Looking for that relaxed Mediterranean vibe with all the amenities of a big city, plan a trip to Barcelona. Barcelona is located on Spain’s north eastern coast, with large stretches of sandy beaches, and yacht filled marinas.
Day 1 Of My Trip To Barcelona
An easy hour and a half flight from Amsterdam, getting to Barcelona is quick. Getting through the airport, to a cab, and to the hotel, also quick; about 30 minutes, and €20-€35 for the cab ride. We were staying at the Hotel Espana, and the location was perfect. It is nestled between the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas (main strip), and the harbor. For more about our review of Hotel Espana.
GREAT TAPAS & MODERN ARCHITECTURE
Arriving late afternoon, we decided to ask the hotel concierge where to eat lunch; so glad we did. She recommended a nearby place, Bar Canete. We ended up coming back to this place for dinner another night; it was so good read more about our experience at Bar Canete. Fully satisfied, we decided to walk around the Gothic quarter for a while, since it was only a block away. Strolling through the old buildings and medieval churches, we made our way up to the Arc de Triomf, and finally back to the hotel.
Walking back up Las Ramblas, we were in search of some the famous Gaudí architecture. Gaudí is world renown for his modernist work; with 8 of his creations being World Heritage sites. These structures look completely different at night versus the day, all lit up. That evening we ended up having dinner at our hotel, which was phenomenal. A little much, but again phenomenal.
Day 2 Of My Trip To Barcelona
We spent the day visiting Montjuïc Castle by way of Cable Car, making our way down to Olympic Stadium to Palau Nacional, and finally to Port Vell. Make sure to ask locals about a good tapas restaurant. Trying to choose a tapas place is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
THE NEVER ENDING JOURNEY
Heading out early the next day, we found this cute little bakery down the street from our hotel. Today, I had planned for us to go to Montjuic Castle, by means of the Teleferic de Montjuic (cable cars). Making our way to the Teleferic de Montjuic, what didn’t look like a far walk, an entirely uphill, and holy shit. The view of the city was amazing up there and as you kept climbing the views only get better. Yes, there is a funicular…we just couldn’t find it.
Arriving to the Teleferic de Montjuic pickup point, about halfway up the hill, we bought one way tickets for about 5 euros. Definitely well worth the money and hike. The panoramic views of the city are unreal; it didn’t hurt that it was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky. Matt was semi-freaking out; he doesn’t like heights. Even if you don’t like heights just do it anyway; it’s safe, it’s great, and you can’t get views like that anywhere else.
Popping off at the top of Montjuic, you walk up to a castle fortress with endless views of the sea and valley. There is a small entrance fee of 10 euros,discounts available to students, residents and seniors. Again the views are incredible. The grounds of Montjuic Castle are large and sprawling, with many gardens, and a large open courtyard. One downfall is that there is a lack of information and signage of the history…make an app. After exploring the grounds for a few hours, we decided to walk back. Thinking in my head: it’s downhill, it’s got to be easy. Right? Wrong.
Even though it was downhill, and even thought it was only 60 degrees fahrenheit, that walk was awful. With the sun beating on you it feels like 80 min, while you are wearing heaving coats; Stay hydrated. The walk down was hard, but nice as we were able to see Olympic Park. From a distance, the Olympic Park is super impressive, but as you get up close, you see the years of decay. Wish the Olympic committee would be on board with sustainable and renewable operations. Instead of developing new sites, why not redevelop abandoned areas and buildings.
Continuing on our walk down I wanted to stop for lunch at this tapas place I read about. That was a total fail. The only way we are getting into this restaurant was with a reservation, or to pay an admission fee of €24. Apparently, the restaurant wasn’t taking reservations and apparently it is located in a museum like facility. Hard pass.
Starving, we continued walking. 8 hours since we last ate, we finally stop at a place by the convention center. Touristy? Yes, but they had cold beer, tapas, and good music. I loved it; it’s all I needed. A few beers later, and no longer hangry, we continued walking. Literally it was never ending. We decided to walk back to the hotel and nap. We needed it.
Freshening up we decided to walk to the beach and explore the marina. Filled with multi million dollar mega yachts, owned by Russian billionaires, we were in a trance just looking at these vessels. Like well over 200 feet long. That’s what she said. Ha. Anyway, the marina was different from the rest of Barcelona. It has a tropical vibe; large beaches, lined with palm trees and outdoor seating. Only staying for a bit, we decided to walk up Las Ramblas to get dinner. We grab dinner at this really cool place, Cachitos Rambla. The ambience was great, food and drinks were good, but service was slow as fuck. Read more of my review of Cahitos Rambla.
Day 3 Of My Trip To Barcelona
The third day of our trip was filled with Gaudi architecture, making sure we visited the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera. After all that walking, we still ended up making our way to the Beach for sunset and dinner.
