Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Tips on travelling to Barcelona from Tendelle Sheu


Tendelle grew up in both the US and Taiwan. She worked a couple of years in New York as a management consultant before deciding to join the tourism industry. She now calls Barcelona home and works at a food tourism company, Foodie&Tours, which aims to find the best gastronomic experiences in Spain and beyond.


For some suggestions on gourmet tours in Barcelona check out www.foodieandtours.com

How well do you know Barcelona?

I have been living in Barcelona for the past year and I have to say it is my favourite city in the world. I work in food tourism and I am also doing an advanced degree in tourism innovation, so I spend a good chunk of my time around town getting to know both the more popular tourist attractions and the off the beaten track experiences.

Why should I visit Barcelona?

I can make a list of a hundred reasons, but here are three:

The amazing architecture. When you are walking around Barcelona, always remember to look up. There are beautiful gothic and modernist buildings everywhere around the city.

The mild Mediterranean climate and having access both to the mountains and the beach, all within the bounds of the city.

And the food! Whether you are a Michelin-star hunting foodie or budget traveller, there is something here for everyone. The healthy Mediterranean diet combined with the fame of Barcelona for eating well ensures that you get to try the spectacular local cuisine while not having to worry too much about your waistline.

When is the best time of year to visit Barcelona?

As a metropolitan city with a mild climate all year, you should not run out of things to do no matter when you come. However, personally my favourite months are May, June, September, and October. In these months, it is warm enough to go to the beach or sit out on restaurant terraces, but not quite as hot and crowded with visitors as it is in the summer months.

Where would you send a first-time visitor?

The Sagrada Familia, Montjuic Mountain, and the historic centre are the typical must-sees within the city. However, I would suggest that if you have time, you take a couple of excursions out of Barcelona to really get to know what the region has to offer. A day trip to Montserrat Mountain for hiking and sightseeing is highly recommended; the beauty of the legendary mountain is well worth the trip. If you like wine, there are vineyards and wineries at a short distance from Barcelona where you can spend the day. Alella is my favourite wine region. It is only half an hour away from Barcelona and its vineyards have phenomenal views to the Mediterranean Sea.

How long should I spend in Barcelona?

At a bare minimum, three days in the city. I would add two or three more days to take some excursions from the city.

What do I need to pack for a trip to Barcelona?

If you are coming in the summer months, pack lots of sunscreen. In the winter, a warm coat is necessary. In the spring and autumn months, bring a light jacket. In all seasons bring your walking shoes!

Are there any places that are overrated, or best avoided?

Barcelona is getting more and more popular with tourists year after year. While this is great, it also means that parts of it are saturated with visitors. The famous Ramblas Street, for example, is a street to visit once on your trip but otherwise to avoid. Whatever you do, do not eat the overpriced and touristy food there! The beaches of Barcelona, though convenient, are very crowded in the summer months. If you are looking for a more relaxed beach, hop on the regional rail a short distance to a neighbouring town, like Badalona or Sitges, for nice and spacious beaches.

How safe is Barcelona?

Barcelona is a safe city. Muggings very rarely happen. The worst that can happen to you is to get pick-pocketed in crowded areas like the metro, but even that has gotten a lot better compared to the past. I would exercise common precautions, like minding your valuables at all times and avoiding dark streets at night. However, there is no need to let the paranoia about getting robbed put a damper on your vacation!

What local meals and delicacies would you recommend?

There are too many and I hardly know where to start! Jamon serrano or Spanish ham is a delicacy eaten throughout Spain that you should definitely try. Cava is the local version of French Champagne. It is really economical compared to Champagne and in my opinion tastes better. Seafood is very good here. Try it with the local twist to the paella called fideua which is made with thin noodles instead of the usual rice.

What is the best way to get around in Barcelona?

The public transportation system consists of metro, bus, and regional rail, which cover the city extremely well. My preferred way to get around the city is on foot to really soak up the ambience of the city and see the sights along the way. Barcelona in reality is not that big and most the attractions are within a 30-minute walking distance of each other. If you are feeling adventurous, renting a vespa is also a fun and convenient way to get around.

What are the best souvenirs to buy in Barcelona?

If you can get it past customs, Spanish ham would be great to take home. (Not that I ever smuggle illegally!)

If you enjoyed the food in Barcelona, a fun souvenir could be taking a Spanish cooking class, so that you can reproduce the meals you had back at home.

The Catalans (residents of the state of Catalunya, which Barcelona is the capital of), have very strong regional pride, with many advocating for independence from Spain, so any merchandise bearing a Catalan flag is an interesting souvenir to remind you of your trip to Barcelona.

What is the best thing to do with children in Barcelona?

Sightseeing is usually an activity that bores children, but there are actually tours in Barcelona run specifically for families with children. One of these tours is an excellent choice for kids to engage in learning about the city in a way tailored for them and for parents to take a break from entertaining the kids.

For some suggestions on gourmet tours in Barcelona check out www.foodieandtours.com