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Gaudí greatnessOne of the main draws of staying in this area is the proximity of two of Gaudí's best known works. Pictured here is perhaps his most famous and iconic building, La Pedrera, but also not to be missed is the Casa Batlló. Both situated on the prestigious Passeig de Gràcia, they are a must for all visitors to the city.
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Tourist TownAs it's the centre of the city, this area attracts crowds of tourists all year round. With these come cut-price restaurants on the look-out for diners, and touting tour-guides. These will be a positive or negative aspect to the area, depending on your viewpoint and needs, but are an inescapable fact of any popular major city.
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PitstopAll of the major tour bus providers stop in Plaça Catalunya, heading in different directions around the city. With the advantage of tickets where you can jump on and off when you spot something interesting en route and all-encompassing circuits, they are a great (but not necessary cheap) way to get to know the city if you're short of time.
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Restaurant routeCutting up from Plaça Catalunya through the Eixample district is the leafy, lime-tree-lined and pedestrianised Rambla de Catalunya. With a huge variety of restaurants that offer excellent outdoor dining as well as diverse shopping options, this famous avenue is worth a meandering stroll up and down.
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Passeig de GràciaRegarded as one of the most prestigious and expensive avenues in Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia has come a long way since its initial existence as a rural road surrounded by gardens leading to the once independent town of Gràcia (now a Barcelona neighbourhood). With a plethora of historically important buildings and architecture, even the street lights and benches are impressive.
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Luxury shoppingIf you have the money then it's worth visiting the numerous designer shops that line the length of Passeig de Gràcia. Even if you haven't been blessed with the bank balance required to actually enter the likes of Gucci, Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, they can make for a fun, albeit envy-filled, window shopping experience.
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Plaça CatalunyaSituated in the centre of the city, this impressive square is where the old and new town meet. Many of the main streets of Barcelona converge here, including the famous Rambla. With an area of around 50,000 square feet, it's filled with fountains and sculptures.
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PigeonsThey are an unavoidable presence in this area of town and collect en-masse in Plaça Catalunya, where it's become popular to buy food to give them. It isn't an uncommon sight to see tourists becoming human bird posts when feeding them. If you're at all bothered by these birds, it might be best to avoid the centre of Plaça Catalunya.
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Transport hubOne of the advantages of this area is its enviable access to all parts of the city. With some of the biggest metro stations, many bus stops and numerous taxi ranks, it's the most well-connected area for getting from A to B. Tourists can also take advantage of the Aerobús connection that runs frequently to and from the airport.
Passeig de Gràcia
The main street in the classy and upscale Eixample district, where high-end designer names like Chanel, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo and Hermes abound. Perhaps best known for housing Gaudí’s Modernist creations, Casa Battló and the famous Casa Milà, fondly known as La Pedrera, which is open for daily tours. Multiple retail chains like Zara and H&M can be found as well as mid-priced classics like Esprit and United Colors of Benetton. Plenty of restaurants line the street, and if you continue the walk you will wind up at Plaça Catalunya, a park-like plaça that leads to La Rambla.
Metro: Passeig de Gràcia: L2, L3 and L4; and Diagonal: L3
A quieter, slightly greener version of Passeig de Gràcia, thanks to the tree-lined streets, this is a pleasant stroll for those looking for high-fashion names and Spanish luxury brands. The fact that it runs parallel with Passeig de Gràcia makes it easy to go back and forth between the two for an excellent shopping extravaganza or just a bit of window cruising amongst the impressive Modernista (Art Nouveau period) buildings.
Metro: Catalunya: L1 or L3; Passeig de Gràcia: L2, L3 and L4
Formally titled Casa Milà, this architectural wonder by Gaudí is a must see, even if you skip the official tour and just gaze in awe at the soft lines and oceanic like theme of this 1912 building. La Pedrera means ‘stone quarry’, and this is the nickname it was disdainfully given by city residents in its early years. Now it’s a well-known and well-loved symbol of the city and of the daring and imaginative Gaudí. Tours are available for all three floors, including the main floor art gallery and giftshop, as well as the rooftop garden.
Passeig de Gràcia 92, Tel. 93 484 5900, www.caixacatalunya.cat/obrasocial
Open: Dec-Jan, 9am-6.30pm daily; Feb-Nov, 9am-8pm daily
Admission: €8, free for under-12s
Metro: Diagonal: L3