Sustainable Travel: How To Be Part Of The Solution In 10 Simple Steps

Mass tourism is completely untenable.

Beautiful cities like Venice are being destroyed by mass tourism.

If one good thing comes from the world being shut down due to the pandemic it could be the realigning of how we travel so that when the world does reopen, maybe this time we can get it right.

Mass tourism causes irreparable damage on many levels but the three most pervasive are: environmental damage, social and cultural damage and economic damage. As much as you may think several thousand people dismbarking from a cruise ship boosts a local economy, guess what – it doesn’t. In fact it does the exact opposite.

This post is the final in a series about sustainable travel, what it is and why we need to be part of the solution.

What Is Sustainable Travel?

Before you start thinking Sustainable tourism is about driving a Prius and eating vegan food let’s look at what it really means. Sustainable travel means developing ways to travel that don’t harm the natural and cultural environments, that minimize the negative impact of tourism and ideally are beneficial to the places we are traveling to. The idea is to keep everything in good condition for future generations to enjoy.

10 Ways You Can Become A Sustainable Traveler

We can make a huge difference by just making a few simple changes in the way we travel. Here are 10 simple things you can do that will make you part of the solution rather thn part of the problem.

1. DON’T Book A Cruise!

The cruise industry is one of the worst offenders in the mass tourism game. Cruises have a massive negative impact on the oceans and the ports they arrive into.

Cruise ship leaving Venice. During the tourist season there will be 5 ships per day in port in Venice. That’s 20,000 extra people decending into a very small town that is extremely environmentally fragile.

The influx of multiple thousands of passengers is bad for the environment, bad for local culture and bad for the local economy.

Here are eight places being completely ruined by the cruise industry:

  • Venice
  • Barcelona
  • Dubrovnik
  • Santorini
  • Mallorca
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • Bali

You can read more about cruise ships damaging impact on the environment here

RELATED POST: 15 Things You MUST Do In Venice

2. Be Aware Of The Trash You Create

When thinking about the impact you have on any place you travel to, any city, town, village, beach, national park, at all times be aware of the amount of trash you are generating and leaving behind. Even if you are putting it in a trash can or dumpster.

The worst offenders are single use plastics, like bottles of water. Choosing to use refillable bottles or refilling the one bottle can make a huge difference.

Crowds on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. Imagine if each of these people purchased 2 or 3 bottles of water. Where does all that single use plastic go?

Also think about the amount of trash your food choices create. Making an effort to only eat sitting down in a restaurant/café/food bar can eliminate the trash created by the packaging for fast foods. Try keeping all your trash for two days – you will be amazed at how much you generate! Try imagining that volume of refuse multiplied out by the number of tourists in that town that day. For example if you are in Venice and buy 3 bottles of water you may not think that’s much waste created, but multiply that out by the 20,000 passengers from the 5 cruise ships in port that day and you start seeing what a huge deal that really is.

Beach litter in Hawaii.

3. Avoid Major Chains

Outside of your home country or traveling to the U.S or U.K avoid staying at major chain hotels. When you book with a major international chain approximately 16% of your nightly hotel fee won’t go to the local economy, it will go to the conglomerate. Booking a local hotel keeps the money in that specific town.

The same applies to your dining choices. Avoid the major U.S fast food chains – you didn’t travel across the world to eat McDonald’s and drink Starbucks. Eat at local cafes and restaurants where the food is locally sourced and prepared by locals and where all your dollars are going back into the local economy.

4. Book Direct

When you book a hotel reservation (or any reservation) through a third party booking service like or 25% of the value of your booking doesn’t make it to the local economy. Find out what the price is with the consolidator then call the hotel and ask them to match it. 9 times out of 10 they will, and now once again you are putting all the money back into the local economy.

5. Choose Less Traveled Locations.

The Greek island of Paros is much less touristed than islands such as Santorini and Mykonos.

