I’ve been told so many stories about beautiful and nonconformist Barcelona. You may have been through other beautiful cities of Europe, but you will not find anywhere else such a stylish mix of eras, people, cultures and languages. The city of all possibilities, the place where each has its place, that’s Barcelona! One of the most loved and visited cities of Europe, with seaside mountain view, Barcelona is more than anything a place of the arts, emphasizing especially the architectural avant-guarde.
If you want to lie on the beach or admire the mountains, walk through an ancient city but which turns modern at evening with all these clubs and bars, or take a run in the unusual museums, or if you are a passionate football fan, do not hesitate to visit Barcelona.
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and capital of Catalonia. Favorite area for tourists is La Rambla, a large street, like a promenade, which serves as a stage for improvised artists and merchants and as a huge window that provides exposure to commodities. Here you will find plenty of shops, flower shops, shops with souvenirs and gifts, and between shopping, you can relax watching the comedian disguise tricks on the street. Rambla has a magnetic effect on tourists, mainly because here you will find almost anything.
In addition to tourist fame that Barcelona has acquired, another area is closely linked to the history of the city: sports. And more specifically, football with FC Barcelona, winner of three UEFA Champions League Cups.
The first thing you need to buy is a tourist guide to Barcelona. The city is so big and full of surprises, that though you missed something wonderful, you’ll see it after your 1st return to Barcelona. The advantage of this urban space that flourished in the modernist period is not necessarily looking for art in museums, you can see art on the street, almost at every step. If you have a guide to the town and checked locations in advance, you can handle it quite easily by public transport, which have an organized schedule.
You should devote Barcelona at least a week, but there are “fast and furious” alternatives of getting acquainted with your love for Barcelona: bus travel sightseeing. This transport system checks all sights in Barcelona and has three paths, which lasts between one and two hours. Tickets can be bought from bus stops. In exchange for 20 Euros per day or 26 Euros for two consecutive days, you get unlimited travel and auto guidance. On boarding the bus you get a device with headphones and you can select the language you want to listen to information. Every time you approach a significant location, you can hear the guide explanations. If you want a deeper look, you are free to come down, visit and take the next bus from the station you are.
Besides the tourist bus, another option is Barcelona card. In exchange for 24 euros for two days or 34 euros for five days, you will have access to unlimited transport with public transport, free admission or discounts at 100 tourist attractions, including some of the most beautiful city museums.
What to see in Barcelona:
El Poble Espanyol, a village built artificially to reproduce the features of traditional houses in Spain. The village hosts a social foundation, where you can admire interesting works of art. Among them, a collection of paintings that includes works by Miro, Picasso, Tapies and other Spanish and Catalan artists.
Miramar observation point is the arrival of local gondolas, a place that deserves admiration, especially in spring when the roses bloom among fountains. A cactus garden can be visited nearby.
Montjuic Castle. Built on the hill with the same name, the castle offers a beautiful view over the city. From here, you can take local gondola to Barceloneta for stunning views.
Spain Plaza. Used in the past to accommodate public executions, the market underwent a facelift with event organization World Exhibition of 1929.
FC Barcelona. Whether you are a football enthusiast or a lover of modern architecture, you have to visit Camp Nou, FC Barcelona stadium and one of the biggest cathedrals of football in Europe. FC Barcelona is the only major European soccer team with no stadium advertising because it does not want to spoil the aesthetics of the “jewels” of modern architecture.
If you have more time available and want to get acquainted with the history and culture of the city are several museums Musa whose threshold is that you press. You make a deal by buying a special ticket that will provide access to 8 museums for 20 euros.
Caixa Forum – hosts art exhibitions. Admission is free;
Joan Miro Museum – dedicated painter Miro, houses permanent art exhibitions; the best works of Joan Miró, artist, sculptor and thinker, are housed in this elegant building close to the top of Montjuic hill.
Military Museum – needs no introduction; recommended for enthusiasts;
National Palace – houses the National Museum of Catalan Art, which has the best Romanesque art collection in the world. Admission is free the first Sunday of each month, but you must hurry, because they close at 14.30.
Football Museum – the museum at the stadium is the most visited of all Barcelona’s museums
Ethnological Museum – definitely worth a visit because here you can admire exponents of Catalan sailors brought their journeys exploring the New World. Admission is free the first Sunday of each month, between 11.00 and 15.00.
Gaudi, the Genius
The city has a rich architectural history that stretches over a very long time, from ancient remains of Roman settlements to medieval architecture over which the modern city grew. But the most important architectural movement that was born in Barcelona and has forever changed the face of the city was modernism.
You can not talk about Barcelona without mentioning the famous architect Antoni Placid Guillem Gaudi i Cornet. Many of the symbols of the city are the work of this brilliant artist, an avant-garde of his time and, ironically, of all times.
His best known work is his Sagrada Familia, not only for its outstanding architecture, and the fact that after more than a hundred years from its foundation, the cathedral is not yet been finished. But nearby you can buy postcards of the Sagrada Familia, as it should look in the future, when it will be finished. A visit for a day is 11 euros, but you can walk up there also after dusk to decipher the rumor that cathedral seems built of bones with your own eyes.
Another masterpiece created by Gaudi is Park Guell, built on a hill from where the entire city can be seen. Divided into two areas, one cluttered, natural vegetation which has followed its natural course and the second always populated, which houses famous sculptures and interesting building, the park reflects Gaudi’s unique style: here you’ll find a weird, Alice-through-the-looking-glass world created in the early 1920s to delight children and celebrate the chameleon vision of Antoni Gaudi. Admission is free.
Besides the above two sites open for the general public, you can visit “Gaudi’s houses”, famous for their bizarre style at their time.
Casa Vicens, the first building that Gaudi built in Barcelona, can be admired only from outside, because it is private property. La Pedrera or Casa Mila houses an important collection of works by the artist and is therefore a good place to familiarize with the style of Gaudi. The entrance is about 10 euros.
After visits to museums, memorial houses, one should turn to the streets. It may sound strange, but one of the attractions of the city is the street itself. A walk on the Rambla will really make you feel the pulse of the city, in a mixture of colors, cultures, races and languages. You can eat or drink in one of the bars, but for personal shopping, pick less popular locations.
Market Catalonia, situated near the Rambla, is where most main streets of Barcelona intersect. Known for its statues and fountains, and it plays the part of bicycle parking, recalling the atmosphere of Dutch cities. Street El Portal de l’Angel is an ideal place to promenade, especially as the road will arise all sorts of temptations in the form of chic shops.