Friday, 16 June 2017

A Must See and Do Guide to Barcelona

Delicious tapas, cheap wine, hot sunny weather and stunning sights... what's not to like about Barcelona? At the time of writing this we only arrived home the night before last and it's safe to say that I am so sad to be back!

I'm just going to breakdown where we stayed, food places we can recommend and what to do in the next few paragraphs and I am also going to share with you one thing you absolutely MUST buy when you arrive...

We stayed at the Renaissance Barcelona Fira hotel we found it to be in an ideal location for us, it was only 10km from the airport meaning a cheap enough taxi or like us you can get the metro. The metro station was literally a 30 second walk from the front door of the hotel so we were able to easily get into the city centre using public transport. ALSO the hotel has a rooftop pool and bar and is super modern. The rooms are gorgeous, white and clean and crisp - very Instagram friendly! They also have really quirky windows in the shapes of palm trees which offer fantastic views of the surrounding area. 

We stayed for three nights and had four full days in Barcelona and we cannot recommend enough to buy the Hola BCN! travel card. You can get one for 1,2,3,4 however many days you will be there and it will seriously cut down on your travel costs. You can use it for to and from the airport, the metro, the subway, the trams and the buses. It covers everything. We on average took about 4-5 trips on public transport a day getting around and the card cost us €27.75 each for 96 hours of unlimited travel on all forms of transport. You can buy this card in any of the red ticket machines at the stations - we bought ours when we arrived at the station at the airport ticket machine to start getting the benefit straight away. 

There are definitely two standout places that I would recommend you to try for food if you are visiting Barcelona. Ultramarinos on Las Ramblas was delicious and pretty good value. It was also really coolly decorated and had a great selection of food i.e. tapas, burgers, pizzas. If you go there you have to order the Iberian ham, egg and chips - it is the most delicious combination ever!!

We also found El Nacional - as recommended by one of the really helpful and friendly staff at our hotel. This was just off Passeig de Gracía - one of the main shopping streets. We definitely wouldn't have just come across it by ourselves as it is down a side street but it is located in such a fabulous building that really reminded me of something out of the Great Gatsby. It had a real 1920s feel and you can tell that this is a place that more of the locals come to. It had tapas, fish, meats, a cocktail bar, a wine bar, a cheese bar... everything you could imagine. We went for tapas again - when in Spain! 

If you haven't had tapas before some of my favourites in general are prawns (gambas) mussels (mejillones) and patatas bravas. On average we went to some fairly decent restaurants and got four tapas and a drink each for around €30. 

Be aware on Las Ramblas a lot of restaurants try to entice you to sit out on the street on their 'terrace' areas but also have a hidden fee of around 15% on top of your bill for this.

What to do/see:

  • Parc Guell - we tried to get tickets for the Monumental Zone two days in a row but they were sold out so book in advance if you are travelling there. They are only €7. We still headed here anyway because there is so many beautiful buildings and quirky architecture to see in the park regardless.
  • Nou Camp - This is Barcelona's major football stadium which holds 105,000 fans. It was seriously impressive and even if you aren't a football fan you will probably enjoy it. Tickets were €25 each. Tip: Buy them at the machines on the left hand side instead of going to the desk further up on the right... the right handside had a queue and still charged you a transaction fee on top of the ticket prices.
  • Passeig de Gracía - if shopping is your thing you will love this area in general. For some reason they seem to have multiples of every shop i..e Zara, Bershka, Kiko etc. also when walking up this street you will get the chance to see two of Gaudí's famous buildings called Casa Battló and La Pedrera. 

  • Barrio Gotic - the gothic quarter has some cool quirky buildings, cathedrals and side streets which is worth a wander around also. 

  • Chill by the pool - after all the sightseeing you deserve it! 

There is so much I still wanted to do while in Barcelona but there really wasn't enough time to do everything! If I went back I would visit La Sagrada Familia, this is Gaudí's most famous piece of architecture that is still under construction. It is always supposed to be mental busy and I have heard you need to be covered up to go inside i..e not showing shoulders or knees and |I really did not have the clothes for that on this trip so maybe next time! 

I also would like to take the cable car at Montjuic and I would definitely like to experience the beach clubs and nightlife of Barcelona little bit more. Maybe when it's a tiny bit cooler and we haven't spent 8 hours a day walking! We also got quite sunburnt the first day at the pool so I would definitely be a bit smarter about that next time. 

Our breakfast in the hotel was so good that we pretty much just ate an evening meal out but there was one place for brunch called Milk Bar & Bistro which is run by an Irish couple - I would love to have visited and eaten there so will have to save it for next time!

Those are all my tips anyway - hope you enjoyed them! Let me know if you are planning a trip to Barcelona or if you want to add to the list any must see or do things when in BCN!

Happy Travels! xx

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