Rather than choosing the most touristed places for your vacation, choose a place less traveled. Rather than Santorini choose one of the hundreds of equally beautiful Greek islands that don’t get cruise ships. Instead of Barcelona venture to one of Catalonia’s equally magical smaller coastal towns. Seeking out smaller, less touristy locations helps dilute mass tourism.

If you must go to (a.k.a. don’t want to miss) the most touristed cities and islands try to go during the off season when then are fewer people around. I love Barcelona but only go between November and March when the cruise ships aren’t running.

6. Get Off The Beaten Path

Florence streets
Florence on a super crowded day. There were literally thousands of people about 500 meters away, yet we had the city to ourselves.

This goes with number 5. Even in the big cities you can still get off the beaten path. Avoid the areas that are full of tourists and explore some of the lesser known sights. You’ll have a much more enriching and fulfilling experience. My rule is spend 25% of your time at the big sites and the other 75% at lesser known, lesser visited places, or “off the beaten track”. Of course you have to see the Colosseum in Rome – it would be madness to miss it. But then go explore the less visited sites and you will fall in love with the Eternal City.

RELATED POST: 18 Things You MUST Do In Florence

7. Support Local Artisans

Rather than shop in high street stores which you have at home anyway, or buying junky trinkets in made in China souvenir shops, support local artisans.

In a random little town in Tuscany we found this local artisan with her loom, making beautiful hand designed pashminas, scarves and knitwear.

Apart from helping keep the crafts and cultures alive shopping from local artisans significantly impacts the local economy.

We bought pieces both for ourselves and for gifts to take home. There were six of us and we equalled her entire month in sales. Always support the local economy.

8. Check Your Sunscreen

Believe it or not something as simple as your choice of sunscreen can have an environmental impact. Sunscreen gets into the ocean and other waterways when you swim or shower it off. You don’t need to be vacationing near the coral reefs for your sunscreen to have an impact.

In 2015 scientists estimated that annually 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the world’s coral reefs.

Coral reefs are being destroyed by pollutants.

Some of the most common sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano zinc oxide and nano titanium dioxide can harm both sea creatures and coral reefs. The damage is significant enough that some places are banning sun tan lotions containing them. In 2018 Hawaii banned the sale of sun tan lotions, sunblocks and suncreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate.

For a list of easily available and affordable reef safe sunscreens click here

9. Travel By Train

italo train Naples

Trains have been shown to be the most environmentally friendly mode of travel. Where possible use trains to travel through Europe rather than cars or planes. Using car only on the days you can’t get places by train has a significant impact on the environment.

RELATED POST: 21 Books That Will Inspire Wanderlust

10. Choose Your Animal Experiences Carefully

Animals shouldn’t be used for entertainment and should be able to live with as little human interference as possible. If you need to see animals in the wild take your tourism dollars to wildlife sanctuaries and refuges and marine conservation projects.

Kim Kardashian with elephant
Kim Kardashian said this was at an elephant sanctuary but sanctuaries don’t ride elephants and don’t use ropes on them. This poor animal was being abused.

Be aware that animals are mistreated and abused in the name of tourism. Don’t take an elephant ride – riding elephants can be extremely harmful to them and the process for getting an elephant ready to be ridden is inhumane. (Rescued elephants go to sanctuaries to escape a life of being ridden and abused.)

Avoid all experiences where animals are not behaving naturally. Also be aware that animals are being torn from the wild to be made available for tourists to take selfies with.

Want to know more? Listen to the Any Given Runway Podcast episode where we talk about sustainable travel and how you can make a huge difference by doing very small things. You can check out the webpage here

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10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Girona


Are you looking for a fabulous day trip from Barcelona? Would you like to find a quaint little Catalan town to stay in for a few days or forever? I want to tell you about Girona, an exquisitely beautiful little walled city with a history that dates back to 79 B.C

Girona is incredibly lovely. Situated 99km northeast of Barcelona in the heart of Catalunya, Girona is the perfect place to escape to for a day trip, but also would make a gorgeous home-base for your entire Catalan vacation. While I was walking around soaking up the beauty of this darling town I kept thinking I would like to run away here for a couple of weeks, or even longer.

