How have you been? So this is my last post in my series of travel posts on Spain. You can read my last 3 posts on Madrid, Seville and Granada by clicking on the links in case you missed them. So my last stop on my trip was Barcelona and it was literally like saving the best for the last. Barcelona was a world of its own. A city overflowing with art and beautiful buildings and full of life and energy, it was really hard to say adios and fly back to San Francisco. There is so much to do here, I am at a loss where to start. This is the best I could do in 3 days to scratch the surface of this vibrant city.
Where to stay:
The main street that runs through the city is Passeig de Gràcia. It connects all the major attractions. We stayed at Hotel Europark (read my travel post here) from where we could easily walk to all the major attractions. You can also stay somewhere near the Gothic Quarter if you you don’t mind a noisy neighborhood. We loved the location of Europark as it was a 5 minute walk from the Passeig de Gràcia metro station and wasn’t too noisy.
Things to know before visiting Barcelona:
- The best way to explore the city is on foot: Barcelona is a very walk-able city. Also, while walking to the attractions you get to see the beautiful buildings, art sculptures and also enjoy the weather.
- Buy Tickets Online: I would highly recommend you to buy the tickets for all the attractions online in advance so that you don’t have to waste time standing in line and you have a guaranteed entry to the attractions.
- Do Bargain: If you are up for shopping in the city like we were, do bargain. Most places will offer you a discount if you do so.
- Nothing is free: When eating out at a restaurant, you get charged for bread (which is generally free in the United States) , cheese and sometimes even Ketchup. Make sure you ask your server about the costs before ordering.
- Be careful with your bags the entire time – Like any big city, Barcelona is not free of thefts. Make sure you have your bag at your lap when you eat out at a restaurant. Hang your backpacks in front of you while walking on the streets. I had an incident when someone tried to steal my bag in bright daylight. So being extra careful, doesn’t hurt.
1. Passeig de Gràcia
This is the main street in the city which connects all the major attractions. It has beautiful buildings, high end stores , restaurants, plazas and a lot more. A part of it is like a blown up version of fifth avenue – New York. I could walk on this street all day and not get tired and that’s actually what I did while in Barca. I used to walk from one end of the street to the other everyday covering some or the other attractions each day. There are a number of metro stops on the street as well depending on which attraction you want to get off at.
2. Casa Batlló
This was a house designed by the world famous architect – Antonio Gaudi. I don’t have words to describe it. Its one of the most spectacular pieces of architecture I have ever seen. Every section of the home has so much thought behind it. Whether its about creating illusions with the passage of light or the depth of colors. So many dimensions to it, its just gorgeous. The best part is that the device you are given to explore the house, allows you to visualize how it used to look back when it was constructed when the Gaudi family was residing here. There are other buildings such as Casa Amatller and Casa Lleó Morera to the left (these are cheaper and have a smaller line). This block is called Manzana De La Discordia.
Cost: € 27.5 (book online)
3. Casa Milà/ La Pedrera
This was another beautiful building designed by Gaudi. Since we had already seen Casa Battlo, I decided to see this from outside.
Cost: € 20.5 (book online)
4. Plaça de Catalunya
This is the very heart and commercial center of Barcelona. If you keep walking on Passeig De Gracia from Casa Battlo towards La Rambla, you will hit this plaza mid-way. This square was built in the 19th century and is the meeting point between Barcelona’s old town and the newer neighborhood of Exiample. Spend some time at this square by people watching, admiring the buildings and just resting your feet. If you are interested, you can also visit the Palace of Catalan Music. I’ve heard it’s one of the best concert halls of Europe.
5. La Rambla
This was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Barcelona. It has a number of street markets and street artists. You can end your day here by getting some dinner and drinks and enjoying the outdoor live music. I would highly suggest you visit this at night when the city comes to life.
1.Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
It’s a beautiful church located in downtown Barcelona. Antonio Gaudi was the preliminary architect who built this church. His art is spread all over the city and this was one of his masterpieces. Infact, the city has plans to revamp the church and some of the towers are still under construction. It took us about 2 hours to take in all the beauty and tour the church. There was a long line to buy the tickets and I would totally recommend you do this in advance.
Cost: € 15 (book online)
2. Park Güell
You will have to take the public transportation to get here. This park was built by Gaudi and it reflects his artistic flair. It even has a small house which was initially built for the family which was supposed to live there. Gaudi drew inspiration from organic shapes to build this park. Park Güell has 2 different areas: the Monumental Zone, which requires the purchase of a ticket, and the free access area which is open to all visitors at no charge. It has about 6 zones in the paid area which can be seen in a sequence. The park is really crowded and you have to be there in the given time-slot to enter the monumental zone.
Cost: € 7 (book online)
3. Catedral De Barcelona
Beautiful cathedral in downtown. Go inside if time permits.
4. Museu Picasso
Nice museum full of Picasso’s art. It even talks about his life from adolescence to youth and so on and how his emotions and thoughts transformed into his art. You can even buy some fun artistic pieces from the gift shop here for your home.
Cost: € 11
5. Santa Maria Del Mar
This is a 14th century church and is one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals ever built. The stained glass windows are beautiful and create a beautiful mirage inside when they reflect natural light.
6. Barri Gotic/ Gothic Quarter
This is one of my favorite places in Barcelona. It is located in the Las Ramblas neighborhood. It’s an excellent place to walk around. Its full of life and art. The streets have fantastic graffiti. There are some really good souvenir shops selling fun pieces for your home decor. Since we just brought a new home, this was a perfect place for me to spend some time shopping. At night, this place has a different charm all together as you can get some tapas and sangria with live music.
1.Castell de Montjuïc
This was a military fortress back in the old days. This castle now commands stunning views of the city. The castle had launched bombing raids on the city on a number of occasions and has also been used as a prison. It’s reachable by public transportation and is a must do while visiting the city. You can either take a bus to get up here and then walk your way till the fort or take the skytram to reach here.
Cost: € 5
2. The Majic Fountain of Montjuïc
If you start walking downhill from the Castle, you will soon hit the Majic Fountain of Montjuic. Unfortunately, when we visited the fountain wasn’t on. Go here in the evening hours and you can see a nice display of lights, color and motion.
3. Olympic Stadium
Cost: Was free when we went
4. Camp Nou
Cost: € 23
Overall, my visit to Barcelona was short but sweet. I had a fantastic time here. Also, for all of you debating to go between Barcelona and Madrid like I was. It’s like comparing New York and LA. Almost impossible to do so. Hence, I ended up visiting both :). Hope you enjoyed reading my blog post. Thanks for stopping by and happy to answer any questions.