28 May 2017

Barcelona Travel Guide


After visiting Madrid for a quick weekend break last summer, I decided it would be lovely to see more of Spain. I've heard that Barcelona was a lovely place to visit but I really underestimated its potential... it was beautiful! I'm a big fan of quick city breaks and when I saw that flights to Barcelona were pretty cheap, I couldn't really pass up the opportunity to visit! 

 So if you want to visit Barcelona and aren't sure what to expect, let me give you a run down of what you can do whilst you are there! This post is a lengthly one so make sure you grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfy...
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WHERE TO STAY

We looked at a few hotels and apartments in Barcelona but found that they were quite pricey. I mean, if you are up for a luxury trip or want something super glam I'm sure that the W Barcelona is the hotel for you. However, that hotel wasn't quite my budget so we settled on some self-service apartments called Durlet Beach Apartments. It is located just five minutes from Mar Bella Beach and within easy reach of the centre of Barcelona.



The apartment itself was very well kept and clean. There was a kitchenette with a kettle, coffee machine, fridge, freezer and a hob. The bathroom also had a washing machine and the apartments provided towels.

The building also had a pool you could use, however we found that it was always quite busy! Although I still would definitely recommend these apartments if you are on a budget.

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HOW TO GET AROUND


Obviously the best way to see any city would be by walking. However, some sights and locations are quite a distance from each other so we settled on using public transport. Barcelona has an underground metro system, which was so easy to use! We purchased a 4-day pass that allowed unlimited use of all public transports (i.e.: metro, buses, trams) and it was very inexpensive too.

The Barcelona Metro App was very helpful and if you are familiar with the London Underground App, it is basically the same (as it is developed by the same company!). Maps.Me is another great app that allows you to download offline maps of the city and therefore use it whenever you are out and about with no service.

Sometimes we found that there were too many stops to get on and off the metro so we used the buses. Don't be afraid to use buses because they can actually be less crowded sometimes! Plus, there were more stops that were closer to some sights (such as Parc Güell).

We also used the metro to get from the airport to the apartments and they were fine! The passes allowed use to travel to and from these zones and we didn't have to pay anything extra. Access to lifts and escalators at the stations were limited so you'd have to carry your case. If you have bigger luggage, I'd recommend the buses or a taxi.

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SIGHTSEEING


Barcelona is crammed with tourist spots and plenty of sightseeing. There are sightseeing bus tours that also provide you with plenty of information in regards to the history and context of the sights. However, we knew the buses would be very crammed so we decided to do it all ourselves.


Sagrada Familia

Many of the sights are architecture based as the city's buildings are built or inspired by several individuals. Antoni Gaudí is the most popular amongst the lot as he was involved in the building and designing of the Sagrada FamiliaParc GüellCasa Batlló and Casa Milà.

We visited all of these locations on the same day (except for Parc Güell) as they were walking distance from each other. We were quite short on time so we didn't buy tickets to go inside any of these locations. Yet it was definitely possible to admire the beauty and immense detail of the buildings from the exterior. I was in awe of the attention detail in the design of the buildings. The Sagrada Familia is obviously still under construction but it was nice to see the difference between the old and the new sections.






 Casa Batlló 



Casa Milà



Parc Güell

We left Parc Güell for a separate day as we heard it gets very busy so we went early one morning. The park has quite a large free access area where you can walk around and admire different buildings and architectural works. You could also pay to go inside Gaudí's house, which has been changed into a museum. The paid section of the park includes more work by him and it is recommended that you buy tickets online prior to visiting as they often sell out. We didn't get tickets but it was pretty walking around the other areas of the park.





Arc de Triomf

I also recommend going to see the Arc de Triomf. It was built as a main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition (the first International World's Fair in Spain). It leads onto a promenade which connects it to Parc de la Ciutadella (more on this very soon) so it is surrounded by even more beauty! You can easily spend an hour or two in this particular area.



Montjuïc

Montjuïc is a hill that has stunning views of the city as well as the harbour. There is a castle on the top of the hill (Ed Sheeran vibes, I know) called the Castell de Montjuïc. Tickets to enter the castle range from €3-€6 so I definitely recommend paying the little extra to witness all the views yourself. You can get a cable car up there for about €12 but there was a strike at the time we went so we opted to use the bus and metro instead.

