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How to spend a weekend in Barcelona, with former F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari

By?Gregory Wakeman,?
Alamy Barcelona city skyline (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
(Credit: Alamy)

Jaime Alguersuari was once the youngest-ever F1 driver; now he's a DJ in his hometown of Barcelona. Here are his Barcelona picks, from tapas at Bar Ca?ete to nights out in Eixample.

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The Specialist

After racing for Toro Rosso 46 times between 2009 and 2011 – becoming the youngest driver to ever start a Grand Prix at the time – Jaime Alguersuari retired from motorsport in 2015 to focus on his career as DJ. He has since released three albums and performed across the world under the name Squire.

Millions of visitors flock annually to Barcelona to experience its museums, restaurants and beaches, but for the past 32 years, Formula 1 fans have descended on the nearby Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to witness the world’s finest racers.

And sometimes, fans become pros, like former Formula 1 driver Jaime Alguersuari. The Barcelona-born son of former Grand Prix motorcycle racer Jaime Alguersuari Sr, Alguersuari began racing at a young age, quickly progressing to Formula 1. "My dad had a special interest in making his son a racing driver," he says. "I think he wanted it more than I did myself. But the more I won, the more interested I became."

Since hanging up his helmet in 2015, Alguesuari has reinvented himself as DJ Squire, spinning at the INPUT, Ocean and Nitsa clubs in his beloved hometown.

Alguersuari also has his family to thank for his love of electronica; they've visited Ibiza every summer since the 1980s. "That’s where I made all my friends," he says. "We’d play each other the coolest records. I could see this connection with the crowd once the music started kicking in." Even in his racing days, Alguersuari wound down by making music on his laptop.

For Alguersuari, who now owns his own recording studio, Barcelona is unique. "It’s not too big, not too small," he says. "The weather is amazing. The food is great. People are very friendly. It’s a very balanced city with great vibes and a great energy. I’m so proud of my city. It’s a very special place to live."

Formula 1 and Barcelona mesh perfectly, says Alguersuari. "People come to see the race, they visit Barcelona, plus Formula 1 usually happens at a very pleasant time of the year in the spring or summer when the weather is great. Barcelona is always packed when Formula 1 is here."

Here are Alguersuari’s favourite ways to spend a weekend in Barcelona – during Formula 1 and beyond.

Alamy La Barceloneta neighbourhood meshes the best of Barcelona; city glamour and beach vibes (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
La Barceloneta neighbourhood meshes the best of Barcelona; city glamour and beach vibes (Credit: Alamy)

1. Best way to soak up Barcelona’s atmosphere: La Barceloneta

Barcelona has a very distinct geography. Rather than being flat, Tibidabo hill overlooks the city, while on the other side is the Mediterranean Sea. "It’s similar to San Francisco, because it's not flat like Amsterdam and Milan," says Alguersuari. "It goes from the sea to the mountains. The city is separated by this big street called Diagonal. Above that it's more residential, below it's for visitors."

Alguersuari believes Barcelona's proximity to the Mediterranean helps maintain the city's friendly, laid-back vibe, especially in the summer. "Just having the blue of the sea out in front you gives it a state of peace and freedom," he says. "Even if you don't go for a swim, it's just great to see."

Alguersuari recommends going for a walk or run through the La Barceloneta neighbourhood, which connects the Olympic Port to the seafront and is the home to the Sant Sebastià, Sant Miquel, Barceloneta and Somorrostro beaches, to really soak up the atmosphere of the city. "In the summer it's amazing, especially when the temperature is rising."

Summer 2024 will be particularly rollicking as The America’s Cup sailing competition is taking place in Barcelona between 22 August and 20 October.

Website: https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/page/1272/barceloneta-beach.html

Address: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 16, 08003 Barcelona

Alamy Alguersuari loves the classic Barcelona cultural sights, but especially recommends visitors check out the National Museum of Art; one of the largest in Spain (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
Alguersuari loves the classic Barcelona cultural sights, but especially recommends visitors check out the National Museum of Art; one of the largest in Spain (Credit: Alamy)

2. Best cultural experience: the National Museum of Art

Just south of La Barceloneta is Montju?c, another Barcelona hill with stunning views and a park that Alguersuari says is worth exploring. It's also home to Alguersuari's go-to museum in the city, the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Art). "It’s amazing and so beautiful, especially the building itself," he says.

Tip

According to Alguersuari, the best time to visit is either June or October: "That's when it has the perfect weather of between 25-30C." If you arrive in July or even September it's too "hot and humid and not very comfortable", while in August the city is deserted as residents leave for the coast or islands.

Not only is it one of the largest museums in Spain, full of Catalan art and Romanesque paintings, but it's found inside the Palau Nacional, a Spanish Renaissance building that will leave visitors breathless with wonder.

Of course, Alguersuari can't help but recommend the classic Barcelona haunts, like the Basílica de la Sagrada Família and other Antoni Gaudí buildings like Casa Vicens and Park Güell. "They say Barcelona is the centre of the Modernism movement," says Alguersuari, who also suggests strolling down Paseo de Gracia, calling it "one of the beautiful streets in all of Barcelona", as it’s the home to Gaudi’s Casa Milà and several other renowned pieces of architecture.

