Main Attractions: El Cap de Barcelona or La cara de Barcelona, Plaça de Palau, Museo de Historia de Cataluña, Passeig de Joan de Borbó, Transbordador Aeri del Port, Platja de Sant Sebastià, W Barcelona hotel, Torre del Reloj, Moll de Bosch i Alsina (Moll de la Fusta), Maremagnum, Rambla de Mar.
Start: Jaume I Metro station (L4 - the yellow line). End: Colombus Monument. Distance: 9-10 km. Weather: mainly sea views. Only sunny day.
Note 1: you can extend your itinerary of La Ribera (See the Tipter "Barcelona - La Ribera" blog) onto this itinerary (or, at least, the Port Vell part of it). From Plaça de Jacint Reventós (the final point of the La Ribera route - it is 5 minutes (220 m.) walk to Jaume I Metro station: from Plaça de Jacint Reventós - head west toward Carrer de l'Argenteria, 30 m. Turn BACK left onto Carrer de l'Argenteria, 150 m. Turn right onto Via Laietana, 15 m. Turn left onto Plaça de l'Àngel and the Jaume I Metro station (yellow line, line 4) is on the right - 30 m. further.
Note 2: this itinerary is involved with a significant deal of walking of long distances in Port Vell (and Barceloneta if you dare to). AVOID using this route during HOT, MOIST or WET days.
Introduction: both of these areas - the old port ("Port Vell") and Barceloneta reside at the eastern parts of Barcelona - east to the old harbour of the city. Both districts, like other areas along the seashore, have been degenerated areas before the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. In a huge urban restructure project Port Vell and neighbouring Barceloneta have been transformed to open the city up to the sea. From industrial wastelands emerged two huge marinas that encompass a peninsula with a large entertainment complex.
The most popular attractions in Port Vell are: the Barcelona’s Aquarium, the IMAX cinema (adjacent to the Aquarium), the Maremagnum complex with its shops, bars and restaurants - leading to the Port Vell promenade over the wooden swing bridge along Rambla Mar. Port Vell’s promenade is on the site of the former city motorway. This motorway has been put under the ground so that you can now stroll along the old customs building (Aduana de Barcelona). On your right you have got the maritime museum (Museo maritime) and along the pier on your left you will reach Barcelona’s W (World Trade Center) - an hotel and convention center in the middle of Port Vell.
If you continue northward, along the (east) shores of Barcelona - you arrive to Barceloneta: an elongated district (from south to north) bounded by the sea (east), El Born (west and north-west) and La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou in the north. A neighbourhood, with narrow, but, still airy, streets, which was built on a military grid structure to provide accommodation for the former inhabitants of La Ribera who had lost their homes due to the construction of the Ciutadella. La Barceloneta was once the home of fishermen, people associated with the fishing trade and the metal industry, and is now one of the city's most visited and popular districts. The houses are low-rise and small in scale so as not to obstruct views of the city. Before the 1988 Olympics, the decision was taken to demolish the old Barceloneta beachfront restaurants, known as "Xiringuitos" - opening the city up to the sea and leading to the modernization of an area which now offers first-class beaches as the main attraction for its visitors.
Our daily itinerary: from Jaume I Metro station we head east on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Via Laietana, 30 m. Turn right (south-east) onto Via Laietana for 90 m. The Exe Laietana Palace hotel, Via Laietana, 17 is on the right:
Continue walking southeast along Via Laietana toward Carrer de Salvador . After 300 m. you arrive to Plaça d'Antonio López. Until year 2017 there was a big statue of Antonio López standing in this square. It was planned to be removed after several unions and organizations claimed that Antonio López took active part in slaves trade. On our right is the Post office, Correos y Telegrafos Building in Plaça d'Antonio López:
Placa Antonio Lopez is a bustling square. In its centre - a modern sculpture: El Cap de Barcelona or La cara de Barcelona by American Roy Lichtenstein. (the Head) (1991–1992). The sculpture was Lichtenstein's first outdoor work using ceramic tile. It is said to acknowledge Antoni Gaudí and Barcelona's affinity for mosaics. Although it is very abstract, it is clear that the sculpture was made to resemble the head and face of a woman. It is made up of thick pieces of concrete completely covered in red, yellow, blue, black and white mosaic tiles, and from far away it looks like it could be a painting. The woman's eyes look like thick blue and black brush strokes; same with her nose, and her lips look like Lichtenstein could have used a quick stroke of bright red paint. The left third of her face, the side with the blue nose and eye, is covered with white tiles, while the right two thirds of her face is covered in a grid of red dots, typical of Lichtenstein's pop-art style. Lichtenstein added other artistic elements to this sculpture as well. Below her head, what would probably be considered the woman's neck, is a tall, flat stroke of blue and white that extends all the way up through her face and ends a few inches above her head. Perpendicular to the blue and white stroke is a stroke of yellow and black, beginning at the bottom and then reappearing at the top of her head.