10 Things You Must Do In Girona

1. Game of Thrones Tour

Girona Game of Thrones

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Parts of season 6 were filmed in Girona. I haven’t seen season 6 but apparently it was a big deal. Game of Thrones fans can take a walking tour of the filming locations.

Girona Game of Thrones

Apparently the guides even have iPads to show you clips from the show to help you identify the places you are seeing. I haven’t taken the tour but have been told that Viator runs them.

2. Cross the Eiffel Bridge

Eiffel Bridge Girona


Two years before he built his famous tower Gustav Eiffel built a bridge in Girona. In December it was covered in yellow ribbons.

Eiffel Bridge Girona Spain

Just seeing the Eiffel Bridge juxtaposed against the prettily colored buildings across the Onyar river is a little surreal, but fittingly magnificent.

Eiffel Bridge Girona Spain

3. Climb the Cathedral Steps

I couldn’t figure out why the cathedral seemed off kilter until I realized it only has one tower! The steps of the Girona cathedral are not only never ending, but also very popular. (If you want a good photo you need to get there first thing in the morning, otherwise you will have stair-climbers in your pictures.)

Girona Cathedral

For those of you who enjoy burning quads and lungs and do make it up to the top, see if you can spot the witch. Legend has it that a witch used to hide up there and throw stones. As punishment she was turned into a gargoyle and now spits rainwater instead of curses. Look for her amongst the gargoyles – she really is up there!


4. Visit the Arab Baths

I was so disappointed that by the time I actually found the Arab Baths they had closed for the day. I was there in December when they closed at 2 pm. Built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style with Saracen accents, the baths were in use until the end of the 14th century, and then were restored in the 20th century. Famous for their beauty and for the play of light and dark these baths are a must see on your trip to Girona. Just don’t be like me and miss them – go early!

5. Walk the Medieval Walls

Passeig de la Muralla Girona

The Passieg de la Muralla, or the walkway that spans the length of the wall on the eastern border of the old town of Girona give you the advantage of being up high to take in the sweeping views of this beautiful city. The walls don’t circle the city anymore, but you can still have an extended walk. I was advised to go up in the late afternoon after the sun has peaked and is beginning to soften. It made for really beautiful views but not such great photos for an entirely novice photographer. It was however one of my favorite activities while I was there!

Medieval Wall Girona Spain

Of course I got lost and went up from the direction they advise you to go down, but we spent a good hour just exploring the ramparts and soaking up the history before eventually getting to the wall. Along the way we met other people who were equally lost, so I did feel somewhat vindicated!

Girona Spain

View of Girona from the Passeig de la Muralla


Medieval wall Girona

I wonder how many arrows were fired through here by soldiers up on the wall, protecting Girona?

Medieval Wall Girona

However you get there and whichever end you start at, go walk the medieval wall.

6. Wander The Jewish Quarter

Girona Spain

The Jewish Quarter, known as El Call, is one of the best preserved in Europe. In the 12th century Girona was home to one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in all of Europe. The Jewish community flourished here from the late 10th century until 1492 when the Catholic Church outlawed Judaism, forcing everyone to either convert or go into exile.

More than 500 years later the maze-like winding alleyways and cobblestoned lanes of El Call are still intact, and wonderful to explore.


7. Look Along The Onyar

Girona Spain

From any of the many bridges crossing the Onyar the views are just so incredibly pretty. At first glance it reminds me of Florence, but once that semblance passes, this view is the heart of Girona.


8. Enjoy A Long, Slow Lunch on La Rambla de la Llibertat

La Rambla Girona


We walked all over the old town before stopping for lunch at La Tasca on La Rambla de la Llibertat. La Rambla de la Llibertat was originally a wide market street but now is lined with restaurants and cafes all with tables outside on the pavement under an arbor of trees. It is gorgeous.

