For those of us who have lived in a cold, damp climate that is typical of Northern Europe, this time of year can get a little bleak. But never fear my fellow travellers, let your feet do the walking and lead you down to this cultural melting pot that we call Barcelona.
Walking through the footsteps of history where famous people such as Antonio Gaudi and Pablo Picasso once called home, you are about to be spellbound by the beauty that this Catalan capital can offer, but at a fraction of the cost then you might think.
First thing you need to know, if you want an affordable weekend away in Barcelona, is to try and plan your trip so that you are in the city on the first Sunday of the month. Why you ask? Simple, because admissions to numerous museums are free, but arrive as early as possible because queues are known. Now, down to the business of exploration and here are my top 6 attractions to visit:
Nothing can prepare you for the enormity of this park, which stretches over more than 3 hectares, and the spectacular views over the city. As the sunlight dances over this dramatic setting, you can easily see why Parc Güell is Gaudi’s greatest creation in Barcelona.
At the entrance of the park there is a monumental staircase, with the figure of a salamander decorated in ceramics, which gives you an insight to what awaits you. Behind these stairs are the forest of Pelare and the incredible Plaça Del Park Güell, which is surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. If you take a closer look at this park bench, you will see it has been carefully decorated with ceramics, plates and glass bottles that have created a collage of stunning colours.
The Magic Fountain, or Font Montjuic as it is known as in Catalan is an attraction that typifies the way of life in Barcelona. With its dazzling show of light, colour, motion and music combind together to form a mesmorizing show that last 30 minutes, nobody will walk away dissapointed. This unsual fountain was built in 1929 for the World Exhibition and took a year for the 3000 people to complete the work.
Check out the show times.
This is one of the most lively, as well as famous, streets in Europe thanks to the numerous encounters you have with human statues, hip-hop dancers and street performers of all shapes and sizes. Technically the La Rambla is a series of shorter streets, each with a different name, hence why the plural form is used when we call it the Las Ramblas. But it is not all show, as you can by anything from theatre tickets, souvenirs, and beautiful flowers to birds or turtles. If you fancy sampling some Spanish cuisine, there are numerous venues to tantalize your taste buds, but be careful as this is a tourist hotspot and the prices reflect this.
The spires of this imposing cathedral rise up into the skies above Barcelona and can be seen in various locations around the city. This is another one of Gaudi’s works that is as mysterious as the man himself, whereby you can spend hours admiring the acute details of this stunning structure. The beauty of the Sagrada Familia is that you do not actually have to pay to experience the sheer wonder of it, but it is good to know that all proceeds do go to the continuation of the building. When the Sagrada Familia actually gets finished, it will combine modernism with Gothic architecture and will have a huge dome stretching nearly 170 meters above ground!
Imagine rows up rows of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish from all over the world. Whether you are a budding chef or a simple cook, like me, your mind will be blown by what’s on offer. Herbs and spices are plentiful, for those of us with a sweet tooth or children will particularly enjoy the sweet row. If you have a few loose Euros in your pocket, seat yourself in one of the many bars, order a tapas or a cold drink and savour the atmosphere. Oh, before I forget, if you need some kitchen gadgets, well you can find that in the La Boquería too, there is something for everyone, for every type of meal!
Another master of Barcelona is Pablo Picasso, whose museum is one of the most visited art galleries in the city, attracting over a million visitors per year. Even though this museum has an entrance fee, if you are here on the first Sunday of the month, then a visit is a must because it’s free. The museum is home to most of the early works of Picasso, as well as some of his later pieces. Moving about the museum is easy as everything is in chronological order, so mapping the life of this extraordinary artist could not be easier.