5 things to do in Barcelona, Spain: from Sagrada Familia to Barceloneta Beach

Barcelona

It may not be the capital of Spain, but Barcelona is most certainly the capital of Catalonia, and it’s one of the more bustling, thriving and varied cities that Europe has to offer. You might say it’s equipped with the perfect mix of old and new, and given its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, it also boasts something that most other major cities do not: a beach! Of course, figuring out things to do in this town isn’t quite as easy as deciding to come here, so we’re here to help. Read on for five incredible things to see and do while in Barcy, be it for business or pleasure.
%Gallery-117263%A visit to Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most famous church

Barcelona

Köln has The Dom, Paris has the Notre Dame Cathedral, and Barcelona has Sagrada Familia. Architected by the famed Antoni Gaudí, this massive Catholic place of worship doubles as a massive place of crowd gathering. It’s one of the more popular tourist stops in the city, and it’s well-positioned for finding other things to do within walking distance. Ground was broke on this church in 1882, and it’s still not done. Estimates say that it’ll be completed within the next two decades, but locals seem to have their doubts. Despite the cranes and construction, it’s still a sight to behold. You don’t have to go inside to appreciate it, but €12.50 (and a lot of waiting in line) will give you a lot more to savor.

A leisurely stroll through Parc Güell, another Gaudí masterpiece

Barcelona

Sense a trend? Barcelona’s face has been painted by Gaudí, and his impressions are all over this beautiful (and vast) park. There are a number of entryways, and none of them charge admission. The “Zona Monument” is the primary entrance, and you’ll know you’re there if you spot two tall, white-tiled towers surrounded by mobs of people and even more colored tiles. There’s a “lucky lizard” in the center of the monument that you’re supposed to kiss, but beware of the “live lizard” standing at the gate. He’ll happily pose for a photograph, but only after you cough up a bit of change. So much for free admission! (P.S. – Skip the photograph — the interior of the park is more deserving of your attention).

Dipping and dodging down La Rambla

Barcelona

Common sense (and we here at Gadling) will tell you to avoid La Rambla at night. We’ve had first-hand experience with a pal being mugged there. But despite its well-earned stereotype, it’s an interesting place to scope out during the day. Loads of street vendors are out in force with great deals, and there are mimes galore freezing for your cash. Just keep a close eye on your pockets, and enjoy the zaniness that can only be found on this street.

Museum merry-go-round

Barcelona

One of Barcelona’s strong points is its wealth of museums. It’s really hard to go wrong, but we’d recommend you either love design or have an open mind about learning more on the subject. La Pedrera (by Antoni Gaudí), Museu Futbol Club Barcelona (for soccer fans), Museum d’ Història de Catalunya (self-explanatory), Maritime Museum, the Catalan Museum of Archaeology and the Museo Picasso de Barcelona are all worth a visit if you’re into those types of things, but they’re obviously more attractive in the winter when you can’t just pop on your swim suit and head to our final recommendation.

Playa Barceloneta: a beach, in the city!

Barcelona

It’s true! Barcelona, unlike many metropolises, has a beach. And not a “nearby beach,” but a beach that’s firmly within the city and is just a quick walk from the center of town (or easily accessible via metro / taxi). Playa Barceloneta is hailed as one of the world’s best urban beaches, and we aren’t arguing. There’s a massive strip of sand to enjoy (for a city, mind you), and the Mediterranean Sea is lovely to jump in during the summer. If you arrive in the off-season, the sand still slips between your toes just as easily, but you’ll need a serious wetsuit (or skin made from steel) to handle the chilly waters.

Have any Barcelona tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below!

Photo of the Day (10.11.09)

Truly great architecture has its own personality. The best buildings are not merely structures with walls, doors and windows. They tell you something about how they were made and the character of the places they were built. When I saw Flickr user scottmschutlz’s playful photo, I immediately knew it was taken at Gaudi’s Casa Milà in Barcelona. The fluid curves of the cement and quirky human-like face of this sculpture tip their hat to the whimsical, artistic traditions of this favorite Spanish city.

Want your pics considered for Gadling’s Photo of the Day? Submit your best ones here.

