Overwhelmed by the spectacular cities of Madrid and Valencia on our family trip to Spain we landed at one of the world’s most iconic city Barcelona. The cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region oozes amazing energy and so we could now relate why it is one of the favourite cities of people round the world.
Sea sided by deep blue Mediterranean waters and world famous beaches the magical city treasures many architectural gems in those ancient city walls and dusky lanes of Gothic quarters. One name which you would listen recurrently is of Antoni Gaudi, the man behind the mesmerizing, one of a kind and modern architecture of Barcelona.
Things to see when you have two days in hand:
Barcelona is so exotic that one can stay for days and still feel more is left to explore! However be ready with disposable time and budget in that case 🙂 In contrast we had two days left to complete our Spain trip and so to utilize our evening we strolled down the Passeig de Gràcia, the most expensive street in Barcelona to catch glimpse of famous landmarks and experience the city life.
La Pedrera (Casa Mila) and Casa Batllo- The two most important masterpieces designed by Antoni Gaudi. Though one may think these as just a work of modern architecture in 1906, the creativity and vision of Gaudi in that period is remarkable.
On the exterior the central part of Casa Batlo resembles a lake green blue in colour with balconies hanging as water lilies, the dragon back shaped roof top, the uniquely designed chimneys and the multi coloured stained glass work inside were just a few of the highlights.
Casa Mila (The Stone Quarry) is another unique building with self-supporting stone facades and wrought ironwork. Its costs around Eur 25 for the inside audio tour. Don’t miss the magnificent roof top to experience the ideas put to work by Antonio Gaudi much ahead of his time.
The renowned Passeig de Gràcia street was flanked by beautiful buildings, the most expensive designer brand stores you can think of, trendy cafes, fabulous restaurants, and museums.
The next morning we planned to take a city tour on Barcelona Bus Touriste ( Hop on Hop off) from Placa de Catalunya Square, the heart of Barcelona and favourite meeting point for locals. The statue of la Deessa in centre of a beautiful pool and fountains, monument to Francesc Macià, historically important and beautiful sculptures were embellishing the busy centre of the Catalan capital.
Our next stop was The Magnificent Sagrada Familia Church. Gaudi’s last unfinished masterpiece, expected to be complete by 2026. The breath taking magnum opus is beautifully ornated with sculptures, stained and abundantly coloured glass windows which are lit golden during sunset, unique perforated arches and sky aiming towers. Book in advance to avoid long queue and take the inside tour as per your budget. Eur 27 per ticket for audio guided tour and additional around Eur 6 for seeing the spectacular towers.
We skipped the towers as kids under 6 were not allowed inside. Moreover climbing down 400 stairs at peak time could be little claustrophobic for kids. Instead we enjoyed the marvelous structure with our kid for a considerable time from outside clicking pics and chilling out at the famous Arlequino Gelato. Tickets can be booked online in advance.
Visiting Barcelona and not going to see the shrine of Football, the FC Barcelona camp Nou Stadium would be a sin. More than a club its an emotion for football lovers. You can take the stadium audio guide tour as well the museum tour and it requires couple of hours so carry adequate snacks for the little ones.
Come back to Placa de Catalunya and explore the lively Las Ramblas. The action packed street is bustling with tourists, locals and street performers – the human statues, numerous terrace cafes, restaurants and shops all along. Some tourists prefer to explore Las Ramblas before heading for any other place in Barcelona.
Friendly advice- The street is infamous for housing several pickpockets too, so be very careful with your personal belongings.
Port Vell the old harbour of Barcelona is another spot to relax, take a stroll in evening, click pictures with beautiful waters and yachts and grab something to eat. One can even surf the flea market there. If you miss the beach at Barcelona this romantic spot will not leave u disappointed.
Port Vell meets end of Barcelona’s La Ramblas, at the Columbus monument. The ancient column monument is mounted on a beautifully sculpted and embellished platform with eight majestic lions on all sides. Favourite spot for visitors for holiday pictures.
If you plan to stay more in this gorgeous city plan a visit to Park Guell, Magic Fountain of Montjuic, Barcelona Cathedral and Gothic Quarters. With little time and little kids its becomes a challenge to cover all the places as you need to be on foot at all these places so plan for extra days to explore full.
Places to Shop: Listed as one of Europe’s finest places to shop Barcelona can boast about stunning Passeig de Gracia. From high end to local all can be explored here. Visit Avinguda Diagonal for Armani or Gucci or even a fun window shopping ;-p Ras Ramblas homes plenty of souvenir shops which you may find little over priced and do watch your belongings.
Oops Sunday mostly closed except for few shopping malls.
Shops can remain close from 2pm to around 4pm for afternoon Siesta. Did it ring the bell. Yes! read about Madrid and about how much Spaniards love their Siesta in my blogs
Places to eat: Our stay at Best Western Premier Dante, Barcelona was quite comfortable. The hotel is situated in the heart of the commercial center, a few minutes from Diagonal Avenue and Catalunya Square. Nice rooms, sumptuous breakfast spread and friendly staff made our stay memorable.
After being sated with the hotel breakfast, you can refuel your energies at several Tapas Bars, cafes or restaurants while strolling the city. Food is what unites all the three cities of Spain- Madrid , Valencia and Barcelona. But it may pinch a little more in Barcelona than Madrid.
As we had tried authentic cuisine of Spain in sister cities we felt at home to see nice Indian restaurants in Barcelona near Best Western like Rasoi and Masala 73 Curry Bar. Was surprised to see even locals and tourists flocking the place for Indian food, but it was worth it.
SandwiChez a little restaurant at Mallorca near Best Western serves fresh sandwiches, coffee, juices, smoothies etc. in a cozy environment.
When travelling with kids it is important to make kids comfortable too and so we opted to go for Indian food which our son is used to for the next two of travel.
What to eat- Most traditional food of Barcelona were similar to Valencia and Madrid though prepared according to the taste of the local Catalan people. You can delve into plethora of non vegetarian platters and few vegetarian options.
Paella de Verduras (Vegetarian Paella), Patatas Bravas ( potato wedges with tomato sauce), Pa amb Tomaquet (bread with garlic and tomato puree), Pimientos de Padron (little, green peppers), Alcachofas con pan de pita (artichoke dip with pita bread) were few vegetarian options.
Calçots and romesco sauce- A peculiar green onion native to Catalonia served with a traditional catalan Salsa. ( It may be roasted with meat sometimes!)
Crema Catalana – You will fall in love with this creamy vanilla custard with a glassy crust.
How to reach- High speed trains are best when it comes to cover the distance between Valencia and Barcleona.
We boarded Renfe Euromed from Valencia Joaquin Sorolla to reach Barcelona Sants Station in approx. 3 hrs. Estimated price around Euro 45 per adult and Euro 27 per kid. (fares may vary depending on train and timing). Road and Flight are alternative options.
To explore Barcelona (as in my other blogs on Spanish cities) Hop on Hop Off Bus Touristic is the smartest way to travel especially when travelling with family and kids. Another advantage is you are free to spend as much time you want on a spot. Three routes Blue, Red and Green line cover all the famous spots on their respective routes. Maps available while booking the tickets, chose your route and board; isn’t it simple.
Hassle free travelling with kids. Happy Kids Happy you!!
Barcelona–El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport
It was a dream vacation in Spain. As we boarded our flight back to India the memories of this vibrant and beautiful country still lingered.
Spain is huge and so choices are endless. Andalusia (Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, Seville), Canary Islands, Costa Brava and more are other areas in Spain worth visiting once in lifetime. Hope to continue this soul enriching journey 🙂 Till then,
Hasta la Vista Espana 🙂