Apparently, since Rome was founded on seven hills, that’s become like, a thing for cities to lay claim to. Oh, we also have seven hills! Thus we are destined to be a great empire like Rome?! (Good luck with that.)
I have a feeling hills are quite a common factor in older cities, because where better to build a city than a place where you can see all your enemies coming from atop a hill? Barcelona, being a very old city founded by Rome itself, has hills in abundance, which means it also has my favorite thing: hikes up to panoramic views.
I was actually staying just down the hill from this park in the Vallcarca neighborhood, so I walked up here almost every day. The Gaudí museum is here, as are a couple more of his buildings that you have to pay to get into. I just walked around the free parts, bringing food to eat while people-watching, enjoying the view, and listening to buskers play Spanish guitar.
Parc de Montjuïc
Sitting on a hill overlooking the port, this hill is where the old fortress of Barcelona still stands. It’s 5 euro (3 euro if you’re 18-29) and there is a TON of history and interesting thing to learn here. Once you’re done with the fortress, you can literally spend hours rambling through the park and gardens.
The National Museum of Catalan Art is also here in the Palacio Nacional (below). It was a great museum, both for the building itself and the collection they have. Tickets are 12 euro. Worth it, especially if you like Gothic art or modern art.
BONUS DAY TRIP!
Montserrat is a monastery on the side of a mountain about an hour’s train ride from Barcelona. The train ticket + a ticket up to the monastery itself is 20.50 euro round trip.
I loved, loved, loved it. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There are tons of hiking trails all around the mountain, leading to smaller monasteries or other sites. It’s a great break from the city. Also has that spiritual vibe that you feel in Sagrada Familia. That’s probably why they chose to build a monastery there.
Other nice places to walk which don’t involve hills:
It’s in the middle of Barcelona. You can’t miss it.
This is considered the “sketchy” neighborhood, which seems ridiculous to me because I felt nothing but safe there, but I’ve lived in places where I saw a drive-by shooting in broad daylight so perhaps my metrics are off. I mean, supposedly there are lots of prostitutes out at night, which I can’t confirm but seems plausible. During the day, however, it’s totally fine. This is an immigrant-heavy and art-heavy neighborhood, with a long history of multiculturalism and political activism. Barcelona Free Walking Tours does a tour through this neighborhood, talking about street art and political history. It’s great! Learn something new, off the beaten path.
Parc de la Ciutadella
I’m a sucker for fountains, lakes with rowboats, and balloon vendors. Plus, look at those gold statues! So shiny!
This is the area where the beach and boardwalk are! Being from LA, I love a good beach and boardwalk. I walked past the shops eating ice cream (this little monster is from a place called EyeScream), then walked onto the jetty and watched the waves while listening to romantic Calle 13 songs. Such good vibes.