My time in this city was too short and I cannot wait for an opportunity to do over. I spent about forty hours in Barcelona. It was just four days after the Paris attacks of 2015 and the city like the rest of Europe was on high alert. Getting off the aero bus airport shuttle bus at city center - it was impossible to miss the tribute to those who died in Paris and the armed military and police strolling the city (more so than they normally would).
I was very apprehensive to visit another city after having just being in France and Paris - everything in me wanted to run back home and never travel. Somehow, I talked myself into the trip and I am so glad I did. Barcelona reminded me that the best response to such events is not to hide away in fear; it was to step out and do more ; live more and refuse to let fear rule. Given my limited time in the city, I opted for exploring with a tour Company on my only full day in the city. The tour Company was Barcelona day tours and I thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary they put together. More of that later.
The trip did not start off great. I arrived in city center and could not navigate myself to my hotel. The trek from city center to my hotel was supposed to be ten minutes; I spent an hour and half going round in circles. I eventually gave up and hailed a cab. I arrived at the hotel only to be informed that although I had confirmed booking and prepaid; there was no room for me. I was sent to a sister hotel which was not up to par the hotel I booked. The language barrier made my compliants futile. They apologised and offered me a decent bottle of Malbec. I am not sure if it was the frustration of the hotel situation or the events of the days leading up to my arrival in Barcelona; but I had a very good cry after checking into my room and just wanted to pull the plug on Barcelona. After pulling myself together, I talked myself into leaving my hotel to explore the area. I was staying in one of the popular neighborhoods in Barcelona - La Ramblas. There is quite a bit to do in La Ramblas, but it was my time a La Boqueria market that stuck with me. You can read my guide to La Ramblas here. The best way to explore the area is to stroll around the neighborhood - keep an eye out for the market ; Canalizes Fountain; Casa Bruno Cadres; Gran Teatre de Lice.
After my time exploring La Ramblas - there was still a lot of day light left and although the tour I booked included a stop at La Sagrada La Familia; I could not wait to see the Gaudi masterpiece - I made a quick stiop there; there were no tickets for the day so I walked around the exterior before making my way to the other side of town to visit Camp Noud - possibly one of the most famed football statdiums in the world. My tour the next day kicked off at 7 a.m. so I called it a night after Camp Noud.
I signed up for a tour with Barcelona day tours using my British Airways Avois points (the tour currently costs 99 euros). They managed to pack all the good things into one day. My tour package included tickets into Park Guell and a trip out to the Monastery in Montserrat.
The tour started at city center with a stop at one of Gaudi’s masterpeice - Casa Mila (La Pedrera). Our tour guide was incredibly knowleagable about the city and its history and also Gaudi and his works. We were constrained for time so we did not go into the building. Next, we visited the site of Sagrada Familia. It was still early but the lines were already forming. I was able to get closer to the structure than the day before and our guide pointed out some details on the structure I will have otherwise missed. We were off to a great start.
We continued the tour at Park Guell. Park Guell is one of Gaudi’s major works. It is a public park with gardens and architecture. It is said to be the project that captures all of Guadi’s architectural genius and innovative ideas. Because I am a Guadi fan girl - I have written a Park Guell post. We spent about an hour and half exploring the park before we began the journey up the the mountain to visit the Monastery at Montserraut.
We arrived at Montserraut around mid day just in time to hear La Escolania – the famous European boys’ choir perform and it was beautiful. We saw the spiritual black Madonna and spent a few hours exploring the grounds of the Monastery including the farmer’s market. This is a day trip I recommend if you are in Barcelona. All about my time at Montserraut here.
We drove back to Barcelona to continue the tour. Back in Barcelona we made stops at Montjuic which offers an incredible view of the city and the port. Next stop, Plaza Espanya – the most impressive plaza in Barcelona with its monumental fountain. The tour stops also included the national museum of art (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) which is an impressive building with great views. The tour did not include a visit inside. If you are a fan of architecture, you will be well satisfied seeing the exterior. The tour also made stops at Port Olympic ; the olympic rings; Passeig de Gracia and a stop to view Mount Tibidabo.
The tour ended at city center. I took the opportunity to walk around Plaza Catalunya - the famous plaza in city center before heading to dinner at La Boqueria.
Last day in Barcelona. I had a flight back to Paris at noon and although I wanted to stop by one or two of Gaudi’s buildings; I chose to sleep in with only enough time for breakfast and one final stop at Plaza Catalunya for a bit of people watching before catching the bus to the airport. There is a shuttle bus from Plaza Catalunya.
Getting to and from the airport. There is a aero shuttle bus that runs from both Terminal 1 and 2 to city center. If you are staying in the La Ramblas area, the aero bus pick up and drop off is around the edge of Plaza de Catalunya (typically outside El Corte Ingles department stort). If you heading to the airport, make sure to get in the right bus for your terminal. It is about a half hour ordeal trying to get from T1 to T2 (and vice versa)
This post contains affiliate link for Aerobus Barcelona - it is the best; most reliable way to get from the Airport to City Center. I use it myself whenever I am in Barcelona. The shuttle starts running at 5:30 a.m. and is available from both T1 and T2 of the Barcelona airport. Reserve your Aerobus ticket in advance here