Your Guide to Barcelona Off Season. La Sagrada Família by SBA73

Your Guide to Barcelona – Off Season

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Sea, sun, sangria, summer and even more sun is surely what comes to mind you picture when you picture Barcelona. But what about the other half of the year when the beach umbrellas are put away and things get a little quite? As the temperatures drop off so do the crowds, so if you’re happy to sacrifice a bit of warmth you can enjoy Barcelona with a bit of space.

Walk It Out

Before you do anything else, get you bearings – and a good dose of information and history along the way – with a free walking tour from the team at Runner Bean Tours.

Runner Bean offers two free walking tours daily– one of the Old Town the other covering Gaudi’s Barcelona. Their guides are a bunch of bubbly experts from all over the globe who now call Barcelona home.

Tours last 2.5 hours and while there is no cost to join tips are greatly appreciated.

Before you leave make sure to pick your guide’s brain for restaurant ideas, tips, and recommendations. Our guide Jess suggested a fantastic little place for Chocolate con Churros (more on that later).

While you’re in the walking mood make sure to take a stroll down La Rambla – a tree-lined pedestrian mall stretching 1.2kms through central Barcelona that is a must-see for any visitor to the city.

Barri Gòtic. Photo by amaianos

Barri Gòtic. Photo by amaianos

 

Book Ahead

See that queue stretching all the way around Sagrada Familiar? Yip, that’s the line just to buy tickets.

Nothing is guaranteed to put a dampener on your day then a massive wait eating into your precious time. While the queues are undoubtedly shorter in the off-season they’re still a pain to deal with.

Thankfully, however, many of Barcelona’s most popular attractions offer advance online booking. Not only will you avoid the queues when you book online, you will also save a little money on the entrance fee. Just pick a day and a time and you’re set.

The same goes for your favourite restaurants. Many eateries may run on restricted hours over the winter period so if there are any restaurants on your must-dine list check a head to see when they’re open.

 

Eat Yourself Silly

La Boqueria

Just off the famous street La Rambla, lies La Boqueria (full name Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria) – a foodie’s dream! It began life as an open-air meat market in the 13th century and today hosts an array of fresh food and ready to eat meals – everything from candy, meats, cheeses, fresh juices, sandwiches, tapas and alcohol. Bright colours, bustle, and mouth-watering smells; you could easily come back every day of your holiday and find something new to taste.  

Entrance to La Boqueria. Photo by La Boqueria

Entrance to La Boqueria. Photo by La Boqueria

Tapas at La Boqueria. Photo by Kara Segedin

Tapas at La Boqueria. Photo by Kara Segedin

Tapas at La Boqueria. Photo by Kara Segedin

Tapas at La Boqueria. Photo by Kara Segedin 

Churros con Chocolate

Not your average churros. These come served with a cappuccino cup filled with the thickest, richest hot dark chocolate you’ve ever seen. Unless you have the strongest sweet tooth, order one chocolate and two churros per couple. If you don’t want to be disappointed try Petritxol-Xocoa in the Gothic Quarter.

Churros con Chocolate from Petritxol-Xocoa. Photo by Kara Segedin

Churros con Chocolate from Petritxol-Xocoa. Photo by Kara Segedin 

Pan con Tomate

Who knew a tomato rubbed onto a piece of bread could taste so good! The essential Catalan tapa, Pan con Tomate does exactly what it says on the label – white bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled in oil and salt. So simple, so tasty. 

Pan con Tomate and a selection of tapas. Photo by Katherine Price

Pan con Tomate and a selection of tapas. Photo by Katherine Price

Patatas Bravas

Like the Spanish version of chips or French fries, but even more delicious.  Deep fried cubes of potato served with aioli and a spicy tomato sauce.

Paella

Though it originates in Valencia, thanks to Barcelona’s fresh and abundant seafood the paella dished up in this part of the country is pretty darn good. So many places serve it and everyone has a favourite so taste around and find yours!

Paella. Photo by Jeremy Keith

Paella. Photo by Jeremy Keith 

Botifarras

A staple of Catalan cuisine, the Botifarra sausage is usually grilled or barbequed, though some varieties can be eaten raw. Add a side of beans and make it a meal.

Botifarras. Photo by Evan Bench

Botifarras. Photo by Evan Bench

 

Wrap Up

The sun will most likely be shining, but don’t let that fool you – the temperature will be chilly. Bring plenty of layers and a good, light jacket.

 

Getting Around

Barcelona is a massively spread out city and you’d struggle to get very far on foot power alone if you go outside the old town area The city has an extensive public transport network which is fairly easy to navigate – especially if you’re family with other big-city systems. Depending on where you’re staying and what sites you intend to visit, it might be worth buying a travel card or multi-trip ticket. If you’re not confident to using public transport (it really isn’t that scary) or you’d like to learn a little and take in the sites as you go try the the double-decker Barcelona Bus Turístic on for size. It covers all the popular attractions and includes a audio guide. But be warned, on a cold day you might find it a little uncomfortable up top in the elements and you certainly miss out on the view if you go below.  

 

Staying

The beachfront Forum area might not be the obvious choice over winter, but during the off-season you can pick up rooms in some truly lovey hotels for a fraction of the summer price.

Year round, you’ll find staying in the heart of the city in Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter) a real treat.

 

Gaudi, Gaudi & More Gaudi

No one person has left such a permanent and visible mark on the city of Barcelona than celebrated architect Antoni Gaudí. Seven of Gaudi’s most famous works within the city – Sagrada Familia, Casa Vicens, Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, and Church of Colònia Güell – are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Be warned though, when you add up the entrance fees it’s going to get a little pricey to check out all of Gaudi’s famous sites so do your research and budget to visit a few of your favourites.

