This year it seems, although it may be a coincidence, that EVERYONE has been to Barcelona. I obviously adore the place and I have since I went on a cheap long-weekend with my friends a couple of years ago. It’s the perfect place for a budget getaway, Ryanair flights, cheap hostels and hotels, great weather and SO much to do. As spring is rolling around, its the perfect time to book a weekend away!
Having lived there like a local for 10 months, I feel like I know a bit more than a tourist website can tell you. When I see friends on facebook jetting off to Barcelona I always want to give them some tips and when people do I ask I bombard with so much information it’s probably a bit overwhelming.
So, with my brain packed full of months of experience, I want to offload some of it as this could be very useful and interesting.
Here are my personal tips and ideas for what you should do in Barcelona:
1. Get a T-10 metro pass.
It can be shared by up to 10 people and works out at less than a euro for each journey, a single is €2. Another plus is that if you use it again within 45 mins (i think) it doesn’t count as one of your journeys.
2. Stay in a hostel.
If you’re travelling with friends and want to keep the costs down, go for a hostel. There are so many nice hostels in Spain (forget the bad reputation) and at such a good price. I would recommend from experience the St. Jordi hostel near the Sagrada Familia.
3. Do a bit of Gaudi.
That’s what Barcelona is known for and his work really was amazing. I love the way his buildings seem to sprout from the ground, blended in amongst the other ‘normal’ buildings, only spotting them because of the crowds. Parc Guell is beautiful. It’s completely free and you could take lunch and sit enjoy the views and the musicians, a lovely afternoon out. Going to see the Sagrada Familia is a bit of a must, it’s at least €11 to go inside, but you can still enjoy it from the outside as there is so much to see. You can also enter the houses on Passeig de Gracia, but I have never bothered, why not just take a few photos while you are doing some shopping!
4. Go to the beach.
It’s great that Barcelona has the beach, the mountains and the city, but why go to the smelly, artificial, thief ridden Barceloneta when you can get a 20 minute train to a beautiful quiet beach down the coast. Go to Sants-Estacio train station and get the R1 line and get off at Montgat Nord (you can use any zone 1 metro pass). There is nowhere to buy food or drink, but I was very happy to take my own packed lunch and escape the city.
5. Go to Tibidabo.
The views are incredible, you are literally right at the top of Barcelona. Tibidabo is the huge church that you see at the top of the mountain in Barcelona and it is really beautiful. You can get there easily and cheaply with the funicular. Get on a ferrocarril (placa de catalunya station) line 1 or 2 to the stop “Peu de Funicular”, then walk up to the Vallvidrera Funicular to Vallvidrera Superior, outside of this station you will find a bus stop, get the 111 bus which will take you straight to the Tibidabo park and is easy to catch back. You can use your t-10 transport ticket for these journeys.
6. Eat Eat Eat!
There are so many fantastic restaurants in Barcelona, even if you are on a budget. One that is memorable for me is Juicy Jones, a vegan and juice restaurant. I took my vegan friend here when she came to visit and we both loved it. There is loads of the menu (we chose an indian thali) and everything is super fresh, tasty and cheap. The juices are also fantastic, we had one with avocado in, which was weird but delicious. It is just off La Rambla, so perfect for a quick mid-shopping trip lunch (my review).
Barcelona is fantastic for Japanese restaurants. I often went to Watatsumi which is found at the top of arenas in Placa Espanya (my review). Ikibana is also an incredible Brazilian/Japanese fusion restaurant, where I had the most delicious sushi I have ever eaten! It is beautiful inside and although expensive, lovely for a special treat or celebration (my review).
If you want a real taste of Barcelona, get out of the city a little bit and stop in a random tapas bar full of locals. Order a handful of different things, some beers and enjoy.
When I was living in Barcelona I also got the chance to try some incredible Spanish style restaurants with highly commended chefs. Hisop was a restaurant we visited when my mom and sister came to visit (my review). It was very much Michelin style and the quality wasn’t far off! The food, service, everything was incredible, I’d love to go back.