What’s the best way to glimpse all that Barcelona has to offer when you’ve only got one day to do it? The open-top, hop-on hop-off Bus Turistic, a version of which it seems every large city has these days, is a cheap, easy, and fun way of getting yourself around the must-sees of Barcelona.
There are three routes - red, blue, and green, with 44 stops combined. If you’re not planning to hop off too often, try to get a seat upstairs where the uninterrupted view is best. During the peak summer months, these seats are especially coveted, so if it’s full upstairs, take a seat downstairs whilst you’re waiting for one upstairs to become available. You’ll get first dibs on it over others waiting at the next bus stop.
Architecture is one of the first things you notice about a new city, especially when it’s so different from your own. There’s nothing quite like walking across the stylish black marble floors at Barcelona airport, to not only make you feel slightly under-dressed, but also to welcome you to a city renowned for its elegant and distinctive architecture.
On the red route, look out for the extraordinarily ornate street lamps. They are one of the Modernista features of the Eixample District. Or enjoy tasty tapas and refreshing sangria, in the shadow of the enormous Santa Maria del Mar, a beautiful Gothic church in the Barri Gotic, on the blue route. However, if your interests lie in more contemporary architecture, a tour of the Olympic village might do more to spark your imagination. Accessible from the blue route, the venues of the 1992 Olympic Games are no less impressive almost 20 years on.
If you’d rather be on a beach than on a bus, there are enough sandpits here to satisfy even the most finicky of sun-worshippers. On the blue route in between Port Vell and Port Olimpic, are the two largest of Barcelona’s seven beaches – Barceloneta and Sant Sebastia. For a more poolside beach experience, take the green route to the Forum, and wander down to the Parc del Forum enclosed seawater bathing area. It’s a bit of a concrete jungle so the sun can be brutal, definitely not for the faint-hearted - or the prudish. Topless sunbathing and bikini thongs are normal on all Spanish beaches.
If your prefer scenic to sandy, then ride the blue bus up and over Montjuic, the hill between the city and the sea. There are ample opportunities to capture panoramic shots in almost every direction without leaving the bus.
Facing north east, La Sagrada Familia rises dramatically above anything else in the vicinity, whilst from the southern slopes, capture the uninterrupted views of the Port and the Mediterranean.
For something more breath-taking – or heart-stopping depending on how you look at it, take the Montjuic hill cable car further up the hill. Alternatively, ride the port cable car across the harbour from Montjuic down to the beach. Both provide spectacular birds eye views of Barcelona.
If you’re after something a little more indoorsy and a lot more educational, there are plenty of museums and art galleries to choose from. There are over 50 museums in Barcelona, and most within walking distance of the bus routes.
Catch the blue bus to the city’s most visited art gallery - The Picasso Museum, or the red bus to the Museu del Temple Expiatori de La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most popular museum.
For something a little different, you might find the Museu de la Xocolata more to your taste, or alternatively, the Museum of Funeral Carriages.
The great thing about shopping overseas, is that you can virtually guarantee that no-one else will be wearing that cute mini when you get back home, especially when home is on the other side of the planet. Peruse the chic, bohemian-style boutiques in the pedestrianised part of the Barri Gotic.
Or for a bit of mainstream speed shopping, hit up Barcelona’s largest retail centre - Diagonal Mar. In addition, there are numerous high end designer stores on both Passeig de Gracia and Ave Diagonal. These areas are all accessible from the bus routes.
I’ve only had one day in Barcelona, but whilst I’ve been short on time, I’ve discovered a city that I absolutely must come back to with more time up my sleeve. The hop-on hop-off Bus Turistic, is the ideal way to see as much as you want, or linger as long as you like.
BUY YOUR BARCELONA HOP ON HOP OFF BUS TICKET HERE
Story by Esma Holden
All information is published in good faith and is subject to change without warning.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia