It's not hard to see why Barcelona is one of Spain's most popular cities for both domestic and international tourists. Its architecture and museums, the climate, the fine food and drink, its proximity to the sea and ease of access all make the city a hugely attractive destination for a weekend break or a longer stay at any time of the year.
In 2011, Barcelona was awarded Biosphere World Class Destination certification in recognition of the local government's efforts to offer high-quality standards of tourism management for both its residents and visitors alike, ensuring that all can enjoy the city's many and varied attractions in a well-balanced, environmentally-friendly way.
If you are thinking of visiting Barcelona and want to help maintain a healthy environment characterised by a spirit of coexistence, this article will give you some ideas on how to be a conscientious tourist, leaving behind only your footprints on Barcelona's excellent beaches.
1. Look after the city's public spaces
This is a basic principle of living together in a city. Just as we wouldn't think of leaving our rubbish lying around on the floor at home, neither should we litter our public spaces. This is as simple as ensuring we use the litter bins throughout Barcelona for all our waste - not just the larger rubbish, but also small things like cigarette ends which make the pavements look dirty and give the city a bad image.
It's been made very easy for us to make sure we leave nothing behind - you can find a litter bin every 50 metres on your city break in Barcelona!
2. Respect local residents'nneed for a good night's sleep
In a city in which partying and night-life is as varied and appealing as it is in Barcelona, respect for people's right to enjoy peaceful rest is essential. You might be on holiday but you should nevertheless remember that the flats above the city's bars and clubs are home to local people who have to get up the next morning to go to work. All you need to do is keep your voice down. If you want to dance, sing and have noisy fun, do so within the appropriate places designed for such festivities.
Drinking in Barcelona's streets is not allowed, so keep your partying to the city's clubs and concert venues - there's plenty of music for all tastes!
3. Reduce your consumptionnof plastics
People are becoming increasingly aware of the danger to the Earth posed by the vast amounts of single-use plastic packaging. You will probably have started to use cloth bags when you do the shopping or perhaps have gone back to buying loose goods from grocery stores like our grandparents did.
Just as you try to respect the environment at home, you can also do your bit in this regard when on holiday. Here are a few ideas:
- Carry your own refillable glass ornmetal water bottle. You will save both plastic and money, as you will no longernneed to buy all those little bottles of mineral water. In Barcelona you cannfind public fountains in every neighbourhood at which you can refill yournbottle. n- Put a cloth bag in your suitcase so that when you buy something younwon't need to ask for a single-use plastic or paper bag. n- Ask for your coffee in a cup or glass - some cafés will put your drinknin a disposable cup without asking if you want it to take away or will bendrinking it there. Never forget that you're on holiday - take the time to relaxnand enjoy your coffee from a proper cup. n- Always think about how you can reduce consumption. For example, in your Barcelona hotel, think about whether you really need your towels to be washed every day.nYou wouldn't at home, so why do so in a hotel? If every visitor were to do thensame, vast amounts of water could be saved. n
4. Buy locally
Take advantage of the fact that you are in a city with a notable gastronomic culture and wonderful local markets full of fine seasonal produce from the region. Similarly, when buying presents, think about supporting local artists and craftspeople, shopping at small family-owned shops and crafts workshops. This way you will be helping the local economy, one of the pillars of sustainability.
5. Use public transport andnbicycles
Barcelona's public transport network can take you everywhere you want to go. Making use of it not only reduces pollution levels in the city, but will also save you money.
If you're an active person, walking Barcelona's streets is a great way to discover the paths less travelled. If not, rent a bicycle to move about the city quickly and comfortably.
These are just some of the ideas to ensure that your visit to Barcelona is both sustainable and mindful. There are of course many others, all of which are adaptable to any other place you visit. These small changes are not so significant on an individual level. However, the more people adopt such measures, the more we will be caring for the planet and the longer we will be able to enjoy travel.