Barcelona is a large and beautiful city. The architecture is amazing and if you’re not into buildings, there’s a beach on the edge of the city. We were there in March and the weather was perfect for walking around in a t-shirt or light jacket in the shade. You can’t beat the food and the people are very friendly. In the tourist sections, most people know English, but it’s polite to try some Spanish.
Things to Do
Parc de la Ciutadella is huge and gorgeous park area. It’s a wonderful place to eat an ice cream and spend a quiet afternoon with a book or just walking around, which is exactly what we did. There is a huge fountain and if you look closely, you will notice tropical birds flying around. The park also contains a zoo.
Port Vell is a nice long boardwalk through docked boats to a decent-sized mall with outdoor restaurants, plus plenty of places to walk around and sit near the water with a coffee or an ice cream. You can watch the cable car overhead while you relax on the dock or catch something to watch at the movie theater if the weather is a bit off. It’s just a pleasant place and a pleasant walk.
La Rambla is a very long tourist street with shops and restaurants. In my opinion, it was not quite as amazing as I read in the tourist guides, but it’s a nice walk and the area closer to the water has more street artists and fun things to look at.
El Born is a neighborhood that’s great for just wandering around. It feels more authentic as one of the older parts of the city. There are plenty of restaurants and shops. The Picasso Museum is there as well as a large church and many other charming sites.
La Sagrada Familia, the famous church by Gaudí. If you can find a way to get into this place, then good for you! As for us, we were satisfied with the outside view because the wait to get in was over 2 hours. If you want to try for it, check a guidebook for opening times during the week and good luck. I wouldn’t bother attempting it on a weekend.
Tip for eating in Barcelona:
Lunch time is after 1 pm.
Dinner is after 8pm.
In Barcelona, it’s best to stick to tapas for cheap eats and especially if you are not a fan of seafood. If you do love seafood, then you have plenty of excellent places to choose from.
Taller de Tapas is the only restaurant we went to twice. It’s located in the El Born area and has outdoor seating (at least in the Spring and Summer). It takes a little while to take your order, but once the waiter has taken it down, the food comes out quickly. It seems to be the Spanish way to bring out food as it’s ready, so don’t expect to get everything all at once. Just start eating as soon as they bring it to you. We would order several tapas plus drinks each time. This seemed to be the cheapest and most fun way to try all sorts of different specialties. The neighborhood also has a nice atmosphere.
Places to Stay
Great things about this hotel:
1. The location was amazing. Our room even had a view across a square to the harbor.
2. 5 minute walk to La Rambla
3. 10 minute walk to the beautiful Port Vell harbor with ice cream, restaurants and a mall.
4. The neighborhood is very cute and authentic.
5. Rooms are clean and very nice.
6. Extremely quiet! The windows are double paned so no noise gets in.
7. Small pool and outdoor area.
This hotel is nice and the breakfast buffet is excellent (but costs extra). I only have 2 complaints. The first is that the bathroom only has frosted doors that don’t lock, which can be embarassing if you are more than one person and have some stomach problems.
Also, very loud street noise.
On the plus side, there is a lovely rooftop bar.
The location is more in the Gucci/Prada sort of shopping area and has more of a somewhat modern city feeling.
I would recommend Catalonia Port or a hotel in El Born, the Gothic area.