The list goes on, and on of Barcelona’s many attractions. You can even add the Spanish city’s street lights to that list for they appear like works of art, dangling in the same fashion as earrings.
Barcelona is not short on things to see and do. However, for the first timer, the city can seem daunting with so much on the agenda.
Last summer, I felt a tad overwhelmed by Barcelona for the first time. I quickly found the city is not to be overwhelming, but rather embraced slowly and subtly.
If you are visiting Barcelona for the first time this summer, don’t miss these slower travel experiences.
Park yourself in Parc de la Ciutadella—Right in the center of the city, Parc de la Ciutadella is almost a different world. Enter the grand park through the red Arc de Triomf and you can start counting the ways you will love this space by the park benches. What seems like hundreds of perfect perching benches can be found in one of Barcelona’s main green spaces. Originally a fort built by Felipe V after the War of the Spanish Succession, the space received a facelift by the 19th century. Don’t forget to marvel at the Cascada, a dramatic fountain with mermaid-tail colored waters. With the help of Antoni Gaudí and a little inspiration from Rome’s Trevi Fountain, you can thank Josep Fontsére for its compelling design. Parc de la Ciutadella also throws in an assortment of activities such as row boating and the city’s zoo.
Visit during a summer festival—If there is one thing Barcelona does well it is having a good time. You can’t walk far without hearing music or some sort of action taking place. If you are lucky, you just might stumble upon one of the city’s festivals. Some of the neighborhoods of Barcelona will put on their own shows, like the Gracia neighborhood does in August. The Gracia Festival calls for each street to create a work of art, composed of whatever locals can get their hands on from Legos to wood chips. For a few days in August’s heat, you can wander these streets enjoying song, dance, drinks and street art composed by the locals themselves. If you don’t make it for Gracia’s good time in August, there is bound to be some festivities on every street corner in Barcelona.
See the work in progress La Sagrada Familia—When most think of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia no doubt comes to mind. While I have heard mixed opinions on going inside the church, get to Barcelona to see one of the few tourist attractions that is still a work in progress. Watch history in the making as cranes continue to work despite the crowds snaking outside. Those first moves of construction on this Gaudi designed structure began on March 19, 1882. For over a hundred years, this intended symbol of faith is just a giant sandcastle to some, but well worth seeing just for its endearing unfinished quality.
Get sand in your toes but not in your tapas in Barceloneta—After a long day of sightseeing, it might be time to cool off on one of Barcelona’s beaches. The main area surrounding Barcelona’s connection to the Mediterranean is Barceloneta. If you want to people watch, this is the place to be to marvel different definitions of “beach chic”. After strolling the promenade, duck in for tapas at an eatery on one of Barceloneta’s lonely and quiet corners. A local haunt is no doubt lurking.
Flickr: Bert Kaufmann
What experiences do you recommend to Barcelona first timers?