Having documented our trip to Barcelona in April, I realise there is a lot to read through! We definitely crammed a lot in to our four day break. I thought I’d do a small summary of top tips, listing things that are useful to know if you are planning a trip to Barcelona yourself 🙂
The Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and Park Guell are the top three that spring to mind. You can buy tickets through each of their own websites, e.g. Sagrada Familia who even offer a deal with entry to the Park Guell Museum too. You can buy tickets when you are in Barcelona, but it will probably involve a long queue in a tourist office and/ or disappointment when you realise your dates or times are already fully booked. We couldn’t get an English guide for the Sagrada (even booking online four days in advance) and we arrived at Park Guell after a three hour trek to find that the Monumental Zone (where all the cool stuff is) was fully booked for the whole day. You also get queue jumping privileges with pre-booked tickets which can save a 2 hour+ wait at the Sagrada. Booking online in Euros with an English card cost me a grand total of 52p – definitely worth it!
Buy a 10-trip Metro card
We, somewhat accidentally, spent the majority of our time walking from place to place. The weather was great and once we had orientated ourselves, everything was only a 10-15 minute walk away. Of course, all those 10 minute journeys added up and we realised at the end of the trip that we were absolutely exhausted! We did end up buying a 10-trip Metro card on the second day, and used up all our trips by our fourth and final day. Each single trip on the Metro (any length of journey) is €2.15. This is the same for all buses – it’s €2.15 for a ride, regardless of where you get on or off. For a 10-trip Metro card you pay €9.95 – more than a 50% saving compared to buying single tickets! You can use the Metro to get all over the city, with stops near most major attractions. You can also use the Metro to go to Montjuic on the Funicular train.
Do your research
This can save a lot of time when you are only away for a few days. We marked on a map all the places we wanted to see prior to our trip. This meant we could easily plan what we would see on each day, tackling the city roughly one area at a time. This saved us trekking backwards and forwards across the city and allowed us to cram as much in as possible! On a similar note, we also researched which restaurants and bars were worth checking out and made reservations for the busier restaurants so we wouldn’t be disappointed. This also meant that we weren’t wandering around aimlessly and hungry in the evenings, trying to find somewhere good to eat. I’m aware my map is a little extreme… I had a lot of free time before we left!
Avoid eating along main strips
Along the main strips, e.g La Rambla or Passeig de Gracia, you will find hundreds of restaurants, bars and cafes, many with attractive outdoor seating. Although the food looks great (and I’m sure tastes great!), it will cost twice as much as anywhere else. We were warned of this before our trip, but were still bitten on day one when we ended up having to pay €10 for two cans of Pepsi! Just a few minutes walk away from the main strips you’ll find amazing food, for a fraction of the price. On the same note, when visiting markets (e.g. the famous Boqueria market), food is often more expensive nearer the entrance. You can buy exactly the same produce (fruit/ fruit juices/ snacks) further in to the market for a lesser price.
Park Guell is up a MASSIVE hill!
I don’t know how we missed this key point whilst researching for our trip, but we ended up walking from El Carmel which (although mainly because we got lost…) took nearly three hours! Not only were we trekking for hours in the sun, but we were surprised to find the whole area was a giant hill. The last 30 mins to reach Park Guell was especially steep! There are a couple of Metro stops nearby (Vallcarca and Lesseps) but both are still a 15 minute walk away. Depending on your budget, there is also the option of a taxi which would conveniently deliver you to the door.
Head to beaches further along the coast
Barceloneta beach is only 10 minutes away from the city outskirts and is easy to get to. As a result, many tourists fill the sand and it can get rather busy. Only 20 minutes further along, you can find quieter beaches such as Platja de la Nova Icària, which we visited on day three. These beaches are usually host to more locals than tourists and provide a much more relaxing environment!