Barcelona on a Whim!
I’ve been lusting to travel to Europe since my college days. Even to this day, I could spend hours scrolling through travel destination pictures on the ‘gram. I’ve done your typical Florida trips and winter break islands but I wanted something bigger and better.
So when my mom was itching to get away last fall, I jumped on the opportunity. I said “Let’s go to Barcelona!” At first, she was hesitant but it didn’t take much convincing. Two weeks later, she called me and said “pack your bags, our flights are booked.”
My first trip across the pond and I was not disappointed. Barcelona, Spain is such a beautiful city, a big one at that. I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in my life (the blisters were worth it though). The city on its own is so lively but the art and architecture really brings it to life.
Before leaving for the trip, I was on Pinterest day and night finding out all the must-see spots so we didn’t miss out on anything. I’m talking I had papers and papers of notes! Doing our research before helped us save money, time, and overall allowed us to make the most of our trip. For two first-timers, I’d say we really found our way around the city. Check out our itinerary for our 5 day-trip.
Getting to the Barcelona city center from the Airport: Take the Aerobus (a big blue passenger bus – with wifi). The price and convenience is so worth it. It costs 10,20 € with return (valid up to 15 days). The average ride is around 35 mins. It’s quick & easy! It has four stops and they were all spaced out so well that your hotels are walking distance. The stop we took was two blocks from our hotel.
Getting to the Airport: We walked to the main Aerobus stop at Pl. Catalunya to catch a ride back. Because our flight was early, this was the only bus stop “open” but even this was only a few blocks away.
Getting Around Barcelona: I’m a 20 something year-old, so yes I’d much rather Uber everywhere than walk but in this case even I can admit that walking is a much better option. You want to walk in a city like this, feel like a local, take in all the architecture and art along the way. It’s priceless! Literally and figuratively. The only time I’d really suggest not to walk would be when visiting Parc Guell. It’s a hike to get there.
#1 – Monserrat:
#2 – Parc Guell:
This is a beautiful park that overlooks the beautiful city of Barcelona. The park was designed by Gaudi. A name you will hear very often throughout your sight seeing adventures as he had a major influence on a lot of the buildings in the city.
We decided to go to Parc Guell early enough in the morning to beat the afternoon rush. To get there we actually decided to jump on one of the City of Barcelona tour buses. In my opinion, the only thing we wasted money on. Not because it wasn’t a good tour but because we didn’t use it enough to get our moneys worth. We only did the blue line (the one that gets you to Parc Guell) but the red line was the more exciting sight seeing spots which we didn’t have time to do in the day.
Anyways, we bought our tickets for an 11am entrance. We got there earlier than expected so we explored the free Parc area then finished off in the Monumental Zone where the mosaic art and architecture will leave you hypnotized!
Tip: buy your tickets online to save money & time. Since we bought the tickets online we saved ourselves from waiting in a big enough line, which allowed us to roam the free Parc area.
Ticket Cost: 7 € Online – 8 € at Ticket Office.
#3 – Boqueria Market:
I thought the Byward Market in Ottawa was something to see… OMG this place is everything & more. I’ve never seen a more colourful market in my life. They have everything you could imagine: meat, fish, bread, candy, you name it. Just walking through this place had me feeling like we were in an entirely different world. You wouldn’t think a food market would be that exciting but it was definitely worth the walk through. Plus, if you’re an adventurous eater this is the perfect spot to try a bunch of different food.
#4 – Sagrada Familia:
The outside of this church will have you in awe. It’s one of those places where you can just look up and find something new about it every time. That’s how much detail there is in this building.
Tip: this would be my biggest tip for the week! Buy your tickets online and in advance! We looked up the tickets the day before and nothing was available until three days later. Even when we got there, the ticket office was closed and many people were upset that they couldn’t go inside because they didn’t realize tickets were that limited.
Ticket Costs: 15 € for regular entrance or 29 € for top views and the tower.
We opted for the tower because we wanted to see it in all its glory. You take an elevator up and then walk your way back down. If you’re claustrophobic, the stair cases may be a little confined for your liking.
#5 – Las Ramblas:
One of the most touristy spots in the city and packed with people! We walked through this area about every single day. On the pedestrian walkway, there were a ton of restaurants you can eat tapas and enjoy a huge glass of sangria.
This was my first time trying Paella dish and I definitely went back for seconds.
The tapas were good but if you want a real local, authentic tapas place to try go to Restaurant Teleferic. I’m telling you now, the food was so delicious I would have licked the plates if it weren’t frowned upon. It’s a little out of the way in Eixample but worth the distance!
#6 – Gothic Quarter:
My favourite place to walk around. This brought me back in time, I’m talking a time where I didn’t even exist. Everything about this area felt so medieval and mysterious. I can gush about this area for days. The winding streets, little boutiques, huge doorways, old architecture… everything was a sight to see.
Tip: we stumbled upon this old church while walking through here. Keep an eye out for it. It’s beautiful! It’s no longer a running church but you can go in and walk around it. There’s no roof and it’s so whimsical. There’s even swans swimming in a little pond inside.
#7 – Other places we passed through & explored included:
- El Born for shopping and walking around
- Paseo Garcia for the luxurious shopping… my mom definitely enjoyed her time there.
- Casa Batllo – a house designed by Gaudi.
Drinks, Entertainment, & Lodging:
We always enjoyed our drinks during tapa hour and it didn’t stop there. Try these out:
- Hotel 1898: an awesome rooftop bar on top of the hotel with great views of La Rambla and the city of Barcelona. Very posh and sophisticated.
- La Taverna De Barcelona: now this place might not be for everybody but my mom and I really enjoyed it because it reminded us of back home. It’s like your typical Irish pub so what’s not to love about it. The pub was only a few doors down from our hotel (H10 Universitat), which made getting back home a lot easier after the amount of drinks we had. They have live singers, all of which could actually sing, and the atmosphere in there was so alive. It was as if we were all one huge group of friends that came together to throw some drinks back and kick our feet to the music.
We stayed in two different hotels because we split our Barcelona trip in two by visiting Milan for a few days in between.
1st Hotel: H10 Casanova. 4 Stars.
2nd Hotel: H10 Universitat. 4 Stars.
Both hotels were great, clean, with friendly and helpful staff. There was always someone on staff that could speak English to help us if we ever needed recommendations or assistance.
H10 Casanova was about a 10-15 mins walk to the main pedestrian area of La Rambla, while H10 Universitat was only a good 5-7 mins. I preferred Universitat because it was in the middle of the hustle and bustle; however, the room was much smaller.
INCREDIBLE. I loved every minute of being in Barcelona. I would go back in a heartbeat. If you were ever thinking of going, stop thinking and just go! You will not be disappointed.
Let me know if you have ever visited Barcelona and what your thoughts were! I loved it here so much, where should I go next – let me know in the comments below!