For decades, tourists flocked to Europe and rushed through cities at a hurried pace. Much like series binge watching has taken over the weekly sitcom, slow travel is evaporating the backpacker movement. Tourists want to travel deeper and spend more time learning a city than just through the major museums.
Even though the rushed crowds of the Ramblas may not seem like it, but Barcelona is a great city for slow travel. Not only is the city oozing with more art, culture, and cuisine than can fit into a backpacker’s stop, it also has a vibrant surrounding region from wineries to former industrial towns to charming beach villages.
Throughout the restaurants and bars of Barcelona, locals and tourists alike sip cava, Spain’s sparkling wine. Many travelers return with a newfound love, telling their friends about this refreshing libation. What most visitors to Barcelona don’t know is that the cava they’re drinking may have come from a vineyard right outside of Barcelona that’s open to the public for visits and tastings.
Codorniu is a favorite cava vineyard as it’s one of Spain’s largest producer of the effervescent wine. While I tend to stay away from large producers of beer or wine as they lack culture, Codorniu is an exception. Their tasting room and tour honors the traditions of the region and the history of the wine. What’s even cooler though are the 30 miles of tunnels under the vineyard where over a million bottles are aging. There are many tours ranging from simple tastings to full dinners. Find one that includes a train ride through a portion of the tunnels. Prices start at 9 EUR (10 USD).
Colony Guell and the Gaudi Crypt
Colony Guell is an industrial village right outside of Barcelona. The village, like so many others, was built in the late 1800s as factory owners moved their facilities from dangerous, dilapidated factories in the city to new, safer buildings. They also sought to move their workers away from the influences of the city. Once the factories closed, many of the villages were abandoned, but some remained as suburbs of Barcelona. Colony Guell is one of those suburbs still populated by mostly original families who strive to honor the history and tradition of their village.
Not only is the village attractive to tourists for its quaint streets and history, it’s also home to the Gaudi Crypt. The factory owner and village founder, Eusebi Guell, commissioned Antonio Gaudi to build a church in the village. The church was built at the same time that Gaudi was working on La Sagrada Familia. In fact, Gaudi used the building as a testing ground for the many architectural innovations he used in Barcelona’s famed church. Admission is free and the crowds are minimal.
The Beaches of Costa Brava
Yes, it’s true that Barcelona has a beach, but it’s smack dab in the middle of a big city. I know when I go to the beach, I want to relax, not bump elbows with thousands of other beachgoers. A short bus or train ride from Barcelona allows you access to a plethora of beach towns and sleeping fishing villages to escape into serenity. Do a little research and pick one that suits your style. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an overnight, there’s a beach for everyone in Costa Brava. My personal favorite is Palafrugell. The beaches there are a true step back in time.
Slow travel in Barcelona
In my last trip, I spent a week in the Barcelona region and filled every minute with some form of activity or tour. I was never bored and was always curious on what more I could discover. It really is the perfect city for those looking to embrace the slow travel movement.
Book your plane (or train) tickets but don’t get stuck in the city itself. Explore the hidden gems in the outlying regions!
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