Before we start I’m going to link where you can find me on social media – I usually put this at the end of the blog, but as this is a rather long blog I thought I would put it at the beginning instead. Enjoy the blog!
My first trip of the year has come to an end, it went so quick, literally flashed before my eyes. BARCELONA WAS GREAT, well everything apart from the arguing over directions – I visited with my parents and my Mum was adamant that she knew where she was going, even though I had a live map on my phone – and guess who was right, me.
Anyway, apart from the arguing we had a lovely time, we only visited for 2 nights and 3 days. It was my parents first time to Barcelona and my second, so I knew roughly were I was going and where all the main attractions were. We had the weather on our side the whole 3 days we stayed, which was amazing! It was sunny, slightly warm in the day time with a cool breeze, but during the evening the temperature suddenly dropped, nevertheless it was great weather to sight-see in.
DAY 1: The day we walked for miles, 13.21 to be precise
- Arc de Triomf
- Parc de la Ciutadella
- Barcelona Vell Port
- Gothic Quater
- Museu Frederic Mares
- Basilica de la Merce and Sant Miquel Arcangel
- Catedral Basilica de Barcelona
As you can see we visited so many different places in the first day, we arrived at around midday to our apartment and headed straight out. It was a lovely day so we thought we would take a walk to the Arc de Triomf, which was around a 20 minute walk from where we were staying. From the Arc de Triomf we headed opposite to the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella, onto the Vell port around the corner and across the road to the small streets of the Gothic Quarter. Whilst around that area, we found two amazing Churches/Cathedrals and one historic museum. As it was a Sunday, there were no shops open and from my knowledge of coming last time I remembered the locals usually stay indoors, head to the park or go shopping to the Mare Magnum shopping centre (the only one open). I thought it would be the best time to walk around and explore – and I was correct, there was literally no one around, it was like we had the whole of Barcelona to ourselves.
DAY 2: More walking but a lovely day out and about
- Parc Guell
- Sagrada Familia
- Passage de Gracia
All of the places above I had visited on my first trip to Barcelona, so it was only right for my parents to visit too. The Sagrada Familia was number 1 on their to see list and they were blown-away. We started at Park Guell right at the back of Barcelona, it was quite a trek to get there because of the steep incline walks – luckily there are some escalators on the way to help you up. Park Guell is definitely a must to visit whilst visiting, you have a beautiful park on different levels as well as the work of Antoni Gaudi. It is free to enter the park, however if you want to see the mosaic work of Gaudi up close, you have to queue and pay – which is around €8 – unfortunately when we visited it was really busy and there was a massive queue to get in. But you can see most of it at the front gate, including 2 pretty buildings that you can get right up to and touch. In my opinion, the Monumental zone (Gaudi’s mosaics) isn’t worth the money or being crammed with loads of other people.
The Sagrada Familia Cathedral was as beautiful and unique as ever and I could see where they had built extra bits onto the building compared to November 2015. As my parents wanted to see the inside (obviously) and I didn’t as I had been inside before, I decided to wait outside in the park opposite the ticket office. It was a lovely sunny day, I had my headphones in, playing some Sudoku on my phone and took in the ambiance of the park.
DAY 3: cram what we could into the day
- La Rambla
- Mirador de Colom
- Plaça de Catalunya
The last day was a little bit of a blur, we were rushing around to try and see anything else that we could. We obviously had to hit the shops before we left and I came out of Zara with a super cool new pair of trainers – woo! We strolled from down Mirador de Colom to La Rambla, viewing all the live performers and then onto the lovely Plaça de Catalunya. Our flight was at 6pm so had to be at the airport around 4pm – it was like a ghost town in the Airport, not too sure why. On the plane home I was lucky enough to capture the amazing sunset, I’d say it’s one of the best I have seen whilst on a plane (definitely the best thing about flying).
INFORMATION TIME; I’m going to write a little bit of information of each place we visited below and some tips and tricks you may need for when you visit Barcelona. I hope you liked my blog and it comes in handy! I’ll also be linking the information for the beautiful apartment that we stayed in – it’s super central, with easy access to the Metro!
ARC DE TRIOMF
Built by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. The arch crosses over the wide central promenade of the Passeig de Lluís Companys, leading to the Ciutadella Park. Built in a beautiful red colour brick with incredible detail at the top.
PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA
This lovely park I feel doesn’t get mentioned enough as a place to visit in Barcelona – and I don’t know why. If you’re in Barcelona on a lovely sunny day, this park is definitely somewhere to add to your list. It’s right next to the Arc De Triomf, around the corner from Port Vell and next to the Zoo, so you can kill two birds with one stone. It’s not just a park, there are many different buildings and attractions to see, including: the zoo, the Catalan Parliament, Museu d’Art Modern, Museu de Geologia, the Castell dels Tres Dragons, Hivernacle, Umbracle Tropical greenhouse, a giant mammoth and the beautiful Cascada Monumental and it’s all free!
