Harriet Freeman has been living in Barcelona for over 5 years ever since she fell in love with the Catalan capital on her first visit. She now runs the one-stop blog about Barcelona called Things to do Barcelona and works in the tourism industry with OK Apartment Barcelona, who specialize in providing Barcelona holiday apartments to travelers. If you ever have any question about Barcelona, then feel free to contact her Google Plus page here
(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons License http://www.flickr.com/photos/supersum/5175416478/)
Barcelona Must Do's for Travelers
It's really no secret that Barcelona wouldn't have half the charm that it does today if it wasn't for the incredible impact of one architect; Antoni Gaudí. This amazing artist defined the Catalan Modernism style throughout his projects, nine of which you can find in Barcelona, and all of them now UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ideally you could visit them all, but some of them are on the outskirts of the city and aren't easy to access, so here's a narrowed down list of the most important four:
• La Sagrada Famila - This project spanned 43 years of Gaudí's, which essentially makes this his life's work. This astonishingly detailed basilica is even more beautiful within so check it out; you haven't visited Barcelona until you do.
• Park Güell - Originally planned as a housing estate, Count Guëll commissioned Gaudí to transform the area, but in the end only managed to sell a house to Gaudí himself (which you can visit in the park). The land was sold to the city in 1918, and opened as a public park in 1922. It's one of the quirkiest landscaping projects that you can imagine. Gaudí took much of his inspiration from nature and aimed to blend and merge the artificial with the natural.
• Casa Batlló and/or Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera) - These two houses are located on the same road, Passeig de Gracia, a few minutes from one another by foot. The first to be built was Casa Batlló, a project in which the Batlló's told Gaudí they were open for him to let his imagination run wild with the design, resulting in the building we see today. The Milà family saw the project and then contracted Guadí themselves to build Casa Milà.
(Photo Courtesy of Harriet Freeman)
Other activities on itinerary should include a stroll down Las Ramblas, a tour around the Gothic Quarter, a walk along the Port Vell, and some time to relax on one of the many beaches. There's so much to do in Barcelona that it's no wonder around a quarter of tourists when questioned said they were on their third visit already… I suppose that makes "coming back" a must do too!
Barcelona Hidden Gem
One of the most beautiful hidden gems in Barcelona is a place that I like to go from time to time to escape the rush of everyday life. Parc Laberint d'Horta is the oldest garden park in Barcelona, and easily the most romantic. It covers 9.1 hectares and there is a limit of 750 visitors at any one time, so you're always guaranteed a peaceful experience. The park includes many sculptures, a labyrinth, and is frequented by wildlife. As of today the entrance fee is €2.30, but you can visit for free on Wednesday and Sundays (unless they change their mind of course). Just don't spread the word too much or it won't remain a hidden gem much longer!
Where to Eat
No matter wherever you are in Barcelona, you're literally never 5 minutes away from a place to eat. With so much choice, where are the best places? Well as a word of advice, avoid eating around the main touristic areas like Las Ramblas and Passieg de Gracia, instead, opt for a restaurant like En Ville. Don't let the prices on their website fool you, if you go during the afternoon, they have a 3-course menu for €9.90 per person that usually includes some mouthwatering dishes. I also like Dionisos on Urgell, and a little tiny risto-bar called Mono on Calàbria. Though half the fun is in the discovery, so stroll around and take a look at some of the restaurant menus for yourself. A word of advice if you do this though, it's not uncommon that as you're looking at the menus outside, a worker will come out to invite you inside… By all means, don't feel pressured into accepting if you don't want to.
More Barcelona tips for travelers…
• During the summer heat, have an unusual flavored ice cream, like Mustard or Grilled Prawns at Belgious in the Gothic Quarter on Avinyo, 50.
• If you're a fan of coffee, visit Cafés el Magnífico on Argenteria, 64, for the best that the city has to offer.
• During the first Sunday of the month, some museums (like the Picasso Museum) are free!
• The cheapest way to travel the city is with a T-10 metro ticket, giving you 10 trips that you can share with your fellow travelers. Keep in mind it's free to exit the metro and jump on a bus as long as it's within 1 hour and 15 minutes from when you originally used the ticket.
Barcelona, my favorite city, Spain, batllo, , casa mila