The castle was used as a defence area for the city as some of the cannons and equipment are still there (not in use anymore, obviously). I definitely recommend visiting this location as you get to see the city from such a great angle!







Camp Nou

If you are a fan of football, you can also visit Camp Nou stadium. I'm not a big fan so we didn't pay to go in and have the tour but it was still a nice area to walk around. Although I would say that it is rather far out so make sure to plan your time wisely!


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WHERE TO GO


There are plenty of places that contain more amazing architecture, Instagram opportunities and generally more breathtaking views. Here are a few highlights that I really enjoyed and highly recommend!


Parc de la Ciutadella

This park is probably the best I've ever been to. There was an abundance of things to see and look at. There are quite a few buildings and statues that are pretty to admire whilst having a nice stroll through. The park also has an area which is just a beautiful oasis with fountains, palm trees, a bandstand, a magnificent structure and a gigantic mammoth statue. It was so lovely to walk around this area especially.















The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter or Barri Gòtic, is one of the most popular areas of the city as it is the old town of Barcelona. The buildings and general vibe of the area is very medieval and gothic inspired, as the name suggests. I found that this was the area of the city that you can easily get lost in but enjoy! We walked around for about two hours and every time we turned a corner, there was something new and beautiful to look at.

There are several landmarks in this area including the Barcelona Cathedral, City Hall, Picasso Museum and many more. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the area too so if you are after some food or shopping, head here!








 


Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya or Catalonia Square is an area towards the edge of The Gothic Quarter. As you would expect, it is a square that features very nice fountains and statues but is also a popular destination for pigeons. There were literally hundreds of pigeons being fed here - it was crazy!

It's a nice area to sit and enjoy people watching. It also connects The Gothic Quarter to more busier parts of the city as well as the main shopping streets.





Shopping

There is plenty of shopping to do in Barcelona... you can spend your money very easily when you are surrounded by designer shops or even just the usual Zara (which is actually Spanish). La Rambla, Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia are the main shopping streets, so head there if you are feeling spendy! However, make sure to do your research as to what kind of shops you want because the roads with stores stretch for miles and miles!



Port Olímpic

I believe this area was established when Barcelona hosted a particular watersport for the Olympics in 1992. The Olympic Port is the marina area and is well known for its beautiful scenery as well as the nightlife and restaurants. There are many popular clubs and bars in this area so the atmosphere in the evening is pretty lively. If you are up for going out or eating fancy food, this is the area to be!





The Beaches

There are many beaches that you could visit in the city. Barceloneta Beach is probably the most popular as it is closest to the main area of the city, the W Hotel and Port Olympic. It also has the best view of those spots. We were closest to Mar Bella and Bogatell beach, which also had a pier (fab photo opportunities!) so that's where we spent a few hours relaxing.

I believe Barcelona has a nudist beach, which was only one across from Mar Bella, however Europeans don't mind a bit of nudity regardless of whether the beach is a nude beach or not! Just a warning if you are a nude prude - haha!








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WHERE TO EAT


I am a pescetarian, so finding food to eat in Barcelona wasn't hard at all! There is an abundance of seafood restaurants, the most popular dish being seafood paella. Obviously tapas is the most popular cuisine in Barcelona, followed by Catalan... this type of food was not for me! I love tapas but the Spanish love their meat so finding vegetarian tapas was pretty difficult.

There were three places we went for dinner on the nights we were there and all of them were actually really nice! I don't have a single complaint to make about any of them. We dined moderately, I'd say... The most expensive meal being €55 and the cheapest at €11 (between two people) it wasn't bad at all!


Tocca - Port Olímpic

This was the most expensive restaurant (yet it still wasn't overboard!) It had a French and Italian influence as there are two chefs from both countries.

For starters we had the most tastiest bruschetta, breaded mozzarella and herby flatbread with olives. And then for my main I had the tomato and mozzarella gnocchi - so yum! Not only did this restaurant have great food, it also had a great view!





