Discovering Barcelona Step by Step...
You can't see the whole of Barcelona on a walking tour - major sights like Camp Nou, Parc Guell and La Sagrada Familia are scattered in different corners of the city - but there's an undeniable allure to exploring the Catalan capital on foot. Apart from practical considerations (cheap, environmentally friendly, no traffic jams!), when you select the stroll option you get to feel a genuine communion with the city streets, that's simply not possible on an open-top bus for example. The slow pace of a pedestrian tour enables you to really take in the minute details that unfold on every alleyway: and, as well as having plenty of time to take in the history, legends and stories that your guide recounts, your retinas will be treated to a kaleidoscope of everyday sights (some quite bizarre!) whilst your nose will sample the tangy flavours of everything from seafood at La Boqueria market to the whiff of marijuana smoked by Barcelona's resident perro flautas (literally 'dog-flutes', or 'hippies').
Visitors coming to Barcelona are spoiled for choice when it comes to walking tours on offer, and depending on your needs you might want to consider hiring a private guide for your own custom needs (this way you can request the start time that suits you and have them tailor an itinerary according to your interests. Plus of course you get the guide to yourself, which is great if you want to ask a lot of questions). More common however is to join a regular group excursion offered by one of the established tour companies in town. This obviously has the benefit of being more economical, and indeed there are even several free options that are surprisingly good (see below for the one we recommend!) if you are on a really tight budget.
Finally, the more avant garde traveller should keep their eyes peeled for companies offering specialist walks with specific themes - which might include Gaudi, Picasso, tapas, chocolate or even craft beer! As with all things in life you normally get what you pay for, and we suggest you look out for professional licensed guides who know their artists from the Ebro and can tell you everything from the history of Barcelona's guilds to the impact of the 1992 Olympic Games on the city. Naturally we've rounded up some of our favourite options below, all available in the English language...
Above: Every statue has his story...
Selected Barcelona Walking Tours
A specialist in on-the-ground exploration, Walking Planets was set up to introduce tourists to some of Barcelona's less-visited districts, such as the fascinating and ever-so-slightly-sleazy El Raval. Hippies and hipsters share this vibrant zone with immigrants from Asia and East Europe, and if you're looking for something a little different hop onto Planet Raval! Walking Planets also offer atypical tours of El Born, El Gotic and more...
Barcelona Guide Bureau
The BGB is the granddaddy of tour operators in Barcelona and their five walks are the official walking tours of the Barcelona Tourist Board. On their meandering menu are walking tours of Gotic and the Marina, as well as three themed tours on the life of Picasso in Barcelona, Modernista architecture and the city's gourmet experiences.
Barcelona City Tours
A total of ten exciting walks are offered by the folks at Barcelona City Tours and your biggest problem might be which to choose from! As well as explorations of El Born, Gotico and the Marina, you'll find themed tours on Modernisme and an audio-guided trip around the legendary Camp Nou and the Barca Museum.
Travel Bound's Free Walking Tour
Prices don't get any better than free, so if you're looking for a top rated excursion that will still leave you plenty of euros to spend for a few cervezas at night this is definitely the one for you. In fact Travel Bound's guides are top rate professionals who know the city inside and out, and you'll get to know about the city's Catalan identity, contemporary culture and street art, as well as its Roman history and role in Spain's civil war. Leaves three times a day.
Hola! Barcelona Tours
Amongst the wide variety of activities that Hola! arrange are private walking tours of El Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter. On this stroll around the city you'll explore La Seu Cathedral, the old Jewish quarter, Barcelona's Roman walls, and of course the legendary Las Ramblas boulevard, with its street performers, flower stalls and the renowned La Boqueria food market. Also possible is a guided walk around Gaudi's surreal and breathtaking visions on the Passeig de Gracia, the amazing La Sagrada Familia - and not forgetting Parc Guell.
If your legs are aching simply when reading this, then check our article on all Barcelona tours where comfortable coaches and cars will get you to all the sights. Whilst (even) more athletic travellers can read up on the best bike tours in Barcelona. Foodie's should definitely check out our article on gourmet experiences, whilst winos should visit our page on wine tasting in and around the city.
I find bus services so phoney. You don't get to feel the life of the city at street level. Much better to explore with a knowledgable guide on your own two feet and burn some calories at the same time.
reviewed by Kate from United States on Jun.08.2015
Discovering the city by foot is what it's all about. I suggest you go with an official guide however as the free ones tend to be led by some young backpacker who does not really understand the history and soul of the city
reviewed by Laura from Spain on Aug.19.2011
thanks guys this is a useful and informative page. We actually already visited your beautiful city and did a guided walk around the Gothic Quarter, which was very insightful
reviewed by Gill from United States on May.04.2011
tehre's no better way of seeing the city than by foot... whether by yourself or with a guide. I recommend a bit of both!
reviewed by Greg from United States on Jan.27.2011