For many visitors, Barcelona's most fascinating sights are in the Ciutat Vella (Old City). In the heart of the Ciutat Vella is the monument-filled Barri Gòtic, which effortlessly whisks us back across the centuries. Above this medieval world, in a sweeping arc that stretches up to the encompassing hills, is L'Eixample (Catalan for "extension"), which grew when the city was forced to expand beyond its confining city walls. It is, in contrast with the ultra-narrow lanes of the Ciutat Vella, a wide-open area of fine avenues and extraordinary 19th-century moderniste edifices.
But there's more to the city than an endless proliferation of buildings old and new. A welcome number of green belts soften the cityscape from Montjuïc and Tibidabo's high parklands to intimate hideaways like Ciutadella near the waterfront, which is in turn now a revitalized area of walkways, marinas, beaches, and top seafood eating spots. If sports are what you're after, golf, horse riding, tennis, and swimming are within easy reach.
Given the complexity of Barcelona, getting around is surprisingly easy. An efficient system of subway and suburban trains and surface trams and buses will take you from one end of the city to the other for less than the price of a coffee, and bikes are increasingly used as a free means of transport.
Small Is Good: Other Barcelona Museums
There are dozens of small private museums in Barcelona, some the fruit of a collector's obsessive passion, others that display an ancient guild's craft. Many are free; others charge a minimal entrance fee or ask for a donation. The charming Museu de Calçat, Plaça Sant Felip Neri 5 (tel. 93-301-45-33; 2.50€; Tues-Sun 11am-2pm; Metro: Liceu), is housed in the ancient headquarters of the city's shoemaker guild. The collection ranges from Roman sandals to the boots of famous Catalan cellist Pablo Casals. The Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres (Museum of Funeral Carriages), Sancho d'Avilla 2 (tel. 93-484-17-00; free admission; Mon-Fri 10am-1pm and 4-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-1pm; Metro: Marina), has an unusual location: The basement of the city's morgue.
Although bullfighting is not popular in Catalonia and will be banned in 2012, La Monumental, Barcelona's bullring, is an exotic structure that houses the Museu Tauri, Gran Vía 749 (tel. 93-245-58-03; 5€ adults, 4€ children; Apr-Sept Tues-Sat 10:30am-2pm and 4-7pm, Sun 10am-1pm; Metro: Monumental), a small museum of memorabilia, costumes, and other bull-ish items. The most sacred of cultures around the world are explored in the Museu Etnològic, Passeig de Santa Madrona s/n (tel. 93-424-64-02; www.museuetnologic.bcn.es; 3€, free for children 16 and under and seniors 65 and over; Tues-Sun 10am-2pm; Metro: Espanya). In a similar vein, ethnographic pieces collected by Capuchin nuns in the Amazon region can be viewed in their convent at the Museu Etnogràfic Andino-Amazónic, Cardenal Vives i Tutó 2-16 (tel. 93-204-34-58; www.museuetnologic.bcn.es; by appointment only; Metro: María Cristina). In 1982 the prominent Barcelonese doctor Melcior Colet donated his home, a moderniste dwelling designed by Puig i Cadafalch, and his amassed sporting memorabilia to the city. The result, the Museu de L'Esport Dr. Melcior Colet, Buenos Aires 56-58 (tel. 93-419-22-32. Free admission. Mon-Fri 10am-2pm and 4-8pm; bus: 7, 15, 33, 34, or 59), is a collection of artifacts relating to Catalan sporting achievements.
In an outer Barcelona park, an extraordinary collection of period carriages, adornments, and uniforms worn by coachmen is found at the Museu de Carruatges, Plaça Josep Pallach 8 (tel. 93-427-58-13; Mon-Fri 10am-1pm; Metro: Mundet). One of the prettiest of all the city's private museums is at the rear of a perfume shop. The Museu del Perfum, Passeig de Gràcia 39 (tel. 93-216-01-21; www.museudelperfum.com; 5€, 3€ students and seniors; Mon-Fri 10:30am-1pm and 5-8pm, Sat 11am-1:30pm; Metro: Passeig de Gràcia), holds over 5,000 examples of perfume bottles, vials, and paraphernalia from Egyptian times to the present day. Watch out for the Dalí-designed Le Roi de Soleil.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.