Travel Guide To Barcelona: Part 2
By Ross Williams, Contributing Editor
Main points of interest
What you see and do in Barcelona depends entirely on your preference. There is something here to appeal to all tastes and preferences. If you want to learn about the city’s rich history and get involved in the cultural activities, then there a several excellent museums and guided tours to accommodate this. An articket could help you keep the costs of visiting these museums down. It costs €30 and covers admission to seven museums.
If your idea of a great trip involves avoiding museums like the plague, then this can be easily done Stroll down the main street, Las Ramblas. This grand boulevard, more than a Champs-Élysées, takes you from rich (the elegant Placa de Catalunya at the top) to rough (at the port) in a one-mile, 30-minute walk. You’ll raft the river of Barcelonian life past a grand opera house, elegant cafés, retread prostitutes, pickpockets, power-dressing con men, artists, street mimes, an outdoor bird market, great shopping, and people looking to charge more for a shoeshine than what you paid for the shoes. Grab a bench and watch the scene. The Ramblas, which means “stream” in Arabic, is an endless current of people and action.
You can also walk down to Port Olimpic which will be well worth it as you will be presented with a busy marina that is surrounded by lots of lively restaurants and bars. Several popular beaches can also be found nearby, most of them artificial, but popular nonetheless. Whatever type of holiday you prefer there are few must-sees in Barcelona:
• Mercat de la Boqueria – Sometimes also called Mercat de Sant Josep, this fresh produce market is practically bursting at the seams with delicious fruits, vegetables, seafood, nuts, cheeses and all manner of tempting produce. Head down there with an empty stomach and sample some of the lovely food prepared by various chefs who have come to ply their ware.
• Park Güell – The garden is a magnificent historical complex with some beautiful architectural features. It is certainly a popular attraction with both tourists and locals, but it is well worth a visit. A few of the quaint nooks and crannies make will make excellent spots for a few memorable photographs. This is a personal favorite of mine.
• Harbour Cable Car – A great way to see parts of the city from a birds-eye view is to take a ride on the harbor aerial tramway. The journey starts in Barceloneta on top of the Torre San Sebastian tower and ends in Montjuic. Space is limited however and it is a very popular attraction so long waits are to be expected. A return trip costs €15.10 and the tramway operates between June and September only.
Barcelona has a good selection of accommodation types on offer to match varying budgets. You can take your pick from anything from affordable hostels to luxurious 5-star hotels. If you are on a budget then a hostel such as the Gothic Point may be a reasonable option. Rooms cost between €14 and €20 per night and it features a unique design with wooden cubicles that allow for more privacy. Breakfast and 20 minutes of daily Wi-Fi is also included in the price.
If its luxury that you’re after and you have the cash to splash then the Hotel Arts Barcelona may be just what you need. This hotel is set in a tower that overlooks the Port Olimpic and is considered one of the most fashionable hotels in Barcelona. Prices start at €321 per night and you will get access to a range of amenities including indoor and outdoor pools, health club, internet access, and poolside bar.
Things to note
When you are in wonderful city such as Barcelona it is very easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and become relaxed about securing your belongings. More than ever you need to remain vigilant because thieves do target hapless tourists, snatching bags and valuables that are left unattended. Make sure all you valuables are secure and that you keep an eye on them at all times.
The month of August is one of the busiest in Barcelona. You should note that several shops may shut down from mid-August through to early September as some store owners decide to head off on their own vacations. This time of year you will be much more likely to find some decent yet cheap accommodation within the city as many hotels lower their prices in response to fewer business travellers coming to the city.
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