Barcelona city tours are an excellent way of seeing the city and really getting to grips with the Spanish culture whether you take a guided tour or go it alone. The city of Barcelona is a forward-thinking one and not only has it banned bullfighting, it's also very eco-aware and over recent years has taken a number of steps to become a great destination for green travel and ecotourism.
Barcelona city tours, on foot or cycle
Whether you choose a guided Barcelona tour or not, getting around this beautiful city on a bike is a simple affair. This is due to the free bicycle hire which operates in the city and has about 6000 bikes available for those who want to get around the city quickly and cleanly.
To participate in bicing, as it is known, you must be first registered for on the bicing website. However, this is only available in Spanish so you may want to get a Spanish speaker to do it for you. Bikes are available at every metro station and dotted around the city. There is a EUR30 fee for using the bicing service for a year and the first half hour of each ride is free, before rising to 50 cents per half hour for a maximum of 2 hours.
Alternatively you can find a paying rental service, of which there are many, or take a guided bicycle tour such as the Bicycle and Tapas Tour, which takes around 3 hours and explores all of the historic ruins that you may want to see, as well as providing drinks and tapa.
If you prefer to participate in a Barcelona city tour at a gentler pace, then why not try the Hidden Barcelona, which takes you around the city with a small group. This Barcelona city tour will take you around gothic churches, local markets and shops, as well as more historic places such as 19th Century stores and medieval backstreets.
The metro system and public transport in general in Barcelona is very good and you can purchase cards to use across all of the services from a single journey to a five day pass, whatever suits you best. This allows you to travel on the metro, buses and trains and can be purchased on the travel website prior to your arrival, making it perfect for planning your Barcelona city tour before you even set off.
Alternatively, you can purchase a Barcelona City card which allows you to travel on any of the city's public transport for free and includes entry to many of the city's most popular attractions.
Barcelona also has much to interest the ecotourist in the shape of parks and beautiful tree-lined streets. Barcelona city council have a sustainable gardening scheme encourages planting local, disease-resistant plants which are then irrigated by an automatic watering system which has been designed to save both money and water.
Like many areas of Spain, Barcelona operates a recycling scheme throughout the city and much of this is composted - the waste recycling bins can be found dotted liberally throughout Barcelona and are colour-coded, green for glass, yellow for un-perishables such as plastics and orange for general waste.
Green Hotels in Barcelona
There are plenty of eco options in Barcelona, thanks to the many Eco Urban hotels that appear to be popping up all over the place. For those on a budget, check out the brand new and exceptionally trendy Urbany Hostel which accepts single bookings and groups. Whilst the accommodation is relatively basic, it offers enough luxury to ensure you know you're in one of the world's leading cities.
For more luxurious options, which maintain a sustainable ethos, try the Grand Hotel Central or the Hotel Omm. Both of these have been recently renovated and have the option of complete relaxation with on-site Spa facilities.
Organic food in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city filled with all the very best that culture has to offer and eating in the city is no exception. There is a plethora of options open to the ecotourist, vegan or vegetarian and perhaps one of the best is Organic, the restaurant.
This bohemian style vegetarian restaurant is very popular with locals and tourists alike and in the day is usually buzzing. The friendly staff will be happy to show you to a communal table and explain how the daytime system works. For the first course, you're expected to help yourself to something from the organic, home-grown salad and soup bar, whilst for the second course is ordered from a waiter and could be anything from pizza to stir-fry.
If that hasn't convinced you that the restaurant is worth a visit then bear in mind that at lunchtimes, a local masseuse in on hand to offer their services!
Of course, there are plenty more options to interest vegetarians and organic food lovers, including quite a few falafel bars, a range of vegetarian restaurants which offer buffet food including Lebanese, Indian and Mediterranean.
Barcelona city tours really are the perfect way to get around this wonderful city which has so much to offer that it's impossible to list it all here. This vibrant and colourful city has embraced sustainability and as such, it's a must for anyone interested in green travel.
Not only are there a plethora of parks to explore, Barcelona has a wealth of culturally interesting places to take in which surround art, literature, architecture and history and as such, this city really should be on everybody's bucket list.
Photo credit: Moyan Brenn