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Posts in ‘Things to do in Barcelona’

4 Reasons Why Barcelona Is Great To Visit In Summers

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Every summer there comes that time when you have to decide where to spend your vacation. Most often the decision making is compounded by what to do. The ‘where’ and the ‘what’ can often cause head scratching. This is where Barcelona scores on every level.

Let’s see now. The weather is warm in summer and just right. There are miles of soft sandy beaches; a hectic nightlife fuelled by a huge variety of bars, discotheques and clubs; entertainment in the form of concerts and fiestas; unbeatable cuisine – Catalan and international; natural beauty with a gorgeous coastline and nearby craggy mountains; an extraordinarily rich culture seen on every street and in museums. There is plenty more, of course, but above all there is endless sunshine!

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Without attempting to push any particular itinerary, here is an outline that encapsulates what you can see and do in Barcelona in the summer!

Beaches
If you are looking to just lay back, get a tan, not do much and release those work-related tensions then the beaches of Barcelona are just the ticket. There are five notable ones with individual characteristics.

Barceloneta Beach is the closest to the city centre with attractive beach shacks serving great cuisine. Nova Icària, is the prettiest and most popular beach with plenty of good restaurants. Marberlla is famed for its free-spirited and nude bathers. It has plenty of eateries and drinking places and easily accessible from the city. Sant Sebastià, the oldest, has calm waters and a long golden stretch of soft sand. Bogatell Beach is the most central. It is populated by the athletic and fitness types who can be found pounding the paved jogging paths and volleyball courts.

Antonio Gaudí
Honestly, this man is synonymous with Barcelona. His works dominate the skyline, are architectural benchmarks and epitomise the city’s Catalan heritage and style in a spectacularly original way. He has done everything from parks to churches. Seven among his brilliant creations have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Barcelona Twitter Parc Guell

His works are worth visiting just to see what a brilliant and creatively unfettered mind he had. Some of Gaudí’s creations are the Casa Vicens (a private residence); La Sagrada Familia Basilica (his definitive work, which is still incomplete); Park Güell (his creative and spatial genius is evident here); Casa Batlló (displays Gaudí’s fascination with nature’s shapes) and Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera, is his most innovative, daring and religiously inspired work).

History
Barcelona can seem like a gleaming futuristic city but it has plenty of history. Many remnants of its past are still in well-preserved condition and can be seen all over the city. The best and most convenient place to see examples of Barcelona’s past are in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). The heart of the city, this area has buildings dating to Roman and Medieval times. The beautiful narrow winding picturesque streets are worth wandering through. Highlights of the Quarter are the remains of the squared Roman Wall near Tapineria, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west, Carrer de la Palla to the south and El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter.

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Just an hour’s travel out of Barcelona is the magnificent Montserrat Basilica and monastery. The Basilica is where the famed Montserrat Boy’s Choir (l’Escolania) sing every day at 1pm. Across the Basilica and underground is an extraordinary museum with a superb collection of paintings by the likes of El Greco, Caravaggio, Sisley, Picasso and Dalí and valuable artefacts and items from ancient Egypt.

Entertainment
When your day of sightseeing or beachcombing is done the evening and night beckons and there is plenty to fill those hours. There is entertainment and leisure to suit all tastes and budgets.

You can have dinner while taking in a Flamenco show at one of the several notable tableaux. Barcelona is absolutely crammed with a variety of pretty and traditional tapas bars where you can treat your palette and sip on some excellent wine or beer.

La Ramba, one of the most famous and interesting boulevards in Europe is a super place to spend the night hours. This pedestrian only avenue is packed with buskers, living statues, mimes, artists and salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewellery. There are plenty of bars and restaurants.

Barcelona has everything to give you that satisfied feeling of having had a real good holiday.

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Montserrat – A Rocky Ensemble

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Montserrat monastery

There are many reasons to visit Montserrat. It could be religious, musical, architectural, historical, ‘must see; must do,’ discovery, hiking, rock climbing, or just good old fashioned sightseeing. Whatever your compulsion you will be gratified and probably get more than you expected.

Montserrat in Catalan literally means "saw (serrated as the teeth of a handsaw) mountain."  They are the handy work of nature’s sculptural efforts over millions of years. The multiple peaks rearing up to its highest 1,236 metres (4,055 feet) at Sant Jeroni are simply spectacular.

This rocky ensemble is just 50 kilometres (31 miles) northwest of Barcelona. The trip takes about an hour by train or ninety minutes by road. The route takes you through some truly beautiful Catalan landscape and along the Llobregat River.

Once you get to Montserrat itself there are a number of ways you can get up to the various delights that the place has to offer. You could drive up; take the cable car or the rack railway.

The Aeri de Montserrat cable car is a dizzying 5 minute ride. Since these are always full you could wind up squashed in the middle and miss out on the stunning views as the car crawls up to the halfway stage. The Montserrat Rack Railway is a 15 minute joyride taking you back to child-like thrills. Or you could take the road – bus or car.
 