Lunch in Girona Spain

It may have been that it was low tourist season, but everywhere we looked it was mostly locals at all the restaurants, which is always a good sign! All were enjoying a long, slow, Catalan lunch, so we did the same.

We were there on my birthday, so in it’s own way it was extra special. To me anyway.

Corinna B in Girona

Catalan food

We had Iberian ham and cheeses, local bread from the bakery across the street, Catalan escargots and a spicy bowl of patates bravas, along with a really incredible local wine and some coffee.

Lunch Girona Spain

It was a Sunday afternoon and a local band was playing Catalan folk music at the far end of La Rambla with the town’s old folks all dancing. It actually felt as though we were extras in a movie. Definitely block off time to enjoy a long lunch in Girona!

9. Kiss The Lion’s Bum

Much like rubbing the Cinghiale’s nose guarantees you will come back to Florence, Girona has its own statue that promises you a return trip. This time instead of a nose rub you need to do some butt kissing.

Girona Lion

“Qui besa el cul de la lleona retorna a Girona”

“Whoever kisses the ass of the lion will return to Girona”

Lion Girona

First you have to find the statue of the lioness in the Placa de Sant Feliu. It could be argued that she is scampering up the pole to get away from tourist lips, but legend has it that if you climb the specially placed steps and plant a big smooch on her derriere you are guaranteed to come back to Girona.

Lions Butt Girona

This town is so completely lovely I just had to kiss the lion’s bum!

The original Romanesque pole and lion were erected in the 12th century. As time passed and legend was created the lion became a lioness. The original statue is in Girona’s Museum of Art, the current statue being erected in 1986.

10. Drink Cava in Plaça Indepencia

My original plan had been to stay at least one night in Girona, but I had to cut the trip short, so ended up just making a day trip. In my overnight plan I was going to end the day in Plaça Indepencia, sipping cava as the sun went down, and maybe starting the next day back there for coffee.

Placa Independencia Girona

This plaça is so pretty with a slightly shabby old world charm. We did manage to end the day in Girona sitting at an outdoor café (next to a heat lamp – it was freezing out!) with a crisp, bubbly glass of local cava. It was one of those glorious travel experiences that becomes a defining travel memory. The view was so lovely, the atmosphere was perfect.

Placa Independencia Girona

It was December so the center of the Plaça was full of Christmas market stalls and local families wandering and stopping for a late afternoon coffee or glass of wine.

Placa Independencia Girona

I really hope that you will take the time to visit Girona, if not for a few days then at least for a day trip from Barcelona.

You can get to Girona by train from the Barcelona Sants station. The regular train takes 54 minutes and the fast train takes 38 minutes. There are 24 trains per day from Barcelona to Girona.


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10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Barcelona

Barcelona has to be one of the prettiest cities in Europe. From its incredibly blue skies to the azure Mediterranean lapping at its shores, light bounces and races up Barcelona’s wide, sweeping boulevards, filtering through the leaves of the endless trees that line them, swirling around the octagonal intersections in the Eixample, dancing with the modernist architecture. Even in winter Barcelona captures the light and shines prettily.

The city is incredibly clean, and laid out in an easy to navigate grid that makes it perfect for strolling. My favorite cities anywhere in the world are walking cities. You really learn a city and its people when you walk it, and for the most part you can get everywhere in Barcelona on foot. The few places that are a little further out are easily accessible by metro, and Barcelona has a metro system that is simple to use, quick and very inexpensive.

If you are fortunate enough to travel to Barcelona anytime soon, be it on your own, with a tour or on a cruise, make sure you do these 10 things.

