It became a habit of mine during exams, to book holidays. Not long holidays which needed a load of planning, but short escapes that I could dream of whilst sitting in the dreary, dark first floor of the library.
January 2017, was one of those times. Drenched in revision and battered by the winds of the East Midlands my best gal pal Jen and I were longing for an escape and after roughly 5 minutes of Skyscanning, Barcelona was the destination of choice! We celebrated with flamenco dancing around my bedroom and Jen proudly proclaimed she couldn’t wait to go to Italy! I had to inform her that Barcelona was in fact in Spain, seriously what could go wrong on this trip?!
8 weeks later and we were boarding our plane armed with euros and full of excitement. After grabbing a taxi from the airport to Las Ramblas (about 30 euros, discovered later it is much easier and cheaper to take the metro. Link here for the most up to date metro information!), we arrived at our hostel ‘ Hostal Benidorm‘.
Whilst I had heard nightmare about staying on Las Ramblas from stories of being kept up all night because of street fights, to muggings to euro-pop blasting from 7am I can safely say that I felt none of that. The hostel is hidden on the third and forth floor of a building, giving it a safe feel. Staff are on 24 hour duty, meaning that any issues can be resolved as soon as possible and from what I encountered they could not be more hospitable.
Our room was basic, but clean and all we needed for us seeing as we only planned to sleep there! My only comment would be that the walls were quite thin, meaning that I could hear the conversation the family next door were having, so maybe take some earplugs if you are a light sleeper! To check out their website and book a room click here!
With accommodation covered, it’s time to hit my must do list for Barcelona!
- Jump on a free bike/ walking tour!
There are LOADS of free tours, and why pay for a tour when you can get it for free. I recommend doing this on your first full day in Barcelona, it will help you get your bearings of the city, as well as eliminate any places you may not want to go to again. We went with Free Bike Tours who took us to hotspots such as The Sagrada Familia (dancing round like Ed is encouraged) and the Citudel and also kept us entertained with local legends and stories.
NB: Tips are not expected but are encouraged, and really for a 3 hour guided tour and thoroughly entertaining tour guide I would say leaving a 10 euro tip is super cheap!
2) Explore the streets of El Born by night for quaint restaurants and bars
While most people will tell you that the Gothic Quarter cannot be beaten for its wide range of bars and restaurants, I’m going to make a case for the neighbouring district of ‘El Born’.
We stumbled across this completely by accident on our first night and returned again on our second because we felt there was much more to explore. El Born is a labyrinth of alleyways and restaurant lined streets with a wide variety of traditional Spanish cuisine.
Not only is this more of a locals area, but the restaurants are grateful to tourists who have ventured this far at night, often rewarding you with a free side and/ or drink!
Make sure you head down Carrer de l’Argenteria which leads to a beautiful square and home to Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar. I believe the best time to see the Basilica in all its glory is at night as the lighting means it is your soul focus, but that’s just my preference. Be sure to stop at Giovanni’s and try their Kinder Bueno and Nutella gelato’s if you aren’t full after dinner (Nutella ice cream is a MUST for all Nutella fans!).
3) Hit up the rooftop bar at the W for a spectacular sunset
To get a great view of the city and a great drink to go with that head up to the W Hotel rooftop bar ‘Eclipse’. Notoriously busy due to its fantastic views of the city, especially at sunset, I would aim to get there approximately 35-45 minutes before the sun goes down.
Drinks are obviously more expensive due to the hotel’s reputation but if you’re only heading up there for one or two I think its a reasonable price to pay and compares to that of London prices.
4) Parc Guell (obviously)
Most people who come to Barcelona will tell you their favourite place in the city is Parc Guell, and it’s not hard to see why! The views of the city from the Plaça de la Natura are hard to rival and the beauty of Gaudi’s work is simply stunning.
What no-one tells you is how they booked entry to the Monumental zone in advance, which is an absolute must! I would personally try and book 2-3 weeks before your trip to ensure you get the right time slot to suit you. We missed the memo and ended up having a stroll around the park grounds and had to book the only time slot available for late evening the next day! It was still a magnificent view but I would have liked to visit in the day and taken our time to admire Gaudi’s work! To book your visit click here
5) Eat like a local in Carmel
Our late visit to Parc Guell meant that we were craving some Spanish tapas by the time we left. A quick search on TripAdvisor told us that Las Delicias was a real locals spot, not too far from the park and was largely unspoilt by tourists. Eager to practise some Spanish and fulfil my cravings for Patatas Bravas we set off.
20 minutes, and 2 wrong turns later we arrived and we were certainly not disappointed! The food was delicious and a fraction of the price we had been paying eating out in the Gothic Quarter and El Born. I can whole heartedly recommend their croquetta’s if you head out that way.
6) Visit the ducks in Barcelona cathedral
Did I miss anything out?!? What are your favourite spots in Barcelona? I’d love to hear!
Adventuring always, Amy xxxx