The first phase of your rise up to the Montserrat experience ends at the roughly halfway mark. This is where the 1,000 something year old Montserrat Monastery (Benedictine Abbey) and the Montserrat Basilica home of “La Morenta,” the black-faced Madonna have been built.

Viewing the Madonna can be a bit of a chore. It has been placed in a tiny alcove reached by a narrow corridor and up a staircase on the right side of the Monastery. You may have to inch your way forwards for more than an hour. More than two million people visit the shrine every year and you only get a few seconds in front of it before you are forced to move by the visitors behind. If you can get there by 9am then there are not many people around.

The Basilica is where the Montserrat Boy’s Choir (l’Escolania) sing every day at 1pm.  Their musical performance is enough to fill your soul to overflowing. Across the Basilica and underground is an extraordinary museum with a superb collection of paintings by the likes of El Greco, Caravaggio, Sisley, Picasso and Dalí. It also houses valuable artefacts and items from ancient Egypt.

From the plaza in front of the Monastery you can go to the top of the mountain via the Funicular de Sant Joan. This is a veritable archaeologist’s delight. The mountain face is pockmarked with the caves of hermit monks who once populated the place. There are also several chapels, stairs and pathways.

The Funicular de Santa Cova is another rack railway that takes you down to the cave, which is the original location of “La Morenta. This grotto is where visitations by the Virgin Mary were first reported back in 880 AD.

If hiking is your thing, then the slopes of the Montserrat hills will be a joy for you. There are six recognised hikes with the longest one to Sant Jeroni. The walk starting from either the mountain base of the top of the Sant Joan Funicular will reveal breathtaking views of the surrounding plains and the Pyrenees.

There are interesting features for nature lovers because of the geology and plants along the way. All of the trails offer amazing views and the locals boast that on a really clear day you can see Mallorca.

Just so you are prepared keep in mind that the funicular railways don’t run in March and carrying a coat is advisable. Montserrat often has strong and chilly winds.

For me the trip to Montserrat was the highlight of my visit.

 

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Five Exciting Things to do in Barcelona

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There is so much to see in the city, sometimes it can be a challenge to decide what and how to do it. But if you’re on vacation, why not try being a tourist with a difference! Here’s a selection of different ways to explore the wonderful, vibrant city of Barcelona – and make sure you make the most of your trip by staying in one of the best Barcelona hotels.

Kickbike and Scooter Tours of Barcelona!

For the eco conscious amongst you, why not take a cross between a bike and a scooter as a way of transporting yourself around the city. Kickbikes are suitable for pretty much anyone, and you can either join a guided tour or just rent the kickbike and take off for the day. Either way, it’s a great way of keeping fit and seeing the sights at the same time.

Barcelona Ice Bar

With a cool -5 ambient temperature, Barcelona’s Ice Bar is the only one of its kind in the world which is built on a beach. Situated at Playa de Barceloneta, the Ice Bar offers the perfect place to cool down from the hot Mediterranean sun. Just don’t forget your jacket and gloves!

Antique Caravan Tours

If you fancy seeing the surrounding area from the back of a traditional horse-drawn caravan, then why not take a tour to discover a little more about the tradition Catalan farmers of the area. From years gone by up to modern days, these tours will give you an insight into the Catalan culture and how the locals live at one with the countryside. The tours last from half a day up to a week in duration.

Rickshaw Tour

Rickshaws are a great way to explore the area, and the fact that someone else is doing the pedalling is always a bonus! What better way to have a local show you around their city, and you never know, you might learn a few words of Spanish along the way!

Go Back to School

No, not seriously, but how about signing up for a cocktail making class and learn how to mix ‘em up like a pro. You’ll be taught some neat bartender tricks, and no doubt be allowed more than just a few tasting sessions along the way. Then at the end, you can watch the professionals show you exactly how it should be done. Cocktail classes are run in a few venues in the city and last a few hours.

Guest post by Escapio.com

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Don’t be Scared of an Alternative Halloween Across the Channel

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Does the thought of having to find a costume for Halloween fill you with more dread than the haunting face of a man wielding a chainsaw? If so, Europe could be the answer. With some semblance of a cultural festival still being celebrated across the Channel you can take advantage of an excuse for a holiday without the dodgy eye make-up, fraying bandages and the handing out of ‘treats’ to hungry teenagers.

For a last minute trip Paris is the perfect option, and easily accessible. The city of love is slowly becoming one of horror for one night of the year only, but like the rest of Europe celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, where the dead are honoured and the graves of loved ones are visited to pay respects. This also constitutes a national holiday so many attractions will be closed. The Paris Hop-on Hop-Off Bus takes in all the sights and runs all year, so while Parisians are paying their respects, the city can be explored. The route takes in all the most popular sites such as the Louvre, Champs de Mars, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysée. continue reading

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Barcelona

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Experience Barcelona

Park Guell (Flickr by MorBCN)

Park Guell (Flickr by MorBCN)

Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, which explains the city’s wide array of activities to partake in.  When I was a senior in high school I visited Spain with my Art History class.  Looking back, Barcelona was sadly the city where we had the shortest amount of time and I wish I had a couple more days to experience Barcelona.

