This week I was in Barcelona enjoying some quality time with my husband, i.e. an opportunity for the children to spend some time with their grandparents and us to go abroad without having to book two rooms or taste milk at the airport or pack a rucksack full of food/nappies/calpol or ..the list is endless! I digress, so back to Barcelona. Because we didn’t have the children with us we managed to see quite a fair bit in three days. I didn’t even get to see what the Metro looked like, as my husband made me walk EVERYWHERE. I must have lost a ton of weight, but alas all those calories burnt were quickly made up by the copious amounts of ice cream and churros consumed.
Without a wet-wipe in sight, here is my round up of things to do:
- Explore Barri Gotic — The old town as it’s known is a maze of endless, narrow streets filled with shops of all sorts retro/modern/traditional selling clothes, sweets, souvenirs, bikes..just about everything. Walking round here was so much fun, especially when you can hear a busker play the Spanish guitar. In this neighbourhood you will also find the stunning Barcelona Cathedral which is free to get in.
Top Tip: Access the cathedral via the side entrance which doesn’t have the long queue you’ll find at the front of it.
- Walk down La Rambla — A long street again with lots of things to see, I loved it! Street entertainers, market stalls, ice cream, sweets and strange plant stalls too. All in between numerous cafes and restaurants.
Top Tip: Avoid eating or shopping here, it’s overpriced and aimed at tourists but hugely entertaining area to spend the evening.
- A Trip to Tibidabo — Way above the northern hills of Barcelona is Tibidabo, where there is a traditional style funfair (great for kids and adults) and a beautiful church known as the Sagrad Cor (Temple of the Sacred Heart). The views on the way to Tibidabo are amazing.
Top Tip: Stop at Mirablau cafe for a cup of coffee with a spectacular view, totally worth the over priced drinks.
- Visit Sagrada Familia — No trip to Barcelona is complete without a visit to Spain’s most cherished architect Antonio Gaudi’s most visited site. The cathedral was Gaudi’s vision over a hundred years ago but sadly was not completed in his lifetime, and almost a century later is still being built to fulfil his dream. Turning it into a tourist attraction (€18 per ticket) has been funding the project over the years, and it’s planned completion date is 2026 on Gaudi’s 100th year death anniversary.
Top Tip: Book online at least one day before. The queue to buy a ticket can go into several hours in busy periods.
- Visit Montjuic Castle — Visit Montjuic where the Olympics took place. Take a cable car to the castle (otherwise an uphill 5 min walk) and enjoy the views. To enter the castle you need to buy a ticket.
Top Tip: Book online to avoid queues. Even if you don’t go inside the castle, the views are worth the visit.
- Hire A Vespa For A Day — If you’ve walked so much you’re about to collapse, then hire a Vespa! It’s a great way to see the city and you can have a real adventure. You only need to take your normal driving licence for a 50cc Vespa Comfort (can seat 2 people) which you can hire for 6 hours/1 day or even longer if you wish.
Top Tip: I recommend Vesping who are a really nice bunch of people. They give you a sat nav with tours and destinations in there ready for you to use. Our hotel was already stored as ‘Home’, when we made a preliminary booking online. How thoughtful!
- Take a stroll in the park — Parc de la Ciutadella and Parc Guell are both huge open spaces with lots to see including a zoo, museum and lake for boating. Look out for the Gaudi influences. The Arc De Triomf in front of Ciutadella is an especially attractive place to walk around.
- Go Ice Cream Crazy — Going in August means gellatarias are in abundance, all the flavours you can think of..don’t hold back try as many as you can. I even saw a Smurf flavour.
- Shop ‘Til You Drop — Passeige de Gracia has all the designer boutiques you could dream of Gucci, Prada, Chanel etc. For something different visit the Gracia neighborhood to avoid tourists and find local affordable shops by local designers which sell clothes you won’t find in England.
Top Tip: On Mondays many things are closed including museums and some shops, so plan your trip accordingly. We got stung by this and didn’t get to visit the Picasso museum, however the Xocolata Museu (Chocolate museum) was open that day. Not a great substitute even for a chocoholic like me. Many independent shops also close 2-5 for siesta.
- Swim In The Sea — Barcelona faces the warm waters of the Mediterranean and has 4kms of sandy beaches which are usually packed when it’s hot. Without the kids though the beach was no fun, and that’s why it’s at the bottom of my list. On the other hand might have been a good thing as some men happily sunbathe naked – completely starkers – around children, can’t quite imagine that in Brighton without someone getting arrested can you?