Well it’s safe to say after spending just four nights in Barcelona that it is by far the most amazing city that I have ever been to. Between the fashion, the buildings, the weather, the atmosphere, the tourist attractions and all the beautiful places, there are endless amounts of things to see and do. Every single street has amazing architecture and buildings that would be a main attraction if in other cities but in Barcelona, it’s just another beautiful thing they walk past everyday. If there was anywhere in the world I could live it would probably be here, it suits me right down to the ground!
So my boyfriend turned 30 in June and I wanted to get him a present that I knew he would really enjoy and since neither of us had been to Barcelona or Madrid and I knew he would like to see the stadiums, I started looking up information on TripAdvisor etc to find out about them. In the end I couldn’t really decide between the two and after talking to my friend who had been earlier in the year I thought why not do both? She advised me to get the train from one city to the other and this was so straight forward and easy to book on goeuro.com and the train station was only a short journey to both cities. I decided to go for four nights in Barcelona and 3 in Madrid as I heard there is more to do in Barcelona. This turned out to be the perfect amount of time in the end. I booked my flights and accommodation with my dad, Marc, who works in Abbey Travel and I paid in three different installments which helped a lot.
It only takes two hours to fly to Barcelona from Dublin which is another great plus about such an amazing city being so close! After four nights of staying there we got a train from Barcelona Sants station to Madrid Puerta De Atocha station which took 3 hours and 10 minutes. There are loads of different options for different times and lengths of journeys which all vary in price. I don’t know if it was because I got it so late but it was €210 for the two of us. If you wanted to pay less than that you had to get a train with lots of stop overs and you could be travelling for up to 9 hours! So I would definitely rather pay the money! We got the earliest train at 8am which got us there at 11am which I would recommend if you are only going to Madrid for a short time as the later times wouldn’t arrive until 3pm or later so you miss a whole day. It also was only €20 dearer to upgrade to first class so I also booked that considering it didn’t seem like much for better service and comfort for a three hour train journey. Which was even more necessary for my severe hangover that day! You get free food such as bread, omelettes, sausages, cheese etc but I couldn’t tell you what any of it is like as I was only able to stomach all the free coke, sparkling water and pineapple juice I could get ha ha!
Where we stayed:
Now, Barcelona is very expensive for accommodation which is totally expected considering you want to be central in the city and it is so beautiful but I found it hard to find nice accommodation for a reasonable price. 3 star hotels were the only ones remotely in my price range and even at that it was coming up more than €120 a night for very average places and this was booking it months in advance too. In the end I came across a hotel called Hotel Auto Hogar which was such a good location (5 minute walk to the main square La Rambla). It looked nice, clean and modern and also had a lovely restaurant outside and a breakfast service. I got concerned a few months after booking here when I read a few reviews on TripAdvisor about it being extremely loud, dirty and small but it turns out it was as it usually is, all exaggerations. It wasn’t loud whatsoever, it was a lovely basic city central hotel which was very clean, with a nice restaurant and friendly staff. The rooms were very small but we never spent more than a few hours in it anyway so that didn’t matter much. Overall I thought it was a perfect hotel as it was so central and modern which is all I really wanted.
Barcelona is without a doubt an expensive city. The drink and food is the same if not more expensive than at home so be prepared to have a lot of money for a meal or night out. The tourist attractions are also expensive but in my opinion, so worth it. The shopping is the same price for all the high street brands like Zara, Bershka etc however their own street shops over there make up for the price of everything else, they are so cheap and have absolutely gorgeous stuff. I will be writing a separate post on the fashion and shops over in Spain so make sure to take a look 🙂
Things to do:
I can honestly not stress how many things there are to do in Barcelona! I’ve never walked around as much in four days as I did here and we still could have done so much more. As per usual after an hour or two of walking around in awe at all the amazing things to see, I strolled in to the nearest tourist office to book a few things in for our few days.
CAMP NOU STADIUM
Whether you go to a match or do the stadium tour, you need to get yourself to this stadium while you are here. Considering when I booked our flights and accommodation it was too early to see if I could book a match, luckily it turned out that the day we got there Atletico and Barcelona were playing. Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve no interest in football and my brothers and my boyfriend would go as far as saying that I was a wasted seat but the atmosphere at these matches is crazy. I didn’t expect to enjoy the match and I was really only going for my boyfriend but it was absolutely amazing. The tickets were very expensive but this was a huge match so was expected.
BARCELONA CITY TOUR BUS
This is the only way to really see Barcelona properly, especially if you’re only there for a short time. We paid €25 each for an all day ticket to use the tour bus from 9am until 10pm, this meant you can start at your nearest stop and hop on and off whenever you like as there is a bus every 10-15 minutes at each stop so you can get back on whenever you want. I would start as early as possible as there is just so much to see and a lot of places close early and a lot of things are better to see in the day time. It is so straight forward and if you went to all places separately by foot I would say you would waste a lot of time getting lost and making the journey longer for yourself.
Casa Batlló is the most amazing museum which was built by Antoni Gaudi in the 20th century. It is the most unique, colourful building I have ever seen. You are given a tablet with headphones when you enter which tells you about every room and the tablet shows you what the house was originally like as you move it around every area of the room. After looking around all the beautiful rooms you end your tour on the rooftop looking out over Barcelona with beautiful lights and overlooking balconies. I can’t recommend visiting here enough, it is honestly amazing and the pictures do not do it justice. This was one place I loved being at night as it was all decorated with fairy lights and the city looked so lit up! it was my favourite place in Barcelona by a mile. This only opens until 7.30pm though.
