Barcelona, as one of the largest and most populous cities in the EU, is a vibrant metropolis. As well as being a major cultural and economic center, it is also a leading hub of entertainment, fashion, education, sports and the arts.
Barcelona is located on the North East coast of Spain, next to the Mediterranean Sea, between the mouths of the rivers Besòs and Llobregat. The Serra de Collserola mountain range lies to the west of the city. The area’s Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild, humid winters and splendidly warm summers, makes Barcelona a perfect vacation destination.
A trip to Barcelona is guaranteed to leave you with a deep appreciation of the Catalan culture. Upon arrival, you may be surprised to find that Spanish is not the only language in use in the city: this is because you are now in the capital of Catalonia, one of Spain’s autonomous communities, boasting its own unique culture and language. Marked by creativity, flair, tolerance and coexistence, Catalan culture has managed to endure and absorb different influences to become the rich blend of cosmopolitan and traditional facets that it is today.
There is no better way to sample different aspects of the Catalan culture than by taking a stroll around Barcelona. The city is simply teeming with museums, art galleries, parks and stunning architecture for you to explore…
Walking in Barcelona
When visiting a new town, you usually want to catch all the sights it has to offer. The best way to discover hidden jewels off the beaten tourist path in Barcelona is through walking. The streets are clean, paved and labeled, and people are usually happy to direct you to where you want to go.
Additionally, some of the streets are too narrow to allow cars or buses through, so walking is the better option. Besides, walking will enable you to uncover hidden gems that won’t be found in the guidebooks, as well as being a good way of working off some of the excess vacation food you may have indulged in.
Being a large city, Barcelona has a number of attractions that are easily accessible on foot. If you are ready for the walking challenge, then check out some of these places:
The massive Parc de Collserola has several hillside enclaves that are perfect for stretching your legs. They also offer stunning panoramic views of the city, providing more incentive for you to hike to the top.
One of the stops on your itinerary should definitely be Tibidabo Hill, the highest point of the mountain range, Serra de Collserola. You can hike to the top of the hill, taking in the lush beauty of the Parc de Collserola, or you can choose to ride the funicular train to the summit. While you are there, make sure you visit the church and the adjacent theme park.
Montjuïc Hill should be the next destination on your trip. It occupies a strategic seaside location to the South West of Barcelona, between Plaça Espanya and the commercial port. Once there, you can spend the day hiking up the slopes, or you can take a cable car right up to Montjuïc Castle, which sits at the top of the hill. You can also explore the castle or climb the ramparts for a fabulous view of the port below. Alternatively, you can grab a quick meal at the café in the Plaça de Armes before heading to the Palau Nacional, home of the Magic Fountain and the Museum of Catalan Art, all located on the same hill.
La Sagrada Familia Church
This stunning and towering church is the masterpiece of the renowned artist, Antoni Gaudí, who is responsible for most of the architecture in Barcelona. The church is an architectural marvel that draws thousands of visitors annually. Although it is unfinished, the basilica is open to the public. There are usually long queues to get in, and you should book an advanced ticket if you wish to avoid them.
La Rambla and Barrio Gotico
While it might not be a spectacular sight, La Rambla is a street where you can stroll, shop and delight in the bustle of the city. La Rambla is made up of various short streets, each with different names. It starts at Plaça de Catalunya and ends at the Monument of Columbus.
If you are in an exploring mood, you can branch off La Rambla and head to the Barrio Gotico (the Gothic Quarter) of Barcelona. The numerous monasteries and ancient churches here, linked by narrow, winding streets and little squares all contribute to the wonderful atmosphere of the area. While the area is quite safe to walk around in during the day, you should be careful not to get lost.
From the Barrio Gotico, you can visit the neighboring medieval area of Barcelona, known as El Born, where the Picasso Museum is located. Although this museum does not house the most famous Picasso paintings, it is home to a unique collection featuring work from the artist’s formative years. These include early sketches and other lesser-known works, all arranged in chronological order.
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Many writers and literary figures in the world claim to have been inspired by El Raval. You can head to this corner of Barcelona where drifters and modern hipsters rub shoulders; however, there is more to this area than the seedy ghetto it appears to be. As the home of Barcelona’s Contemporary Culture Centre and the MACBA (the Modern Art Museum of Barcelona), El Raval is a place where you can receive cultural nourishment. Thanks to the abundant shops in the area, you can also sample some sangria, paella and tapas, all washed down with a good Vermouth wine.
Camp Nou and FC Barcelona Museum
If you are a football fanatic, there is no way you will skip visiting Camp Nou Stadium. You can make the experience more memorable by watching Barça playing at home. On match days, market stalls outside the stadium sell cheap FCB shirts and memorabilia that would make great souvenirs for your friends back home. Even if there are no matches, the FCB Museum and Camp Nou are still fantastic venues to visit.
With so many amazing places to visit, you’ll definitely need somewhere to stay to rest your weary feet after a day of exploring, and Barcelona is awash with plenty of lovely hotels to choose from. Why not try the Silken Gran Hotel Havana, right next to the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona? It is ideally located in the center of Barcelona to give you easy walking access to all of the famous spots you would want to see, and it has a wonderful restaurant and a piano bar to relax in at night.
A walking tour of Barcelona can supply endless amounts of diverse entertainment, from art to roller coasters, and from beautiful natural settings, to austere Gothic architecture. There’s even something for all of you football fanatics as well! As you can see, there are many places to visit in Barcelona on foot, and those mentioned above are just a few of the many gems that Barcelona has to offer…