Website: https://www.museunacional.cat/en

Address:? Palau Nacional, Parc de Montju?c, s/n, Sants-Montju?c, 08038 Barcelona

Phone: +34 936 22 03 60

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/museunacional/?hl=en

Alamy Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is one of the oldest parts of the city and home to beautiful medieval architecture (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is one of the oldest parts of the city and home to beautiful medieval architecture (Credit: Alamy)

3. Best neighbourhood to stay in: Sarrià

When it's siesta time, Alguersuari prefers to stay in Sarrià, a former village located in the upper part of the city. "Not a lot of people know about it," he says. "It’s mainly Catalans and people from Barcelona." This explains why there are less people, traffic and it's just a "little bit more chilled."

Whenever Alguersuari has friends visiting, he points them towards the Gothic Quarter, which is where the oldest parts of the city are and includes many medieval tourist attractions; located just south of Pla?a Catalunya.

"It is beautiful to see," he says. "You definitely have to go because that's the old town of Barcelona and you get to see the cathedral, as well as the old fortifications of the city. When I have international friends here and they want to see something I take them there."

If you're looking to stay closer to the city centre, Alguersuari recommends either the trendy El Born, artsy Poblenou or elegant Gràcia neighbourhoods.

Alamy For a true Barcelona wine and tapas experience, Alguersuari recommends the classic haunt, Bar Ca?ete (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
For a true Barcelona wine and tapas experience, Alguersuari recommends the classic haunt, Bar Ca?ete (Credit: Alamy)

4. Best Barcelona restaurant: Bar Ca?ete

Bar Ca?ete offers visitors a true Catalan experience. Not just because it serves "amazing wine and tapas," says Alguersuari, but because the staff and chefs are "loud and joking all of the time," making it the perfect place to people-watch. "It’s just a great place to have fun as soon as you walk in," he says, while also warning that it gets very crowded, so it's best to book ahead.

Located within walking distance of the National Museum of Art, Xemei is another of Alguersuari’s most-loved restaurants in Barcelona. Serving food from the Veneto region of Italy, it embodies the "vibes" of the city thanks to its "beautiful terrace … [which] is a little bit bohemian, and [has] the colour and texture of Barcelona," says Alguersuari.

If you can't make it to either of these restaurants, Alguersuari suggests ordering the Catalan delicacies pa amb tomàquet (thin bread layered with tomato and seasoned with oil), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), bombas (meatballs), and – for the very brave — rabo de toro (bull tail) from wherever you do end up eating. All of which, Alguersuari says, should be consumed with only one thing: "This all goes well with great Spanish wine."

Website: https://www.barcanete.com/

Address: Carrer de la Unió, 17, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

Phone: +34 932 70 34 58

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bar_canete/?hl=en

Alamy Hiking up Tibidabo Hill will yield amazing views of the city and a chance to visit Barcelona's historic amusement park (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
Hiking up Tibidabo Hill will yield amazing views of the city and a chance to visit Barcelona's historic amusement park (Credit: Alamy)

5. Best outdoor experience: Tibidabo Amusement Park

If you're on the hunt for an outdoor adventure but don’t feel like taking a plunge in the Mediterranean Sea, hike up Tibidabo hill. "One of the best things I would recommend and what I really value about my city is the views. Going to the top of Tibidabo is great," says Alguersuari.

Once you make it to the top, you won’t just be rewarded with an incredible sight: Tibidabo Amusement Park is at the summit. "Not a lot of people know it, and it's not very big," says Alguersuari of the park, which was opened in 1905 and is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world – most of the original rides still run, too. "You get such an incredible view of the city and the sea," says Alguersuari. "Especially when you're there for the sunrise or sunset. It's amazing."

Website: https://tibidabo.cat/en

Address: Pl. del Tibidabo, 3, 4, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, 08035 Barcelona, Spain

Phone: 93 887 50 34.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/parctibidabo/?hl=en

Alamy Last night a DJ saved your life with these Barcelona nightlife picks, including Dry Martini in the Eixample area (Credit: Alamy)Alamy
Last night a DJ saved your life with these Barcelona nightlife picks, including Dry Martini in the Eixample area (Credit: Alamy)

6. Best area for Barcelona nightlife: Eixample

Barcelona's best area for late-night bars is Eixample, says Alguersuari. It's full of spots that are still very "traditional" but eclectic; all packed together so you won’t have to stumble far. "They're good fun and they feel very Spanish," he says.

Eixample is also home to Alguersuari's favourite cocktail bar, Dry Martini; a Barcelona staple. "All of the waiters are dressed in classic attire," he says. Unsurprisingly, its eponymous beverage is its most popular, but Alguersuari says Dry Martini is more about ambience. "I feel so comfortable in there," he says. "You can have a conversation, it’s really nice and cool."

But Barcelona is packed with nightlife, especially near its frequently touristed beaches, which host many clubs. His pick: Sala Apolo on?Paral-lel Avenue.

Alguersuari also highly recommends music lovers check out Brunch Electronik which hosts avant-garde electronic music and live bands every other Sunday afternoon throughout the summer, held at either Parc de la Trinitat or Poble Espanyol; an open-air architecture museum consisting of 117 full-scale buildings inspired by different locations in the Iberian Peninsula. "It’s like a fake city and a maze," says Alguersuari. "It’s beautiful. It’s a great place to go with your friends, be outside and enjoy the music."

Website: https://drymartiniorg.com/carta-dry-martini-barcelona/

Address: Carrer d'Aribau, 162, 166, L'Eixample, 08036 Barcelona, Spain

Phone: +34 932 17 50 72

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drymartinibarcelona/

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