It’s hard to go wrong when you’re visiting Spain. The sun is hot, the sangria is cold, and the tapas are plentiful. Our visit to Barcelona was brief, but we managed to pack in all that, along with the best the city has to offer in just 2 days and 2 evenings. If you’re all about action-packed travel like us, this will be a piece of cake, but be warned, Barcelona will always leave you wanting more;
Stay: Sweet BCN Youth Hostel. Walking distance the Gothic Quarter, good public transport links, social hostel with clean dorm and private rooms. Very clean shared bathrooms and helpful, fun staff
Eat/Drink: Visit the Gracia area for great restaurants and bars, without a ridiculous price tag. Try Maoz, for epic vegetarian fast food
Do: Free walking tour in the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Mercat Del Born, Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Funicular & Tibidabo, Platya de la nova Icaria
The first stop on our maiden evening was El Bosc De Las Fades, we were heading out to meet up with some friends, but the place was full and you could easily meet new people there. The name means ‘forest of the fairies’, which makes perfect sense when you step inside. There are trees which look as if they are growing right into the ceiling and covering it with draping vines. In the dim, moody lighting, you could get lost along the dinky fairy paths and alcoves inside the bar. The atmosphere was magical, the cocktails and tapas were great and reasonably priced for the location, and there was plenty of room (it’s huge!). If you start the evening here, you are in perfect proximity of more bars and nightlife. We chose to head on to Placa Reial, to find Ocana and catch a late night Flamenco performance in the secret downstairs bar. Ask for directions at the door and you will find yourself in a hazy room, dotted with miss-matched couches and bar stools, with a small stage at the front. The drinks are expensive, but entry and show are free, so stay for at least one! We watched an all male flamenco performance and it was nothing short of amazing. The music and dancing was high energy and very loud, you couldn’t help but smile and clap along to encourage more. This is a great way to see some authentic Flamenco in an intimate setting – and just to remind you, it’s free!
After some paracetamol and lots of water the next morning, we headed out early to wander along La Rambla and get to the meeting place for the free walking tour. I would liken it to the Champs Elysee in Paris, a long avenue, beautifully kept with lots of shopping and plenty to look at. It leads right into the Gothic Quarter, which is where we took our tour. This quarter boasts the most interesting historical sites and stories, we learned a lot about Catalonian history too, which we knew nothing about beforehand, and as usual, the guide answered all our questions and made some fabulous recommendations – one of them being Mercat Del Born. The building itself is architecturally stunning and was a former public market opened in the late 1870’s, it’s now a cultural centre with varying exhibitions and it’s home to an excavation site which reveals streets and homes from 1700’s Catalonia buried underneath the market – entry to the centre is absolutely free. After a big lunch and a siesta (hey, that’s got to count as getting involved with the local culture!), we went off to see Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia. We booked our tickets in advance and selected evening tickets on purpose for 2 reasons; 1) We wanted to see the light of the sunset through the stained glass windows 2) It was half the price to visit after 6:30pm. From the outside, the Sagrada Familia is breathtaking, and the inside is just as beautiful. If you’re going to pay entry for one thing in Barcelona, make it this. We downloaded a free audio guide from the playstore to make our visit more informed and this ended up being hands down our favourite thing in Barcelona. That evening, it was off to fill our bellies in the Gracia area – famed for it’s food and drink, yet not too hard on the wallet.
We checked out of the hostel on our second morning, but they kindly allowed us to leave our luggage there for the entire day at no extra cost. We caught line 3 of the metro up town to get to Park Guell. We bought a 10 pass transport ticket which allows you to take 10 single trips on any of the public busses and metro lines in the city. More than one person can use it and we found it really convenient for getting around. Before heading up the hill, we ducked into a local store and bought food for a picnic lunch inside the park. The walk up is interesting, there are escalators running in parts of the street because its so steep! It is well worth the sweat though, you’ve just got yourself up to a beautiful view down over Barcelona. The park as a whole is huge and is free to get into, there are lots of paths you can wander along to enjoy the natural setting, but the best part of course, requires a ticket. You need to book an entry time online in advance and you can line up half an hour before that time. There are lots of signs so it will be easy to find where you need to be. If you loved Sagrada Familia, you will love the colourful mosaics and quirky designs inside Gaudi’s piece of the park. It was originally designed to be an exclusive community of houses, filled with people who shared the same political and religious ideals, but has been a public park since the mid 1920’s. The serpentine bench offers the best view from within and is also a great picnic stop.
We definitely saved the best stop for last on this trip, after a great view in Park Guell, the most spectacular one followed. It only takes around 30 minutes to get there too. Jump on the 92 bus outside the park and ride to Av. Tibidabo-La Rotonda, then you can either walk 900m up the hill, or catch the 96 bus to the top. You will find a funicular there which will take you the rest of the way up to Tibidabo. Now, there are 2 funiculars, so make sure you are heading to the one on Plaça del Doctor Andreu (the other one won’t get you nearly as close to where you need to be). It’s a beautiful ride through a tunnel of trees and flowers, the perfect way to journey up a mountain we think. When you alight the funicular, you’ll find yourself in the middle of an amusement park called Tibidabo, Barcelona’s own Disneyland! There are rides and stalls if you feel like bringing out your inner child, or you can check out the magnificent Sagrat Cor Church which stands adjacent to the amusement park. But the best thing about this place is the view. You cannot get any higher than this without some sort of aircraft, and it’s the only place where you can see the entire city at once. The view is truly panoramic and you won’t have any idea how big Barcelona really is until you see it from here. A return ticket on the funicular is €7.70 per person, and there are no additional entry fees to the park, so the best view in Barcelona is virtually free – we’d say that’s well worth it!
With our flight not due to take off until 10:00pm, and plenty of daylight left to burn, we jumped on the bus back to town and went straight to the beach. We went to Platya de la nova Icaria, which is near both the marina and port areas. It’s nice to explore here on foot, with plenty of shops and places to eat. There are art instalments too, and of course, the white sandy beach itself to enjoy. A quick trip to Maoz (an awesome vegetarian fast food chain we discovered in Barcelona) had our bellies full and then, it was off to the airport after an amazing visit to beautiful Barcelona.
Who else has been to Spain and fallen in love? Need more travel inspo? Check out our other short break guides, and don’t forget to let us know what you think!