Parc Güell (Güell Park)#1 in Best Things To Do in Barcelona
Antoni Gaudí's Parc Güell is as whimsical as parks can get. The park was originally supposed to be a housing community for the rich, commissioned by Eusebi Güell. Güell hired Gaudí but the project eventually folded due to the land's incompatible building conditions. Gaudí continued on, modeling the park after gardens he had seen in England (Güell means English in Catalan) and building around the natural elements of the land instead of tearing them down.
Today's park covers 42 acres of space and features everyday park props with a twist that is quintessentially Gaudí. Instead of numerous benches spread throughout, here visitors will be greeted with one long, wavy stone bench adorned with vibrant mosaics and equipped with views of the ocean. And instead of drab administrative buildings, the welcome centers here (which house park souvenirs and learning materials on Gaudí and the park) look like buildings you'd see in a Dr. Seuss book. You'll also find plenty of picturesque pathways that weave along verdant vegetation, down cascading tiled staircases and through jagged stone columns and tunnels. While you're here, don't miss the chance to see the Sala Hipóstila. Located right at the entrance, the Sala Hipóstila was originally intended to be a marketplace. Today it serves as nothing more than to dazzle visitors with its stately stone columns and beautiful mosaic works, which you'll find dotted all over the ceiling. Other popular attractions here include the Casa Museu Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum), Gaudí's former home turned museum, and Turó de les Tres Creus, a lookout point with pretty impressive views of the city situated in the southwestern point of the park.
Travelers found Parc Güell to be a lovely place to spend a sunny day in Barcelona. Visitors loved the beautiful architecture of the park and how it seamlessly weaved into its natural surroundings. Some strongly suggested taking part in a guided tour to better understand the history and architectural detail of the park (guided tours are available at the park with the purchase of a guided tour ticket). Others also recommended taking time to explore the trails Park Güell has to offer, but make sure to come prepared. Being built on a hill, trails feature steep inclines and unpaved pathways. And keep in mind that since this is one of Barcelona's most popular attractions, there will seldom be a time when there isn't crowds. In fact, according to the Barcelona Tourism board, only 2.4 percent of Barcelona residents visit the park. The rest are national and international tourists.
Parc Güell is open every day, but hours vary depending on the season. There is a cost to enter the park. Tickets are 7 euros ($8) online and 8 euros (about $9.50) at the park. Reduced fares are available for children and seniors. Some visitors complained of not being able to be admitted to the park the day they arrived due to capacity restrictions, so getting a ticket in advance online is advised, especially if you're short on time. To get to the front entrance of the park, hop off at the Alfons X metro station. If you want to start at the top of the park and make your way down, get off at the Vallcarca stop. Keep in mind that there are no metro stations just a couple blocks away from the park. Vallcarca is a half a mile west and Alfons X is nearly a mile southeast. For more information, visit Parc Güell's website.
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#2 Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market)
Even if you're not keen on visiting the touristy Las Ramblas, make the trek to the thoroughfare only for it to lead you to the foodie heaven that is the Boqueria Market. The Boqueria Market is Barcelona's first local market, having opened in 1840. But its foodie history spans much earlier than that. The first food peddlers were said to have been around as early as the 13th century selling meat on the streets. The market you see today wasn't around back then, it took four years to construct once Saint Joseph's convent left the area (hence the name of the market).
Today that tradition of hawking goodies lives on, and the covered marketplace treats visitors to the vibrant colors and enticing aromas of everything from fruit juices and wines to fresh fish, meats, produce and desserts. Make sure to grab Spanish specialties while you're there, including jamón ibérico, manchego cheese and salted cod (or bacalao). What's more, bars and restaurants can be found in and around the market, so food options truly abound here.
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