Barcelona is an excellent city to explore and it lends itself particularly well to walking, as there are so many fascinating routes you can take to learn more about its history and culture. I also think an added bonus of walking is that it’s free, so it’s ideal if you need to keep an eye on your spending.
I’m going to take a look at a few potential itineraries you can follow while you’re in Barcelona – if you’d like more information about organising practicalities like accommodation, Hotelopia.com is a good place to go.
Stroll along La Rambla
La Rambla is a 1.2 km-long street that’s something of a Barcelona landmark. This tree-lined boulevard will lead you past a variety of shops, as well as a few of the city’s stunning buildings. You don’t need to spend money as you’re wandering, though – the best part about a walk on La Rambla is soaking up all the colours, sounds, sights and smells as you go.
Florists provide a dash of colour and a delightful fragrance as you pass, while you can see (and taste) a host of delicious Spanish produce and specialities in the famous Boqueria Market. Make sure you stop to admire the striking architecture of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, which regularly hosts world-class operatic performances.
When you reach Pla de l’Os, look beneath your feet as you’ll find a huge, vibrant mosaic that was created by one of Barcelona’s most famous artists – Joan Miro.
Step back in time in the Barri Gotic
Barri Gotic – or the Gothic quarter – is located where the centre of the original Roman city once stood. There are countless historical buildings in Barcelona, so you can’t explore them all in one go, but you’ll get a good overview of the city’s early history if you head to this quarter of its bustling centre.
I love the maze of narrow alleys here, as you never know what you’ll find around the next corner – maybe the remains of a Roman temple (like the columns of the temple of Augustus) or possibly ornate and beautiful buildings that were once the home of royalty (such as the houses that line Placa del Rei).
There are some amazing churches tucked away in this district too, like Santa Maria del Pi, and if you venture into the old Jewish quarter you can still find the remains of its ancient synagogue.
Walk through modern Barcelona
The other brilliant thing about Barcelona is that it’s got just as many gems of modern architecture as it does old treasures. The modernista movement started in the city and, as you’d expect, there are numerous examples of this kind of architecture here.
You’ll notice buildings in this style dotted throughout the streets, but for several in one place, make your way to Eixample’s Quadrat d’Or. Eixample was developed in the 19th century and one of the first things you’ll notice is that its layout is much more uniform and grid-like than the rambling alleys of the Gothic quarter and other old parts of the city.
If you’re not quite sure what modernista architecture is, think ornate balconies, intricate stone carvings, colourful tiles and opulent designs. Among the architects who created buildings in this style were Gaudi, Puig i Cadafalch and Domenech i Montaner.
Wealthy families used Eixample as a way to showcase their prowess in the community, each commissioning more fabulous homes than the next person. The best collection of these is on Quadrat d’Or.
What’s also great about exploring here on foot is that you’re just a short walk from the spectacular Sagrada Familia cathedral – one of Gaudi’s most famous and impressive works.
Basically anywhere you walk in Barcelona, you’ll come across something great! Get your shoes, get your map and you’re good to go.