bilan travels // weekend guide to barcelona

There is a certainly a reason why tourists flock to the Catalan capital all year round. The reason?

There is honestly something for everyone in beautiful Barcelona. The sheer amount of sights and activities for tourists can actually be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin.  Frankly, who has time to read guide books or search through forums? I am here to share my insight, (having been guided by my friend Carlos, a Barcelona native) and help you live it up in Barcelona! This one is for Faisa who requested it over Instagram 🙂

But first, always music. Rumba de Barcelona by Manu Chao 

¡A ver! // Sights  

1. You’re most likely going to fly or take the train in and navigating Barcelona’s metro will be your best bet unless you have massive amounts of luggage. If you choose to take a taxi, the rates to Passeig de Gracia are approximately 25- 32 €. From the train stations they should be about 7 to 10 € give or take. Generally taxis should be trusted but always ask for a price estimate before entering the taxi.

2. You can see so much within walking distance from Passeig de Gracia, walk around the first thirty minutes after you arrive and check out all the architecture!

3. Walk down a few streets and you’ll find Casa Batlló among other beautiful Gaudi creations! I would recommend visiting Casa Batlló but BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE (for every attraction really, life is easier that way trust me)!

4. Las Ramblas: Most famous walkway in Barcelona, there used to be way more human statues but unfortunately the government made it so that these street performers must have licenses or approval and that cut the number down significantly. Nevertheless, still worth seeing and getting some gelato from the infinite amount of mini stands in the afternoon.

5. Visit La Boquería in the afternoon: Just do it. Be aware that there is a fair amount of groceries here and though there are some, it isn’t primarily a prepared food market. The smoothies were delicious beyond words though…yum.

6 & 7. Take bus 24 or 92 out to Parc Guell to be dropped off near the entrance. Fun fact: It was free a week before I arrived with a friend…hence the photo. But who’s bitter though? Haha, just kidding but in all seriousness, be sure to be there before sunset for truly surreal views.

8 & 9. Barri Gotic or the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is by far my favorite area of the city. With buildings and columns dating back to the time of Roman control over Barcelona, every corner oozes historical significance. The Barcelona Cathedral is also an iconic part of the neighborhood. Time to go: any time of day, if entering cathedral, avoid period around noon as it is tourist peak time

10 & 11. Montjuïc: Palau Nacional, Magic Fountain, Plaça d’Espanya, and the Poble Espanyol of Barcelona – A must see when visiting Barcelona for the panoramic views of Barcelona outside the Palau Nacional (photographed here) and be sure to stay for the Magic Fountain show at night!

12. La Sagrada Familia: Another site that you want to buy tickets online for is La Sagrada Familia, or “the Holy Family” church. A work in progress for over 200 years (privately funded), I promise you La Sagrada Familia is unlike any other basilica you have ever seen. It is truly a masterpiece designed by the genius himself, Antoni Gaudí.

13 & 14. Barceloneta: Depending on what time of the year it is, Barceloneta may or may not be insanely crowded with beach goers. The beach is lovely, and my favorite part of the area is the boardwalk which is adorned with unique statues and sculptures. You can of course get some gelato (apparently trying several flavors is not a thing in Barcelona…oops) and rent a bike as well!

15. Arc de Triomf of Barcelona: A hub for tourists, locals and not to mention awesome street performers, the Arc de Triomf is a must-see, especially at sunset!

16. Camp Nou: Go in the morning (before 11am) or late afternoon (at 4pm) for the tour (1.5 hours long). Be sure to check if you are there during game day as the stadium may be closed to tourists wishing to take a tour.

¡A comer! // Eats

There are SO many good eats in Barcelona and I can recommend two good places in particular are called Maitea Taberna and Ciutat Comtal where you can eat tapas (small plates of different dishes) to your hearts content! For great seafood, I would recommend 7 Puertas (meaning 7 doors) and if you’re craving some Mexican flavors, be sure to check out Hacienda. For a refreshing cone of gelato near the Barceloneta beach try Gelato Fratello! Try to experiment and get an atypical flavor! After all, they have been ranked as part of the top 5 best ice-cream parlors in Barcelona.

¡A dormir! // Stay

1. High End: If you want to splurge in Barcelona, I would say more power to you! The city is gorgeous and you can snag yourself an amazing hotel with a spa like ABaC Barcelona or one with incredible views and a rooftop pool like Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona. Unfortunately, there aren’t any particular swanky hotels that I can personally recommend (having stayed there) but these two have been well-received by TripAdvisor staff!

2. Mid-range: Airbnb

Depending on your budget and how many people are traveling with you, I would consider an Airbnb! My friend recommended staying near Passeig de Gracia, it’s a great neighborhood and within walking distance from a lot. It’s a great option when traveling in groups (I’d say 3 or more) as there are plenty of apartments ranging from just above $100 to over $300 USD a night! If it’s a solo trip or trip for two, you could easily find a decent hotel for around the same price and who doesn’t love extra amenities? haha

3. Low End: Barcelona Central Garden Hostel 

~ Great location/within walking distance from cafés, metro, etc., friendly staff, clean, can opt for private or shared rooms (whenever you are staying at a hostel be sure to bring a lock though in case no matter what), Wifi and computers with internet and printers for when you forget to print entrance tickets to things

¿Preguntas? // Questions

  1. Uhh, I don’t speak Spanish or Catalan. Will that be a problem? Don’t worry! The city is conscious of the large amounts of tourists that visit year-round and most definitely cater to English-speaking populations in all the major sites. Streets signs and few local restaurant menus may be in Catalan but it’s nothing to fear. That said, it helps immensely to learn basic Spanish (and Catalan) if you want to interact with locals 🙂
  2. When is the best time to go? Barcelona is beautiful all year round but especially so in the spring months of April through June. During the summer is peak season so with high prices and high temperatures comes crowds of people from all over the world. Relative to harsh winters in parts of America and elsewhere, Barcelona weather is pretty temperate but just know, for example, you may not be able to go to the beach in late October/November!
  3. Is it safe for women/solo travelers? Spain as a whole is relatively very safe. Some parts, Barcelona included, have an issue with pickpocketing so be cautious of your belongings at all times. Example: ladies please don’t put your bags on the ground or behind you when you are eating/at a café. Generally, if you are aware of your surroundings and belongings, you should honestly be fine.
  4. I want to go to a FC Barcelona game, how do I go about it? Check the game schedule first to see if it coincides with your schedule. On the FC Barcelona website, you can buy up to a maximum of 6 tickets per person and they range from 40ish euros to 500+ euros. If you wish to see El Clasico (Real Madrid vs. Barcelona) then prices will skyrocket and non-member tickets WILL sell out super fast so be aware of that. Otherwise, the website is really easy to navigate so have fun and take pictures as you live out one of my many dreams! haha

Any other comments, tips, or suggestions please comment below or e-mail me at bilantravels@gmail.com! Happy Traveling!

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