A GAUDÍ DAY IN BARCELONA
Next day we woke up fairly early, as we had another long day of walking. Like we never stop walking…Uphill. Make sure you bring good walking shoes, or cab it. We started the day by visiting Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. Literally, jaw dropping.
Famous for being designed and started by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí over 200 years ago,Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is expected to be completed by 2026. Extremely ornate and detailed, this church is the most magnificent church I have ever seen. I would have loved to have gone inside, but a 2 hour minimum wait? Nope. Ain’t no one got time for that. After snapping up some pics, we continued walking ever so slightly uphill…for another 2 miles. Brutal.
From one Gaudí work to another, were headed to Park Guell. Park Guell is a tourist trap, but it is a must see. With so many colors and curves; the complexity is insane. Everything is able to transition / transform into something else so seamlessly; the design of the buildings, the nature surrounding it, the colors, I took it all in. We got a kick out the dozens illegal vendors, selling you your usual touristy crap, who would fold their stuff up, and head into the bush, as police walked pass…then back at it. Somewhat annoying, since you pay an entrance fee.
Climbing further and further up Park Guell, we passed painted pigeons and a Native American. Weird. I know. Grabbing a quick casual lunch. We were able to get some seats at the park, ordered some sandwiches and beer, and people watched. Depleted of energy, we decided to make her way back to our hotel. Thinking again that it was downhill it wouldn’t be that bad. What a fool I am. I literally could not walk anymore. I know pathetic, and why did I not learn my lesson.
Later that evening, we walked back over to the beach, to watch the sunset. Despite it only being 60 degrees out, the marina was still filled with mega yachts, and the beach had a good amount of sunbathers and surfers. Oh Hey. There’s a penis. No big whoop, just an older gentleman, in the nude, stretching out. Perfect. Besides old balls, there are people selling cold beer and mojitos along the beach. I love it; just grab a drink and catch the sunset.
We ended up making our way to the W hotel because they are supposed to have a good view of the sunset, but it wasn’t anything special. Deciding to leave soon after, we figured we would go eat. In Barcelona it’s normal to eat late and by late I mean like 9 PM to 11 PM; it was 7:30pm. We were hungry, so we grabbed a table near the W, known for good paella. We were literally eating with the kitchen staff, but no worries, we were to occupied with the food and sangria; so delicious.
Day 4 Of My Trip To Barcelona
On the fourth day of our trip to Barcelona we spend admiring more Gaudí architecture and watching one of the best soccer teams in the world, FC Barcelona.
SOME MORE GAUDÍ
The next day we explored some more Gaudí architecture; passing the . Only stopping for some quick photos, and a moment to admire the work, we soon move on. Experience all this city has to offer, read top Barcelona things to see and do.
Making our way back towards the hotel, we stopped at a place about a few blocks off the main strip, Cerveceria Catalana. It is so delicious. We enjoyed some tapas and sangria on their heated outdoor patio. Read more about our dining experience at Cerveceria Catalana.
FUTBOL IN BARCELONA
Planning on attending the FC Barcelona game at Camp Nou, we wrapped up lunch and made our way. We we told that the best way to get to Camp Nou was to take the subway or train. False. It turned out to be the worst decision of my life. Be aware, on game day, you are packed like sardines onto the trains. After a near panic attack, we got off at the very next stop, and took a cab; it was about €8 to €10. Driving to Camp Nou, everyone was in FC Barcelona gear, with hordes of people making their way to the stadium. People outside selling beer and merchandise. Nearby bars were overspilling with people trying to get a spot to watch the game.
Once inside the stadium, the grounds were large and wide open. There are 2 restaurants and a museum within the stadium grounds. Once inside the stadium, it is massive. Truly impressive to see how quickly people can enter and exit this place. Seats are great and fans were well behaved. Fact: they only serve nonalcoholic beer inside the Camp Nou.
Trying to catch a cab after the game was a pain in the ass; have patience and walk about 4 blocks away or take a train. Having the cab drop us off as close as possible, we walked back to Bar Canete for dinner on our last night. We had such an amazing experience the first night, we wanted to go back.
Leaving Barcelona, Spain
Next morning it was time to say goodbye to Barcelona. Heading to the airport turned out to be a pain in the ass as there was a marathon. All the roads surrounding the city were closed or diverted. Typical. To make matters worse the operations at that Barcelona airport were awful.
The airport staff, in Barcelona, seemed to be more occupied with talking to each other than assisting flyers. Seriously, trying to get through security there are no buckets for over 10 minutes, while people are cutting in line. Finally through, the inside of the airport is beautiful, new, and clean.
Start planning your vacation to Spain with my top Barcelona travel tips.