Castell dels Tres Dragons
Built between 1887-1888 as a Café restaurant for the 1888 Universal Exposition of Barcelona by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Tt was dedicated to museum purposes, being a museum of history, archeology, biology and natural sciences. During the Spanish Civil War it was closed, after suffering some damage by bombing aviation Franco.
Umbracle Tropical Greenhouse
The Umbracle is a 128 year old building which is home to plants originating from twenty different countries in four continents. Unfortunately both times I have visited, this has never been open – I’m pretty sure it will be in the summer months! The Umbracle was built between 1883 and 1887 by Josep Amargós, it was turned into a hall for parties and conferences. According to the dictionary definition, an umbracle is ‘a place which allows ventilation, and shelter from direct sunlight for the plants which are inside’.
Right next to the Castell dels Tres Dragons is the Hivernacle winter garden, built in 1888 and made of cast iron with glass, the architect was Josep Amargós.
The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona, you literally feel like you’re back in the 15th Century! The quarter was built primarily in the late 19th and early 20th century, though several buildings date from medieval times. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. The Gothic Quarter is a must when in Barcelona, experience the Medieval ages and narrow streets, be extra careful in this area as it is a pickpocket hot-spot!
Basilica de la Merce and Sant Miquel Arcangel
The Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy, the dome of the church is crowned with the iconic statue of Our Lady. There is alot of different information on this beautiful church, Wikipedia says that the Church was built in the 1700’s, yet the church’s website states an earlier date (nevertheless it’s still beautiful). Read more here: http://www.basilicadelamerce.com/en/Welcome.html
Catedral Basilica de Barcelona
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th century. The roof features lots of different animals and gargoyles – but they are really hard to see from outside. This amazing Cathedral is massive and has lots of different parts to it, it’s like a maze! You have the Fountain in the Atrium of the Santa Eulalia, The Cathedral garden and the Tomb of Saint Raymond of Penyafort. The cathedral has a secluded Gothic cloister where 13 white geese are kept, the number explained that Eulalia was 13 when she was martyred.
Museu Frederic Mares
This museum is one of the most important sculpture museums in Spain, on show is the collection of the sculptor Frederic Marès, during his lifetime from 1893-1991. He was obsessed with collecting statues and all sorts of different items, the museum has one of the most important collection of Spanish sculptures from the 12th to 19 Century. You’ll find crucifixes and statues of the Virgin Mary, other religious artifacts along with paintings and other statues. Unless you absolutely love art, sculptures and are religious I wouldn’t say this museum was worth the visit – when we visited on Sunday afternoon, the Museum was free!
An absolute must when spending time in Barcelona, you’ll have amazing panoramic views of the whole city – and an impressive view of the Sagrada Familia. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. There is alot of Gaudi’s mosaic work within the park (mainly in the area you have to pay), you can see the 2 entrance buildings and park wall for free. I would recommend you buy tickets in advance if you want to see Gaudi’s mosaic work on the terrace and the famous lizard. As this zone is only limited to 400 tickets every half hour, you can purchase them on this website: http://www.parkguell.cat/en/buy-tickets/
One of the best known buildings and sights in the whole of Barcelona, if it’s your first time to Barcelona, the Sagrada is an absolute must to visit. I would say you only need to go inside the cathedral once, unless you go back a decade or two later – to see the difference in what has been built. Construction of the Sagrada Família started in 1882 by architect Francisco Paula de Villar with Gaudí becoming involved in 1883 after Francisco resigned as the head architect. The anticipated completion date of the building is 2026! I would suggest again that you book your tickets in advance, we found out that you cannot buy tickets after 2pm at the ticket office – and only people who booked in advance can enter.
METRO + TRAVEL
If you’re travelling from the airport into the main city I would definitely recommend you buying a T10 ticket at the airport station – the T10 ticket allows 10 different journeys within Zone 1 (which is the majority of the city) there is no limit as to when you need to use it by – you could spread out 10 journeys over a year if you really wanted to! This ticket will only cost you €9.95 – and will get you back to the airport from the city. In 2015 we used the Aerobus which costs €5.90 one way, so you might as-well travel via train and use the Metro, buses and trams too! For more information on the T10 ticket you can visit these websites: TMB or T10 Tourist Guide. Make sure you use the ticket machines at the stations as you can select the language – it’s so much easier!
We stayed in the cosy Splendom Suites on Carrer de Valencia, it’s a 15 minute walk to the nearest Metro station (Passeig de Gracia) and also the luxurious Passeig de Gracia road. It’s a lovely area, you’re reasonably close to everything, easy to get to supermarkets and Metro station. I would definitely recommend staying in these lovely apartments! Splendom Suites Website and Map.