The best way to explore the city of Barcelona is to wander through its ancient streets on foot and soak up the sights, sounds and smells of this exciting metropolis. Many of the best museums and cultural destinations will be within walking distance of each other and there is also an efficient metro system which you can use to get around.
When you arrive in Barcelona, I would suggest that you head to the El Corte Inglés department store that hands out free tourist maps. The maps are also offered for free at the front desk of most hotels and at the tourism information offices. They will come in very handy when you are making your way around the city.
Places of interest
There are many excellent museums to visit in Barcelona, such as the Museu Joan Miro and the Museu Picasso which showcase the works of these two very influential artists. Barcelona is also home to the Museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya.
Architecturally interesting places to visit in the city are the Torre Telefonica Santiago Calatrava, the futuristic Torre Agbar (which was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel), and the Torre de Collserola Tower designed by Sir Norman Foster. Designed for the world exhibition 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the German Pavilion was demolished and then rebuilt at the foot of Montjuic.
The Font Magica also on Montjuic is a fountain complex which is illuminated with lights and music in the summer months and is a very popular destination for visitors. Another interesting spot is the urban cemetery of Cementiri de Montjuc which is located on the southern edge of Montjuc. Here you will find many graves of famous sons and daughters of the city, including Francesc Ferreri Gurdia, Buenaventura Durruti and the anarchist and anti-fascist fighter in the Spanish civil war Francisco Ascaso.
East of Barri Gotic you will find the impressive Arc de Triomf and the Parc de la Ciutadella planted on the site of the demolished fortress to the 1888 world’s fair. A part of the Park is taken up by the Zoo.
The best-known attraction in Barcelona is probably the Sagrada Familia, a cathedral which is to date still incomplete. It was designed and begun by the architect Antoni Gaud. The building is almost entirely funded by donations (admission 12, reduced 10) and its construction has been ongoing for 120 years. Once you enter the church itself you can climb up the towers and enjoy a panoramic view over Barcelona. I would recommend this climb as I found it was one of the best places to take photos in the city!
There are other Gaudi buildings to visit (Palau Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batll) and the ParcGuell which was also built by Gaudi. Gaudi was perhaps the most eccentric representative of the Catalan Art Nouveau style and the city is filled with examples of his influence.
Other attractions include the cathedral in the Gothic Quarter and the famous street Las Ramblas, which leads directly to the Columbus statue on the harbor. The Tibidabo is a small amusement park which is located high above the city and is built right into the mountain.
You can also visit the Olympic facilities at Montjuic. The Torre Agbar, which are lit up on the weekend nights with blue and red lights. While you are in the city, you might just find yourself wondering about its history, both of the mysterious distant past and the more recent events. The Torre Agbar always reminds me of how far Barcelona has come, and I always think of the fantastic 1992 Olympic games when Sarah Brightman and Jose Carreras sang the moving “Amigos Para Siempre”.
Also worth seeing is the former fishermen’s district Barceloneta, which is located at the sea side promenade extending along the beaches of Barcelona. The beach promenade leads to the parks and modern buildings on the Olympic marina, behind the Olympic village and to the new “Forum 2004”, a newly-built district of Diagonal Mar.Another interesting attraction is the 1450-meter-long cable car port of Barcelona. It begins on the peak of the Torre San Sebastian where you will find a restaurant and a lookout point featuring an incredible view.
Many of the market halls throughout Barcelona have been renovated in recent years and offer fruit, meat and fish in great variety. There are also other things of daily use and some clothes. Near the cathedral you will find the Santa Caterina market. In addition to the usual market here you will also find the irregular colored glass roof very beautiful and interesting. Near the Ramblas there is also a large market, which is designed especially for tourists. The fruit is fresh here and not expensive.
One of the most popular shopping destinations of the city of Barcelona is the famous pedestrian street of La Rambla, although you might find that the shops on this street feature mostly souvenirs and are tourist traps without a lot authentic Spanish charm.
In addition to the many shopping malls small shops in the old town there are also several shopping centers. One is located directly across from the Torre Agbar. There is a supermarket and several fast food restaurants, but also a C & A and other clothing stores. Another center is very large at the end of Diagonal Avenue just before the sea. Here there is usual mix of shops, as well as a media market.
Don’t wait and book you flights and a holiday apartment in Barcelona now!