I had never been to an ice bar before and I think it is something you have to see somewhere, sometime! Of course it was what we expected, a small freezing bar with loads of ice sculptures and one or two free cocktails but I loved it! There was loads of stars wars ice sculptures and you are given a big puffy parka jacket and gloves when you go in. You can stay as long as you want but most don’t even last 45 minutes. They have it set up like a club with lights and music. It was minus 12 degrees most of the time, but it seemed bareable. Maybe since I’m a girl from Ireland who spent most of her time out in dresses in the freezing weather was why it didn’t seem to bad for me, it’s just really like standing in a smoking area in Dublin for us ha ha! You also get 2 free drinks in the bar after which is lovely and right on the beach so I think it’s worth a visit for the guts of €15 each 🙂
PORT OF BARCELONA
The port of Barcelona or the Marina is a gorgeous part of Barcelona where all the yachts park up and set sail. The views are amazing and there are lots of lovely tapas restaurants over looking the port.
L’Aquàrium de Barcelona is right beside the port. It is €20 each at the door/€18 online. The aquarium has everything ranging from fish, stingrays, lizards, sharks and even penguins. It takes about an hour and is worth a visit if you’re interested.
La Boqueria is a famous food market in the centre of Barcelona on La Rambla street. It has everything from fish to cakes and is supposed to be amazing. Unfortunately our plan was to go on our last day but it was closed because of a music festival on that weekend. I was so disappointed as it looked so good, so make sure to take a trip.
The cathedral is such an amazing building, well from the outside anyway! I was rejected twice, once for wearing a skirt and the second time for wearing a bomber jacket and long shorts. Considering it was 30 degrees I couldn’t wear much else so we didn’t go back. Make sure to wear trousers or a long dress with sleeves if attending-oops!
ZOO DE BARCELONA
The zoo was probably the best zoo I have been in, they had so many exotic animals I had never seen before and you could spend hours there! They also have areas where you can see the whole zoo from a height which was cool. There are dolphin shows on throughout the day too.
EAT IN LA RAMBLA
La Rambla is a very famous tourist street in Barcelona. Luckily for us, it was right beside us. The street is filled with energy, endless amounts of busy outdoor restaurants and cocktails bars. There is always music playing, people performing, street festivals and lively crowds. The food is good and the cocktails are even better. The restaurants are usually mainly full of fish, pizza or tapas. It is the perfect place to sit down for a Spanish paella and some sangria to go with it.
The beach is absolutely beautiful day or night. It is amazing to think it is in the middle of a city. We didn’t even get time for a beach day with all our sightseeing but we did get time for a walk down it. The beach is full of bars and nightclubs later on too.
There are endless amounts of places to shop and as expected of the Spanish every shop is better than the next. The side streets are amazing for cheap boutiques. Otheriwse take a trip to Maremagnum, Centre Comercial Arenes de Barcelona or any other local shopping centres.
As if Barcelona didn’t have enough, it also has great nightlife, between their many cocktail bars, pubs and long strip of nightclubs by the beach including Pacha, Opium, Shoko, Eclipse, Salt etc. They are all buzzing at the weekend so it’s also a great place for a group holiday!
Last but most importantly, the food! I was a little disappointed with the food if I’m honest but I think this was just because most restaurants menus were identical no matter where you went, so I felt I was eating a lot of the same things! They are all about the iberian ham and cheese, croquettes, prawns, calamari, paella and pizza and they stick to that in almost every place we went. Most places were nice but I found the menus quite limited so we had a few very basic meals, I did find Madrid much better for the food though! Here are some of the restaurants we did really enjoy whether it was for lunch or dinner…
This is a pizzeria situated in La Rambla and the food was amazing. We got cheese croquettes stuffed with Iberian ham and cheese and then pizza. It was a real Italian like restaurant and I would go back again and again!
We stopped here for a drink and a little lunch one day and it was so nice! They had so many tapas to choose from and they were so different from all the other menus. We got spicy kebab meat, spicy chicken strips, beef in potatoes and bread along with beer and a strawberry mojito 🙂
Being very honest we only chose this restaurant as it was the only place still serving food at 1am on La Rambla but it turned out to be such a nice Chinese! Perfect if you want something different to Spanish food for one night.
This was an all you can eat buffet €13.95 for tapas and salads. It’s safe to say we had a few servings..they were so good and the chef cooks them up fresh in front of you which I love to see 🙂 I went for the ribs, chicken wings, mini burgers, Iberian ham and bread and a quiche (and a few more servings of chicken wings and ribs!) This was also on La Rambla.
Another love of the spanish is cake! They love their cakes, crepes, doughnuts, you name it! So make sure to stop off and try some of their best treats at Dunkin Donuts’ and Chok.
As you can probably tell we had an absolutely amazing few nights in Barcelona and I don’t usually like going back to the same places as I love visiting new cities and countries, but I would go back here in a heartbeat. I now understand everyone’s love for this perfect place..until next time!
I will be doing another blog post on my days in Madrid very soon..
Thanks for reading,
Just Jodie 🙂 x