I’ve heard so many good things about Barcelona over the years, I just had to make sure we had a city. Finally, this January I had the opportunity to visit this fabulous city with the help of Toyota RAV4.
Barcelona is the Capitol city of the autonomous region of Catalonia, within the Kingdom of Spain in and it is one of the world’s most beloved cities. It has plenty of interesting activities, restaurants and quirky areas of special interest to visit such as the Barric Gotic area (Gothic Quarter), Gaudi Architecture such as the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila, and various World Heritage sites in the region.
My first trip to Barcelona was at the end of January this year and I can tell you - it was a much welcome escape from the cold winter weather here in the U.K! Although it was only the beginning of the year, the temperatures in Barcelona were a relatively comfortable 130C compared to the cold -4C in the UK. With clear skies and plenty of sun, Barcelona weather was clement and comfortable.
Barcelona tends to be comfortable all year round though and so there really is no need to visit during the busy summer months when tourism is often at its height. The best times to visit are in March or late September through to October when there tend to be thinner crowds and the weather is not too hot but comfortable. The high season for tourism tends to be from May through to early September.
Another aspect of Barcelona I discovered was how quiet the city becomes at the weekend. The relative calm at the weekend can make it a really good time to get about and travel around the city, plan various activities, and visit the different sites of special interest without too many people being about. The weekend tends to be a time of peace and quiet compared to the busy streets during the week as people travel too and from business at work.
The transport system in Barcelona is well designed and very functional, with tram systems, buses and logical easy to navigate roads and streets. Barcelona owes much of it’s forward thinking and advanced city planning to the famous Ildefons Cerda who’s holistic approach to advanced city design has made Barcelona an envy to the world. As a British driver I was very apprehensive about driving and navigating on the right-hand side of the road, meandering my way through Barcelona, but the well designed and logical traffic system made it so easy, simple and straight forward. If you are thinking of hiring a car or driving through Barcelona then it’s pretty easy to orientate yourself.
Places of interest:
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Designed by Gaudi, this Gothic and Art Noveau Monument and truly unique Basilica was left unfinished by Gaudi when he died at the age of 73 in 1926. He is buried in the crypt of the Basilica in the centre of the city.
A great location to take a photo of the basilica is from the nearby lake surrounded by a few trees but with a convenient viewpoint of the Basilica. It often gets quite busy with tourists taking pictures but because of the angle of the location you are likely to get a great picture without including anyone else in your shot.
Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera, “The Stone Quarry”):
The Casa Mila is another of Gaudi’s famous works and has an unusual and unconventional appearance both inside and out. Built between 1906 and 1912, although it a declared UNESCO Heritage Site it still has a small number of residents living in the building paying the same rent as they did in 1912. There is an available tour of the building, fabulous (and expensive) restaurant, with roof top light show.
The main façade of the building is a great picture to take from the outside and main street, but once inside the building you can take an upwards shot of the interior from the reception floor showing the cone like interior of the design. Once up on the roof top – the dreamlike crafting of the pillars and towers make an interesting shot, as well as being able to photo graph the Basilica in the distance.
Arc de Triompf
So you thought that Paris, France was where you could find the Arc de Triomphe? Well yes… but Barcelona also has it’s own Triumphal Arc! The arch crosses over promenade and is located near the Ciutadella Park. Relatively easy to find and about 20 minutes walk from the city centre.
During the weekend the area tends to be less frequented by tourists and also the roads are much quieter and therefore easier to cross. There is a cycle lane right in the middle of the road which divides the traffic and some people choose to stand there so that they can get a good forward shot of the Arc de Triomf. It is a great angle to get a pic of the Triompf but be mindful that if you choose to do so, the cycle lane is used frequently and there is traffic on either side. Although much quieter at the weekend, there are still vehicles using all lanes.
There are some really fantastic and unusual street art destinations in Barcelona. A popular destination is Poble Nou, where there is a thriving urban street art, with surreal designs and bright colours.
my sister enjoying the street art
There are some really talented artists who are creating some striking urban artwork which can be found in places such as Poble Nou, Poble Sec, and The Tres Xismeneies Urban Park. I wish we had more time to spend visiting these locations. Parking is relatively easy, so leaving the car and taking time to walk around on a sunny day means you can great some excellent shots of the designs up close.
So there you have it! The beginners guide to Barcelona! There is plenty more to see in Barcelona than I have described here and to be honest I want to go back to visit the Marina and the Beach, enjoy more tapas, and frequent the shops! I hope this has given you a starting point to explore this great city.