It indicates the starting of the Port Vell district:
As we approach the Ronda Litoral and coming closer to the Port Vell - we look backward to the Placa Antonio Lopez - we see this picture:
We are, approximately in the most northern end of the Port Vell. It extends from the south from Barcelona's La Rambla, by the Columbus (Colon) monument, a major city landmark since 1886. We shall walk along the north border of Port Vell - heading to Plaça Pau Vila and Museo de Historia de Cataluña - skipping the Port Vell and its Marinas (in case you are, here, in the late afternoon hours) OR returning a bit later to the POrt Vell marinas and beachfront a bit later (if you are, here, in the morning hours). From the Plaça d'Antonio López - you continue eastward onto Passeig d'Isabel II, 160 m. Turn right onto Plaça de Palau, 150 m. The Plaça de Palau square is located in the triangular space between Palau de Mar and Barceloneta district, which is a busy crossroads for cars. The whole area around is NOT pedestrianized, so terrace space for cafes and bars is minimal. However, it is a beautiful area, with old buildings, distinctive porches under which the Hotel del Mar hides. The Hotel del Mar main entrance can be found behind Roman style pillars as part of an old building with ornate wrought iron balconies. The lobby's décor is simple but modern and new. There is a maritime theme running throughout, with lots of blue, nautical memorabilia and harbour front maps. Located underneath the arches on the Palau Square, the hotel is joined by one of Barcelona's most renowned paella restaurants - 7 Portes. This is a traditional Spanish restaurant, with beautiful old wooden doors, large open dining spaces and a distinctive chequered tiled floor. The food is reasonably expensive, but it is served with a sense of ceremony by suited Spanish waiters:
Continue onto Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 120 m. Turn right and the Museo de Historia de Cataluña (Palau de Mar,), Plaça de Pau Vila, 3, is in front of you. The permanent exhibition traces the history of Catalonia from its distant roots to the present day in an interactive and innovative way. The Museu d'Història de Catalunya layout is structured chronologically, in eight areas, set out on four floors, and includes authentic recreations of historical settings, as well as everyday items such as food and clothing. The exhibits range from prehistoric times to the development and expansion of the city of Barcelona and the Catalan hinterland. The exhibits are written in English too. No audio guides. Allow 1-1.5 hrs.
Public transport: Metro: L4-Barceloneta, buses: 14, 39, 45, 59, 64, 120, D20, V15, V17. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, WED: 10.00 - 20.00, SUN and public holidays: 10.00 - 14.00 Closed: Mondays, January 1st and 6th, December 25th and 26th. Prices: Permanent exhibition: adult 4.50 euros, concessions - 3.50 euros. Permanent Exhibition + current (temporary) exhibition(s): adult - 6.50 euros, concessions - 4.50 euros.
The museum itself is set on an attractive marina with plenty to see and do close by; boat trips, cable car, shopping. There are wonderful views from the outside upper terrace (good cafeteria !) over the port where the rich and famous moor their super yachts. This terrace is worth, in its own, the visit of this, surprisingly nice (under-rated) museum:
In case you complete your daily itinerary in this point - head to the Barceloneta Metro station (L4 - yellow line). It is 220 m. walk. From Museo de Historia de Cataluña - turn left onto Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 120 m.