10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Barcelona

Walk La Rambla

La Rambla has changed so much since my first trip to Barcelona years and years ago! It is now very touristy, but even so it needs to be on your list of places to go and things to do in Barcelona. This wide, tree lined pedestrian mall is full of outdoor cafes and restaurants, shops and market stalls, and is one of the most famous points of interest in this gorgeous city. Start at Placa Catalunya and wander the full length of La Rambla to Christopher Colombus Monument at the ocean front Port Vell. A little over one kilometer or ¾ of a mile in length, La Rambla serves as the boundary of The Barrio Gotic (Gothic Quarter) on its eastern side and the neighborhood of El Raval on its western front.

Shop La Boqueria

Part way along La Rambla on the west side of the boulevard is the world famous Boqueria Market, a visual banquet that will also fill your belly!

La Bocqueria Barcelona

Since 1836 every day 200 traders open their market stalls selling Iberian meats and cheeses, fresh seafoods, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Everything you could possibly need or want for a giant dinner party, dinner for two, or anything in between!

La Bocqueria Barcelona

The mouthwatering sights, sounds and smells of La Boqueria are just fantastic.

La Bocqueria Barcelona

Grab a snack from one of the stalls or a glass of cava at Pinotxos, but as with any busy market keep your hand on your handbag at all times and be aware of the pickpockets who are probably circulating, looking for distracted tourists.

Corinna B La Bocqueria Barcelona


Visit Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s masterpiece is another must see while you are in Barcelona. Take the metro to the Sagrada Familia stop and the cathedral erupts out of the ground as you exit. It is spectacular! When he designed and started building the cathedral Gaudi knew it would not be finished during his lifetime. The project has stopped and started various times over the past century, largely due to financing, and wars.

Make sure to visit Sagrada Familia on a day full of light. I sincerely recommend having a guide to explain the cathedral to you, from the outside start with the east side and look at the sculptures depicting the nativity and birth of Christ and then walk around to the west side and see the ultra modern blockhead sculptures depicting the passion of the Christ.

Sagrada Familia Barcelona

From the outside the cathedral looks brooding and dark, and as you circle it (I recommend walking around it several times) pay attention to the moodiness of it’s forest-like theme.

Sagrada Familia

Once you step inside the explosion of light will take your breath away! (This is why I recommend going on a sunny day). The difference between the outside and the inside is just awe inspiring and Gaudi’s use of natural light is amazing.

The stained glass windows on the west side are blue for the start of the day and as the sun drops to the eastern side of the cathedral the oranges and reds depict the inferno. It. Is. Spectacular.

Tips for buying tickets: Buy your tickets online ahead of time. Entry to the Sagrada Familia is timed, and you will be given a half hour window to enter. Basic entry is 18 euros and pricing goes up to 39 euros depending on what tours you take.



Take A Walking Tour of The Barrio Gotico

Barcelona Cathedral

One of my favorite things we did this past trip to Barcelona was take a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter. We used Next Tours, which is a free tour, you just tip at the end.

Barrio Gotico Barcelona

I met several of their tour guides while I was in Barcelona, and all of them were architecture students at the university in Barcelona. They were all in love with the city, in love with the architecture and gave impassioned, sensational tours of the city. I am a big believer that the quality of a tour experience lies in the commitment of the guide taking you. There are plenty of guiding companies to choose from but I recommend Next. The guides don’t get paid and the tours are free. They earn their money solely in tips, so tip them 10-20 euros per person. They deserve it!

Barcelona Barrio Gotico

The Gothic Quarter is the wonderful, old, medieval section of town. I could go to Barcelona and spend every minute there – it is wonderful! The magic of doing a walking tour is in all of the minute details the guide can point out and the random little stories that you don’t find in the guide books. Our guide was a dude from Paraguay called Jesus, and he knew so many random and fascinating stories that it wove a brilliant tapestry into every street we walked along. Jesus has another year of university in Barcelona, so if you are traveling there in 2018 I suggest you try to book him.

