This blog post was modified December 2021 with updated links.
Last week I shared the first half of my trip to Spain, where the tres señoritas – my daughter A, my sister N, and I – explored Madrid. Are you ready to travel around another Spanish city? Hold on tight, as I take you on a fast-paced tour of beautiful Barcelona. If you plan to go once you’re done reading, be sure to get a copy of Frommer’s EasyGuide To Madrid and Barcelona before you leave!
So where did we go? What did we do?
High speed travel
We packed our bags in Madrid and headed to the Atocha train station for our trip to Barcelona. About three hours later we were on the ground in Barcelona. A taxi took us to our loft-style apartment in the Barceloneta area near the beach. (Just love booking via airbnb.com.) We all agreed that we had picked a great location for our five day stay and were excited to have more time to spend in this hip and cool city.
Best sites to see in Barcelona
There were so many fabulous sites to see in Barcelona. We stopped at a souvenir shop to purchase a detailed street map. Walking around the neighborhoods to view all the amazing architecture was pure delight.
We bought tickets online to skip the long wait. As Frommer’s says “This terrific museum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 by rehanging many of the works. So even if you visited before, a return will likely feel fresh.” It was interesting to see Picasso’s contemporary version of “Las Meninas” (especially after seeing the original painting at the Museo de Prado in Madrid) and learning about how Picasso was influenced by the art of Velazquez. The museum is housed in a series of brownstones in the La Ribera area which is also home to unique boutiques, gelaterias, and tapas bars.
This pretty parc sits on a hilltop and was designed by the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. It’s a lovely spot to take pictures and see Gaudi’s famous “mosaic-encrusted pagoda and lizard fountain spitting water.” Just don’t visit on a rainy day as we did!
“Sorry, but you cannot enter the parc until 2:00 p.m.,” said the attendant. Her words were not welcomed after we had walked several miles in the pouring rain to get there. Since the parc was far from where we were staying, we bought our tickets and waited an hour. Splish, splash – it felt like we had taken a bath by the time the afternoon was over.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Our first trip to the mammoth Basilica designed by Gaudi was unsuccessful due to the long lines. We went back the next day and walked right in after buying our tickets online. OMG! OMG! is all I can say about this cathedral – it is breathtaking. I’m so glad we returned and went inside.
According to Frommer’s “Gaudi was a profoundly religious man, and from 1912 forward he made the design of this soaring basilica his life’s work. If it is not the grandest church in all of Spain, it is certainly the grandest constructed within living memory.” The church is still under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2026 for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. (Let’s see, how old will I be in 2026? I think I may need to schedule another visit to Barcelona. Si, si, si!)
Museu de la Xocolata
When I found out there was a chocolate museum in Barcelona, I had to go buy some dark chocolate bars for my chocoholic BFF L and boyfriend L! Ooh, ooh, ooh, everything looked so good I wanted to sip the thick hot cocoa and dip my fingers in the chocolate fountain.
Food, glorious food – that’s how I would describe Barcelona’s bustling La Boqueria market. Wow-o-wow! The colors of the fruits and fruit smoothies, the smells of empanadas, hams, sausages and the flavorful and fragrant spices made my senses go wild.
After walking miles each day, we stopped by the market near our apartment for wine, cheese, ham, and olives for after-siesta snacks. Late evenings, we ventured out to dine on tapas at places such as Barceloneta’s Jai-ca tapas bar and Origens, an organic restaurant near the Picasso museum. We also stopped at Brunch and Cake cafe for lunch on our way back from Parc Guell. With a more American style menu, their food is quite tasty and the scrumptious dessert-sharing cakes worth sampling.
(Note: Skip the restaurants on the beach. Just have a drink at one if you want to take in the view and sunset over the water. We tried a few spots and found the food to be poor quality and the prices expensive.)
Tres señoritas shop
No trip would be complete without a little shopping. “Si, si, si,” said the tres señoritas. We walked from one end of La Rambla to the other, then off to the more upscale shops on Passeig de Gracia, and back to the boutiques around the Picasso museum.
My favorites: Zara Home on the Passeig de Gracia and pottery at 174B near the Picasso museum. (Did I mention that we stopped by Louis Vuitton so A could purchase a wallet for my son D’s girlfriend J? Yes, we always seem to find our way to LV wherever we roam – Paris, Nice, Madrid, Barcelona – Louis is a popular guy. Absolutely, if you want to buy a LV do it when in Europe. According to A, LV is much cheaper with the euro and you save lots on tax. A should know as she has two LV handbags, which will be handed down to my future granddaughters. Yes, I said granddaughters. I foresee multiple mini-fashionistas for me to shop for and with in the years to come. )
Home sweet home
Sunday came all too soon and it was time to leave beautiful Barcelona. I bid my daughter A and my sister N goodbye with hugs and kisses, then boarded the plane for Philadelphia. After eight hours, two movies, a nice talk with my seatmate K (a college student who was returning to Illinois after a year studying abroad), I arrived home safe and sound.
“How was your trip?” asked my boyfriend L as he lifted my bags into the car. “Simplemente maravilloso! Simplemente maravilloso señor!”
So much fun to see your pix of Barcelona and hear about what you did there. I adored Barcelona and would love to go back. We didn’t make it to the Picasso museum (which we should have) because we went to the contemporary art museum instead (one thing in particular was fabulous and has stuck with me for 2 years now). And we missed Parc Guell. But we were staying close to La Bocqueria and went there a couple of times each day lol, and we spent a lot of time in the old part of the city. One days was devoted to La Sagrada Familia and the beaux art architecture throughout the city. Such a lovely place. My only regret is that Jeff doesn’t believe in shopping, and on the last day I ran to the big department store and bought a top that I’m wearing now. Would have loved to stay longer! Thanks for bringing back nice memories.
Allison, sounds like you had a nice trip to Barcelona. It is a wonderful place so you will just have to return one day soon.
It’s on my list. Some friends spent 2 weeks there last year and my husband loves it–but somehow I missed it over the years.
Carol, definitely keep Barcelona on your ‘to do’ list. It’s well worth a trip…or two!
I am so envious! I love Spain.
Susan, I love Spain too. You’ll have to plan another trip.