For anyone visiting an unfamiliar city for the first time, and lacking a personal guide who really knows the city, the Hop-on Hop-off tour bus is by far the best way to get a feel for the city. At least the parts of the city of interest to most tourists. You get the most tour for your money and unlike formal or structured group tours, there are really no time restraints. You do not feel that you are pressured to take a quick loo, a photo or two and hop back on the tour bus to move on to your next destination.
My wife and I bought a two day pass and our initial circuit on the green and blue routes (there is also a green route which we did not take until our second day) and for the first time around, we stayed on the bus the entire route. We did this with the intent of noting those stops on the map which we would want to hop off and spend some time exploring on the next go around and on the second day.
The buses are double decker so sure, weather permitting, why not go up top? It's better for shooting photographs. On our visit to Barcelona the mornings were a little on the cool side and so the second day, as we already knew where we wanted to go, and the upper deck will tend to fill up faster than the lower one, we simply stayed below.
The audio narration (with the free supplied ear buds and the selection of languages) gives a good overview of each "destination" as you approach it. This helped us to mark notes of interest on our map and travel notebook.
The buses run very frequently (every few minutes, it seems) and thus getting off at any of the stops, assures you a quick return to the route when you're ready to continue. At one of our get off points, we walked to the next one before reboarding. Don't rule this out as it offers a great chance to see the sights between the stops as well as those just around it.
Don't visit Barcelona without taking advantage of this great touring method.
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