 El Born And The Picasso Museum

El Born is the neighborhood bordering the Barrio Gotic on the east side. It is full of beautiful old streets and little plazas, bars and restaurants, and the best boutique shopping in Barcelona. From the Jaume metro stop just wander up and down all the little streets, explore, get lost and explore some more.

El Born district Barcelona

This district looks a lot like all the little Tuscan towns that I adore, so I feel an extra connection to it.

El Born district Barcelona

Picasso  Museum

Where the Barrio Gotic meets El Born you will find the Picasso museum. Housed in an exquisite old building, this museum is a must see, even if you are not a Picasso fan. The museum takes you on a walk through Picasso’s life from the early years (the brilliance of his work from the age of 14 will stop you in your tracks!), through every influence and chapter of his life until the end. There is plenty of Picasso’s work that I don’t identify with, but I was enraptured with the overall genius of both the man and the exhibition. I go to art museums all over the world in every city I visit, and I know I will be back here every time I come to Barcelona.

One thing I loved about visiting this museum on a freezing night in December, far, far away from tourist season, was that every corner I turned I would see young Barcelonans strolling and enjoying the art. It was the most normal of things to do, go see some art with friends and then grab some pintxos and sangria. Even though it was a Thursday night before Christmas and the bars and restaurants were full of revelers, the art museum was full too. I wish I saw that at the Phoenix Art Museum!

Visit The Magic Fountain

The magic fountain at Montjuic are another must see while in Barcelona. Since their first performance on May 19th 1929 for the Great Exhibition the dancing fountains have entertained millions and were no doubt the inspiration for Steve Wynn’s dancing fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Magic Fountain Barcelona

The Magic Fountain is accompanied by lights and music, and is quite lovely to watch. You will need to check the hours the fountain is happening. Online I had read that it was Sunday nights, but (thankfully!) one of our Next Tours guides told me it was Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in December, otherwise we would have missed it! While we were in Barcelona the fountain was happening from 8pm til 9pm, but again check the times for when you are in town. The area was packed, and in the absence of tourists in December it was all local families, the young and the old folks. We saw all these lovely ancient couples walking along holding hands on their way to the fountain. I am so glad we went because it was just gorgeous!

Corinna B Magic Fountain Barcelona

The Magic Fountain at Montjuic is super easy to get to, just take the metro to the Espanya stop and follow the flow of humans up the fountain lined Av, de la Reina.

Wander Parc Guell

Of course no trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting Gaudi’s magnificent Park Guell.

Park Guell Barcelona

Originally intended to be a modern and inspired housing development, Parc Guell’s auspicious start proved unsuccessful. Of the 60 homes that were intended to be built on triangular lots only 2 were completed, but much of the infrastructure of the community was in place, now open to the public as a wonderful, magical, tribute to the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

Park guell barcelona

Ideally you want to visit Parc Guell on one of Barcelona’s eternally sunny days, when the sunlight bounces off all the whimsically colored tiles and you can watch the screaming blue sky meet up with the endlessly blue Mediterranean in an absolute visual feast, but on this trip we went on a cold, cloudy morning. And it was still spectacular!

Park guell barcelona

The Parc itself is free to visit, but entering into the Monuental Zone there is a small fee. I think it was only about 8 euros***. You definitely want to go inside and wander around, this place is magical!

I would advise getting up early and being there when the park opens, to try to get a jump on the crowds. One of the most famous photo spots is on the roof of the Sala Hipostila where you have a gorgeous view all the way to the ocean. Even on cloudy, grey days there are tons of people trying to take the same photo with the view over their shoulder! Another great photo op that is fun to get before the crowds descend is in the colonnade, where the retaining wall swoops over like a giant wave.

Park guell barcelona

You can get to Parc Guell by metro, but be advised there is a 15-20 minute walk to the Parc and much of it is uphill.

