Top things to do in Barcelona

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Barcelona. This is a city I’ve spent the most amount of time in, not counting my home town or my University city. What I mean is, while travelling. While travelling, Barcelona is the city I’ve spent the most amount of time in. I’ve been here almost 10 months, and to me, that’s a bit too long. I’m definitely ready to leave.
But of course, I can’t leave before providing my top tips for backpackers in Barcelona. So this following post is post that is inspired by an article I read a while ago about Melbourne (also a place I’ve spent a significant amount of time) http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/may/18/48-hours-in-melbourne-what-to-do-where-to-go

How to get to Barcelona.
If you arrive at Barcelona airport, you will have no problems getting to the centre. There is a train that runs every half hour and stops at various stations along the way, and then at a few in the centre. It continues on to some place else, the name of which I’ve never paid much attention to. From any of these stations in the centre, you will be able to get a metro to almost anywhere you need to go. The metro system here in Barcelona is a fantastic network with lots of coverage. Check out one of my recent posts for more transport information in Barcelona- https://karensdestinationunknown.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/summer-photo-challenge-week-2/

If you arrive in Barcelona’s main train station- Sants, you will also find an array of local trains to get you to your destination. Failing that, the station is connected with two metro lines- Lines 3 and 5. Again, see the link above for more public transport information.

What to do when you get here.
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There is a multitude of things to do here in Barcelona. Of course, there is the famous unfinished Sagrada Familia, the Camp Nou football ground you can do a tour of, or just pick up a ticket for one of the matches. I have seen tickets being sold in kiosks on La Ramblas. There is also that- one of the main tourist passages in Barcelona, on which you will find la Boqueria market. There is also the famous Parc Guell, designed by Gaudí as a playground for the rich back in the day. And if, after all of that you still haven’t had enough of Gaudí, there is La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, both situated on Passeig de Gracia.
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We have the famous Montjuic too which has Olympic facilities on it, from the 1992 Olympic Games, I think!
If you’re here any time between late March and early October, there is also the beach too. Barcelona has an array of beaches, including at least one nudist beach that I know of. But the most popular tourist beach is Barcelonetta. In the summer months Barcelonetta is full of tourists.
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Of course, all of the above is very well known to tourists. Or at least to tourists who follow guide books (yes, sometimes I do that too, and that’s OK.)

Are there any hidden gems?
Why yes of course. I love uncovering hidden gems. And especially in a city so over run with tourists, I would definitely prefer to stay off the main tourist trail at times. So this is the Barcelona I have discovered.
Knowing so many locals, I’ve picked up a lot of tips. In the centre there is the Cathedral. This is different to the Sagrada Familia (I once overheard some tourists pointing out the Sagrada Familia and referring to it as the Cathedral. So very wrong.)

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The Cathedral is in the heart of the old town. The old town was once called Barcino, and there are still some of the old town walls you can spot near the Cathedral. Just off Placa Sant Jaume there are also some old roman ruins- the Temple of Augustus. I’m unsure in which street it is, it definitely one of the more hidden places in Barcelona.
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Staying in the centre, if you need a quick beverage stop, there is a nice little bar tucked away at the bottom of the La Ramblas. It’s named El bosc de las fades. To get there- find the wax museum on La Ramblas, and walk into the little hidden square, turn right, and it’s just there. It is a bar with an experience-  it’s like entering an enchanted forest with trees and wooden tables and a magical waterfall. It is definitely worth a visit. And for a city centre bar it is very reasonably priced.
Staying central, and on the food and drink theme, Alsur café is a great place for food- be it breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner. Again a reasonably priced place for a city centre establishment. Located on Placa de Sant Cugat. Every time I go there I need to use the maps function on my phone to find it.

Not far from my favourite restaurant is what I would call a dream world. Museu de la Xocolata- the chocolate museum of course. Where else would a chocoholic hang out? Entrance tickets cost 5 Euros, and your ticket is a bar of chocolate. Delicious 🙂
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Moving away from the city centre, a fairly well-known place, especially to the locals, is the Bunkers in Carmel. When I ventured up there, I went through the Guinardo neighbourhood to get there. The Bunkers are up some hills, but when you get up there the reward of the spectacular views of the city, both sides, is worth the climb.
Staying in that general area of the city, but even further away from the centre, there is Laberinto de Horta. It’s a maze. And a beautiful one at that. To get there, take the metro line 3 to Mundet, and it’s just a short walk from there. Be careful- there is every chance you could get lost in the maze.
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There is also a little story connected to the maze too- it is said that if one goes there with ones partner, and you both enter the maze at opposite ends then find each other in the middle, it is a romance that will last, true love.

Any other tips for Barcelona?
Look out for pickpocketers. They have their ways and means of getting their hands on your valuables, and tend to be around the especially touristy areas as well as the metros.
On a positive note- don’t forget to try out some of the local delicacies, such as bread and tomato, patatas brava, and as a sweet treat Crema Catalana is nice. There is also a plethora of ice-creameries dotted in and around the city.

So, that’s all from Barcelona, it’s been an interesting ten months here, I’ve learnt a lot, not just regarding the Catalan and Castellano languages, not just regarding the way of life here in Catalonia, but also about myself. This whole experience over the past ten months has taught me so much, but now, it’s time to move on to somewhere new!

Happy travels 🙂

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