March 6, 2016

Barcelona travel guide: Things to do in Barcelona

If you are a frequent reader of Natbee’s then you know about my love for travelling and discovering new places. After the great response I received for the 10 Reasons you should visit Paris post, I decided to do a similar one for Barcelona.

Where: Barcelona, Spain
When: September 2014
I visited Barcelona two years ago and even though we stayed for only 5 days we still managed to completely fill our time and do so much. Whether you are planning to visit Barcelona anytime soon or not, hopefully, if nothing more, you will enjoy my pictures and some travel tips I gathered from two local friends and while I was there.

How to get there: We flew from Edinburgh airport with EasyJet in the afternoon flight so when we arrived at our hotel it was night. To get from the airport to the city you can get the bus No. 46 to Plaça Espanya and the cost is around £6 or hop in a taxi (average cost £25).
Where to stay: We shared our time between a 5* hotel and a hostel, so I can recommend you both places to stay depending on your budget and how adventurous you are feeling. It was an absolute delight to stay at the beautiful Mercer Hotel, a 5* star hotel located in Calle dels Liedo 7, that totally blew us away. A place set among Roman fortifications and medieval arches at the very heart of Barcelona’s gothic quarter. Our room had a combination of historical heritage and contemporary design and the service was exceptional. Drinking champagne at the roof garden while gazing stars was a hit!

What we loved the most though was the breakfast, talking about a great experience of unique flavours! If you are visiting Barcelona and you want to have a special breakfast then I totally recommend this place.
We also stayed at the Mediterranean Youth Hostel, that as my first experience staying in a hostel was way better than I expected! The beds were comfortable, the wifi was quick and everything was clean. I loved sharing the kitchen in the evenings with my fellow roommates and even managed to make a friend-hello Susie! The price of staying there was 1/5 cheaper than in a hotel so overall we saved loads of money that allowed us to do a bit more of travelling and sightseeing.

What to do: We spent most of our time by the beach or wandering around the Gothic quarter and Las Ramblas-the most popular street of Barcelona, full of cafes and restaurants-that I was told later by the locals to avoid for food as it is overpriced and does not offer the best quality you can get in the city. However, Barcelona is not only about sangria and partying, there’s so much history and places to see. If I had to narrow down the places to visit these would be the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlo, Barri Gotic, Park Guell, Plaça Espanya and La Barceloneta. 
somewhere in hospital de Saint Pau-a must see!

Most of the monuments are either designed by Gaudi or influenced by his work. Sadly when we visited the exterior was still 
work in progress, so I cannot wait to go back and see the finished project. Overall, the stunning architecture of the city can take
your breath away, it is not something I have met in another city-gives you extra reasons to book your flights and visit the place.

What’s so special: Barcelona is one of the cities that combines sea and mountain so it can satisfy any taste. The Monstserrat 
mountain monastery offers spectacular views of Catalunya and is just an hour North West by train. We took a day trip there and 
went on the top of the mountain with the funiculars! The monastery was very peaceful and groveling the black faced Madonna
in the Basilica was overwhelming. Even if you are not religious I still believe it is a great place to see!

Where to eat: A trip to Barcelona is not complete unless you taste the delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables that are available
literally in every corner of the city alongside with freshly baked bread and gelato! We would start our day having something
light from the bakery for breakfast, then have fruits for lunch by the beach, dinner at a tapas bar and gelato at night while walking
at Las Ramblas. Even though tapas bars are everywhere we found it a bit difficult to find a good one, until we found Cerveceria
Catalana, patatas bravas and seafood on point-my heaven! The tapas selection was also very good-I could pretty much
live on tapas everyday 🙂

Where to shop: and now onto the important stuff, where to shop and what?
Barcelona is among Europe’s top fashion cities, people are dressed with the latest fashion trends and the ladies have unique
style. Luckily when we were there it was during the end of summer sales period, so everything was discounted. As I had spent
most of my budget on tourist tickets though I only got myself a silver necklace, still making me regret the fact that I didn’t
get a pair of huarache shoes as pictured above.
The best shopping area in Barcelona is the Passeig de Gracia and the small streets around it. Sandals, beautiful jewelry and
colourful t-shirts are just a few of the things these shops sell. 

I believe that if you are looking for a mini escape to a European destination then Barcelona is the perfect getaway but before you go
here are some tips by the locals:
-Most of the museums/sightseeing places are expensive so it’s best if you decide which are worth visiting prior your trip.
-If you want to skip the long queues then pre-book your tickets online, there are also deals and you might get the cheaper.
-Barcelona is a city that you can easily walk around, no need to take a taxi, Alternatively, the metro is your friend.
-You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on food, street food is equally nice and tasty.
-Never eat at Las Ramblas-unless if it is gelato. Most of the places are overpriced and are purely for tourists.
-Watch out your stuff, if you look lost then you are a target for pick pocketers.
-Always hold your drink in hands while in a bar
-If people ask you to follow them for free drinks, it’s a trap don’t buy it. This is common sense really, but I think it is worth
mentioning it.

Overall, there wasn’t a moment I felt unsafe in Barcelona, not even when I went swimming and left my bag and towel by the beach.
However, I know many people who had their wallets, phones stolen and had roofie thrown in their drinks. As with any other place
while travelling be conscious about your belongings and enjoy your time there not worrying too much 🙂

I hope you liked my travel guide, many more to follow!
Anastasia x


4 Comments

  1. That’s a brilliant post Anastasia, I have never been to Barcelona but this makes me want to visit asap!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Beautifully gorgeous and brightening up everyone’s day with this bloody weather I am sure!
    I wish I could escape to Barcelona right now!

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