Turn right onto Plaça de Pau Vila to follow Carrer del Dr. Aiguader, 100 m. Barceloneta Metro station is a bit hidden - but it will be on the left.
In case you have enough time - we head to the heart of the Port Vell (Old Port). It is quite a long walk (1 km.) to our next estination: Transbordador Aeri del Port / Teleférico de Barcelona - a mountain cable car station - connecting the Port Vell area and the Montjuïc (Jews Mountain). From Museo de Historia de Cataluña we turn southeast toward Passeig de Joan de Borbó and continue SOUTHWARD along Passeig de Joan de Borbó FOR 1 km. The Transbordador Aeri del Port, Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 88 is on your right. Along this (quite boring) way we have the beachfront of Port Vell and on our left plenty of stalls selling every kind of merchandise on earth (most of them are items from South America). You will find real bargains here (sweaters from Peru, spices and fantastic colored rugs from Guatemala etc'). As you approach you will see the large tower of the cable car ahead of you. It is straight on the Passeig de Joan de Borbó that you are on, just keep walking. There are people who say that the Passeig Joan de Borbó is set in the Barceloneta district. Others swear it is in the Port Vell area. It is an old fishermen's quarter, built in an area that was previously almost uninhabited: it was due to its proximity to the sea that the fisherfolk were the first to settle in this part of the city, in 1754, although their living conditions were truly appalling. A chain of restaurants are on your left along Passeig de Joan de Borbó: L'Arros, the Fastnet Pub, Pizzeria Napoletana Reina Margherita, Can Solé, La Malandrina, El Rey de La Gamba I, Vioko Experiencia, La Mar Salada, Suquet De L'Almirall, FOC BCN, Restaurant Can Costa, Makamaka Beach Burger Cafe, Habana Barcelona, Restaurante Rangoli and Plaça del mar.
The Transbordador Aeri del Port is past its glory days. Prices are high (11 euros one way, 16.50 euros return), staff can be, sometimes, rough, the stations (especially, the Port Vell one) are shabby. Despite all of this, on a sunny day, the cable ride is arguably the most stunning and exhilarating way to view Barcelona and links two of the city's prime locations - the beachfront / Port Vell and Montjuïc. Even from just waiting for the next car, the views from the top of the platform and from the restaurant (on top of the tower) are amazing (do not expect much from their toilet...). Of course the Muntjuic itself is rewarding: lovely gardens and again stunning views of the city from Muntjuic mountain. Even if this station is far from the city centre - it does get busy going along the day (high season only) - especially, from the port to Muntjuic. The trip offers wonderful views with enough fear to keep you from relaxing. Before you make your final decision be warned, the Transbordador cable journey is not for the faint hearted. inside of the car it holds a maximum of twenty people. Usually (if it is a busy day) it hold around 10 passengers. it is fairly difficult to manoeuvre around the car and you face difficulties in making photos. There are no seats inside the car and people generally move around the space, giving you the opportunity to check out different views from different windows. You will be rewarded for your bravery with some stunning views of Barcelona. Take in the bird's eye views of the port and harbour as you glide along. The cable car provides an opportunity to see the whole city clearly, so it's a chance to observe Barcelona's highest monuments such as the Sagrada Familia and the Torre Agbar, from the cable car's (not so clean) windows. The entire journey lasts approximately 5-7 minutes and the car moves continuously throughout the trip. Mid-way through the journey the cable car travels through a central tower- the Torre de Jaume I - a swift sigh of relief before continuing on your journey. To your left you can view Barcelona's working port and a great expanse of sea. To your right - all Barcelona icons. As