It’s been way too long but I wanted to make sure I provided you all with the best tips, advice, and recommendations so I have been constantly editing, writing, and re-writing. Also been a madhouse with all the Indian holidays but we are done for this year! Phew.
Let’s continue our Europe adventure and go to Barcelona, Spain!
HOW SHOULD YOU GET AROUND?
I’m a big fan of checking out public transportation prior to arriving. Some cities have great ways to get around the whole area and for cheap. Same goes when you are abroad. The transportation for the most part abroad is super easy and convenient and that is exactly the case for Europe! Literally at every corner there is a bus or metro stop. We definitely missed that when we came home. I also love public transportation because you get to experience and see the normal, everyday life and even interact with local people.
I always suggest people to read up on all methods of transportation and even download a map of the system beforehand so you know where things are and you can slowly become acquainted with the city or country you are visiting before you are even there!
If you’re not in a metropolitan city with easy public transportation, rent a car if you want to cover a lot of ground. Cabs, Uber, and walking are all options as well. I personally love not having to deal with renting a car and as many friends can tell you, it stresses me out having one while on vacation. BUT, having a car is totally worth it if you’re trying to explore outside of town or go more than 20-30 miles in a different direction. Always be on the hunt for a deal and if you do not see one ask!
Also, try and get the weekday rate because it’s so much cheaper than the weekend rate. They usually they’ll give you a special deal if you rent the car for a longer period of time – so play around with the dates if you can!
The underground system in Barcelona links all the central zones of the city and has stations in the main tourist areas, marked with the letter “M”. It runs from 5 am to midnight, Monday-Thursday, Sundays and public holidays; and from 5 am to 2 am on Fridays. On Saturdays and the eve of public holidays –1 January, 24 June, 15 August and 24 September– services run all night.
City buses are another good transport option. Depending on the line, they run from about 4:30 am to 11 pm. To get around at night, there are night buses, called Nitbus, which depart from Plaça Catalunya square, and run from 10:40 pm to 6 am. Trams also provide quick access to major industrial, shopping and residential areas, From Monday to Thursday and on public holidays they run from 5 am to midnight approximately. On Fridays and the eve of public holidays, this service is extended until 2 am. There are direct buses from Barcelona to the airport terminals.
The trains run between about 5 am and midnight.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
There are different tickets and fares. If you choose the Hola BCN! card you can travel anywhere on the public transport network, and the price ranges between €14 and €32. You can also buy a ticket for one one-way trip by metro, bus or funicular railway for €2.15, or a multi person ticket with 10 trips –T-10– costing €9.95 and which is good for 10 complete trips from 1 to 6 zones.
All these tickets and cards are available at information and customer service centres, and at ticket windows and vending machines in metro stations. Non-transferable travelcards are also available at tourist offices in Barcelona and online.
There is also the Barcelona Card, a tourist card offering a range of benefits including unlimited use of public transport, as well as discounts on museums, shows, shops, leisure attractions and restaurants. There are cards available from two to five days, with prices ranging from €45 to €60. These cards can be purchased at tourist offices in Barcelona, and at other outlets around the city.
We recommend the 10 trip (T-10, Zone 1) pass as it covers all the attractions.
THE MOST CONVENIENT OPTION
The best option will depend on where you are, the number of journeys you wish to make, and the number of people traveling. One of the most practical choices is the T-10 card, which is popular with the locals. Not only does it offer considerable savings on the price of a single ticket, but also allows the use of the underground and bus services, has no time limit for use and –as it’s transferable– can be used by more than one person.
Nevertheless, the tourist bus is one of the most popular means of transport for visitors to Barcelona: this is a double-decker bus which runs to the most interesting places in the city. Tickets are valid for 1 or 2 days and cost €24 or €39.00.
TRANSPORTATION FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY
Train: 25 mins, ~ € 5, train every 30 mins
Aero bus, € 5, 30 mins, wi-fi, bus every 10 mins
taxi , € 30-40, 20 mins
WHERE SHOULD YOU STAY?
Again, this depends on the location and type of trip you’re taking, but if you’ll be busy and not home much, a cheap hotel is the way to go. You’ll save money for experiencing the location and if you’re just sleeping and showering somewhere, just make sure it’s safe and good enough!
Airbnb-type places are becoming one of my FAVORITE ways to travel, especially when I want to cook my own food and hit up Farmer’s Markets and things like that. Plus, if there are a few of you going, it’s super affordable!
A nice hotel is obviously the most luxurious choice, and if you’re looking for R&R or will be spending a lot of time resting, it’s nice to be somewhere that can cater to you. Since most hotels have a restaurant, gym, etc. it’s a good way to keep up with your routine in the easiest way.
We stayed at Catalonia Castellnou which was a decent hotel.
Staff was accomodating, helpful and sweet. As you know my husband had sprained his ankle earlier and we needed ice most nights after returning from walking all around the city to help ease the pain and sometimes swelling. They didn’t have much ice at the end of the nights but gave us as much as they could because they understood how important it was to us. Caring for guests and making them feel valued and important is vital and I definitely saw that in the staff.
The hotel was a bit of hike back and forth to and from attractions. There is a bus stop and metro stop right around the corner however you have transer to another bus or metro to get to most of the attractions and places of interest.
The bathrooms (and room in general) are not very roomy and a bit old fashioned but if you are like my husband and I and just need a place to shower and sleep you will be okay.
We highly recommend staying around Plaza de Catalunya (where we either spent a lot of time or transferred to get everywhere) and will probably do just that if and when we go again.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
I personally love finding ways to see a lot of ground unless I’m somewhere to fully relax – and that’s usually hard for me because I have so much energy. Plus, I like to save the laying on the beach for longer trips.
Asking friends for recommendations – or going on forums like Quora or Travel Advisor – is great because you can usually comb through tourist traps if that’s not your thing. Especially for cities or places I’ve been before, I LOVE finding restaurants, parks, shops, that are away from the madness. I prefer experiencing a city as if I was a local and not a tourist, so that’s always important to me. Research, research, research! Especially if you are taking a big trip because you wouldn’t want to miss out on anything.
I like to give myself a buffer when getting around and site seeing too. The worst thing is to stress yourself out with too big of an agenda and not enough time to enjoy yourself. Schedule in an extra 15-30 min per activity, meal, whatever, and try not to rush around.
Places To Go
Sagrada Família – La Sagrada Familia
Barri Gòtic – Gothic Quarter & Mercat Gotic – Gothic Market
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria – Mercat de la Boqueria – Boqueria Market – La Boqueria (The food here is OMG. We were obessed and couldn’t stop visiting! We miss it to this day.)
Las Ramblas – Rambla
Arc de Triomf – Arch of Triumph
Parc Güell – Park Güell – El Parque Güell –
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – National Art Museum of Catalonia – MNAC
Castell de Montjuïc – Montjuïc Castle – Castillo de Montjuich & Cable car ride from Montjuïc Castle
Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia – Barcelona Cathedral
Cathedral ‘Santa Maria Del Mar’
Cathedral ‘Santa Maria Del Pi
Other places we visited and recommend but did not get many pictures at:
Font màgica de Montjuïc – Magic Fountain of Montjuïc – Fuente mágica de Montjuic (Beautiful at day but shines in light at night)
Casa Batlló – Gaudi’s Casa dels ossos (House of Bones)
Barceloneta beach – La Barceloneta
Casa Milà – La Pedrera – (Antoni Gaudí’s ‘The Quarry’)
Night Clubs we recommend: