9.2.2011 – 9.10.2011 || Barcelona | Tarragona || Spain
People often ask me what my favorite trip has been. That’s a hard question to answer but Barcelona is always on top of the list. This trip marked my fifth time in Spain and my third time in Barcelona.
We left the DC area on a Friday afternoon and after connecting through Germany we landed in Barcelona in time for lunch on Saturday afternoon. We settled into our hotel that was located in the heart of the L’Eixample district and set off to explore after fueling up on tapas.
We passed through the Plaça de Catalunya on the way to the main pedestrian filled walkway known as Las Ramblas.
This is Barcelona life right here on Las Ramblas.
We continued walking down Las Ramblas to Port Vuell.
Sunday’s focus was all about Gaudi and Picasso. We walked through the Gothic Quarter and Ravel neighborhoods trying to find the Picasso Museum.
Tip: We planned to visit several museums so we purchased two ArticketBCN museum passes upon arriving at the Picasso Museum. No photos were allowed in the museum.
We planted ourselves at the Arc de Triomf to get our bearings before heading to the next stop on our self-guided walking tour.
We planned our walking route to La Sagrada Família so that we also walked past the Monumental bull ring. Bullfights are now banned in Catalonia but the last bullfight in Barcelona was held in this stadium a couple of weeks after our trip.
I have driven past, walked around, and gazed upon La Sagradia Familia from afar on my prior two visits to Barcelona but I never took the time to go inside until this trip. Catalan Architect Antoni Gaudi started constructing La Sagradia Familia in the late 1800s and it has been a work in progress ever since. The last projected completion date is 2026 to mark the centennial of Gaudi’s death.
We started in the Basilica before heading up the towers for a spectacular view of the city.
Guess we will have to come back after 2026 to see the completed work of art!
To round out our afternoon of Gaudi we decided to head back towards the city center. Gaudi’s Casa Mila aka La Pedrera had a great rooftop featuring many sculptures while offering great views so that was our first stop.
La Manzana de la Discordia is a block on Passeig de Gràcia in the L’Eixample District that is known for its buildings by famous Barcelona architects.
Tip: If you want to cover a ton of ground and see many of the attractions in Barcelona, I highly recommend the Bus Turistic. There are three routes and you can hop on, hop off based on your interests. One of my friends even hopped off to head to the airport when we rode this bus in 2001. While we walked a ton in Barcelona, we also rode all three lines to save time and money getting from some of the furthest out attractions like Park Guell or Montjuic. We bought a two day pass.
On Monday, day one of the bus pass, we focused on the blue line and headed straight for Park Guell, another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces.
It was really crowded but a trip to the park wouldn’t be complete without a picture or two with the famous lizard nicknamed “El Drac“.
Before getting back on the bus we took a trolley over to Mirablau for lunch.
The view was amazing! This would also be a great spot for happy hour and sunset.
We got back on the bus and headed towards the Palau Reial Gardens.
The Camp Nou Experience at FC Barcelona’s stadium was worth it for the visit to the stadium alone.
We toured the museum, sat in the stands, sat in the press box, walked through the tunnel where the players enter the field, saw where they prayed for a victory, and much more!
The food is one of my favorite things about Barcelona because you can try so many different dishes when eating bite sized snacks. You can see where we ate on my day by day itinerary but to avoid this turning into an extremely long vacation food diary I want to highlight THE best place we ate at in Barcelona.
We tried getting a seat at Cuidad Condal earlier in the trip before being able to grab two seats at the tapas bar for an early dinner one evening. We were about to grab the check when this french fry and saucy over easy egg dish caught our eye. This is what we ate after way too many tapas. Not your typical tapas dish but it was delicious and the service was excellent at the bar. We were situated right by the kitchen so we go to watch all of the dishes come out.
On Tuesday, day two of the bus pass, we focused on the red line so that we could hit Montjuic. Before getting on the bus we started the day off with a short run down Las Ramblas. Our destination was the Boqueria market where we grabbed breakfast.
We didn’t get off the bus until we made it into Montjuic. We spent the morning exploring the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).
The highlight of Montjuic for me was seeing the home of the 1992 Summer Olympics. This was the first Olympics that I can remember getting really excited to watch American swimmers Summer Sanders, Janet Evans, and Jenny Thompson who were like super heroes to my middle school self.
We got back on the bus and rode out towards the beach where we hung out for awhile taking in the view.
Wednesday we were leaving Barcelona for the day and planned to spend a night in Tarragona, a port city about an hour and a half outside of Barcelona.
Tarragona is situated along the Mediterranean and has ancient ruins to explore. You can see some of them in the picture from our hotel room balcony.
After exploring the area around the hotel, we set off for the ruins before spending the rest of the afternoon at the beach.
We explored Tarragona a little more the next morning but we were eager to head back to Barcelona for the remaining two days of the trip.
We didn’t have many plans for the remaining two days. We ended up checking out a couple more museums using our ArticketBCN museum pass and did a bit of shopping.
It was a relaxing way to end a week in Barcelona!
Notable Food Experiences
- Cuidad Condal in L’Eixample for the best tapas experience and service! I have recommended this place to a handful of friends and it has been a hit every time.
- Tapas 24 in L’Eixample is the first place we ate and was a great introduction to tapas by a well known Spanish chef
- Euskal Etxea in the Gothic Quarter is a great option for self-service tapas near the Picasso Museum where you pay per toothpick.
Notable Drink Experience
- Mirablau for an amazing panoramic view of the city before or after Park Guell
- If you plan to check out a couple museums, consider purchasing the ArticketBCN for discounted museum entrance fees and to skip the line upon arriving.
- Barcelona’s many attractions are spread out all over the city, consider the Bus Turistic to cover a lot of ground and to avoid figuring out how to get all over town.
- Font de Gat is a hidden gem. If you are over in Montjuic and need somewhere quiet to grab lunch in between museums this is your place.
Below is a snapshot of our day by day Barcelona itinerary and where we stayed.
Question: We cover a lot of ground in Barcelona by walking and leveraging the Hop On/Hop Off tourist bus. How do you like to explore a new city?