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Parc Güell and flowers
Flowers in bloom at Parc Güell
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If you're an outdoors-y type, Barcelona has a lot to offer visitors whether you prefer nature or sports.
A little way out of the centre of town, and hence perhaps less busy than some of the other parks listed here, the Parc del Laberint is a great place for escaping the crowds and testing yourself through the eponymous maze. See our slideshow for images and more details.
A veritable fairy-tale, Gaudí’s park is a blend of curving paths and Alice in Wonderland-like sculptures tucked amongst the gardens. Views of Barcelona from the park terrace are breathtaking, as are the mosaic tiles that cover the benches there. Gaudí lived in a house on the property that has been turned into a museum, which is open to visitors for €4. Street musicians and various performers provide frequent entertainment.
Olot, Tel. 93 219 3811, Open: 10am-sunset daily; Admission: Free; Metro: Lesseps, L3
The hills of Montjuïc provide what are arguably the best views of Barcelona; the entire city seems laid out below, while the Mediterranean Sea glitters beyond it. The gardens and sculptures are plenty, and the Magic Fountains dance to classical music. The Fundació de Joan Miró houses frequent exhibits as well as works by the artist. If you want to skip the bus at metro stop Paral·lel and brave the Plaça de Espanya trail up the hill, the open-air escalators are a big help.
Parc de Montjuïc s/n; Open: 24 hours; Admission: Free; Metro: Paral·lel, L2 / L3, then take the bus (€1.40) or funicular; Espanya: L1 / L3
Parc de la Ciutadella
A true old-fashioned park with a bandstand, the Barcelona Zoo, the National History Museum, and a lake for boating. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, picnics on the grass are a relaxing break from the tapas bars and cafes. Surprisingly spacious, street musicians and dog-walkers add a little life.
Passeig Picasso, Tel. 93 413 2400; Open: 9am-sunset daily; Admission: Free; Metro: Arc de Triomf: L1; Barceloneta: L4
Northwest of the city centre, Tibidabo rises above 532 metres high and is a mecca for tourists looking for a weekend or evening away from the throngs of the city. Transportation may sound complicated, but is simple and easily navigated. From Plaça de Catalunya, take the FGC train to Avinguda del Tibidabo station, and then the Blue Tram or Tramvia Blau to the top. Restaurants, a funfair, and a ritzy bar for an evening out await. See our slideshow to find out what you can do up on Tibidabo.
Inaugurated in 1999, the Jardí Botànic in Barcelona is located on a steep plot on Montjuïc, not far from the Lluís Companys Stadium; it features diverse collections of Mediterranean plants and aims to preserve and promote the natural heritage of Catalunya.
This is Barcelona's science museum that organises a range of temporary exhibitions. However, for those interested in nature, the appeal lies in its permanent exhibit, The Flooded Forest, a reproduction of some 1,000 square metres of Brazilian rainforest, offering both underground and overground views of all the wildlife that you might find in such an area (with more than 100 species of flora and fauna), as well as regular tropical rain showers.
Isaac Newton 26, tel. 93 212 6050; website; Open: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 8pm; open Mondays that are holidays, Easter Monday, in summer and at Christmas. Closed December 25th and January 1st and 6th. How to get there: buses - 17, 22, 58, 73, 75, 60 or 196; FGC train to station Avinguda Tibidabo, from where it is a five-minute walk up Avenida Tibidado, a steep hill, then taking the first road on the left Carrer dels Quatre Camins; if going by car, the museum offers two hours free parking with your entrance ticket. Entrance costs: general ticket - €3 , children over seven, students, large families and groups - €2, under-sevens, retirees and unemployed - free; extra charges for special activities
98,000 spectators need a grand stadium, and Camp Nou rises to the call. The passionately followed FC Barcelona has played in the stadium for 52 years, and lots of tears of joy and despair have been shed within the cavernous walls of the grounds. Hop on the guided tour to get an inside glance of the President’s Box, the players’ tunnel, and the dugouts. A club museum is also open to visitors where 100 years of FC Barcelona history is housed and hailed.
Avinguda Aristides Maillol, access 9, Les Corts, Tel. 93 496 3600/08, www.fcbarcelona.com; Open: April-mid Oct 10am-8pm Mon-Sat; 10am-2.30pm Sun; Mid Oct-March 10am-6.30pm Mon-Sat; Sun 10am-2.30pm; Admission: Guided tour - €17 for adults; €14 for kids up to 13, OAPs and students; audioguide: €5; cava and canapes: €3; Metro: Collblanc: L5; Maria Cristina L3
Museu Olímpic i de l'Esport
Situated just down the road from the Llu´s Companys stadium that was the focal point of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, on top of Montjuïc, the Olympic and Sport Museum looks at the history of the Olympic Games and the thousands of sportsmen and women who have competed in them over the years.
Avinguda de l'Estadi 60, tel. 93 292 5379; www.museuolimpicbcn.cat ; Metro: Espanya, L1 and L3, then walk up to top; Bus:55; Metro: Paral·lel L2 and L3, then Funicular to Montjuïc; Bus Turistic de Montjuïc, stop 5
Port Olímpic and Port Vell
If boats are your thing, you'll enjoy a stroll along the waterfront of either the old (Port Vell) or new (Port Olímpic), where you'll have the chance to see a wide variety of yachts. At the Olympic port, sailing classes are on offer, as is the opportunity to rent a boat yourself, if you have sailing experience, or take a trip on a crewed boat if you don't have the necessary paperwork. There are also the golondrinas, boats leaving from just next to Maremagnum at the lower part of La Rambla, which do short tours of the busy commercial port of the city as well as up the coast.
Golondrinas: www.lasgolondrinas.com. Port tours cost €6.50 for everyone over-10 and €2.60 for everyone younger than that; port and coastal tours cost €13.50 for adults, €11 for retirees and students and €5 for children 10 and younger.
Port Olímpic Sailing School: www.velabarcelona.com
Montmeló Formula 1 circuit
The Spanish Formula 1 race takes place on this track just outside Barcelona, along with Moto GP and various other vehicle races. If you want to feel like Button, Hamilton or Alonso, they offer different 'experience' packages: read here for more info; alternatively, take part in an 'Extreme Weekend' with buggies, go-karts and pocket bikes, or see how long you can stay up for one of their 24-hour events. www.circuitcat.com
How to get there:
• Autopista (Motorway) AP-7 Barcelona to Montmeló (direction Girona and France), then C-33
• Renfe train to Montmeló station and then by taxi to the track
A catamaran for 80 leaves port and provides willing sailors with views of the harbour, before crossing the bay. Jazz cruises are available at 8pm from June-Sept.
Portal de la Pau, Port de Barcelona, Tel. 93 441 0537, www.barcelona-orsom.com; Open for sailings: Mid-March to Oct, noon-8pm daily, each lasts about 1hr 20mins; Admission: Tickets are €12.50-€14.50, €6.50-€9.50 reductions, free under 4 years; Metro: Drassanes: L3
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