you near the end of the trip you can take in the views of Montjuïc mountain. You will see the iconic Montjuïc Communications Tower. If you choose to make the return journey, be sure to keep hold of your small cable car ticket. On returning to the port area you can reward yourself with a slap up dinner in the renowned Torre d'Alta Mar Restaurant at the top of the tower. That's if you're not desperate to get your feet back onto solid ground. AS we said - it takes 5-6 minutes and you may spend much longer in the queues. Expect to wait over half an hour (with little shade) for your cable car at busy times. Finally, it is worth pointing out that if you buy a return ticket, you will still have to get off the cable car at each end and join the back of the queue to return - so please don't think that you can spend a quick 15 minutes aerial sightseeing by staying in the car....you may be in a nasty surprise and long waits ! Operating Hours: 01 December - 28 February: 11.00 - 17.30, 01 March - 31 May: 10.30 - 19.00, 01 June - 10 September: 10.30 - 20.00, 11 September - 29 October: 10.30 - 19.00, 30 October - 31 December: 11.00 - 17.30, 25 December: Closed. During the winter months (approximately November to March) the cable car does not run between the following hours: 14.00 - 15.00
We continue to walk southward along Passeig de Joan de Borbó until we arrive to Platja de Sant Sebastià on our left. Sant Sebastià Beach is one of the oldest and most traditional beaches. The Barceloneta beaches were for the more poor peaople in Barcelona and Sant Sebastià Beach was more for the city's well-to-do classes at the time. The recent building of a hotel has created a small, peaceful cove where you'll find a number of restaurants. On your right the Nova Bocana Barcelona S.A.U company headquarters:
Head south on Passeig de Joan de Borbó toward Moll de Catalunya street (on your right - west), 260 m. Turn left toward Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 70 m. Turn right and keep walking along Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 230 m. Slight LEFT along Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 55 m. and you see the W Barcelona hotel. A new luxury hotel. If you get the chance - catch the elevator to the top floor for stunning views of ALL Barca. This hotel is one of the most iconic views of the the Port Vell:
The W hotel faces the Marina Vela: a new port and marina in Barcelona. Just opened in summer 2017.
From W Barcelona hotel (Placa de la Rosa dels Vents, 1, Final Passeig de Joan de Borbó) - walk west on Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 55 m. Turn right and walk along Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 260 m. Turn left onto Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 550 m. Turn left toward Carrer de la Drassana, 85 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Drassana, 30 m. Kaiku restaurant on your right. Continue onto Carrer de l'Escar, 150 m. Slight left onto Moll de Pescadors, 100 m. (here, you'll might face restricted usage or block road(s). You've arrived to another, relatively new, shopping center.
If you are hungry - try the Paella Moll del Rellotge (fish and sea food) in the Barceloneta restaurant here (20 euros for 2-persons portion):
we shall try to return to the Museo de Historia de Cataluña along the Marina (800 m.) - but, the road might be blocked or closed. Otherwise, we return along Passeig de Joan de Borbó (900 m. - 1 km.).
Behind the Moll stands the Torre del Reloj. The Clock Tower was a historical bastion of the Barceloneta port, erected in 1772 to serve as the lighthouse of the port. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the urbanization of the whole port area became more complex, eating land to the sea to give way to the enormous commercial traffic that was being generated and the lighthouse was lost between the docks. The whole area around might be blocked or under restricted usage. But it can be seen, easily from the Moll del Pescadors or from Barceloneta (see below).