Park Güell

Originally part of an unsuccessful housing project, Park Güell attracts around 9 million visitors every year. Distractively Gaudi, the park is a brilliantly over the top collection of colour, mosaics, spires and imperfections. Park Güell was the last place where visitors could experience Gaudi’s work free of change, however in October 2013 an entrance fee, and restriction on the number of admissions, was introduced.

Buy your tickets online

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Michael

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Michael

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by M.Peinado

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by M.Peinado

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by M.Peinado

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by M.Peinado

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Seba S

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Seba S

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Kara Segedin

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Kara Segedin

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Kara Segedin

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Kara Segedin

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Kara Segedin

Park Güell, Barcelona. Photo by Kara Segedin 

Palau Güell

Set just off the bustling La Rambla, Palau Güell is a palace designed for Gaudi’s biggest patron, the entrepreneur Eusebi Güell (as you may have guessed by the name, the man behind Park Güell). One of Barcelona’s most luxurious residences, make sure you visit the roof top for the view and dozens of intriguing spires and chimneys.

Book in person or in advance over telephone or email.

Palau Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Palau Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Palau Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Palau Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Palau Güell. Photo by Barbara Eckstein

Palau Güell. Photo by Barbara Eckstein

Palau Güell. Photo by Barbara Eckstein

Palau Güell. Photo by Barbara Eckstein

Palau Güell. Photo by Katherine Price

Palau Güell. Photo by Katherine Price

Palau Güell. Photo by David Berkowitz

Palau Güell. Photo by David Berkowitz 

Casa Batlló

This privately owned residence opened to the public in 2002. A masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture, Casa Batlló is one of the most well-known of Gaudi’s works and its distinctive façade led to it begin nicknamed Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones). An audio guide is included in the admission price and offers a detailed explaintion of the main features of the house. Make sure you don’t miss the roof top area with its dragon-like waves and scales.

Buy your tickets online.

Casa Batlló. Photo by Jiashiang

Casa Batlló. Photo by Jiashiang 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Kara Segedin

Casa Batlló. Photo by Kara Segedin 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Kara Segedin

Casa Batlló. Photo by Kara Segedin 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Son of Groucho

Casa Batlló. Photo by Son of Groucho 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Vasile Cotovanu

Casa Batlló. Photo by Vasile Cotovanu 

Casa Batlló. Photo by FaceMePLS

Casa Batlló. Photo by FaceMePLS 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Cristina Valencia

Casa Batlló. Photo by Cristina Valencia 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Cristina Valencia

Casa Batlló. Photo by Cristina Valencia 

Casa Batlló. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Casa Batlló. Photo by Michela Simoncini  

La Sagrada Família

As famous for remaining unfinished for over 120 years as for its beauty, La Sagrada Família was Gaudi’s final project and arguably his most ambitious. Its 18 spires, representing the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Christ, are an unmissable sight on the Barcelona cityscape.

Buy your tickets online.

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Paul Simpson

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Paul Simpson 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Kieran Lynam

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Kieran Lynam 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by john.purvis

La Sagrada Família. Photo by john.purvis 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Drew Bates

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Drew Bates 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Drew Bates

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Drew Bates 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Drew Bates

La Sagrada Família. Photo by Drew Bates 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by The Travelista

La Sagrada Família. Photo by The Travelista 

La Sagrada Família. Photo by M.Peinado

La Sagrada Família. Photo by M.Peinado 

Casa Milà

Better known as La Pedrera (the Quarry), the innovative Casa Milà was a controversial building when it first appeared in the Barcelona’s Eixample district. With it rolling stone façade, iron embellishments and Catholic symbolism it was certainly different from everything that had gone before.

Buy your tickets online.

Casa Milà. Photo by Sébastien Bertrand

Casa Milà. Photo by Sébastien Bertrand

Casa Milà. Photo by Manuel Martín

Casa Milà. Photo by Manuel Martín

Casa Milà. Photo by Arian Zwegers

Casa Milà. Photo by Arian Zwegers 

Casa Vicens

Gaudi’s first important work, Casa Vicens was only added to the World Heritage list in 2005. The house remains a private residence and the interior isn’t open to visitors.

However, the property is currently up for sale so, who knows, it may open its doors to the public in the near future.

Casa Vicens. Photo by Richie Diesterheft

Casa Vicens. Photo by Richie Diesterheft

Casa Vicens. Photo by IK's World Trip

Casa Vicens. Photo by IK’s World Trip

Casa Vicens. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Casa Vicens. Photo by Michela Simoncini 

Church of Colònia Güell

Just 15 minutes from the centre of Barcelona, in the peaceful countryside, the Church of Colònia Güell is Gaudi’s best kept secret. Sponsored by Güell, it was planned as a place of worship for local workers and their families. Sadly however, the money ran out and only the crypt was completed.

Buy your tickets online.

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini 

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini 

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini 

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini 

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini

Church of Colònia Güell. Photo by Michela Simoncini 

 

Final Tips

  • Think about getting a Barcelona Card. You’ll get free entry into may of the city’s museums and it includes travel on all public transport.
  • Watch your valuables: Barcelona unfortunately has a high rate of pick-pocketing so it pays to be extra careful with your belongings.
  • Double check which airport you are flying into – El Prat within Barcelona and has plenty of transport links while Reus and Girona Barcelona are over an hour away by train.

 

 

 

Main Image of La Sagrada Família by SBA73

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