As a Westerner, travelling anywhere in Europe gives you that urge to kick back, relax, and experience the area as a local would. The first step in exploring the culture-packed streets of Gaudi’s city is by starting with your tour on two wheels. The best way to uncover the truly magnificent hot spots of any city, especially the secret nooks of Barcelona, is by renting a Vespa.
One thing to know first is that Barcelona is a crowded city, and can you blame people? Its Gaudi-inspired architecture, warm inhabitants and mix of beach and cosmopolitan life draw many a traveler year after year. Yet, zipping around with a scooter will get you from point A to point B on your travel itinerary in no time, and give you the added effect of living like a true Barcelonian. There are some scooter rental agencies in the city like Vesping, which have explored a new travel concept of GPS-guided scooters. If you’re the avid independent traveler, this may be the option for you. Plan your day how you want – monuments, restaurants, beach, museums – plug your destinations into the GPS and go. What’s better than cruising from La Sagrada Famìlia to Barceloneta Beach with the wind in your hair?
Looking to plan a travel itinerary that offers the real Catalan experience? The best part of Barcelona is its mix of sun, sand and city. You can go from a trendy terrace bar to the beach in a flash, everything you want is right there. If you want to rub elbows with plenty of locals, the best stretch of sand is Badalona Beach, with a picturesque pier and relaxing cafés. You’ll also find it a bit quieter in comparison to the chaos of Barceloneta Beach.
Want to find the perfect place to watch the sunset before catching an evening drink and a typically late Spanish-style dinner? Take your Vespa and head up to El Carmel Bunker. An old bunker built during the Spanish Civil War, it’s located on the highest mountain of the city and remains quite unscathed by other travelers. Everybody else will find themselves at Montjuic Hill or Tibidabo Mountain, but if you like peace and quiet with your sunset, get to El Carmel.
Now you’ve been to the beach and seen the sunset, you must be hungry. But travelers beware! Nothing is worse than sitting down to dinner and realizing you’ve been strategically roped into a tourist trap. One may argue that you can’t eat bad in Barcelona, but from a self-proclaimed foodie, it’s best you know where you’re going first. Also, do yourself a favor and keep it low key. The best places to go when visiting any European city are those holes in the wall that don’t pay much attention to the bells and whistles. For some of the best and cheapest tapas, try Can Eusebio, one of the finest in Barcelona. And if fresh fish tickles your fancy, don’t miss out on La Cova Fumada, a mouth-watering seafood haven where you can also try homemade bombas.
And there you have it: a brief guide to exploring Barcelona like a tried and true European. If you’ve got extra time to spare, take the scooter and discover your own travel treasures to make memories that will last a lifetime.