Barcelona Hotels Articles

May 12, 2010

Magical Barcelona

As Beautiful as the Postcards

If deciding between Madrid and Barcelona, Barcelona wins hands down. Barcelona has better weather, more varied scenery, and more breathtaking architecture. Barcelona is just a hop and a skip from France and just a ferry ride to Mallorca. Barcelona sits in a valley between mountains and the Mediterranean. The city deserves at least four days since you must give the architectural genius Antoni Gaudi his due.

On day one you might want to go ahead and take the open air tourist busses to get a feel for the full city. They allow you to get off and on throughout the day at several major stops. This is easier and cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere. Be sure to visit the roof of Gaudi’s La Pedrera and take a stroll through his Parc Guell.

Barcelona is made up of several very distinct neighborhoods. Walking around Gracia at night you’ll see plenty of the twenty and thirty something crowd out and about dining and strolling through the small, lively streets. The L’Eixample is mostly upper end shopping and banks. Down the Ramblas you’ll see street performers on the weekends, throngs of tourists, and depending on the day, some flea market stands. Don’t eat near or on the Ramblas though. You’ll be overcharged for frozen, rewarmed paellas and questionable sangria.

Down by the beach you should stroll over the boardwalk toward the mall. At night, there is a plethora of discoteques in the upper floors of the mall if you feel like dancing the night away. Don’t go before midnight or you’ll be alone on the dance floor; try 1 or 2 a.m.

During the daytime be sure to get lost in the Gothic quarter. The streets twist and turn like long corridors in a maze. You’ll happen upon shops here and there intermingled with residences, museums, cathedrals and such. If you check your map every five minutes you’ll lose the charm the quarter has to offer. Stroll aimlessly for half an hour, stop and have a coffee, then go again. When you’ve had enough reorient yourself or just ask anyone which way to the Ramblas again, which serve as a kind of central nerve to the city.

Don’t miss a visit to the Palau de la Musica. Most people will skip this and are sorely mistaken. If you can attend a concert here, even better. Check their website ahead of time and see if you can catch a performance. Otherwise, just take the regular tour through the premises.

Weather permitting, take a day trip to the beach. The Barcelona beach is just fine, but better beaches are a short train ride away. If you have the time, try Tossa del Mar, where Ava Gardner fell in love with a bullfighter.

If you have the time, take a day trip to Montserrat. The mountain scenery is unforgettable as you climb to the top in a very steep tram ride. There is hiking, a beautiful church, and unique shopping since the monks and nuns that live there make honey, liquors and cheeses. Montserrat also has the unique feature of having a black virgin as patron saint.

Follow these suggestions and you’re sure to hit the hotspots of Barcelona and find that Barcelona really is as beautiful as the postcards.

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