Stroll Passeig de Gracia

The Passeig de Gracia is a gorgeous, incredibly wide boulevard that connects the beautiful suburb of Gracia with the center of town, the Placa Catalunya. The street is lined with designer boutiques and is also home to Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. Even without the shops and the Gaudis this would still be a glorious street to wander along.

The architecture features lots of Barcelona’s modernism, which on its own makes it enchanting, and the avenue is lined with enormous trees giving an overall effect that is so incredibly beautiful. Somehow Barcelona has been able to calm its traffic, so the sound of racing engines, blaring car horns and speeding traffic is never around you. Its amazing how much that becomes white noise in other major cities, and how startling it is to be walking along a major thoroughfare in this big city and not be aware of the traffic noise!

There is a Nespresso store part way along the boulevard on the Batllo side of the street (number 55!), and for Nespresso drinkers from America this is a wonderful opportunity to buy Nespresso pods for half the price they cost in America AND get treated rudely by the snooty Nespresso workers! For the life of me I cannot understand why someone working in a shop thinks they are better than anyone else?? It’s wickedly entertaining! To me there is no difference in skill if you work in a Nespresso shop or at 7/11, except that the 7/11 worker needs to know more products and more machines.

Anyway, every Nespresso store I have ever been in is staffed with workers who think they are better than virtually every customer who walks through the door, but when I’m in Europe I make sure I go in and stock up on my coffee pods, regardless.


Eat Pinchos/Pintxos

This is my favorite way to eat when I’m in Barcelona! If you are on a budget Pinchos are an absolute win, and if you don’t need huge plates of food, they are perfect.

Pinchos Barcelona

Lots of bars in Barcelona will have their counter lined up with plates of tapas/ finger foods with a tooth pick in each item. You grab your Pintxos Barcelonadrink and a plate and take whichever pinchos you want, and at the end of the night they count up the toothpicks on your plate and tell you how much you owe.

Most places have pinchos for around one euro each. A really lovely glass of Rioja runs only a couple of euros, and everywhere we ate the pinchos were quite filling. It’s the same as when you eat sushi and because you are slowly eating small pieces you realize you are done long before you have over eating. On this past trip to Barcelona we weren’t particularly on a budget, but wound up spending around 5 or 6 euros per night on dinner – a glass of wine and 3 or 4 pinchos. It was fantastic! I don’t think we ate the same things twice either, there was just so much variety. The thing I miss most about Spain since coming home is the nights out eating pinchos!

Take A Walking Tour Of Gaudi and Modernisme

Another walking tour that we did, also with Next Tours, was their Gaudi and Modernisme tour. Modernisme or Catalan Modernism is the name given to an art and literature movement that is part of Catalunya’s search for its national identity, and that was centered in Barcelona. Barcelona is perhaps most famous for its Modernisme architecture, but once you are in the know you will see signs of it everywhere in ceramic tiles, cabinet making, forged iron and glass, all of which were an important part of architecture but also stand alone. The movement which took place at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century also included art, poetry and literature. It is such an integral part of the Barcelonan and Catalan identity that it is almost a crime as a traveler to be there and not learn and explore the beauty and the idiosyncrasies of Modernisme. And of course you have to visit the Gaudis!

Casa Battlo Barcelona

This was a perfect walking tour to take with an architecture student! Our guide was from Uruguay and was studying restoring architecture. She was virtually bursting at the seams with excitement to teach us and show us the intricacies of Modernisme. Fiore had endless stories about all the people involved in the movement, the people who designed the buildings, the people who lived in them, which made the entire tour fascinating. Her enthusiasm was so infectious that when we got home to our apartment that night (after pinchos!) we pulled out all the books the apartment had on Gaudi and Modernisme and went back over everything.

If you are visiting Barcelona I would recommend doing these walking tours at the beginning of your trip because they will change how you see every street you walk down, how you look at every building, and your appreciation of this gorgeous city.

Of course there are hundreds of other things to do in Barcelona, but I hope you will at least try these ten!

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