From the museum there is a 800 m. walk along a pretty, pleasant, even grandiose promenade to MareMagnum. It is rather complicated to describe, in detail, your path. But, you'll see a decorative road lined with cones sculptures leading south to Moll d'Espanya, along Carrer de l'Ictíneo and ending at the huge patio or courtyard of Maremagnum, Edifici Maremàgnum, Moll d'Espanya, 5 shopping centre. On your left - stunning views of the Port Vell with the W Barcelona hotel and the Transbordador Aeri del Port in the background:
The last part of these 800 m. (between Museo de Historia de Cataluña and Maremagnum) is The Boardwalk. The stretch between the Carrer de l’Ictíneo in the north and Rambla de Mar (see below) in the south is officially called the Moll de Bosch i Alsina or Moll de la Fusta and it was once the area where the ancient Romans set up their markets and stations along the fishing port of Barcino. It’s a wide, open space with cemented cones, wooden bike roads, relaxing palms and benches all wrapping around the Old Harbour that sailboats and yachts call home. The best time to arrive to this place is the afternoon. Below, you'll see that the afternoon hours are also the best time to get views to the east from the Maremagnum decked courtyard and terraces (see below). It is accessible to people with reduced mobility:
On or way along the "Boardwalk to the Maremagnum we see on our left the most important Mediterranean themed Aquariums. It’s not the biggest in the world, but its impact on oceanic study and marine biology is well known all over the world. Nothing special. You may skip this Aquarium. Opening hours : every day 10.00 - 19.30 (weekdays, JAN-MAR, NOV-DEC) or 20.00 (weekdays, APR-MAY, OCT, weekends and holidays JAN-MAR, NOV-DEC) or 20.30 (weekdays APR-MAY, OCT) or 21.00 (Weekend and holidays, JUN, SEP) or 21.30 (weekends JUL-AUG). Prices: Adult (11+) 20,00€ (online purchase:18,00€), Children from 5 to 10 years old 15,00€ (online purchase: 13,00€), Children from 3 to 4 years old 7,00€ (online purchase: 6,5€). Ticket valid for 90 days after date of purchase:
WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND DOING THE WHOLE WAY TO THE MERAMAGNUM SHOPPING CENTRE - JUST FOR VIEWS FROM ITS COURTYARD AND TERRACES TO THE EAST DURING SUNNY AFTERNOON HOURS. The Maremagnum is one of Barcelona's most distinctive shopping malls. Located right at the heart of the port, it is a good place to bring the family to do some shopping, grab a bite to eat or simply sit and watch the boats go by. You can't miss the spectacular Meramagnum huge building. It sits jutting out into the water at the end of the wavy wooden pier of the Boardwalk. It's mirrored walls and arced roof reflect the water that surrounds it, giving it a glimmering blue glow. Around the building you will see people relaxing on the wooden Boardwalk, basking in the sunshine and watching the boats come in and out of the port area. Endless list of shops (fashion, home ware, electronics, toys), eateries and view points. From all directions the center there are terraces with a beautiful views of the Old Port and of Barcelona. How to get to Maremagnum Centre: Metro: Drassanes (Green Line, L3) 10 minutes walk, Barceloneta (Yellow Line, L4) 15 minutes walk. Hop on hop off sightseeing tourist bus - nearest stop for Maremagnum Centre is "Passeig de Colom" with the Barcelona City Tour "hop on hop off" sightseeing bus. Public bus: Maremagnum: V17, Passeig Colom / Via Laietana: 59, 120, D20, H14, V13.
Torre del Reloj near Moll del Pescadors from the Maremagnum:
The W Barcelona hotel from the Maremagnum:
The Aquarium from the Maremagnum:
Views of the Port Vell in the east from the Starbucks cafe' in the Maremagnum:
The western side of the Meramagnum:
Now, you have two options.
Option 1: completing your daily itinerary. With this option you walk (650 m.) from the Meramagnum to the Colombus Monument via the Rambla de Mar. From the Maremagnum turn right onto Rambla de Mar, 300 m. Turn left onto Moll de les Drassanes, 65 m. Turn right, 80 m. to the Columbus Monument, Plaça Portal de la pau. The Rambla de Mar is a wooden walkway which takes you across from the Port Vell around the Maremagnum Centre waterfront and shopping and dining areas to the Christopher Columbus monument. Designed in 1994 by the architects Albert Viaplana and Helio Piñón, the Rambla de Mar is an undulating wooden walkway over the water, with two openings. It's supported over the water by two iron arms. Every hour it opens up to allow recreational yachts to pass through. This walkway can be quite crowded, particularly when it opens and you wait for for a boat to go through. This bridge takes not long to cross and has great views of the Port Vell and boats around it. Lovely views of Montjuic in the background. You can consider the ambla de Mar as a new continuation of the La Rambla avenue - as it continues south, straight ahead from the famous La Rambla. The place is definitely packed with tourists. Like the La Rambla - be aware of pickpockets.
Option 2: connecting or continuing with the Barceloneta Itinerary. This daily route of the Port Vell is quit demanding and involved with lengthy walks. The Barceloneta walk is concerned with a 7-8 additional kilometres of walk. We recommend leaving Barceloneta for today and connecting this quarter with the Ciutadella itinerary.