Getting to know Barcelona
Where to stay?
So you've decided that you want to go to Barcelona. Well a good place to start would be to think about what kind of area you want to stay in and what accommodation Barcelona can offer you. Where you choose will of course be entirely dependant on you but here are some ideas:
- Eixample - If you're coming to Barcelona mainly for the attractions then a good place to stay is Eixample. You'll be near the biggest attraction for a start -La Sagrada familia-, and whats more, you'll be in the heart of the city.
- Born - This district has some great bars, restaurants, and commodities. Think of it as the "cool and trendy" part of the city. It's great for shopping if you're into boutique goods.
- Barceloneta - Got sun, sea, and sand on the mind? Then you'll definitely want to stay in this district. You'll be right by Barceloneta beach, which is the third best beach in the world... at least according to the documentary "Worlds Best Beaches".
- Gràcia - This is another trendy and cool place to visit. It's a great area to stay if you're interested in seeing Barcelonians going about their everyday lives in the many squares around this area. You'll also be right by Parc Güell.
What to do?
Well while you're here you'll obviously want to check out what there is to see, right?
A good place to start would be La Sagrada Familia. It's best to get there early and get this out of the way because it is perhaps the most visited attraction in Spain with over 2 millions visits per year. Here you'll see the life work of Antoni Guadí, an architect of whom's works you will get very acquainted with while you spend time in Barcelona.
You can also take a quick visit to the Cathedral of Barcelona, a neo-gothic cathedral which will drop you right by the Gothic quarters of the city. When you're in this area you might want to take a look at the preserved Roman columns which once formed a part of the Temple to Augustus. There is also a preserved Roman wall. If you're interested in the history of the city, then you have to tour the Gothic Quaters.
If you're around Las Ramblas, don't forget to stop off at the marketplace called La Boqueria. It's a wonderful little market where you can sample lots of local produce. There's even a stall that sells scorpions in caramel. It's free to wander so give it a go.
Talking about Gaudí, you will also want to visit two houses that he worked on. They're within the same street so you can take these two out in one go. Casa Batlló and Casa Milà (or La Pedrera depending on who you ask). In these houses you will experience the vision of Gaudí from the inside as well as the outside. If you had to choose between these two houses though due to time or budget, skip Batlló and head to Milá. La Pedrera is a more authentic experience as it still has much of the furniture, heck, some floors are even off limits because people still live there!
Once you're done with the buildings of Guadí it's time to finish off your Guadí experience with one of his architectural landscape projects; Park Güell. This park is a quirky and colourful world where you will be able to walk around amongst a diverse range of visitors, from tourists to locals simply walking their dogs.
After saying goodbye to the Guadí experience, you could stop off at Plaza Espanya at the night-time to view the magic fountains of Montjuic. A spectacular show of water, lights, and music that is held most nights. There is also a shopping mall right by this area which was once a Spanish bullfighting ring. At this mall you can walk around the roof of the arena and view Barcelona from 360 degrees. It's not a bad place to take some photos.
There's a lot to see, I haven't even begun to mention the museums, like the science museum Cosmo Caixa, the history museum MHC, or even the rather strange MIBA museum -a museum dedicated to strange inventions and designs-. There is even the Camp Nou Experience, where football fans will get the chance to tour Camp Nou and step out onto the pitch to become in awe of the sheer scale of the largest capacity stadium in Europe.
I at least hope that this guide got you off to a good start. Don't be afraid to leave me a comment about coming to Barcelona, I'll do my best to help you.