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The Ruta del Modernisme (Moderniste Route), a self-guided tour, provides an excellent guidebook (available in English) that interprets 100 Moderniste sites from the Sagrada Família and the Palau de la Música Catalana to Art Nouveau building facades, lampposts, and paving stones. Tickets (books of coupons valid for a year) and manuals are sold at the Plaça de Catalunya Tourist Office, Pavellons Güell, and Hospital de Sant Pau.
The Palau de la Música Catalana offers guided tours in English every hour on the hour from 10 to 3. Sagrada Família guided tours cost extra. Casa Milà offers one guided tour daily (6 pm weekdays, 11 am weekends). The ticket price, €18, gets you 50% discounts at numerous sites around town, as well as free guided tours (in English at specified hours) at Pavellons Güell, Hospital de Sant Pau, and the Manzana de la Discòrdia (at 11, noon, 1, 2:30, and 5).
Architect Dominique Blinder of Urbancultours specializes in explorations of the Barcelona Jewish Quarter but can also provide tours of the Sagrada Família or virtually any aspect of Barcelona from the architectural standpoint.
Centre del Modernisme, Centre d'Informacio de Turisme de Barcelona (Pl. Catalunya, 17, soterrani, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/285-3834. www.rutadelmodernisme.com.)
Centre del Modernisme, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (C. Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08025. 93/317-7652. www.rutadelmodernisme.com.)
Centre del Modernisme, Pavellons Güell (Av. de Pedralbes 7, Pedralbes, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08034. 34–902–076621. www.rutadelmodernisme.com.)
Centre d'Informacio de Turisme de Barcelona (Pl. Catalunya 17, soterrani, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/285-3834.)
Urbancultours (firstname.lastname@example.org. www.urbancultours.com.)
Aula Gastronómica (Cooking Classroom) has different culinary tours, including tours of the Boqueria market with breakfast, cooking classes, and tastings. They are not in English, but between the guides and the help of fellow travelers, everyone manages. Jane Gregg, founder of Epicureanways, offers peerless gourmet and wine tours of Barcelona, Catalonia, and the rest of Spain. Teresa Parker of Spanish Journeys organizes cooking classes, seasonal specials, custom cultural or culinary tours, corporate cooking retreats, or off-the-beaten-path travel in Spain.
Aula Gastronómica (Sagristans 5, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/301–1944. www.aulagastronomica.com.)
Epicureanways (507 Nottingham Rd., Charlottesville, VA, 22901. 866/642-2917. www.epicureanways.com.)
Spanish Journeys (805 Long Pond Rd., Wellfleet, MA, 02667. 508/349-9769. www.spanishjourneys.com.)
Day Tours and Guides
Golondrina harbor boats make short trips from the Portal de la Pau, near the Columbus monument. The fare is €7 for a 35-minute tour of the harbor and €15.50 for a 90-minute ride out past the beaches and up the coast to the Fòrum at the eastern end of the Diagonal. Departures are spring and summer (Easter week through September), daily 11 to 7; fall and winter, weekends and holidays only, 11 to 5. It's closed mid-December through early January.
Fees and Schedules
Las Golondrinas and Trimar y Omnibus (Plaza Portal de la Pau s/n, Rambla, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08001. 93/442-3106. www.lasgolondrinas.com. Drassanes.)
The Bus Turístic (9:30 am to 7:30 pm every 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the season), sponsored by the tourist office, runs on three circuits that pass all the important sights. The blue route covers upper Barcelona; the red route tours, lower Barcelona; and the green route runs from the Olympic Port along Barcelona's beaches to the Fòrum at the eastern end of the Diagonal (from April through September only). A day's ticket, which you can buy online (with a 10% discount) or on the bus, costs €23 (a two-day ticket is €30) and also covers the fare for the Tramvía Blau, funicular, and Montjuïc cable car across the port. You receive a booklet with discount vouchers for various attractions. The blue and red route buses start at Plaça de Catalunya near Café Zurich. The green route bus starts at the Olympic Port next to the Hotel Arts. Each bus stops a dozen times, allowing visitors to jump off and catch a later bus after visiting each monument. Audio coverage is provided in 10 languages. A competing bus tour, Barcelona Tours, also leaves from Plaça de Catalunya near the corner of Ronda de la Universitat.
The product and prices are all but identical, though the Bus Turístic is the official Tourist Office tour, offering discount vouchers and superior service. In the event of long lines or delays on the Bus Turístic, Barcelona Tours is a good alternative.
Bus Turístic (Pl. de Catalunya, 3, Barcelona, 08040. 93/285–3832. www.barcelonabusturistic.cat.)
Julià Tours (Ronda Universitat 5, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/402–6951. www.juliatravel.com/en/tours-barelona.html.)
Pullmantur (Gran Vía 645, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08010. 902/240–070. www.pullmantur.es.)
Baló Tours S.L. runs balloon and helicopter tours in and around Barcelona. Cat Helicopters circles Barcelona for €75 per person for 10 minutes, €220 for 30 minutes.
Fees and Schedules
Balo Tours S.L. (Montecassino 2, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08006. 93/414-4774. www.balotour.com.)
Cat Helicopters (93/224-0710. www.cathelicopters.com.)
Guides from the organizations listed below are generally competent and encyclopedic, though the quality of language skills and general showmanship may vary wildly. For customized tours, including access to some of Barcelona's leading chefs, architects, art historians, and artists, Heritage Tours will set it all up from New York.
Associacio Professional d'Informadors Turistics (93/319-8416.)
Barcelona Guide Bureau (93/268-2422. www.barcelonaguidebureau.com.)
City Guides Barcelona (93/412-0674.)
Heritage Tours (800/378-4555; 212/206-8400 in U.S. www.heritagetoursonline.com.)
Turisme de Barcelona offers weekend walking tours of the Gothic Quarter, the Waterfront, Picasso's Barcelona, Modernisme, a shopping circuit, and Gourmet Barcelona in English (at 10:30 am). Prices range from €13 to €19.50. The Picasso tour, which includes the entry fee for the Picasso Museum, is a real bargain. Tours depart from the Plaça de Catalunya tourist office. For private tours, Julià Tours and Pullmantur both lead walks around Barcelona. Tours leave from their offices, but you may be able to arrange a pick-up at your hotel. Prices per person are €35 for half a day and €90 for a full day, including lunch.
For the best English-language walking tour of the medieval Jewish Quarter, Dominique Tomasov Blinder, of Urban Cultours is an architect with 13 years experience in Jewish heritage. Her tour of Jewish Barcelona is a unique combination of history, current affairs, and personal experience; learn more at www.urbancultours.com or email her at email@example.com.
Turisme de Barcelona (Pl. de Catalunya 17–S, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/285–3834. www.barcelonaturisme.com.)
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