The first time when I traveled abroad was some time ago, in Barcelona. I perfectly remember the terrible emotions, the anxiety, the enthusiasm faced in the airport, at the gate, looking with terrified eyes to the planes that were moving around. I remember also the terrible turbulence on that flight, the motion sickness, the tears, the feeling that we will never get back on earth. After 3 endless hours of torture, we were approaching the runway and I looked out, for the first time. Until that moment, I didn’t have neither the courage or curiosity to look out. Even if I was 3 chairs away, I could see the landscape and all that I could say was „wooow”. At that moment, I irremediably fell in love with Barcelona. Or maybe that was the moment when everything started: my love for travels, my passion for Spain, the need for adventures…
6 years later, I was sitting near the window, staring at the view, just like a small child who looks to its favorite toy. I was experiencing again all the feelings from 6 years ago: I was again the inexperienced girl on my first flight, on my first destination. I was again vulnerable. I was again excited. And I fell in love again.
If I were to choose a word that would describe Barcelona, this would be surprising! Starting with its narrow and cramped streets from Gothic quarter to the bohemian houses from Passeig de Gracia to the totally breathtaking Sagrada, to its wild parks, noisy boulevards, hills with spectacular views over the city, Barcelona will surprise you with every step, with every breath. Now you’re in the middle of an uproar, next you’ll be sitting on a quiet corner, just enjoying its vibe.
I visited Barcelona in August, January and now in December and the weather was always lovely. If you don’t plan to get some suntan or to be overwhelmed by the massive crowds and the heat, just try to visit in winter. You’ll be surprised, I promise!
HOW TO GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY
You have 2 options:
- train to Barcelo-Sants (one way: 4,5 euros); departs from Terminal 2!
- bus to Plaza de Espana/Plaza Catalunya
I have always taken the train. The first time, the plane landed on Terminal 1 so I took a bus until T2 and then the train (the bus from T1 to T2 is free of charge!). The second time, we landed on T2 so we only took the train. The journey takes up to 20 minutes.
MOVING AROUND BARCELONA
If you want to use metro or bus, buy the T10 ticket (10 euros). One ticket lasts for 75 minutes (we changed 3 buses in one hour).
BARCELONA TRAVEL ITINERARY
START YOUR JOURNEY IN THE HEART OF THE CITY, THE GOTHIC QUARTER.
The Gothic Quarter is a labyrinth of narrow streets, hidden squares, beautiful churches, a lot of shops and restaurants. And it’s huge! On the last day, we wandered around without a map and it was the day in which I really felt its vibe. Everything was like organized chaos. Hunting touristic spots with a map in front of you, it doesn’t suit this place. At some point, you will get to see everything.
Even if the Gothic Quarter is always crowded, you can still find some corners in which everything is so quiet and adorable. On our way, we found the below street: it was sunset time, the street was empty and the Christmas decorations were just the perfect match for the shot. Hello, my lovely Barcelona!
A highlight of the Gothic Quarter is, for sure, the Cathedral of Barcelona! It was built between 13th and 15th century. It is a mixture of architectures (Gothic, medieval and Renaissance) and it’s simply impressive!
Placa Reial is also a beautiful square where local people meet. There are a lot of restaurants and bars all around.
VISIT GAUDI’S MASTERPIECES
What makes Barcelona unique in the world are Gaudi’s masterpieces. “Genius or crazy?” was wondering his tutor when he graduated the University of Architecture. Well, I consider it a genius, as every piece created by him is fascinating and unforeseeable!
Sagrada Familia is the most impressive construction that I have ever seen so far. Both the interior and exterior are pure craziness! It is not finished yet as Gaudi died before finalizing it. It’s expected to be finished in 2026 when there will be 100 years from Gaudi’s death.
Tickets: There are a lot of options (with/ without audio guide, with/without a guide, tickets including visiting towers, etc.) We bought ticket+audioguide for 24 euros/person. While writing this article, I checked again the prices on their website and saw that they have increased (our ticket with audioguide is now 25 euros while a simple one is 17 euros). I recommend the audio guide ticket as you will hear some useful information.
The interior is like a forest with giant trees and lots of details!
