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Barcelona tours and excursions

Barcelona tours

Walking tours

The Barcelona Tourist Office runs four walking tours that circle around various themes, such as gourmet, gothic and Picasso. One interesting walk worth checking out is ‘La Ruta del Modernisme', which takes you through the works of world-famous architects who made Barcelona the world capital of Modernisme. Several sites on this self-guided walking tour are not usually open to the general public.

Tel: +34 93 317 7652 ; +34 93 285 3834.
Website: http://www.rutadelmodernisme.com

Boat tours

Las Golondrinas offer several boat trips around the harbour and along the coast. These depart daily from Port Olímpic. A round trip around the harbour takes approximately 35 minutes, while catamaran trips along the coasts last 1 hour 30minutes. Energetic visitors can opt for a one-way ticket and walk the 4km (2 miles) back to Barceloneta from the breakwater.

Tel: +34 934 423 106.
Website: http://www.lasgolondrinas.com

Barcelona excursions

Figueres and Girona

Two hours away from Barcelona are the medieval cities of Figueres and Girona. You can easily combine them in a day trip, with trains from Barcelona serving both cities on one route. As the birthplace of world-renowned artist Salvador Dali, Figueres is home to the impressive Dalí Theatre and Museum. Designed by Dalí himself in 1960, it now houses the world’s most extensive collection of Dalí’s artwork, as well as his remains.

Enroute back to Barcelona, take a few hours to wander around Girona’s medieval fortified walls, linger by its river’s edge or visit the town’s two gothic cathedrals and the old Jewish quarter.

Tel: +34 97 241 9010.
Website: http://www.girona.cat

Montserrat

Poised 1,219m (4,000ft) above the outskirts of Barcelona, the Montserrat Monastery has been a major pilgrimage destination for centuries. Numerous miracles have supposedly happened here, centred on the icon of La Moreneta (Black Virgin). There are numerous hermitages and caves tucked within the mountains, which can be reached on foot via a network of hiking paths. The Montserrat Museum features paintings by masters such as El Greco, Caravaggio and Picasso.

Located 60km (37 miles) to the northwest of Barcelona, Montserrat can be reached on FCC trains departing hourly from Espanya station. The scenic view along the cable car up to the mountaintop monastery itself is worth the journey.

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City Highlight: Barcelona

Ask anyone who has been to Barcelona about the city and you are likely to get a big smile and hear the so-clichéd-but-so-true words, “I love Barcelona!”

Featured Hotels

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El Palace Hotel

Despite changes of name and management, El Palace Hotel (formerly the Ritz) has maintained all the elegance and grandeur that has made it a by-word for glamour since its opening in 1919. Huge chandeliers, opulent fabrics and a luxurious ambience throughout make it the preferred choice of the rich and famous. The bedrooms are handsomely decorated, with unusual marble bathrooms modelled on ancient Roman spas. The Bluesman Cocktail Bar is ideal for pre-prandial drinks followed by dinner in one of the two restaurants.

Hotel España

Designed by one of the leading lights of the Modernista school of architects, Domenèch i Muntaner, and once patronised by the likes of Dalí, the 2-star España enjoys a privileged location close to La Rambla and the Liceu. Some rooms are better than others, but major compensations include Ramón Casa's striking mural depicting underwater scenes and the elaborate craftsmanship in the splendid typical Catalan dining rooms. The 90 bedrooms are fully equipped; private rooms and a patio garden for meetings and celebrations are also available. It is also one of the few central establishments with parking facilities.

Hotel Praktik Garden

With affordable rates and quality accommodation, Hotel Praktik Garden introduces a new concept midway between a budget hostel and a contemporary hotel. Decked out in white-washed walls, slick lines and retro furnishing, this Barcelona hotel provides the technology and comforts budget travellers look for. Housed in a historical building from the Modernist age, the hotel stands in a quiet area, five minutes away from the city centre by foot. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms and public areas.

Hotel Peninsular

Located in a narrow street near the Liceu opera house and built on the site of a former convent, the Peninsular is one of the oldest hotels in Barcelona. Rooms are simple and clean, although not all have their own bathroom facilities. Full of interesting architectural detail, such as the dining room's Moorish-inspired arches, the real pièce de résistance is the wonderful interior balcony. Adorned with hanging plants and wicker tables and chairs, it has a serene, almost oriental atmosphere. Booking well in advance (approximately three months) is usually necessary.

El Jardí Hotel

This small-scale, 2-star hotel is a perennially popular budget option, full of character and original features. Located in the busy hub of Barcelona's old quarter, attractions are within short walking distance. Overlooking the shady, café-lined Plaça Sant Josep Oriols and the classic gothic architecture of the medieval church of Santa Maria del Pi, the Jardí is pretty much unbeatable in terms of price and location. All rooms are en-suite.

Oriente Atiram

Situated on the bustling thoroughfare of La Rambla, the 3-star Husa Oriente is one of Barcelona's original 'grand' hotels. Constructed on the site of a Franciscan monastery, in 1842, the 147-room hotel was once the haunt of illustrious guests such as Maria Callas, Arturo Toscanini and Errol Flynn among its illustrious guests. Although recent renovations are perhaps a tad characterless, the grand dining room and arched ballroom (now a lounge) are still potently redolent of its glorious heyday.