After visiting the Sagrada Familia, we decided to try and find a spot that was recommended to us by a friend of a friend, who actually lives in Barcelona. It’s called Bunker del Carmel and it’s supposed to provide amazing views over the city. It’s fairly close to Park Guell too, so we figured we’d head there afterwards. It was still bright and sunny and we thought it would be great to get some photos. I had it marked out roughly on a printout from Google maps and we knew it was near the El Carmel area, so we headed for the nearest Metro stop.
On the way, we detoured slightly, to pass the Barcelona Hospital de Sant Pau as it was also recommended to us. Although a beautiful building, this was only a 5 minute pit-stop and after taking a couple of photos, we continued on our way!
We took the Metro to the El Carmel stop and realised once we had arrived that our handy (much more detailed) map from the tourist office didn’t actually go up as far as El Carmel! Leaving the station, we had arrived half-way up a giant hill, in what felt like a whole different world due to a drastic change in scenery from the city beneath us, with no map and no English speaking locals to pester for directions! Determined to find the viewpoint, and armed with our packed lunch ready, we set off confidently down the road … how hard could it be?!
Two long and sweaty hours later and we STILL were no closer to finding the Bunker del Carmel! We’d asked multiple locals (in broken Spanish) how to get there and had been greeted with many funny looks, and even the odd laugh. We hadn’t realised that the El Carmel/ Park Guell areas were up such a steep hill – we hadn’t read about that anywhere beforehand! We were walking around in circles, being pointed in one direction by one person, and then the opposite by the next. All whilst climbing an almost vertical hill.. in skinny jeans! We then realised amongst our desperation that my phone was picking up a mobile signal (not using 3G) on the Google Maps app and we were able to work out where we were. We still couldn’t find the Bunker as we didn’t know which road it was actually on, so decided (somewhat reluctantly) to give up and head to Park Guell to enjoy our picnic there instead.
Another 35 minutes (and even more uphill trekking) later, we arrived at Park Guell! Keen to find a nice grassy area to relax and eat lunch, we followed the dusty trail lined with people selling €1 magnets and other cheap souvenirs. After following the trail for 10 mins and finding nowhere suitable, hunger won and we made ourselves comfortable on the next available bench. It wasn’t ideal – people were constantly walking past, there was no incredible view (just a few trees), there was a guy next to us yelling ‘€1 WATER’ every 30 seconds and I even got pooed on by a bird! However, we were excited to see Park Guell and felt much better after a sandwich.
We continued down the hill to reach the ‘Monumental Zone‘ which is where all the best bits of Park Guell are; all the impressive Gaudi buildings, the dragon stairway, giant Gaudi lizard, the Austria Gardens and more. We arrived at the entrance to find it gated off and soon realised you had to have tickets to get in as they only let a certain number of people in each day.. In all our reading prior to our trip, we had somehow missed this. We knew you had to pay to get in to the Museum, but had thought the rest was free. We enquired about tickets which were around €8, but unfortunately they were fully booked for the rest of the day. We managed to take a few pictures through the gate but overall a BIG disappointment! Top tip – definitely get your tickets before you get there…
For other recommendations and top tips for Barcelona, see the ‘know before you go‘ post!