As of recent, Barcelona has become one of the most visited cities in Spain because of the vast amount of activities to experience.  Whether you enjoy thrilling tours and experiences, the arts, or learning more about a city’s culture then Barcelona has something to offer. continue reading

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Walking Cities Part 2: Barcelona

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If you’ve missed the introduction to this series, click here.

Sagrada Familia, Gaudi - jurvetson

Sagrada Familia, Gaudi - jurvetson

There is plenty to explore in Barcelona, a city notorious for its relaxed pace of life. Things work on a slower timetable here, great for a walk about! Take your time, you have all day! (Literally, dinner often doesn’t start here until 10 or 11pm, and nightclubs usually don’t begin filling up until around 2am). There’s plenty to do and see, and in recent years, Barcelona has become quite the multicultural hotbed. The area is home to a high population of immigrants, which means not only interesting people, but amazing international food, and a rich collection of books, art, and shopping. Cafés (yum, churros and chocolate!), galleries and parks (with lots of famous street art) galore!

As the home of nine UNESCO World Heritage sites (seven of which were designed by the famous Antoni Gaudí) there are plenty destinations for you to check out on that slow ramble around the city. continue reading

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Check out some MotoGP madness in Barcelona

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Sports fans will be able to incorporate some high-octane entertainment into their Barcelona tours later this year when the MotoGP motorcycling season comes to the Circuit de Catalunya.

The sixth race in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship will be held on the testing track just outside Barcelona on June 14th.

Qatar was the destination for the opening event in the 2009 season last weekend, with Australian rider Casey Stoner taking an early lead prior to races in Japan, Spain, France and Italy before the end of May.

People who make it to the event in Barcelona will be treated to an impressive sporting spectacle as the courageous riders fly around the track at speeds of up to 185mph and attempt daring overtaking manoeuvres.

Other circuits that will feature on the MotoGP World Championship this year include Indianapolis in the US on August 30th and Phillip Island in Australia on October 18th.

Motorsport fans will also be provided with plenty of opportunities for globetrotting by the Formula One season, which will take in such exotic destinations as Monte Carlo, Istanbul, Singapore and Sao Paulo.

Barcelona – Wonderful Gaudi architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere have made Barcelona Spain’s most popular city.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19122003-ADNFCR

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Scooter Tours – Spain’s Newest Way to Tour

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scooter tours in barcelona Spain has always offered a variety of attractions from discovering hidden courtyards and junk shops in the Barri Gotic in Barcelona to sun-bathing on the golden sands of Mallorca. Choosing which of their hottest destinations to visit is a hard decision. Do you want to visit a water park in Mallorca, go to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, or buy knick-knacks in Ibiza? If you do decide on Ibiza over Mallorca you’re immediately left with the sad feeling you’re really missing out on the soft sands of El Arenal beach. Luckily, now there are new tours to help you make the most of your time no matter where you choose. continue reading

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Check out AC/DC on Barcelona tours

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Rock and roll fans will be provided with some unmissable and unforgettable entertainment during Barcelona tours later this year when the legendary AC/DC bring their world tour to the city.

The veteran rockers have been touring the world since February to support the release of Black Ice, their first album in eight years, last October.

Barcelona’s Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys stadium will be the venue for the show on June 7th.

Belgrade (May 26th), Athens (May 28th), Lisbon (June 3rd), Madrid (June 5th), Paris (June 12th) and many other destinations will feature on the band’s tour before it finally comes to an end at Glasgow’s Hampden Park on June 30th.

AC/DC have now been rocking for more than 30 years and have been responsible for creating some of the most recognisable songs in modern music, including Highway to Hell, Back in Black and You Shook Me All Night Long.

Music fans taking Barcelona tours this year may also have the opportunity to see U2 in concert when they play at the Nou Camp stadium on June 30th and July 2nd.

Barcelona – Wonderful Gaudi architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere have made Barcelona Spain’s most popular city.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19103284-ADNFCR

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Barcelona celebrates the guitar

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Guitarists and music fans will be arranging Barcelona tours over the coming months as part of plans to visit the city while it hosts the Guitar Festival.

This giant celebration of one of the world’s most popular musical instruments began on March 24th and will continue to present intimate gigs and major concerts around the city until June 18th.

One of the highlights of the festival for many music fans will be the appearance of David Byrne, one of the founding members of Talking Heads.

Byrne will perform a number of pieces he created in collaboration with Brian Eno at the Palau de la Musica Catalana on April 24th.

Madeleine Peyroux will also perform at this venue on May 8th, followed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jackson Browne on May 13th, while Wilco will play at L’Auditori on June 4th.

Music fans could also be planning Barcelona tours this year to visit two major festivals being held in the city – Primavera Sound (May 28th to 30th) and Sonar (June 18th to 20th).

Barcelona – Wonderful Gaudi architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere have made Barcelona Spain’s most popular city.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19090150-ADNFCR

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