When walking around Barcelona to get a feel of the city you will inevitably end up walking down La Rambla, the most famous street there in. La Rambla was actually a river many years ago it dried up around the 13th/14th century and when it did the street was born. When you walk down La Rambla check out the tiles on the ground they are wavey, they symbolise the water that used to run down there. When you get to the bottom of La Rambla you arrive at the statue of Christopher Columbus and Port Vell.
The port itself stretches from the Columbus Monument to Barceloneta, it is the oldest and liveliest area in the Port of Barcelona. Formerly an obsolete harbor, it is now one of Barcelona´s greatest talking points after a drastic urban renewal project just before the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Besides the beach (which was man made for the Olympic Games with sand from the Sahara desert) Port Vell is the biggest example in the city of the dramatic impact that the Olympics had on Barcelona and the transformation the city went through to become the one we have today. Before the Olympics it was full of abandoned warehouses. Now the port receives 16 million visitors per year, this bustling area is one of the finest shopping, nightlife and entertainment spots in the city.
The Palau de Mar is one of the most spectacular buildings in the port. It was originally built at the end of the 19th century by Elies Rogent, being such an impressive building it was the only warehouse to survive the mass renovation of the area. Now known as the Palau de Mar, it houses the Department of Welfare of the Catalan Government and most famously, one of Barcelona’s most fascinating museums, the Museu d’Història de Catalunya. It explains the history of Catalonia with chronologically organised exhibits, spanning an era from the Stone Age to present day. If you are coming to Barcelona a little confused about the recent political situation then come and learn their history at the museum it will give you a useful insight into Catalan history and culture. A real bargain at only 4 euros entrance. Guided visits are available and other additional services including a shop, restaurant and library.
Once you have had your fill of culture head to the cafe on the roof of the museum and enjoy a light bite to eat whilst overlooking the spectacular views of Port Vell. If you are looking for something more substantial beneath Palau de Mar´s characteristic arches, there are several popular restaurants including Cal Pinxo and La Gavina which offer a delicious selection of Mediterranean cuisine.
Across the water on the other side of the Palau de Mar is the shopping centre Maremagnum. To get to this shoppers paradise you must walk over a retractable bridge which occasionally opens to allow boats into the port. Maremagnum is popular amongst both tourists and locals, it is a shopping lover’s haven and one of Barcelona’s favourite retail and leisure complexes. Like most shopping malls there is a wide range of brands available from Desigual to Mango. Recharge your batteries at one of the many restaurants and cafes with stunning sea views, open every day of the year. By night, Maremagnum transforms into an entirely different place, especially during the summer months. Years ago this area used to be the top choice area for nightlife in the city. There are still a selection of bars and clubs known as the ‘The Village’ stay open until the early hours although most people now opt for the Port Olympic beach clubs to end their night in.
On the same stretch of land as Maremagnum is Barcelona’s Aquarium. This is probably Port Vell’s biggest attraction and the largest aquarium in Europe. Delve into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea and discover underwater habitats from around the world with more than 11,000 water creatures, 450 different species among 6 million litres of water. From penguins, to seahorses, to the Sandbar Shark, you will not be short of things to do at the Barcelona Aquarium. The most spectacular feature is the immense Oceanarium, the only one in Europe, which is 5m deep and 36m wide. Walk through its 80m underwater tunnel for an unbeatable view of all things sea like and for an unforgettable experience. As you can imagine, people flock to this attraction daily, so be wise and beat the queues by buying your ticket in advance. Tickets are 20 euros when bought in advance and are well worth it for the experience!
As you are down at the port you may as well jump on a boat and sail out into the Mediterranean! Barcelona’s coastline is really beautiful from the sea and so you can jump aboard on of the city’s Golondrinas for a fantastic and unique experience. Whether you prefer a shorter trip of 35 minutes or the full 18 mile stretch from Colón to the Forum of Sant Adrià de Besòs, there´s something for everyone. Sailing around the port since 1888, you can be sure that you are in safe hands, so sit back and relax with your choice of beverage from the on board café! Enjoy the fantastic sights of the Nueva Bocana, the Barceloneta beaches, Hotel W, the Villa Olímpica beaches and the new coast beaches of Poble Nou. There is even a photographer on board to capture the moment for you if you are unsure how strong your selfie game will be on a boat!
Once you are back off the boat take the elevator to the top of the Columbus statue and get one of the most spectacular views in the city. It is only 6 euros and it is well worth it. You have a fantastic view of the Port Vell as well as all the way up La Rambla. So do head to the Port Vell on your trip to the Barcelona and take in the beauty in one of the most spectacularly renovated parts of the city.