Barcelona, known as the cosmopolitan capital of Spain (Now the capital of Catalonia), is known for its art, architecture and nightlife. The beautiful architecture by Antoni Gaudí dot the city and you can see his stamp on the landscapes. From artistic lamp shades to landmark churches, Gaudi architecture is a treat for everybody.
I visited Barcelona with Aditya and friends in Aug’17. Believing that the European Summers will be a fun time to visit, we were shocked to realize that 30 degree temperature felt like 40+ degrees. But our spirits were high and the city inspired us to step out every day to brave the Spanish sun.
So let’s get started on this amazing city.
Spending time in Barcelona:
One of the first things we did was get a 2-day pass on the hop on hop off bus. Seems a bit touristy but believe me, it makes traveling everywhere very easy. It costs around 35 euros per person and has 3 routes – The Red, Blue and Green Route. We covered the Red and Green route in one day and the next day, Blue.
1. Admiring Gaudi Architecture:
The greatest gift to the city of Barcelona was by Antoni Gaudi who pretty much was the inspiration to all major landmarks in the city. Its churches, gardens, patron’s homes, and even street lamps. Gaudí’s work was greatly influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. He considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture crafts like ceramics, stained glasses, stone sculptures and wrought irons.
Gaudí’s masterpiece, the still-incomplete Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain. The bus will drop you right outside Sagrada Familia. Be sure to arrive in your booked time slot. The ticket cost is 15 euros. The majestic church from the outside take your breath away and the inner façade detail will sweep you off your feet. The wide details, the spiral staircases, the seven chapels, the images of angels, the beautiful stained glass windows, and the Gothic architecture – everywhere you look, you feel mesmerized to be staring at such a wonder. The stained glasses have been created to give the feel of a forest and as the sun changes its position, the colors inside change from green, blue to yellow, red and orange. The church is being built completely from ticket funds and donations and as per current plan it is expected to be completed by 2026. Definitely a runner for wonders of the world once completed ?
As you walk along the tree-lined roads of Barcelona starting from Casa Mia La Pedra – Pg De Garcia you are welcomed by the beautiful and archaic lampshades along the roads. The dedication of a man to his city is remarkably seen in the architecture that is along the road. For those who want to see the architecture of Gaudi up close, can pick up tickets, between 15 to 20 euros for each building.
The beautiful Gaudi architecture lamps on the roadside
- Placa de Catalunya – Stay and enjoy the fountains and play with the pigeons at Placa Catalunya. Great Place for pictures and a relaxed time.
- Parc Guell – Parc Guell is a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona. The bus drops you a little far and its quite an up- hill walk to the Park. Would suggest to visit the park simply for the gardens and not spend euros on the ticket to the inside Gaudi structures unless you are a great fan of history and architecture.
2. La Rambla
The main street of Barcelona in the heart of the city is truly the most visited and the most lively area. We were a little enthusiastic and walked our way deep into the small alleys at La Rambla and came across really quaint Spanish cafes which were visited only by the locals. Half the prices and authentic things to eat, this was a great find.
3. Barcelona Beaches–
The Green route of the bus will take you around the beach road and you can get down at any beach. Remember to carry your own beach towel and mat to sit and relax. Recommended beach is along the Poblenou. The each is very clean, comfortable space to change to swimwear and watch the sunset at 8.00 pm and play your heart out in the water. Catch the last bus to La Rambla and enjoy the night there.
4. Aquarium –
If you are an animal/wildlife/nature lover like my husband, visit the Barcelona Aquarium. Spend the hot daytime in one of the finest Aquariums in Europe with the sharks, penguins, jellyfish and other schools of fishes. The discount coupon book from your hotel gives a 2 euro discount. Ticket priced at 20 euro can be purchased at 18 euro. Tickets can be bought on the spot.
5. Camp Nou –
The Red route drops you at Camp Nou. A mecca for football lovers. So football lovers can spend time here and soak in Barcelona football club atmosphere. There is a merchandise shop and visit to the stadium is ticketed for 20 euros. If on a weekend in the city check out the timelines for catching a game. Am told the atmosphere is electric.
6. Mount Tibidabo –
Tibidabo is a mountain overlooking the Barcelona and gives a spectacular view of the city. The Bus drops you to a point from where you can take 2 tram rides to the top. The top also has an adventure park you can visit. If you are not interested in the rides, just ride up to enjoy the beautiful view of the city. It is a breathtaking view.
Other places recommended for a visit in case you have more time at hand:
- Olympic village and stadium
- The Palace museum at Montjuic
- Walk down entire Gothic quarter
- Colombus Tower and inner lanes of Larambla with a visit to the local fruit, vegetable and meat market
Food in Barcelona
Barcelona has a great cuisine that is tastier and more appealing to Indian taste buds than other European countries I have visited. Be a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, you will find food for all palettes. Their main dish is called Paella (made of rice) and available at almost all cafes. You can try it in seafood, chicken or veg. The Spanish enjoy their food with a good glass of Sangria and a hearty conversation. Indians feel totally at home. Spanish chocolate with churros is treat for all sweet tooths.
Stay in Barcelona
Old Archaic exteriors with modern interiors adorn the hostel / hotel. We stayed close to the main La Rambla Road and it was totally within budget. I would definitely recommend Hostal Martinval.
Tips to consider while traveling in Barcelona
- Sun block is essential. Umbrella is also a good idea
- Always read the temperature as “feels as” rather than actual degree Celsius
- Pick up the discount book from the hotel (mostly available at all hotels / hostels) and avail ticket discounts
- Book tickets for places you wish to visit online