The Ruta del Modernisme (Moderniste Route), a self-guided tour, provides an excellent guidebook (available in English) that interprets 116 Moderniste sites from the Sagrada Família and the Palau de la Música Catalana to Art Nouveau building facades, lampposts, and paving stones. The €12 Guide, sold at the Pavellons Güell and the Institut Municipal del Paisatge Urbà (Av. Drassanes 6), comes with a book of vouchers good for discounts up to 50% on admission to most of the Moderniste buildings and sites in the Guide in Barcelona and 13 other towns and cities in Catalonia, as well as free guided tours in English at Pavellons Güell (daily 10:15 and 12:15) and the Hospital de Sant Pau (daily at 10, 11, noon, and 1).
The Palau de la Música Catalana offers guided tours in English every hour on the hour from 10 to 3:30. Sagrada Família guided tours cost extra. Casa Milà offers one guided tour daily (6 pm weekdays, 11 am weekends). 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 architectural aspect of Barcelona.
Centre del Modernisme, Pavellons Güell. Av. de Pedralbes 7, Pedralbes, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08034. 93/317–7652; www.rutadelmodernisme.com. €5. Tours in English daily 10:15, 11:15, and 15:00.
Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08025. 93/553–7801; www.santpaubarcelona.org/en. From €14. Guided visits in English daily at 10:30 .
Urbancultours. Architect Dominique Tomasov Blinder of Urbancultours specializes in tours about Barcelona's Jewish heritage, and offers explorations of the Barcelona Jewish Quarter and the ancient Jewish cemetery on Montjuïc. www.urbancultours.com.
Aula Gastronómica (Cooking Classroom) has different culinary tours, including tours of the Boqueria and Santa Catarina markets with breakfast, cooking classes, and tastings, for €12 per person and up. The locals you’ll meet on the tours may struggle a bit in English, but between the guides and the help of fellow travelers, everyone manages. Jane Gregg, founder of Epicurean Ways, offers gourmet and wine tours of Barcelona and Catalonia. Teresa Parker of Spanish Journeys organizes cooking classes, seasonal specials, custom cultural or culinary tours, corporate cooking retreats, or off-the-beaten-path travel.
Aula Gastronómica. Tapas workshops at this cooking school include visits to the nearby Boqueria or Santa Caterina markets. Carrer Sagristans 5, Entresuelo, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/301–1944; www.aulagastronomica.com/cooking-classes. From €35.
Epicurean Ways. Jane Gregg, founder of Epicurean Ways, offers gourmet and wine tours of Barcelona and Catalonia. 22902. 434/738–2293; 93/802–2688; www.epicureanways.com.
Spanish Journeys. Teresa Parker of Spanish Journeys organizes cooking classes, seasonal specials, custom cultural or culinary tours, corporate cooking retreats, or off-the-beaten-path travel. Wellfleet, Massachusetts, 02667. 508/349–9769; www.spanishjourneys.com. From $3895.
Day Tours and Guides
Golondrina harbor boats make short trips from the Portal de la Pau, near the Columbus monument. The fare is €7.50 for a 40-minute "Barcelona Port" tour of the harbor and €15 for the "Barcelona Sea" 90-minute ride out past the beaches and up the coast to the Fòrum at the eastern end of Diagonal. Departures are spring and summer (Easter week–September), daily 11:15 am–5:15 pm for the Port tour, 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm for the Sea tour; fall and winter, weekends and holidays only, 11 am–5 pm. It’s closed mid-December–early January.
Fees and Schedules
Las Golondrinas. Golondrina harbor boats make short trips from the Portal de la Pau, near the Columbus monument. There's a 40-minute "Barcelona Port" tour of the harbor, an hour-long "Premium" tour that includes a glass of cava, and a 90-minute "Barcelona Sea" ride out past the beaches and up the coast to the Fòrum at the eastern end of Diagonal, plus summer-only tours with live music (usually flamenco or jazz). Pl. Portal de la Pau s/n, Moll de les Drassanes, La Rambla, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08001. 93/442–3106; lasgolondrinas.com/en. From €8.
