Barcelona off the beaten path

September 6, 2010 in Europe,Places,Spain

There are plenty of historical (read: tourist) sites in Barcelona, but the real character of the city shines through when you step off the beaten path. To see the main sites, take a tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours. While Barcelona certainly isn’t the most bike-friendly city, these four-hour tours are a great way to check out the main sites without exhausting your Metro pass, as well as get some interesting (and funny) commentary by native English speakers. After you’ve gotten the tourist traps out of the way, give yourself some time to wander, people-watch and relax—before daring to take on Spain’s nightlife.

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Parc de la ciutadella: This city park is home to Cascades de Gaudi and the Barcelona Zoo. One look at the fountains, and you can be assured that this isn’t the funhouse architecture that dominates the rest of his work. Gaudi was just an apprentice on the building of this waterfall, but as his fame outgrew that of the original architect, it was his name that became associated with these impressive fountains. After checking out the fountain, grab a grassy spot or a park bench to picnic or people-watch. There’s even a tiny lake where you can rowboat!

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Carrer de la Riera Baixa: Just a few blocks away from the tourist-packed La Rambla, this street is packed with funky secondhand stores and bohemiam vintage shops. Check out Hola! for American high school letterman jackets and sports jerseys. Head across the street to Bille Jean for upscale vintage dresses and purses for a sweet price.

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Mercat de la Boqueria: Pick up a boccadilla for lunch from this crowded market—or perhaps just a fresh-squeezed juice in more flavors than you can imagine—and walk a few blocks to the library. The serene library courtyard feels miles away from the hectic market. Packed with plenty of shade and benches, it’s the perfect place to give your tired feet a break.

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Gracia Neighborhood: Packed into the narrow streets of this hip neighborhood are ethnic restaurants, homemade jewelry shops and funky clothes stores. Don’t miss the artisan jewelry and craft market in the Placa de la Revolucio for an unique and handmade souvenir. If you head to Barcelona in August, you can’t miss the Gracia Street Festival. The neighborhood streets compete for the title of the best decorated. At night, the streets come alive with live music, dancing and plenty of sangria.

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Beach time: Make sure to schedule in some time to soak up the sun on Barcelona’s wide stretch of sandy beaches. Wondering why the Spanish all have such uniform tans? Nudity is legal on Barcelona city beaches, so don’t be alarmed when you spot someone baring it all.

  • Anonymous

    Ooh, thanks for the suggestions! One of these days, I want to make it to Barcelona.

  • Anonymous

    When I was in Spain I unfortunately didn’t make it to Barcelona – this post makes me regret that decision! Love the photos.

  • Anonymous

    It’s definitely worth checking out firsthand!

  • Anonymous

    It’s definitely worth the visit–I’m still hoping to get back to Madrid and St Sebastian in Spain. Where did you go?

  • I was just in Barce this past June and fell madly deeply in love. I would move there in a heartbeat. Great post!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I don’t think I could live there, but it was definitely a fun place to visit. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • I’m going to Barcelona in November and am so excited! It’s been on my travel list for a while now 🙂

  • Anonymous

    It was first on my list of top 10 places I wanted to go–glad I was able to cross it off!

  • Loved Barcelona! One of my favorite cities! I would add going to a football game while you are there. During the times of Franco, the city was united around their football team because they couldn’t fly the flag of Catalonia. Here’s a pic of me at a Barcelona match. http://twitpic.com/1hl05k

    And while it’s not off the beaten path, Parc Guell is also a great place to visit (if you can avoid the crowds)

  • Anonymous

    I did go to an FC Barcelona game while I was there! However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Parc Guell–or Gaudi in general. I’m partial to French gardens 🙂

  • Pol

    Nice post!

    Only add that the parc de la ciutat it’s called parc de la ciutadella

  • Anonymous

    Gracias! I’ll make that change!

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  • SimplyBarceolna.com

    Indeed!. Barcelona has become the city that captures the imagination of most visitors to Spain. If you have only a brief time in the city, you cannot fail to be impressed by Barcelona.

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