Gadling + BootsnAll – Picks of the Week (3.6.09)

Last week we announced a new partnership between Gadling and the self-styled “independent travel” specialists over at BootsnAll. Every Friday we’ll be taking a look at some of our favorite BootsnAll content from the past week, along with a few choice words about why you should check it out. Sound good? Read on below for this week’s picks…

  • Navigate South America’s “Visa Obstacles” – the idea of a South American backpacking trip has always appealed to me. Between the mostly common language of Spanish and some amazing sights, the continent seems ripe for exploring. But as BootsnAll writer Eileen Smith reports, keeping track of each country’s constantly changing visa rules can be a real pain. Never fear, Eileen lays out some easy strategies to make that pan-South American trek a bit less costly and just a bit easier.
  • Europe Disappoints? – the Mona Lisa sucks. There, I said it. Yes, it was painted by one of history’s most famous men, Leonardo da Vinci, but beyond that, it’s just a painting of a woman surrounded by hundreds of tourists and a plexiglass box for protection. Roger Wade has a couple other complaints with disappointing tourist attractions in Europe, and for the most part I agree with him. Sorry Roger, I have to disagree with you on the interior of the Sagrada Familia. What do you think? Check out his list.
  • France’s Unofficial Dress Code – some of us like to blend in with the locals when we travel, going to great lengths to dress, act and behave much like the locals would. Others couldn’t give a damn what the locals think. Whatever your stance, BootsnAll’s France guide has the low-down on what to wear in France for that next trip Think you know how to blend in? Want some tips? Check it out.
  • Caffeine Junkies, Unite! – does your morning demand you start with a cup of coffee? It can be tricky to find sometimes when you’re on the road, especially in out of the way countries where coffee is not a common drink. Writer Eileen Smith comes through with yet another great piece on how to handle your caffeine addiction on the road. Check out her piece for some tips on how to cope and remember to stay away from that weak Nescafe stuff if you can help it.
  • Building Bridges – I’ve always found bridges to be one of the most underrated landmarks in any tourist destination. They serve such a pragmatic, obvious purpose that you sometimes forget the degree of craftsmanship, ingenuity and expertise that goes into their creation. Cristina Dima is on the same page – this week she takes a look at 12 of Europe’s most beautiful bridges. Some are ancient wonders, some are modern marvels. Have a look for yourself.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned next Friday for more Gadling and BootsnAll Picks of the Week!

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of September 3

Gadling LogoTime for our weekly fav’s. Want to hear em’, here they go:

5. Passport Rules Changing:

This one was just posted today, but let’s just go over it once more – know the passport rules before getting to the airport. There are some small changes like needing a passport to get into Canada and others. With the changing times there are changing passport rules. Don’t be fooled my friends.

4. Salmon Festival:
Having just discovered all the amazing wonders found in a nice succulent piece of salmon over the last two years I was reeled into this Salmon Fest piece. If you’re heading northwest this year place this on your itinerary, radar or whatever. The event takes places September 28-October 1. Be sure to send some my way.

3. Museum Day:
Free admission into museums is blog worthy. So what if it only costs you $6-$10 dollars for entrance in the first place. A savvy traveler knows the wonders on saving an extra buck or two. On September 30 save some of that dinero when some 500 museums across America will waive admission fees.

2. Sagrada Familia: Construction Update:
These are the kinds of updates you may never find in your nice little guidebooks. Thanks to Iva and her watchful eye we discover that the never ending construction on Spain’s Sagrada Familia is still going on. Has that kept it from being one of Spain’s top visited attractions? Of course not, but the updates are always welcome!

1. Lifelist: Inca Trail:

Looks like Erik is reviving the Lifelist feature and I’m more than glad. To kick it off he goes into the How, When, Where, What and Why’s of visiting the Inca Trail and why (if it already isn’t) you might want to jot it onto your own Lifelist.

Sagrada Familia: Construction Update

Who says people can´t build grand cathedrals nowadays? OK, so maybe they take a little longer to build it now, since forced labor is generally frowned upon. But, you can´t accuse them of not trying.

Barcelona has been attempting to build a cathedral-like building since 1882 and I am here in Barcelona to report today that it is still not finished. Actually, I was here last in 1993 and I really can´t see any major progress has been made since then. The new estimated date of completion of Sagrada Familia–which roughly translates as `Our Lady of Perpetual Construction,` or something like that–is 2022. That does not prevent it from being the most visited site in Spain today.

It is an impressive building and when the 170-meter central dome is finished, it should be a masterpiece.