First Steps in Barcelona
Barcelona has become a beacon for the modern lifestyle. The quality of life here is high, with good food, fine weather, the sea and the mountains and a beautiful dynamic city all combining to provide the ultimate refuge from the hectic lifestyle offered elsewhere.
Most people begin their tour of Barcelona at Plaza Catalunya, and this is a great place to start. From here people generally head in either up or down to begin their tour: Down the Ramblas, towards the Port area or Up through the shopping districts of Eixample.
The main tourist office is located here, as are central terminals for the bus and metro, there is even a connection to the local railways here for heading out of the city.
You will probably then head down Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street. A tightly-packed, colourful and cosmopolitan strip that leads all the way down to the port. It is absolutely crammed with people, lined with restaurants and buskers of all types and requires a good, steady stroll to take in all the sights.
Stop off for a Coffee at the Cafe Opera half way down on the left-hand side. You will see throngs of people sat at the small terraces of local bars and restaurants along the flanks of the Ramblas, but be warned, the prices are higher than usual.
Our Short Stay Apartment Liceu is based half-way down the Ramblas on the right-hand side, along the Nou de la Rambla street.
Plaça de Colón
From here the Ramblas has been extended across the port into the shopping area of MareMagnum. You can pass through the shopping centre which leads to the Aquarium and Imax Cinema. Continuing along you will lead you to Port Vell.
Port Vell (Old Port) houses the Museum of History of Catalunya as well as some fine restaurants in the same corner. The street upwards towards the sea is then lined with more traditional restaurants, these are some of the best fish restaurants in Barcelona, and have reasonable prices. You will find many locals in this strip mixed with the tourists. If you haven’t eaten already, this is a good spot to find some great value seafood. Obviously Paella will always be available and is a common favourite amongst tourists and locals alike. The Paella takes about 25 minutes to cook so be prepared to wait.
After passing all the fish restaurants and boats moored along the harbourside you will come to Barceloneta, the closest and most central beach of the city. The quality of the beach is not great but it is generally crammed with bathers in the summer, and at night, it is regular host to socialising and ‘Botellon’.
The stroll along the Promenade from Barceloneta towards the Port Olimpic (signalled by the two, tall towers) is a common occupation on Sundays and you will see all kinds of people enjoying the beachside lifestyle; skaters, bikers and joggers are common sights.
Port Olimpic was re-modelled for the Olympic Games of 1992 and has been internationally recognised as a great achievement in urban planning. The area is now full of leisurely activities; bars, restaurants, gyms and discos are all located here and are generally very good quality. On the port side of the strip however are more touristy locales which will attempt to poach passers by into the clubs and restaurants which can be a disagreeable experience.
The popular restaurants Bestial and Shoko here come highly recommended.
Day Two – Shopping?
After the long stroll down the Ramblas and along the seas front on Day One, maybe it’s time to slow it down and browse the local shops. We have chosen to highlight the Paseig de Gracia, Diagonal and Rambla de Catalunya shopping route. This route is less touristy, contains a great variety of shops and is pedestrian friendly.
Paseig de Gracia
This is the main, and most expensive, street in Barcelona and apart from it’s delicious art-nouveau style ascetics you will find a great number of interesting shops, cafes, bars and a couple of Gaudi masterpieces dotted along it’s flanks.
Not to be missed here are Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and Pedrera. Interior design lovers will also find the renown Vincon store housing all kinds of modern objects for the home.
The longest street in Barcelona, and maybe Europe, is lined with a variety of shops. We will just be briefly visiting this grand boulevard as we pass from Paseig de Gracia towards the top of Rambla de Catalunya, which is the same Ramblas as that which leads down to the port.
Ramba de Catalunya
This street is a pedestrian friendly, tree lined boulevard which contains some great shops for clothes, furniture and bric-a-brac and is also dotted with great coffee shops and bars.
If you are feeling peckish at this stage the Cerveceria Catalana just in the Mallorca street off the Rambla is highly recommended; it offers great tapas with delicious beers and wines.
The Rambla de Catalunya will drop you again at Plaza Catalunya, and if you haven’t shopped enough already there is the Triangle centre on the right hand side which contains FNAC and some other stores, and of course, El Corte Ingles department store on the Left side of the plaza, which contains all kinds of products from clothes and electronics to gardening and musical instruments.
Text Content Copyright © ShortStayApartment.com 2007. Photos copyright © Derry Birkett 2007 No reproduction or copying of this text is allowed without express permission from the authors.