I’ve lived in Barcelona for 6 months now, and still find there are parts of the city that I haven’t explored yet. Those most-do spots that tourist guides describe fall by the way side when you know you have a lot more time than the average tourist. Montjuïc was one of those places for me, and 3 months into my stay here I finally got round to going for a walk up the hill I see almost every day.
When I say hill, dont be too alarmed, it’s not very steep. In fact, there is an option to go up it either by steps or escalators. You’ll find in several parts of Barcelona there are random al fresco escalators waiting to take tourist up the trickier inclines.
Take the metro to Espanya and you’ll find yourself, funnily enough, in Placa d’Espanya, one of the most impressive squares in Barcelona. You would have to be blind to miss the two great columns looming over the square, the Venetian Towers, which stand as the gateway up to Montjuïc. At the end of the stretch of walkway following this, Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, you’ll notice a fountain. During the day, it looks entirely unimpressive and defunct. At night, however, it is transformed into the Magic Fountain – a gorgeous display of water, music and lights. I highly recommend a visit here in the summer evenings. The displays are free to watch and go on a number of times in the evening, depending on what time of year you’re visiting. Check out their website for more information.
Carry on walking and you’ll notice a grand building in front of you, otherwise known as the Palau Nacional. This is currently home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), so if you feel like immersing yourself into some Catalan culture, this might be a good place to start if you’re an art lover. Tickets start from around 10 euros but if you check the admission charges page on their website, there is a list of reductions they offer.
Once you’ve reached this stage, there are endless things to do up at Montjuïc. You’ll see plenty of signs pointing you in various directions, so the choice of where to go can be difficult. I have to say that taking in the views of the city from up here is one of the best things about it, especially if you’re on a budget like me. The Venetian Towers seem much smaller from the top, behind them lies the rest of the west side of the city, and far off in the distance on another hill you’ll see Tibidabo.
Another highlight to see up at Montjuïc is several sites for the 1992 Olympics helds in Barcelona, including the main stadium itself where the games were opened and closed. You will also find the swimming pools used in the Olympics for many events, and these are open to the public all year round and can be a nice alternative to the beach and the grim water that Barcelona calls the sea.
If art isn’t your thing and you’re more of a nature lover, an alternative to the MNAC up at Montjuïc are the Botanical Gardens. These are just a few euros to pay for entry, and serve as a perfect spot to walk around on a summers day. The gardens are also coupled with the Museu Blau, which is a natural science museum and both of these can be accessed for just 7 euros.
You could walk around Montjuïc all day and still not see all of the attractions on offer up there. Aside from what’s mentioned above, there are dozens of other gardens dotted around the hill, as well as fortresses and a collection of Spanish houses to walk around. Reserve a day, take a picnic, and enjoy.