La Poma - La Rambla

I would say that this restaurant was decently priced. It was basically the same prices as chain Italian places in the UK and was definitely worth it! There were plenty of Italian dishes on the menu including pizza and pasta. You could also customise your own pasta dish by picking the type of pasta, fillings and sauce. I went for the penne pasta with mushrooms and a cheese sauce. 



MIAN - Eixample 

This was a Chinese restaurant about a 20-minute walk from La Rambla. It was super cheap as in €4 per dish cheap! Definitely worth visiting if you are after some inexpensive food! We decided to dine lightly on this day as we really wanted some space for dessert. We went for two noodle dishes but there were several choices from rice to dumplings! This was the shrimp noodle stir fry - delicious!



Amorino Gelato - La Rambla

If you are looking for a dessert place, there are plenty of bakeries and cafes that have churros. However, we were craving gelato and apparently Amorino is where it is at! And after trying it, it definitely was! There were so many flavour options and presentation options too! Mine was flower shaped AND had a macaron, I mean what more could you want in life? Mmmmmm.


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TIPS & ADVICE

I only found out when I was in Barcelona that marijuana is actually legal there! A man who works at one of the cafes approached us and asked if we would like to try some (we declined, fyi). Apparently, there are quite a few marijuana cafes where you can smoke and have pot brownies. If thats what you fancy, go for it!

A point to bare in mind is that pickpocketing is rife in Barcelona. Wherever you are, busy or quiet, you must keep an eye on your belongings. People often wear their backpacks on their fronts to avoid getting pickpocketed. The locals were kind enough to advise us of this whilst on a metro as there was a very suspicious looking man next to me.

Lastly, but by no means least, wear comfortable shoes! There is a lot of walking and climbing stairs when in Barcelona. So be sensible and wear a decent pair of shoes. I noticed that people weren't very fashion conscious there, especially when it came to footwear and I understand why... one day of exploring killed my feet!
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And there you go! My complete guide to Barcelona, Spain. I hope you enjoyed reading this rather lengthly post as well as looking at all the photos! It is definitely up there with one of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing places I've ever visited! 

I'd recommend about five days there if you want to do all the sightseeing at your own pace as well as having time to relax on the beach. But it is doable in four, just like we did! But if you get any opportunity to visit, even for a weekend break, I highly recommend going. You will not be disappointed!


Have you ever been to Barcelona? Where do you want to go next?
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14 comments

  1. Wow you saw so much! What great pictures too, I've been to Spain looooads but never visited Barcelona xx

    www.natalieleanne.com

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    1. No way!! You have got to visit - it's up there with my favourite places ever xx

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  2. Great blog post! You got some amazing pictures too! I went to Barcelona two years ago but after reading this I want to go back. Such a great city :)

    www.rebeccawarboys.co.uk

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    1. Thank you lovely! :) It definitely is, I've got the holiday blues already x

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  3. your photos are amazing,I've never been to Barcelona I hope to visit it someday it's such a nice sunny city

    todaysouhaila.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw hope you visit soon! and thank you :)

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  4. my parents recently went to barcelona and loved it so much. i can't wait to go myself.
    ❤︎

    www.elenaisabelle.com

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  5. Great photos and tips - they totally make me miss Barcelona! And I agree with you, it's a stunning city:)

    Curated Theory

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  6. Looks like you had an awesome trip. Barcelona is definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for all the recommendations.

    Nathalie
    www.nathalie-alexandra.blogspot.com

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    1. It was the best! No problem - I hope you visit soon :)

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  7. I have wanted to travel to Spain since as long as I can remember and ever since Ed Sheeran brought out his song Barcelona, I just want to pack my bag and fly to Barcelona and dance in the streets. Seems like you had a wonderful time and you explored so much !! How was it staying the apartment au contraire to a hotel? Also, the pictures are really amazing ! Have a nice day :) (Also, I followed you on instagram :) )
    -Pratz
    ponderingsbypratz.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you lovely!!! I think it was nice to stay in an apartment as opposed to a hotel. Not only was it better in terms of discovering breakfast spots etc but we saved a lot of money too. Hope you get the opportunity to visit soon, it is gorgeous :) x

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