In this 2nd post about things to do in Barcelona I will take you from Parc Guell, via the authentic Gracia area down to the historical center of the city, Barri Gothic. Click here if you want to check out part 1 first!
6. Enjoy the curves in Parc Guell
Parc Guell is one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks, you will love it! Designed by Gaudi and built between 1900 and 1914 it’s a colourful and playful public garden park full of (visual) jokes. I like the twisted columns and the curved, continuous bench made fully from ceramic tiles.
It’s a steep climb towards the park entrance (luckily for some they installed some open-air moving staircases) but totally worth it as the view on the city is beautiful.
The ceramic bench is famous and packed with people most of the time. Newcomers slowly pass by, their eyes focused on whoever might be leaving the bench. Once a free spot is available they are ready to attack and claim it! Just kidding, it’s not that bad, but the park (and especially the ceramic bench) offers a great opportunity to just sit down and watch people.
The ceramic bench doesn’t really look comfortable at first glance, but it is! There is a great story to tell, where people say Gaudi had a workman drop his pants and sit in soft plaster to record the correct anatomical curve. The bench is ergonomical and no wonder it’s always crowded!
Another funny thing is the lizard near the main entrance. Everybody wants to have a picture together with the lizard, hugging or patting it on the head. Of course we also kindly waited for our turn….
Don’t climb on the lizard as there might be a (kind of) guard watching you! We witnessed how a local old man (self-acclaimed police officer because of the second hand police cap he was wearing) yelled at some tourist who, disrespectful of cultural history, tried to do just that.
You will certainly fall in love with Parc Guell. Like in many places all over the world, you will find love locks in the park, although you have to search really good to find these…
7. Square hopping in Gracia
Most of the tourists will walk downhill after visiting Parc Guell and hop on the tourist bus that will bring them to the next city highlight. Don’t automatically jump on the bus as you are missing out on a great area close to the Parc called Gracia. Gracia offers a village-in-a-city feeling. It owns a lot of smaller squares, all with great views and plenty of bars and restaurants. Gracia is your ultimate place for a bit of square hopping!
You won’t find many tourists here which can be called quite unique in Barcelona. The terraces are full with locals meeting up for a chat or lively discussion about politics or sports.
Again, as in many of the old areas in Barcelona, don’t forget to look up to discover great architecture.
8. FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona madness…. Who doesn’t know Messi, Xavi and Puyol, football heroes in one of the biggest football minded nations in the world. Our son is also a fan of Messi so we could not leave Barcelona without visiting the famous stadium Camp Nou.
We didn’t enter the stadium. They charge a hefty € 23,- (€17,- for kids) to enter it (the so-called Camp Nou Experience). Instead of this tour we went for a visit to the FC Barcelona shop, which is an experience in itself. Our son loved it, especially when he bought a real FC Barca football! Only problem is that outside, on the parking lot, we were not allowed to play football with his new purchase……how contradictory is that!
9. Narrow streets of Barri Gothic
After the visit to Camp Nou we made it back to the main center of the city: Barri Gothic (the Gothic quarter). Here we had lunch in the way we like it the most: buy special bread in an authentic bakery, sit down on the sidewalk and enjoy it. Just pick a bakery where lots of people are waiting in line; these are the best ones for sure!
Barri Gothic is great: shops and galleries, butchers and bakeries, there is enough to discover. I personally don’t like the famous Ramblas that much, I’d rather stroll the narrow alleys (like a real travel flaneur). Although the sun has a hard time to reach the ground here, it’s the authenticity and architecture that keeps me warm:)
10. Sagrada Familia
A top 10 list about things to do in Barcelona cannot be without the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s cathedral for the people of Barcelona is a real must-see. For our whole Sagrada story, just click here.
The authenticity of Barcelona is experienced even better when you stay in a local apartment. We were invited by Go With Oh to try one of their apartments. Go With Oh offers a great variety of apartments in 12 major European cities, Barcelona being their home base.
Enjoy the other stories about Barcelona on this blog:
- Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s Masterpiece
- Barcelona: Our Go With Oh experience
- 10 Things to do in Barcelona – part 1