When we told people we were going to Barcelona a number of them told us to do the open top bus tour first so we could get an understanding of the layout of the city. Therefore, on day one that is exactly what we did. There are 2 different lines you can take with the Barcelona City Tour. The orange one takes you around the west side and the green one out and around the east. Your ticket allows you to do both tours and for 1 day it is 27€ but for 2 days it’s only another 8€ at 35€ (its cheaper if you book online). As the tours looked lengthy we decided to go for the 2 days. Our plan was to do the orange tour, have something to eat and then do the green tour. This way we could see all what Barcelona had to offer and then on day 2 take the bus to the places we really wanted to see. With hindsight we maybe should have stuck to the orange route on the first day and waited til the next day to do the green one.
The Orange Tour
We got on next to The Columbus Monument (Monumento a Colón or Mirador de Colón) which is a 60 m (197 ft) tall monument to Christopher Columbus at the lower end of La Rambla. Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with all 18 stops. This is mainly because I wasn’t always listening to the audio available in lots of different languages through red plastic earphones.
From the port the bus took us up to the bottom of Montjuic where you can catch a cable car up to the castle at the top or visit the Miro Foundation, which holds a myriad of pieces of art by Joan Miro. Unless you like bright coloured canvasses that look like they’ve been drawn by a 5 year old I’d give this a miss. You also pass the Olympic swimming pool where the diving was held and the Olympic stadium. Throughout the tour you can clearly see the impact that holding the Olympics has had on the city, from the Olympic village, which was to be a temporary build to house the athletes but remains today as another district within the city to the telecom tower designed to look like an athlete accepting a medal (I’m not sure if it really does though).
Camp Nou is part of the orange tour and as you drive around the impressive Barcelona football ground you can see just how big the stadium is and considering how busy it was on a Friday how much of a tourist attraction it is too.
Av Diagonal is a long street that heads us diagonally back into the city centre and the remaining highlights to see are the 2 buildings by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà better known as La Pedrera. Gaudi is the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. His work has a very distinctive style and although you may not have heard of him you will recognise his greatest and best work the Sagrada Família, which you get to stop at when you do the green tour.
We got off the bus at the opposite end of The Ramblas from where we got on in Plaza de Cataluña and went for a quick bite to eat and some hot chocolate to warm ourselves up. These open top buses are not known for their central heating!
The Green Tour
Suitably refreshed we hopped on to the green tour bus and managed to hog a front row seat. This meant OH got to brake every time a nutter on a moped cut in front of us, which was often.
This tour lasts a lot longer and takes you out along the marina where there were some amazing yachts – oh how the other half live. The sites on this tour tend to be a lot more modern as it takes you into the new technological district of Barcelona. The tallest building in this area is the Torre Agbar, which by day looks like a large rusty vibrator but by night lights up like a brand new one. The building houses Aguas de Barcelona, which is the municipal water company that today belongs to the Grupo Agbar.
It wasn’t long before we were passing by the Sagrada Familia (remember I told you about the architect earlier) Initially you get to see the original side and how Gaudi had designed it combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms but because he didn’t get the chance to finish it they are now using money raised by the entry fee and tat sold to tourists to help complete it. Therefore, the other side, which we stopped in front of for longer is more modern and less drippy looking. If you want more information on it click here.
The rest of the tour took as out to Parc Guell and up to bottom of the mountain Tibidabo, which looks over Barcelona. Again we headed back into the city centre via Av. Diagonal and past the 2 Gaudi houses and eventually stopping in Pl. Catalunya. By this time we were chilled to the bone so it was essential to find a tapas bar and some rioja – rapido.
I think the bus tour is essential to view the city but pace yourself and try to work out before you get on what sites you really want to get off at. Oh and there’s free wifi for a period of time (not sure how long as I just noticed I had used up all my data after a while) – the password is on your ticket.