Barcelona, the gem of Spain and the capital of Catalonia is a city of fashion, design and trends. Until not very long ago, it was an industrialized area due to the dictatorship of General Franco that lasted from 1939 until his death in 1975. During this time, the city was condemned to industrialism as a punishment for its amazing location on the Mediterranean Sea.
After hosting the Olympic Games in 1992, the city transformed into a vibrant, beautiful, sustainable city. Since then, its 3.2 km / 2 mile coast, which was previously a rubbish yard and industrial zone, became an exotic beach full of bars and a modern marina with shops and cafes. This transformation not only changed the image of the city, but it also provided the Catalans with jobs and Barcelona became a glamorous destination, a trend-setting city, blossoming with culture, art and tourism.
There is too much written about this city that offers a bunch of attractions and a huge variety of bars and restaurants. Here is my personal piece of advice so you get the best out of it!
1. Explore Barcelona's beauty on foot
If you visit during summer, then try to avoid the metro. Walking in the city is very pleasant, distances are quite short and you will discover hidden treasures from street art to special cafes and amazing architecture. Even street concerts can be found along your way!
2. See the masterpieces of Gaudi
An extraordinary personality that marked Barcelona was Gaudi, a local architect who created the landmarks of the city. The famous buildings he created shouldn’t be missed. They are great tourist attractions that are spread all around the city. Unique architectural masterpieces like the famous Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera and Park Guell show Gaudi’s genius mind and visiting them is a once in a lifetime experience. I would recommend entering Sagrada Familia for its greatness and beauty and Casa Batllo, where you get an amazing video guide that explains Gaudi’s personality and how he influenced Barcelona.
There are various tickets offered and special combinations for entrance to more than one building. Tickets cost from 15-20 EUR (~16.30 USD to 21.79 USD) for one admission up to 26 EUR (28.32 USD) for combined admission. Usually, there is a queue to enter. The best thing to do is to book an online ticket in advance in order to skip the lines.
3. Barcelona's Parks
Barcelona has many parks where people can enjoy the green scenery in a calm and peaceful environment away from the city’s fast pace. Parc de la Ciutadella is a green oasis in the middle of the city that offers great green paths for walks, areas for picnics and an idyllic lake where you can row a boat. There are several attractions inside the park: a zoo, the Catalan Parliament, Museum of Modern Art, Zoological Museum and Geological Museum. You can get there with the yellow metro line L4, getting off at the stop Ciutadella / Vila Olímpica. Admission is free.
The famous Parc Güell is a must see when you visit Barcelona. It hosts a fairytale surrealist forest created by Gaudi. The park dates back to 1922. Park Güell is located at Carrer d'Olot in Barcelona and you get there by bus (lines H6, 32, 24 and 92) or metro (green line L3) getting off at the stop “Park Güell”. The Park has three entrances: one on Carrer de Larrard (this is the main entrance), one at Carretera del Carmel 23 and one on Passatge de Sant Josep de la Muntanya, which you get to by going up an escalator. The admission is 7 EUR (7.58 USD) for individuals and there is a group ticket with a 20% discount. It is better to buy the tickets online, as it tends to be crowded and lines may be long.
Another amazing park of Barcelona is Tibidabo, which is the highest mountain in the Collserola Mountain Range. When you ascend it, you have a breathtaking view of the city. On top of Tibidabo is a small amusement park with a merry-go-round, a ferris wheel and a roller coaster with great views. Close to the park is the Sagrada Corazón Church that will remind the visitor of Paris’ Sacre Coeur. To ascend to Tibidabo, take the brown metro line L7 until Avinguda del Tibidabo, then either you can walk or take the blue tram (Tramvia Blau) until the end and change to the cable car up the Tibidabo (4.60 EUR / 4.98 USD return ticket). Another option is the Tibibus (T2A), which runs every 20 minutes from Plaça de Catalunya to Tibidabo. It operates every 20 minutes from 10.15 in the morning. Tickets for the park cost 12.70 EUR (13.75 USD) / 7.80 EUR (8.44 USD) for minors. Tickets for the amusement park cost 28.50 EUR (30.86 USD) / 10.30 EUR (11.15 USD) for minors.
4. Barrio Gotico
Barrio Gotico (Gothic Quarter), is an antique neighborhood of the old city (Ciutat Vella) located in the heart of Barcelona, between La Rambla and via Laietana. This area is very beautiful to walk around and you can get lost in its labyrinthine streets, see the decadent houses that date back to Medieval times and have a cup of coffee at one of the old and traditional cafeterias that are abundant here.
5. Barceloneta Beach
The two mile (3.2 km) exotic beach of Barcelona is a great attraction for locals and for tourists. During summertime it is packed with people and a you’ll find flea markets, street music, sand art and various spectacles. You can enjoy a dive, have lunch and enjoy a coffee at one of the many restaurants and cafe bars that are located right on the beach! I recommend visiting La Guingeta, a beach bar located in la Playa de San Sebastia for freshly made juice and El Gallito at Paseo Mare Nostrum for the tastiest paella. It is easy to get there via the yellow metro line L4 and stop at station “Barceloneta”.
6. Walk La Rambla
Barcelona’s most famous street is a wide pedestrian boulevard between narrow traffic lanes and trees. It is always crowded and always alive. It is the famous La Rambla, starting from Plaça de Catalunya ending at the Christopher Columbus Statue. It is a street full of kiosks, small souvenir shops, cafeterias, restaurants and the famous open food market, La Boqueria. Street artists and mimes give a different kind of decor to this beautiful street. It is 1.2 kilometers (0.74 mi) long and you cannot miss it, as all roads lead to La Rambla. Because of its central location, the street is often a meeting place for locals.
7. La Boqueria
Another famous attraction located at La Rambla 91 is Barcelona’s oldest and most complete food market – La Boqueria. It is a covered space with shops that sell fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. To get there, take the green metro line L3 and get off at Liceu. Do not miss the opportunity to taste one of the freshly squeezed exotic fruit juices, refuel and continue your walk energized.
Visiting Barcelona? Make the most out of it!
Walk the city, explore Gaudi’s masterpieces, take some time off at Barcelona’s parks, swim at vibrant Barceloneta, walk the famous La Rambla, have a fresh juice from La Boqueria and have fun at the cafes, restaurants and clubs along the beach! Barcelona offers so much, you will never get bored.
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