The Best of Barcelona
When cruising from this popular port city, close the guidebooks and let a local lead the way.
By Sally Davies
A resident of Barcelona since 2001, I have left no stone unturned in the quest for the perfect café con leche, the fluffiest tortilla, the bar with the longest hours, and the most eccentric festival. I have assiduously reported these findings, and many more, for Time Out, Lonely Planet, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and now, with Porthole Cruise Magazine readers who have Barcelona on their travel list.
Most tourists head straight for La Rambla, the mile-long boulevard that runs from the port to the Plaça Catalunya. During peak times, you might find yourself elbowing through souvenirs hawkers, cardsharps, pickpockets, and bow-tied waiters thrusting multilingual laminated menus at you. However, it still has a certain elegance if you stroll along it first thing in the morning, before the crowds arrive. Other major attractions —the Museu Picasso, the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, and so on — attract ridiculously long queues, which can be avoided by booking online in advance.
Off the Beaten Path
Most visitors head for Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, but head a couple of blocks north for another dazzling example of Modernisme: a former hospital converted into the cultural and artistic hub of Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. Barcelona is also blessed with a number of uniquely quirky museums, such as the Museu Frederic Marès, in which each room houses a fantastically niche collection such as of keys, ladies’ fans, and….
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Photo: Scenicireland.com/Christopher Hill Photographic/Alamy