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At the Parc Cervantes
While the centre of Barcelona has much to offer tourists, don't miss out on the places that need a bit effort to get to—they're well worth it
A must see for young football fans. Ninety-eight thousand 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. On the guided tour you 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
Monestir de Pedralbes
This Gothic-style convent was founded in 1326 by Queen Elisenda de Montcada, who is buried in its chapel. You can see the tiny cloisters that nuns of the Order of Saint Claire lived in, right up to 1983, when the museum was opened and a new convent was built adjacent to the historic building for the sisters to move into. This is a true haven of peace in the city, which has been well-restored and maintained, with its cobble street entranceway, and has just-about-enough historical detail without overwhelming visitors with religious paraphernalia.
Baixada del Monestir, 9, tel. 93 256 3434
Open: From October 1st to March 31st—Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 2pm; from April 1st to September 30th, from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm; all year—Sundays from 10am to 8pm; public holidays from 10am to 3pm; Mondays closed. Also closed January 1st, May 1st, Good Friday, June 24th and December 25th. Admission: General - €6 (combined ticket with City History Museum), concessions - €4, free for under-16s, holders of the senior citizen Tarjeta Rosa, free for all on first Sunday of month. FGC: Reina Elisenda (U6); bus: 22, 63, 64, 78 (and 75, weekdays during term time).
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 Parallel and brave the Plaza de Espanya trail up the hill, the open-air escalators are a big help.
Parc de Montjüic s/n
Open: 24 hours. Admission: Free. Metro: Parallel, L2 / L3, then take the funicular; Espanya—L1 / L3, then walk up or take a bus
La Sagrada Familia
Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral is one of the most famous sites in Barcelona and a landmark of modernist architecture. The cathedral is open for tours, and has a projected completion date beyond 2026. Be sure to visit each side of the cathedral’s façade, as each is vastly different from the next. Tours are also available, including a lift ride to the cathedral spires.
Mallorca 401, Tel. 93 207 3031, www.sagradafamilia.org
Open: Mar-Sept 9am-8pm daily and Oct-Feb 9am-6pm. Admission: general - €12; reductions - €10-11 ; free for under-10s, disabled visitors + 1 companion; spire lift - €2.50; audioguides - €4. Metro: Sagrada Familia—L2 or L5
The Avinguda Diagonal is basically a motorway running through the city. However, horticultural fans should brave the concrete highway, the modern office blocks and university students present on the north-east section of the road (or just hop on the metro) to visit the Parque de Cervantes, Barcelona's shrine to the rose. If you happen to be here at the start of May each year, the park is a great destination for the three-day Rose Festival held in the park, when blooms of all shapes, sizes, colours and fragrances are planted. But, it's still worth a journey any time between spring and early autumn, when some 10,000 roses (made up of 2,000 different species and varieties) can be enjoyed by visitors—in May and June, there can be up to 150,000 blooms open, filling the five hectares of the park with fabulous colour and floral scents.
Open: 10am to sunset. Metro: Zona Universitaria—L3
Please note, dogs are not allowed in the park
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
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 (see below), but is simple and easily navigated, and worth the effort: restaurants, a funfair, and a ritzy bar for evening tipplers await.
From Plaça de Catalunya, take the FGC train to Avinguda del Tibidabo station, and then the Blue Tram or Tramvia Blau (€2.80 one-way; €4.30 return; buy tickets on board) to the midway point where you'll find restaurants and bars. From there, a funicular (€4) will take you up to the funfair.
Funfair prices: Entrance is €25 for adults and €9 for children bewteen 90 and 120cm; for those smaller than 90cm, it's free