The Best Ways to Explore Barcelona

Barcelona is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations offering numerous things to see and do, from UNESCO World Heritage Sites to the incredible masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi. It can be hard to plan that perfect itinerary given the numerous things to see and do in the city. Add to that the fact that Barcelona is a fairly big city. If you need help planning your trip, here are some of the best ways to explore Barcelona.

#1 – Take a Cable Car Ride

Montjuïc Cable Car and the Port Cable Car
Montjuïc Cable Car and the Port Cable Car

One of the best ways to admire Barcelona’s natural beauty is to take a cable car ride. You can take two cable cars in the city, the Montjuïc Cable Car and the Port Cable Car. Both allow you to marvel at the city’s stunning bird eye view of the city.

The Montjuïc Cable Car takes you on a scenic journey towards Barcelona’s most historic Montjuic castle. Enjoy panoramic views from the comfort of your cable car cabin, with enough space for eight passengers. To get to the Montjuïc cable car station, take the funicular at Parallel metro station. Relax as the cable car glides above the treetops at a vertical distance of a hundred metres. While the views throughout the ride are breathtaking, you’ll find several incredible viewpoints once you get to Mount Montjuïc.

Another cable car in Barcelona is the Port Cable Car, also called the aerial tramway. It was established in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exposition and inaugurated in 1931. Also called the Telefèric del Port, the Port Cable Car crosses through the old harbour of Barcelona known as the Port Vell. The ride is about 1.3 km long and travels to an altitude of 57 metres.

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#2 – Stroll around the Gothic Quarter

Stroll around the Gothic Quarter
Stroll around the Gothic Quarter

Also called Barrio Gotico, the Gothic Quarter is the vibrant heart of Barcelona’s historic district. It’s an area you should explore on your visit to Barcelona, offering a delightful blend of culture, history, and architectural marvels.

The Gothic Quarter is a mysterious and evocative place, and a stroll through its labyrinth maze of narrow streets winding between historic stone buildings linking the picturesque squares is a feast for the senses. You’ll come across stunning mediaeval monuments, fascinating Roman ruins, and historic churches. There’s no shortage of things to explore in this bustling neighbourhood.

The Gothic Quarter sits between Via Laietana and La Rambla. You can take the metro, get down at Liceu or Jaume I Station. Try to bring a paper map, as it’s sometimes difficult to get GPS signals. Some attractions not to miss in the Gothic Quarter include the Barcelona Cathedral, Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, Picasso Museum, and the Placa Reial. Near the Placa Reial is a bustling pedestrianised hangout spot, perfect for relaxing and trying out tapas at the delightful tapas bars.

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#3 – Join a Wine Tour

Catalan's wine culture
Catalan’s wine culture

Whether you love crisp and sparkling cava or the full-bodied Rioja, Barcelona is an incredible place to discover delectable Spanish wine. The city has several fantastic wine bars and centuries-old bodegas to enjoy authentic vino. But if you want to learn more about Catalan’s wine culture, consider joining a wine tour.

A wine tour in Barcelona can also include fun and informative wine tastings. It’s perfect for wine connoisseurs looking to cultivate their knowledge of Spanish wine. Your wine tour of Barcelona will take you outside the city to visit some of the country’s most scenic vineyards. A vineyard tour is a must for wine lovers, where you escape the city’s bustling streets and travel to the stunning Catalan countryside. Most of the vineyards are less than an hour away from the city.

If you don’t want to leave the city, you can join wine and cava tours in Barcelona that will take you to areas historic neighbourhoods, led by a local wine expert. It’s an incredible way to visit the best wine bar in the city and sample the tastiest vino paired with mouth-watering tapas. The enjoyable evening tour will take you to off-the-beaten paths, where there are family-run bodegas that many tourists may not know of their existence. Along the way, you will learn about Spain’s fascinating history of winemaking, allowing for an even more insightful experience.

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#4 – Wander the Food Markets

La Boqueria
La Boqueria

No trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting its bustling local markets, especially for hardcore foodies wanting to discover the city’s incredible dining scene. As you wander around, delight yourself in the smell of the freshest seafood and exotic fruits you have probably never seen before. Marvel at the sight of colourful vegetables and fruits and satisfy your cravings for Catalan specialities, from the sumptuous escalivada to mouth-watering tapas.

Of all the markets in Barcelona, La Boqueria is the most popular. Locals and visitors love its bustling atmosphere, where hundreds of stalls display a range of fresh veggies, fruits, and the freshest seafood. It also has several tapas bars, where you can take a break for some snacks. Aside from being a popular tourist attraction, La Boqueria is where locals and the city’s chefs would visit to shop for the freshest produce and meat.

If you prefer a quieter and less touristy option, visit Santa Caterina Market. It’s close to the Cathedral of Barcelona, and a must-stop on your visit to the famous church. It’s where you’ll find a good selection of fruit and veggies, although the building is enough reason to visit. You’ll love its colourful rooftop designed by famous Catalan architect Enric Miralles.

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#5 – Go Hiking up Montjuic

Montjuic the Jewish Mountain in Catalan
Montjuic the Jewish Mountain in Catalan

Montjuic means “Jewish Mountain” in Catalan. It’s a place of fascinating history where you can enjoy 360-degree panoramic city views. Often an overlooked attraction in Barcelona, Montjuic is a must-visit, especially for avid hikers.

The walk to Montjuic Mountain should take around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your pace. Also, you may need to stop several times to admire the breathtaking views.

If you plan on hiking Montjuic, begin your journey from the funicular station and head up towards the park, passing through a winding footpath to reach the summit. It can be steep in some parts, so take your time and take rest stops.

Clair Ricketts