The Bus Turístic (9 or 9:30 am to 7 or 8 pm every 5–25 minutes, depending on the season), sponsored by the tourist office, runs on three circuits with stops at all the important sights. The blue route covers upper Barcelona; the red route tours lower Barcelona; and the green route runs from the Port Olímpic along Barcelona’s beaches to the Fòrum at the eastern end of Diagonal (April through September only). A one-day ticket can be bought online (with a 10% discount) for €26.10 (a two-day ticket is €35.10). An additional €11.25 ticket (for sale on the same website) 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 bus routes start at Plaça de Catalunya near Café Zurich. The green route starts at Port Olímpic next to the Hotel Arts. Passengers can jump off and catch a later bus at any stop along the way; some stops are "hubs" where you can switch to a bus on one of the other routes. 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. The Bus Turístic, 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 Port Olímpic along Barcelona’s beaches to the Fòrum at the eastern end of Diagonal (April–October only). The cost is €27 with 10% online purchase discount for one day (€36 for two days); onboard or at the ticket booth, cost is €30 (€40 for 2 days). There are audio guides on board, and you receive a booklet with discount vouchers for various attractions. The blue and red routes start at Plaça de Catalunya near Café Zurich. The green route starts at Port Olímpic next to the Hotel Arts. Passengers can jump off and catch a later bus at any stop along the way; some stops are "hubs" where you can switch to a bus on one of the other routes. There's free Wi-Fi on board. Pl. de Catalunya 3, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08040. 93/285–3832; www.barcelonabusturistic.cat. From €27. Closed 25 Dec. and 1 Jan. Blue and red routes daily year-round, every 5–25 mins, 9–7 in winter, 9–8 in summer; green route operates on same schedule Mar. 27–Nov. 1.
Julià Travel. Julià Travel offers bilingual city walking tours and coach trips to Montserrat, Girona, Sitges, and PortAventura World. Carrer Balmes 5, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/402–6900; www.juliatravel.com/destinations/barcelona. From €25.
Baló Tours S.L. runs balloon and helicopter tours in and around Barcelona. Cat Helicopters circles Barcelona and beyond to the Monestir de Montserrat.
Fees and Schedules
Baló Tours S.L. Baló Tours S.L. runs balloon tours north of Barcelona around Vic (in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and along the Costa Brava) for up to 12 passengers at a time. Carrer Bisbe Morgades 49, Entresol 2a, Vic, Catalonia, 08500. 938/894443; 93/414–4774; www.balotour.com. €150.
Cat Helicopters. Cat Helicopters circles Barcelona for €69 per person for 6 minutes, €115 for 10 minutes, and €299 for a 35-minute flight that takes in the nearby Montserrat Mountains. Helipuerto de Barcelona, Passeig de l'Escullera, Moll Adossat s/n, Port Olímpic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08039. 93/224–0710; cathelicopters.com. From €69.
Guides from the organizations listed below are generally competent, though the quality of language skills and general showmanship may vary. 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.
Barcelona Guide Bureau. Daily walking tours of the major sites in Barcelona are available, as well as tours to Montserrat and the Dalí Museum in Girona. Some tours offer fast-track entrance to museums and popular venues like the Sagrada Família. Via Laietana 54, 2--2, Born-Ribera, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/268–2422; 667/419140; www.barcelonaguidebureau.com. From €34.
Heritage Tours. Private custom-designed tours from this company include hotels, private guides, transportation, and cuisine. 121 W. 27th St., Suite 1201, New York, New York, 10001. 800/378–4555; 212/206–8400; www.heritagetours.com. Prices vary.
Barcelona Segway Tours, with an office near the cathedral, puts you up on one of its futuristic two-wheelers for a two-hour tour (€55) of the Barri Gòtic, La Rambla, and the seafront; its longer three-hour excursion (€75) includes the Ciutadella Park as well. Tours depart daily at 9:30 and 10 am, and 12:30, 3, 4:30, and 6 pm; the Early Bird tour, at 8 am, includes breakfast. Helmets are provided; children must be more than 10 years of age; learn more at www.barcelonasegwaytour.com.
Turisme de Barcelona offers weekend walking tours of the Barri Gòtic, the Waterfront, Picasso’s Barcelona, Modernisme, a shopping circuit, and Gourmet Barcelona in English (at 10:30 am). Prices range from €15 to €21, with 10% discounts for purchases online. For private tours, Julià Travel and Pullmantur both lead walks around Barcelona. Tours leave from their offices, but you may be able to arrange a pickup 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 Urbancultours 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.
Turisme de Barcelona. In addition to being a useful resource for information, tickets, and bookings, Turisme de Barcelona offers daily walking tours of the Barri Gòtic, Picasso’s Barcelona, Modernisme, and Gourmet Barcelona, among others; departure times for tours in English depend on which of the tours you choose. Book online for a 10% discount. The Picasso tour, which includes the entry fee for the Museu Picasso, is a great bargain. Tours depart from the Plaça de Catalunya tourist office. Pl. de Catalunya 17, soterrani, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/285–3834; bcnshop.barcelonaturisme.com/shopv3/. From €14. Daily 8–8.