Barcelona sits between the city and the sea, bordered by two rivers – the Besos and theLlobregat. An arc of steep hills stretching southwest from the Montjuic mountains to the Collserola slopes surrounds it.
The city is divided into a series of neighbourhoods, starting with the old city and Barri Gotic, and growing outwards to include El Raval, Ribera, Gracia, Sant Just, Sant Pere and Horta.
Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million people and declares itself as being proudly Catalan, part of an autonomous region of Spain.
Megan will be exploring the city’s main landmarks and taking a day trip out of the city – to the fishing village of Cadaques.
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MUST SEE & DO...
- Visit the party town of Sitges.
- Have a walk down Las Ramblas. It’s touristy by still a must.
- Visit the atmospheric square of Sant Felip Neri.
- Get lost in the narrow streets of the Gothic quarter.
- Feel the infamous Tramontana wind and enjoy the rugged landscape of Cap the Creus Natural Park.
- Follow on the footsteps of Dali and visit the charming little village of Cadaques.
- Immerse yourself in Gaudi’s undulating world.
- Visit Modernista buildings by less known architects. The Palau de la Musica Catalana is a must.
- Do some food shopping in one of the city’s many food markets. Check out the Santa Caterina market which has been recently renovated.
When to Go:
Any time of year is good. Winters are never too cold and summers are hot. You may want to avoid July and August when the city gets packed with tourists.
Barcelona’s Aeroport del Prat is 12 kilometres south of the city.
Aerobus – This special bus service is usually the most convenient way of getting to central Barcelona. Buses run from stops outside each terminal to Placa Catalunya. Buses leave the airport every 15 minutes.
There is also a train service that can take you to and from the airport.
Most long distance coaches stop or terminate at Estacio de Autobusos Barcelona-Nord.
Barcelona Sants station is the stop or terminus for most long distance trains run by Spanish state railways, RENFE.
The metro is generally the cheapest, quickest and most convenient way of getting around the city, although buses give you a view and operate all night. Local buses and metro are run by the city transport authority, TMB.
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Megan books herself into a hostel. But first, she wants to enjoy a stroll down one of Europe’s most famous boulevards: Las Ramblas, stopping by at La Boqueria market for something to eat.
Feeling a bit more rested, the next day, Megan visits the new modern renovations of the sea front along the Port Olympic, starting with a visit to the Museu Maritim on the Avenguda de Drassanes. She will spend the evening occupying herself with a rather unusual but nocturnal activity back in the Placa Reial … a pipe smoking competition.
On her third day, she takes a bus to visit Barcelona’s most famous landmark – the Sagrada Familia. By way of telling Gaudi story, Megan ends up in the Hospital de La Santa Creu i de Sant Pau , Domanech i Montaner’s extraordinary modernist hospital. Although built by his archrival, Gaudi expressed his will to die there. In the evening she hits the town to enjoy some of Barcelona’s celebrated night life.
The following day it’s time to explore the old city – the Barri Gotic and the Ribera to find out more about Picasso and the city’s amazing Medieval past. Starting in el Borne, Megan immerses herself in the life of the young Pablo Picasso during his formative years in Barcelona and then she’ll wend her way to el Placa del Rei, la Placa Sant Jaume and Neri – resulting in the Catedral de la Seu, where she will dance the sardana- the national dance of Catalunya.
The next morning Megan decides to take a day out of the city and head to them thar hills on the coast— Cadaques by way of Cap De Creus—– to the idyllic home of surrealist artist SALVADOR DALI in Port Lligat.
Back in Barcelona, and after her fabulous tour of La Sagrada Familia, she explores more Modernist architecture today. She takes a taxi trip that takes her to Park Guell. From there she shall traverse the entire Eixample – Cerda’s grid extension of the city – by foot to explore other modernist wonders along the Passeig de Gracia. She will also explore a curious chocolate shop along the way.
The next day, Megan is off to sunny Sitges. She takes a train from Sant station and heads her way East, past Garafe to Sitges, the gay mecca of Europe — for some camp fun and the annual Tango festival. The ride takes 30 minutes.
Having enjoyed Barcelona for a week, Megan feels almost Catalan now and on her last day, she wants to celebrate it. She wants to go full Catalan and experience the past and embrace the future— and her starting point is up there: on the mount of Montjuic. Her final trip takes her to Monjuic castle, where Franco’s troops executed Republican President LLuis Companys in his bid to suppress Catalan resistance to the Falangists in La Guerra Civil.
Once in Montjuic, she visits the Fundacio Miro to admire the works of Barcelona’s other favourite son – artist Joan Miro – before returning to the city to the neighbourhood of El Raval, where she shall experience some Rumba Catalana. Megan’s journey ends almost as it started, back at La Sagrada Familia. In a way, Barcelona is like the Sagrada Familia church itself. An unfinished city in eternal evolution, renewing itself, towering above the world with its unique designs, unparalleled creativity and proud identity.
- Population:1,615,908 and they are proudly Catalan, part of an autonomous region of Spain!
- Currency:Like in the rest of Spain, the currency in Barcelona is the Euro, (€).
- LanguageEnglish, Spanish and Catalan.
Baixada de Sant Miquel 2
08002 Barcelona, Spain
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Hostel Levante is discovered along the winding narrow passages of the medieval Barrio Gotic.
It started life as publisher’s in 1834, then it became Barcelona’s first telecommunications tower and somehow proceeded to turn into a disreputable brothel with some interesting clienteles.
Picasso used to hang out there and it’s here, where Picasso gets his inspiration for “Les Demoiselles D’Avingon” – the well spring of modern art.
Today it’s an affordable place visited by bohemians and students. Rooms start from 65 euros a night in the centre of town.
EAT & DRINK
From small, affordable neighbourhood joints to world renowned shrines to the art of dining, Barcelona’s restaurant scene is rich and varied.
There are four basic elements that form the basis of many Catalan dishes: sofregit, tomato and onion sautéed together in olive oil until soft. Samfaina, a rather ratatouille like mixture of aubergine, garlic, onion, red and green peppers and tomatoes which usually accompanies grilled fish and meats.
The fabulous picada, the ingredients of which depend upon which dish it will be used to enrich and thicken, but usually contains nuts, garlic, parsley, bread, and ham, all mashed up with mortar and pestle. Last is all i oli, garlic mayonnaise served with meat and seafood, best made solely with raw, crushed garlic and olive oil.
Catalans like their country classics – pork, sausages, lamb and rabbit.
- If you are in Las Ramblas, take a break and pop into the Mercado de la Boqueria. There is a great ‘tapas’ place called Pinotxo where you can try fantastic Catalan dishes. Also worth a visit is the Santa Caterina market.
- Never eat in any of the restaurant along Las Ramblas. It’s expensive and not that good.
- Careful if you decide to eat tapas. It can end up being quite costly. Ask for a menu where you can see the prices. If they haven’t got one, check the price of each dish you order. Your can also order half portions.
- Try some cava. It’s produced in Catalunya and you can find some fantastic ones.
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