Early morning, summer last year, my sister and I arrived in Barcelona for a weekend break.
I prefer to travel to BCN (Barcelona) in late May or June as the weather is just right for me. The sun was set high in the sky, shining brightly down on us and there was a cool breeze in the air.
Barcelona is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city and suitable for people of all ages, with plenty of restaurants, bars, old cafes and not forgetting the FC Barcelona football stadium which is sure to keep anyone busy. Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia one of Spain’s richest and most highly industrialised regions. The official languages spoken are Catalan and Spanish, however, many people are bilingual and speak English and French. With a distinct history extending back to the early middle ages, there is so much to see and learn about the city.
Getting around Barcelona
We had chosen a hotel 10 minutes by road from Plaza Catalunya. Therefore getting the A2bus outside of Barcelona airport terminal 2 to the centre was convenient and the best means of travel, as the return ticket only cost 10.20€. The ride was only 30 minutes and time quickly passed as we observed the scenery through the window. When you get tired of walking or need to travel a little further and require transport, Barcelona’s public transport is convenient and great value for money. Before we knew it, we were in Plaza Catalunya, distinctly marked by a beautiful fountain in the bustling centre with tourists and Spanish citizens getting on with their daily business.
After a few hours of resting, we were refreshed and ready to start our adventure. In two days there is only so much you can do, but I always try and fit as many places to visit in my itinerary.
I love walking everywhere; I feel it’s the best way to enjoy and explore new territories. The first thing I always do when I arrive at a new destination is to ask the hotel receptionist for a map of the city. If I cannot get a map from the hotel I then ask for directions to the nearest tourist office. I like to mark the map highlighting the popular streets and places I want to see.
We first decided to walk back towards Plaza Catalunya. On our way towards the Plaza, we passed through Passeig de Gracia, possibly one of the most sophisticated street in Barcelona. There are many jewellery stores and boutiques to visit. Generally, shops open at 10 am until 8:30 pm, so there is plenty of time to shop for souvenirs and gifts for friends or family. We also had the opportunity to see some amazing architectural work by Antoni Gaudi, an artist who arguably changed the face of Barcelona.
One of Gaudi’s masterpieces is the Casa Batlló, a fairy-tale-like building situated on Passeig de Gracia. This building stands out from the rest due to its amazing design and vibrant colour. By taking a tour of the building which now stands as a museum gives you an opportunity to learn about the man himself. You can save yourself time by skipping the queues and enjoying priority access by purchasing your ticket online. Another unique building to visit is the Casa Mila, popularly known as La Pedrera, which was the last residential building designed by the Antoni Gaudi.
On our second day, we visited the eminent street, Las Ramblas, which most tourists associate with Barcelona. My sister and I indulged in an ice cream and strolled along the Las Rambles which is approximately 1.2 kilometres long. There are many small market stalls, tapas bars and living statues to keep you occupied as you walk along the street. We had a good laugh watching the living statue; a Mad Hatter who entertained his audience with his little cup and saucer. At the end of Ramblas, near the statue of Columbus, we found ourselves at Port Vell (near the cruise port terminal).
We turned our back to the Port Vell and walked back along the Ramblas, then continued more towards the right-hand side to find the Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter) the centre of the old city of Barcelona. We spent a couple of hours just walking around this ancient place and appreciated the great gothic architecture, shops and restaurants.
The next place on our itinerary was The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family). This is another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, which he never finished in his lifetime. It has been under private construction ever since and is estimated to be completed around 2026/2028. If you would like to see the inside of the Cathedral yet again I would recommend buying your ticket in advance online to avoid waiting around in very long queues.
In the evening we went to Plaça de Carles Buïgas to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc (Font Màgica de Montjuïc); Barcelona’s most popular attraction a large fountain displaying many shades of lights and beautifully synchronised with music. It was a splendid sight like a fairy-tale, so mystic and definitely a must-see when you visit Barcelona.
The magic fountain performance takes place at set times and dates so make sure you check online or with hotel staff to avoid the disappointment of missing out. As my sister and I were there in the summer, the Magic Fountain display took place on Thursday to Sunday, from 9 pm to 11.30pm. If you want to get a better spot to view the fountain, then I would advise you to arrive early as it attracts hundreds of people and gets really busy. We arrived just after 9 pm and could only get up the escalator the view was still just as spectacular from a distance. If you are travelling on your own then I wouldn’t advise trying to get close to the fountain because of the huge crowd. Always remember safety is important and be cautious of pickpockets.
Where to eat
There are many restaurants, tapas bars and pizzerias in the city centre that have menus in several languages. But if there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask, people will only be too happy to help. The only downside is that there isn’t much of a choice for vegetarians so if you’re a vegetarian you’ll have to make do with a salad or pizza.
Lactuca is an eatery located on the Las Ramblas; you will find a choice of salads, pizzas, pasta, soups and desserts, prices starting from 3€ a great place to grab a quick bite to eat.
On our last evening in Barcelona, we decided to have lunch at Citrus Restaurant situated on Passeig de Gracia. Barcelona seems to be awake at all hours as most restaurants have two opening times, opening around 1 pm and closing at 4 pm then re-opening in the afternoon at 7.30pm and closing at midnight. Ladies this is a great opportunity to get your glad rags out and dress up for an evening meal.
|To escape in the city go to…
The hill of Montjuïc, it’s a great view and you will find several of Barcelona’s best museums here.
For a timeless memory of Barcelona visit…
La Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera
To get around Barcelona you should…
Buy the T10 zone 1 ticket which is a multi-person card and is valid for everyone travelling together on the card. The ticket only cost 10.30€ and will give you 10 trips on buses and trams around the city centre.
For local dining, I’d suggest…
Go to Citrus restaurant situated on Passeig de Gracia. It is a beautiful restaurant with welcoming staff.
The best advice I can give is …
To avoid queues for la Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera I recommend buying your tickets online in advance. Here are the links: