In the lead image above George Lucas Storm Troopers in Star Wars was inspired by Gaudi. For first time travellers to Barcelona these are my five favourites photo spots. I am expecting many readers to add their best spots that are not on this list. Please make sure to Google pin your exact locations in your comments. Much like my recent post on Tokyo I would love to see lots of sharing especially less popular locations.
The point of this article and many to follow is to expand on everyone's travel experiences and narrow down each location depending on the genre of travel photography they would like to focus. For this article I will focus on architecture and street portraits. I would encourage all other comments to also talk about other genres of travel photography such as abstract, conceptual, food...
For those who are hard pressed for time, here is a slow three hour walk to take you to must see destinations. Best seen in the late afternoon or early in the morning depending when you are more creative and relaxed. The loop walk can start and end wherever you would like to visit first. Here is my Goggle Map.
The five spots listed below are general areas with some specific stops to look into. A self guided photo walk allows you to explore other paths and alleyways.
In Plaça Catalunya you will find the meeting point for free walking tours of the city which usually run in most cities around the world. It's a free tour! That means that at the end of the tour, you can pay whatever you think the tour was worth. Their locations are what you would expect to see. It also serves as a great starting point to map your walking route and then change it to suit your photography needs. If you have time to spare and are feeling energetic then perhaps a walk with them first and then a second walk on your own next. The plaza has a nice ambience of street performers.
Barcelona and Madrid are notorious for bag snatchers and pick pockets. I always carry a dirty old bag and only travel with one camera and one lens. Your rubber neck as a tourist should not be too obvious. Only take your camera out of the bag when shooting. Always have your bag clenched tightly to the front of your chest. No jewelry, expensive watches, or anything that looks flashy. You want to look and act local. These guys are very good at distracting you so whenever anyone gets too close to you watch your back. Avoid walking into very crowded and dark areas where they target tourists. In the comments section I would like to hear of any experiences you may have heard or encountered.
Universitat is a Barcelona Metro station named after Plaça de la Universitat, split between Eixample and Ciutat Vella districts of Barcelona, where the station is located in. The area is close to Universitat De Barcelona, therefore adding to an ambience of youth. For street portraits I prefer to shoot with and without permission depending on the time, place, and person. Most people don't mind you taking photos, but take the time to read the situation, particularly if you are traveling or in an unfamiliar culture. Be friendly and only bring the camera up to your eye when you are taking the shot. Explain yourself if asked and be genuine about your intentions.
3. Gothic Quarter
This area is riddled with side alleys. Bohemian and eclectic vibe. It's a suburb with a blend of working class people and boutique shops or hotels. Every street corner is a potential street portrait. Try to blend into the crowd as much as possible. Darker clothing works well. Bright jackets and white runners don't! Finally, observe, relax, and be very patient. You will be amazed what might reveal itself. Photographing a street portrait without permission can sometimes be hard to do. To avoid confrontation and still get a spontaneous photo, I would suggest you pick a street corner with some nice architecture. Wait for your subject to come into frame and snap a few quick ones. Most people will feel as though they have entered your shot by mistake. I know it's a sneaky move but the results can sometimes be rewarding. I often shoot with a Canon 85mm F1.2. This type of a lens gives me the distance I need for these alleyways. A longer lens might attract more attention. Blending architecture with the occasional street portrait can be a fun exercise. If there is a person I would like to speak with then I ask for permission. Your camera is a great excuse to make friends with the locals.
Points of Interest in area: Pablo Picasso Museum, Jewish Quarter, Roman Ruins, Plaza De Sant Felip Neri, Plaza Del Re, Mercat del Born, Ciutadella Park & Barcelona Cathedral.
4. Sagrada De Familia
Standing in front and looking up I can't help but think of Gaudi the architect doing the same just before he got run over by a tram. When he was admitted to hospital and died shortly after, many thought he was a homeless man. A trip to Barcelona without seeing this work of art would be a pity. Best to buy your entry tickets online as the lines go forever on busy days.
5. La Pedrera and Casa Batllo
Both of Gaudi's buildings are just a few blocks from each other. The nearest subway station is Diagonal if you are feeling a bit tired toward the end of this walk. Barcelona today would not have as many tourists if it weren't for Gaudi's fans from all over the world. Once again, due to it's ever popularity, I would suggest buying tickets online to avoid the long lines.
Other Points of Interest
Las Ramblas - Barcelona's most famous boulevard is a tourist mecca for pickpockets, but charming all the same if you don't get robbed.
Park Guell - A playful creation of Gaudi's masterpeice.
Museu Maritim - A fine example of civil Gothic architecture.
CCCB and MACBA - Cultural Centre and Contemporary Museum of Art
Olympic Park and National Art Gallery
Please add more suggestions for other locations in your comments below.