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; 93/256--2504; www.rutadelmodernisme.com. Guided visits €4, €2 with Ruta del Modernisme pass. Tours in English Apr.–Oct., Wed. and Fri. 6 pm; Nov.–Mar., Wed. and Fri. 3:30.
Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08025. 93/553--7801; www.santpaubarcelona.org/en. Self-guided visit €8, guided visits €14; 50% discount with Ruta del Modernisme pass. Guided visits in English daily at noon and 1.
Urbancultours. 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. 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 Epicureanways, 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 and Santa Catarina markets. Carrer Sagristans 5, Entresuelo, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/301--1944; www.aulagastronomica.com/cooking-classes. From €55.
Epicurean Ways. Jane Gregg, founder of Epicurean Ways, offers gourmet and wine tours of Barcelona and Catalonia. 714 Graves St. , Downtown, Charlottesville, Virginia, 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. 1-wk tours from $3,895.
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 40-minute "Barcelona Port" tour of the harbor and €14.80 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 through September), daily 11:15 to 5:15 for the Port tour, 12:30 and 3:30 for the Sea tour; fall and winter, weekends and holidays only, 11 to 5. It’s closed mid-December through 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 and a 90-minute "Barcelona Sea" ride out past the beaches and up the coast to the Fòrum at the eastern end of Diagonal. Pl. Portal de la Pau s/n, Moll de les Drassanes, Rambla, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08001. 93/442--3106; www.lasgolondrinas.com/en. Port tour €7.20; seafront €15. Port tour departures Feb., Mar., Oct., and Nov., hourly 12:15–4:15; Apr.–June, hourly 12:15–5:15; July–Sept., every 30 min 11:15–8:15; Sea tour Feb. and Mar. at 3:30; Apr.--June, hourly 12:30–4:30; July–Sept., hourly 11:30–6:30; Oct. and Nov., 12:30 and 3:30.
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, which you can buy online (with a 10% discount) for €24.30 (a two-day ticket is €34.20), or on the bus for €27 (€38 for two days), 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 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–September only). A one-day ticket, which you can buy online 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 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, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08040. 93/285--3832; www.barcelonabusturistic.cat. With 10% online purchase discount, €24.30 (€34.20 for 2 days); onboard or at the ticket booth, €27 (€38 for 2 days). Blue and Red routes daily year-round, every 5–25 min, 9 am–7 pm in winter, 9–8 in summer; Green route operates on same schedule Mar. 27–Nov. 1.
Julià Travel. Julià Travel offers hop-on, hop-off tours around the city in double-decker buses. Carrer Balmes 5, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/317--6454; www.juliatravel.com/tours. From €27.
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). Carrer Bisbe Morgades 49, Entresol 2a, Vic, Catalonia, 08500. 938/894443; 93/4144774; www.balotour.com. €150.
Cat Helicopters. Cat Helicopters circles Barcelona for €50 per person for 6 minutes, €95 for 10 minutes, and €300 for a 35-minute flight that takes in the nearby Monestir de Montserrat. Helipuerto de Barcelona, Passeig de l'Escullera, Moll Adossat s/n, Port, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08039. 93/224--0710; www.cathelicopters.com.
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.
Associació Professional d'Informadors Turístics. Book online for half- or full-day tours with an English-speaking guide, for Moderniste Barcelona, the Barri Gòtic, and major museums. Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, 08002. 93/319--8416; www.informadoresturisticos.com.
Barcelona Guide Bureau. Book here for five-hour coach tours of the major sites in Barcelona, offered Monday–Saturday at 10 am and 12:30 pm, Sunday at 10 am, and get fast-track entrance to museums and popular venues like the Sagrada Familía. Via Laietana 54, 2-2, Born-Ribera, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/268--2422; 667/419140; www.barcelonaguidebureau.com. From €62.
Heritage Tours. Contact Heritage for upscale personalized tours, planned in advance. 121 W. 27th St., Suite 1201, New York, New York, 10001. 800/378--4555; 212/206--8400; www.htprivatetravel.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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, tPicasso’s Barcelona, Modernisme, and Gourmet Barcelona; departure times for tours in English depend on which of the four tours you choose. Prices run €16–€22, with a 10% Web discount. 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. Pl. de Catalunya 17, soterrani, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/285--3834; www.barcelonaturisme.com. Daily 8–8.
Barcelona Segway Tours, with an office near the Cathedral, puts you up on one of its futuristic two-wheelers for a two-hour tour (€59) of the Barri Gòtic, La Rambla, and the seafront; its longer three-hour excursion (€79) includes the Ciutadella Park as well. Tours depart daily at 9:30 and 10 am, and 12:30, 3, 4:30, and 6 pm ():30, 1, and 4:30 for the long form); 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.