I liked a lot the stained glass with amazing colors: on the southern side, there are cold colors: blue, green while on the northern side, warm colors are reflected (orange, yellow).
For me, it’s so impressive that a modernist could create such a masterpiece. It’s such a shame that he died hit by a tram. When I read about his life and death, I was shocked to know that after being hit by the tram, no one helped him as he looked like a beggar and no one cared about him. This left me with a bad taste about people and the general way of thinking. Let’s be human!
Casa Batllo/ Bone house – my favorite building from Barcelona that was worth every cent and minute spent inside. It’s unlike every building you’ve seen so far: the fantasist exterior (multicolored tiles, masks, aquamarine details, columns looking like bones) may give you the impression that you’ve seen it all. However, the interior will leave you speechless (irregular windows, curves, modernist details, the feeling that you’re in an ocean depth due to the combining blue nuances: blue navy with dark blue). Everything has a purpose, there is nothing put in there randomly.
The windows and doors are like nothing you would have expected to see:
The combination of blue nuances is used in order to ensure that the light is proportionally distributed at each level. The windows have a weird form, they seem to be hidden masks.
WANDER AROUND ON PASSEIG DE GRACIA, EIXAMPLE DISTRICT
Passeig de Gracia is an amazing district, with a lot of fancy houses with amazing architectures and colors. Of course, the major attractions are Gaudi’s houses: Battlo and Mila. However, I was also impressed by other houses, especially Amatller, another masterpiece of Modernism style, built by Puig i Cadafalch.
VISIT BARCELONA PARKS
We visited only 2 of them: Park Guell and Parc de la Ciutadella.
Let’s start with the first one. The main reason for visiting it was Gaudi’s art. Gaudi transformed an industrial area into a creative and picturesque area. One can admire there the same famous colored tiles with aquamarine details and the same fantasist architecture. However, it was so crowded and so annoying to wait for some minutes to take a photo…while the rest of the park was almost empty.
I enjoyed a lot the rest of the park, all the greenery, the flowers, (even if it was December), the lovely view of Barcelona. I felt like I was in a jungle!
The second park that we visited was Parc de la Ciutadella. We visited it mainly because it was located just near Arc de Triomphe. Within a walking distance is Barri Gothic and it’s a good option if you want to escape from the usual crowds. We visited it on our last day in Barcelona and it so so quiet that we could hear the trills of the birds. The main attraction is the Cascade fountain:
Within 5 minutes, you can admire Arc de Triomf. Until now, I have seen some Arcs de Triomphe: in Paris, Bucharest, Cordoba but no one impressed me more than this one! Its color and its scenery fit perfectly with the kindness and the lively character of Spanish people!
ADMIRE BARCELONA FROM ABOVE
I love panoramic points. They are the best opportunity to overlook a city and its surroundings. If you add some hilly landscape and the Mediterranean Sea, the view is just perfect! Before heading to Barcelona, I read a lot about its panoramic views. All the bloggers were saying that Bunkers del Carmelis the most impressive view so I decided to go and see it. The view? Breathtaking!
Bunkers del Carmel is pretty close to Park Guell (we changed 2 buses from Park Guell: 24 and 119, however, 24 would suffice: get off at Doctor Bove station and then, just go on the sidewalk for 15 minutes.) The road is ok, not steep (if you choose the stairs, it will be a challenge, but on the road is pretty fine). There are no indicators and google maps don’t help that much. See below the last part of the road:
The view is spectacular! You can admire a 360 panoramic view of Barcelona. The place is an abandoned aircraft defense so don’t expect to find any shop or restaurant there. The surrounding are also pretty weird, looks like an abandoned suburb.
There are a lot of tapas bars and it’s the perfect way to taste a lot of specific food with less money. We found some cheap tapas bars in the Parall-el area.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
Flight: 400 RON (90 euros)/return
Accommodation: 571 RON (100 euros) / 4 nights/ 2 persons
Metro/bus tickets: 10 euros
Sagrada Familia ticket: 24 euros with audioguide included / person
Casa Batllo: 24 euros/person
Park Guell: 7,5 euros
One day trip to Montserrat: 23,50 euros/person
Travel. Enjoy. Repeat.