What to do in…Barcelona
Barcelona has to be one of the best options for a quick city break from the UK. With a whole host of budget carriers and national airlines flying to Barcelona you can make the most of what the city has to offer in way of beaches, bars and sights on even the shortest weekend break.
How to get there
Obviously the best option is to fly and that’s what I did. Most of the budget airlines fly to Barcelona and you can get very reasonable deals for weekend breaks and longer if you look in the right places. It may be cheaper to book two single tickets with different airlines to get the costs down further if you are happy to do this. I have some other useful travel hacks to help with flights in this previous post on travelling during school holidays.
Where to stay
Ever the budget conscious traveller, I booked a deal through Living Social for a boutique 3 star hotel. All the holiday deal websites/apps seem to have deals on for Barcelona pretty much all of the time. We stayed at the Wilson Boutique Hotel, which isn’t completely in the centre but is just a short stroll to the bus stop or metro and very conveniently placed for some excellent dining options which I will come back to a bit later. We upgraded our standard suite to the Attic Suite 801 for an extra cost which was more than worth it for the Panoramic views of the Diagonal and out across the city.
This hotel is perfect if you are looking for the design features and service of a higher star hotel and want to be close enough to the centre but away from the noisy areas at night.The room was minimalist in decoration but very stylish and spacious, with double sinks and showers as well as a humongous bed which had been decorated with rose petals for when we arrived. The service at the hotel was fantastic right from the friendly reception staff who checked us in to the lovely ladies who served at Breakfast. The Breakfast was well stocked with fruit, meats, cheeses, bread and pastries.
What to see
You can’t come to Barcelona and not see any Gaudi…it would be a crime. There are certain places that are popular with tourists for a reason and the big hitters of Barcelona such as the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell don’t disappoint.
The Basilica is stunning and is well worth the entrance fee and queues to get in; of course the earlier you get there the better and you will still have to queue even with a pre-booked ticket. You could spend hours inside and out taking in all of intricate details and watching the light inside change through the stained glass windows. It all becomes very poignant when you realise Gaudi died without seeing the majority of the work completed on the Basilica (it’s still under construction) and was mistaken for a penniless beggar after being struck by a tram not too far from one of his most famous works.
We also loved the tours of Casa Batlo and La Pedrera and found the audio guides really useful, I would definitely recommend getting these as they help you to understand the reasons behind the choices Gaudi made in his work and makes visiting these two examples of his work that much more interesting. I particularly loved the information on where Gaudi saught his inspiration; nature, animals and wildlife all contributed to the ideas that shaped the Casa Batlo and this is really evident on the roof as well as inside the house itself.
Park Guell is an easy way to spend a large proportion of your day, the views on the walk to the entrance to the park are just as stunning as those once you get inside. There are so many different areas of the park to explore and take in it really is worth devoting a good few hours here to relax, take photos and just let the time pass. You now have to pre-book a ticket to go the main areas of the park so make sure you plan your visit in advance.
There’s so much more to Barcelona than Gaudi however and I particularly enjoyed walking around the Gothic Quarter and near the beachfront, even in February the beachside bars and cafes were full of tourists and locals getting their Vitamin D hit. The Ramblas and the market are of course worth a walk around but it’s worth taking into consideration that these areas can be for some tourists the last time they see their personal possessions so it goes without saying make sure you are careful and vigilant at all times.
Where to eat
There are so many amazing restaurants and tapas bars to choose from in Barcelona it can become a bit of a nightmare to pick the ones you will visit. For the first time in a long time I decided not to use TripAdvisor to help plan where we going to eat and instead went on the good old fashioned way of just stumbling upon a place we liked the look of. This is how we found the amazing Meatpacking Bistro just a five minute walk from our hotel. The steak we had here and the cheesecake dessert were honestly some of the best food we have ever had, I hope that the restaurant still serves to this high standard and I look forward to going back to Barca later this year to see for myself if it still does.
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