Rick Steves' Favorite 'Green Getaway' To Escape Crowds In The Bustling City Of Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the cities that every traveler needs to visit at least once in their lifetime. Tourists from around the world flock there each year to experience beautiful beaches, mouthwatering gastronomy, culture, and architecture. Just imagine spending the day wandering through lively squares, feasting your eyes on iconic buildings like Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, dining on tasty tapas, and sipping delicious Spanish wine.

Barcelona is one of the world's most stunning cities, but it's also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Sometimes, the crowds can become overwhelming, and you may find yourself longing for some peace and quiet. Luckily, our favorite travel expert, Rick Steves, has the perfect destination in mind for when you're in search of some relaxation in nature.

Citadel Park, located on the northeastern edge of Ciutat Vella, offers locals and travelers a lush oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city. The free public green space is an excellent underrated attraction and a must-visit spot during your trip to Barcelona.

Take some time to stop and smell the flowers at Citadel Park

In a city as exciting as Barcelona, it's no surprise that so many tourists attempt to do and see everything they can. For many travelers, a trip to an iconic city like Barcelona is a major bucket-list item and a once-in-a-lifetime experience that requires hours of planning and months of saving, but you should still ensure that you carve out some time to chill.

Rick Steves is a European travel expert, best-selling guidebook author, and television host who spends months out of each year in Europe, and the historic Citadel Park is his top pick in the city of Barcelona for squeezing in some nature and relaxation. "Sometimes Americans pack too much into their itineraries," he wrote on his blog. "Slowing down to appreciate a park opens you up to a slower-paced, more locally grounded approach to a foreign culture."

Citadel Park was designed and built in the mid 1800's. Before that it was the site of a military citadel. It encompasses 75 acres, and is popular amongst the locals, especially on weekends. There are plenty of big beautiful trees providing shade from the warm Mediterranean sun, flower beds, and grassy areas perfect for spreading a blanket for a picnic or curling up with a good book. Rest your feet as you take a seat on a bench, and spend some time simply being present and observing the locals in one of the city's most beloved green spaces.

Some of Barcelona's best hidden gems are located within Citadel Park

The park's peaceful ambiance makes it a wonderful place for a romantic outing or for anyone exploring Barcelona alone. Once you've taken some time to kick off your shoes and soak in the natural beauty, you'll discover that there are plenty of attractions and activities to enjoy within the expansive public park. On warm summer days, nothing beats taking a walk along the expansive promenades, or paddling around the lake on a rowboat. Boat rentals are available for around $10 for 30 minutes. You'll also be able to see one of Gaudi's earliest projects — a beautiful fountain that he helped design while he was still a student. The fountain has a large waterfall and is covered in sculptures of mythological creatures.

Citadel Park is a wonderful place for anyone traveling with children. There is plenty of space for kids to run around and several playgrounds for them to enjoy. The largest playground has a free Ludoteca, which translates to "toy library" in English. There, children can play with different toys as well as organized play workshops.

Adults and children alike will enjoy a visit to the Barcelona Zoo, which has an entrance in the park. Tickets to the zoo cost a little under $25 per person. A few other museums are located nearby, including The MEAM, a museum of contemporary art, and The Geological Museum.