Busy in Barcelona

Planning a city break isn’t always easy. In fact, often you may find that going away for a shorter period of time is trickier to pack for and organise to ensure you get the most out of your stay. If you’re going to Barcelona, this blog post may help with that…

Picking the right hotel

Barcelona’s ‘U232’ hotel was perfect for my city break with my mum. It is located in an area called Eixample, which is quieter compared to the main city centre but still has a lot to offer. Stepping onto the balcony each morning I could see the many meandering mopeds, taxis, and smartly dressed Catalonians on their way to their 9am’s. The street below not only gave a sneak peak into the life of a local. The street hosted cute breakfast cafes, rustic restaurants, as well as a Hop-On Hop-Off bus stop and the AeroBus station.

The hotel itself had the right balance of contemporary design with its classy roof top terrace, and yet it’s cinnamon and amber colour scheme and bare wooden beams gave it some homely, cosy accents. It was the place where we could crash out after long days of exploring this wonderful city.

  • WHERE
    Hotel U232 is located within the business zone of Plaza Francesc Macià, nestled between Avenida Diagonal and Paseo de Gracia, just steps away from the Hospital Clinic and Camp Nou.
  • PRICE TAG
    We paid £360 for a three night stay for a double room with breakfast.

Top five things to do and see…

1. La Sagrada Família

If you’re visiting Barcelona, there are a few places you must visit, and La Sagrada Família is one. It’s full name is the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família which translates as ‘The Church of the Holy Family’. The modern masterpiece was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí.

A bit of history:  Construction of the cathedral started in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar but a year later, Gaudí took over and transformed the project from having a traditional, Roman Catholic design to a combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau. When Gaudí died in 1926, not even a quarter of the project was complete! Work on the cathedral was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume with very little progress in the 1950’s. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, a form of cathedral, meaning ‘seat of a bishop’.

Isn’t it mad to think that this building is so incredible and yet it is far from completion? Some of the project’s greatest challenges are still yet to happen, including the construction of ten more spires, each of them symbolising a biblical figure. It’s anticipated that the building will be finished in 2026, a century since Gaudí’s death.

  • HOW TO GET THERE
    Tube: Line 2 and Line 5
    Bus: 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24
  • TICKETS
    For buying tickets when you’re there, head to the ticket office at Carrer de Sardenya (or for group tickets it’s Carrer de la Marina). We bought ours here and did so a week before going to ensure we had a good time slot. Ours were £15 for skip the line entry…looking back we should’ve gone for the one that came with an audio guide which is £23 as it would’ve been really good to have some more information about the building when we were actually inside it.
2. Montjuic 

Montjiic Castle sits upon Mount Monjuic – the city’s biggest natural elevation. The castle is grand, the grounds are green and the views are vast. The most fun part about this stop though is how you get to it: via an up-hill train followed by a cable car.

Snippet of history: Its foundations were built in 1640 during the period of Principality of Catalonia and it’s played a major (often negative) role in the development of Catalonian independence. During the Spanish civil war a dictator named General Francο used the castle to imprison and execute people! The views from the castle at the top of Montjuic however make up for it’s troubling history and it’s really worth a visit.

  • HOW TO GET THERE
    As mentioned, you can take the funicular train and cable car. Alternatively, you can get the no.150 bus it’s just not as much of a novelty!
  • PRICES
    The funicular ride takes less than 5 minutes from Parallel Station and if you already have a Metro ticket it’ll be included in that. The cable car is the £11.49 if you buy it from home, whereas on the day it works out a little more. That’s for both ways- up and down. If you want to go inside the castle itself, which we didn’t, its €5 entrance fee (free on Sundays after 3pm) and is also free for the first Sunday of each month.
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3. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

I’ve always loved a good hop-on-hop-off bus tour. Not only is it a fun way to see and learn about a city you’ve never been to before but it’s also a great means of transport and getting around at your own pace. We chose the Turistic Bus tour which covered not two but three routes, each with stops at the best sites in Barcelona.

We organised our days around the routes so we knew where we could hop on and hop off where it suited our plans. It came with a map and a voice guide with about twenty different language options so no matter where you’re travelling from, you’re covered.

  • DURATION | TICKETS
    1 day – £27 per person, 2 days, £36 | For tickets click here
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4. Tapas and Flamenco Evening

Enter the authentic, cobbled, picturesque Spanish village of Poble Espanyol and experience El Tablao de Carmen; an evening of tasting tapas, sipping sangria, and watching flamenco at its best. A combination of green olives, Iberian ham, cured cheese with rosemary, shellfish salad and a variety of rustic bread made for the tapas while a portion of succulent Spanish beef in a rich, red wine sauce with the creamiest mashed potato ever was served for the main. A magical, music-filled evening to remember.

  • WHERE | TICKETS
    Avenida Francesc Ferrer i Guardia, 13 | Poble Espanyol de Montjuïc. 
    For the full package (show, tapas, dinner and drinks) £55
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5. La Ramblas

Filled to the brim with quirky art stalls, lively musicians, street performers and treats for on the go, this promenade is buzzing day and night and is another of Barcelona’s famous tourist spots.

Cutting through the heart of the city centre Las Ramblas is just over a kilometre long, starting at Port Vell and ending at Plaça de Catalunya. Veering off the main street are many winding side streets where you’ll stumble across even more hideaway pizzerias, coffee houses, boutiques, markets, and picturesque historical buildings.

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There we have it; five of the best places to visit and a great place to stay if you’re hoping to visit this Catalonian City.

I hope you enjoyed and stay tuned for more travel posts in the lifestyle section of the blog.