After three amazing days in Valencia, we boarded a train bound for Barcelona. The ride back to Barcelona was much less eventful than the ride to Valencia. If you’re just catching up, we got on the wrong train and had to make an unexpected stop to get headed in the right direction. Anyways, we arrived in Barcelona early in the afternoon and were ready for a few more days in Spain before heading back to the states. Our time in Valencia had been wonderful and would be hard to top, but I knew that spending time in Barcelona would be a great experience.
Once again we used the Internet connection provided by our TEP wireless device to book a last minute hotel in the city from the train. I cannot tell you enough how great it is to have a nonstop Internet connection when on the road. It makes things so much easier. You can get yours here. At under $10 per day it is a must for global travelers.
Getting there and the Hotel:
Like I mentioned above, we took a train into the city from Valencia, which was about a two-hour ride with a couple of stops in between. The main train station in Barcelona is Sants. There are train, subway, and bus options to almost anywhere in Europe going through Sants, it s a very large station in the heart of the city. If you fly into Barcelona International Airport (BCN) then you can easily get to the city on the subway system.
After a short subway ride from Sants we arrived at our hotel. Hotel regina would be our home for the next few days. It is located near La Rambla, a very busy shopping district in Barcelona. The location was great for all types of public transportation, including the subway, the nearest station about a block away, and the airport bus that picked up right across the main square just outside of the hotel.
We were able to check in to the hotel as soon as we arrived, which is always nice. The hotel is in an old building, but had recently been renovated, and the room, while smaller that the room we had in Valencia was very nice and clean, and also had a small balcony. It was nothing special, but it had everything we would need for a few days. If you want to be right in the center of everything, Hotel Regina is a great place to stay.
Barcelona is a large city on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and has a lot to offer. I had been there once before on a cruise stop and was eager to get back and spend more time in the city. I was really looking forward to the food, like I do on most trips. Barcelona has some of the best tapas bars in the world, and is also known for great seafood. Barcelona is home to many of the architectural works of Antoni Gaudi, the famed Spanish architect. We would certainly be seeing some of those, and I was very excited to attend my first European football game. With just about three days left on our trip we had a lot that we wanted to do, and would not be able to see everything in the city, but we got a lot done in our time. Here are some of the things we really enjoyed in Barcelona:
- Walk along the port near Columbus Monument
This is a great place to walk around, day or night and enjoy the city. Most of the architecture is of the Old Spanish style and is a real treat to look at. There are many restaurants and shops in the area, and lots of large yachts to gawk at.
- Enjoy one of Barcelona’s many markets
Barcelona has many markets around town. Each one has many vendors selling almost anything you can imagine. I love seeing all of the fresh produce and seafood on display. You’ll be around a lot of locals doing their daily shopping, the markets are a great place to see some unique items and maybe pick up some souvenirs or something to snack on.
- Adore the works of Gaudi
The architecture built by Gaudi is simply stunning. His unique style is immediately recognizable on many buildings right in the heart of Barcelona. My favorite Gaudi structure is La Sagrada Familia, a huge church that is still under construction. The towering basilica is easy to get to on the subway and is a must see when you’re in Barcelona. You will be amazed by the sheer size of the structure, and the incredible design features. The other two Gaudi sites that we saw were Park Güell, an outdoor garden that was designed by the architect, and Casa Batllo, an amazing home that was built by Gaudi for a wealthy Spanish family.
You’ve never seen anything like the architecture that was built by Gaudi. He used design features that were unknown in his day that were artistic yet practical. His work is truly remarkable and leaves a lasting impression on those who visit the things that he designed.
There are several other Gaudi structures in the city, here is a link to a list of many of them. Gaudi In Barcelona.
Each attraction will require a ticket, and I strongly recommend buying tickets in advance. When we went to la Sagrada Familia for the first time the tickets were sold out and we had to wait until the next day. Buy online and save yourself some time.
- Catch a Football (Soccer) game
Football is the most popular sport in in Europe, and Spain has one of the top professional leagues in the world. Barcelona has two football teams, FC Barcelona, which is the most popular, and RCD Espanyol. Both teams compete in La Liga, the Spanish professional soccer league, and the season starts in the fall and runs through the spring. If you are there during this time then there is a good chance that one of the teams will be in town. Catching a game is a great experience and I definitely recommend it.
If you want to see FC Barcelona then you can expect to pay a premium price for tickets. They are one of the most popular teams in the world and all of their games sell out at their stadium, Camp Nou, which is right in the city. I didn’t see ticket prices below €90 on the local ticket exchanges. This was out of my price range.
I was able to find tickets for RCD Espanyol for around €35 on a site that sells tickets for the team. I was able to pick up my tickets at will call and get right into the stadium. RCDE is a less popular team in the city, but they still play top level professional football, and I found the game we attended to be very exciting. It was a fun experience. If you are not a die-hard and just want to enjoy some football for an afternoon then an RCDE game would be a perfect fit for you, and the price is right. RCDE plays in a stadium near the outskirts of the city, but it is still easily accessible by subway.
- Check out some tapas bars
Barcelona has some of the best tapas bars in the world. You can find them all around the city. Look for places that are crowded, as they likely have some of the best food. Tapas are a delicious way to sample the local cuisine. Order a bunch of plates and try something new. You will want to avoid tapas bars that are very close to tourist attractions, as they are probably overpriced and will likely not offer the best food. Walking a couple of blocks from a touristy area could mean getting much better food at a better price.
- Eat some seafood
Barcelona is right on the Mediterranean coast and fresh seafood is available throughout the city daily. I had a couple of seafood meals in the city that were amongst the best that I had ever eaten. My favorite shellfish was navajas or razor clams. They were amazing!
My girlfriend found a post about some of the cuisine and restaurants in Barcelona. It was a great guide and recommended several restaurants and bars in the city. Check it out here! We checked out a few of the restaurants that were mentioned in the post and they were all amazing.
Of the seafood restaurants we visited, Casa Mari y Rufo was my favorite. We had incredible food and outstanding service. If you are looking for a unique seafood experience, check out La Paradeta. It’s a local chain that serves fresh seafood in a market environment. You pick what you want from the fresh lineup of seafood and they take it back and cook out up for you. Very informal but delicious!
- Drink some Cava
Cava is the Spanish equivalent of champagne. You don’t need an excuse to enjoy a bottle. Order one up during a meal, or any other time. Prices range from very modest to extremely expensive.
These were just a few of the things that you can do on a trip to this amazing city. I am already itching ton return to explore Barcelona some more. Barcelona has amazing history, architecture, museums, cuisine and nightlife. There is never a shortage of things to do in this great city.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Barcelona? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below!