A popular destination
Travelling to the heart of Catalonia is easy as budget airlines occupy the runways at Barcelona Airport, encouraging many visitors to view the city from a tourist’s perspective. It is however strongly recommended that you glance over the tourist gimmicks and discover the city through the eyes of a local.
What to do
Once comfortably settled into your surroundings of Barcelona city, the first area that is typically explored is Las Ramblas, which is the focal point for many visitors, who often never venture away from this central road. As tourism has blossomed Las Ramblas has been spoilt by an influx of visitors making it inaccessible for a leisurely ramble, and now locals avoid this area during the summer season. For a more authentic experience the road that runs parallel, ‘El Raval’ is a great option representing an area that refuses to give in to the demands of tourism, local bars and restaurants remain unchanged from the times when Barcelona was an industrial city, and the prices reflect this.
There are many sites to see in Barcelona with the most popular attraction being the Sagrada Familia which is still unfinished; 130 years after the construction began.
If you become inpatient queuing for a considerable amount of time to experience this cathedral, then why not take a Gaudi tour of your own where no admission fees are required. Travel to the North of the city where Park Well is located and peer over the city and the Mediterranean Sea in a park which was designed by Gaudi. Alternatively many unique buildings with Gaudi architecture are visible throughout the city. If the Barcelona art and museum culture is what entices you then it is worth visiting the city during the first Sunday of the month, as all entrance fees to museums and galleries are free.
Things to see
Another popular choice by tourists in the city is to sign up to one of the many Barcelona tours that depart from Placa Catalunya in the centre of the city. Buses take tourists around the main attractions including a climb up Montjuic where the venues and stadiums for the 1992 Olympic Games took place, which really announcedBarcelona as an emerging tourist destination. Alternatively to avoid this tourist and commercial trap a stroll to the peak of Montjuic can be achieved by foot, with stairs that lead down to the Sea, with the best times to attempt this either at sunrise or sunset to attain a peaceful panoramic view as the sun emerges from the Sea in the morning, or one where the sun melts into the city centre come evening.
The politics of football
For all those football fanatics, the Barcelona football stadium tour is one of the great educational sites of the city, with an impressive capacity of close to 100,000 supporters, making it the ideal place to soak up the history of Barcelona F.C. Barcelona football represents not only sport, but was used as a meeting ground for locals to speak in the Catalan language during the reign of Franco, which prohibited locals from speaking their native tongue. A phrase used in football language ‘more than a club’ is overused, but for Barcelona this expression stands strong for historical and political purposes. For this reason if you have come to Barcelona to learn Spanish you may leave disappointed as the vast majority of inhabitants use Catalan as their first language; restaurant menus, road signs, and television programmes will appear firstly in Catalan rather than Spanish, so an effort to speak Catalan will certainly impress.
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Category: Expert Guides