of classic touristic highlights and secret spots loved by locals. Her goal as a photographer is to celebrate light, happiness and beauty with all the wonderful couples she photographs.