Barcelona is definitely one of my favorite cities, in spite of the all the hype about La Sagrada Familia. There are a number of reasons why this is just a great city to spend 2 full days visiting and touring:
Gaudi influence over everything including the dog
However my visit through Barcelona did not include any museums aside from passing through the Thyssen andPrado Museums, for the pleasure of saying I visited them. The following 2 day itinerary is geared for the person who wants to see as much as they can of Barcelona without killing hours and hours in museum lines. The first step is to head to your local metro station and grab a 10 ride pass for €7.40. The metro map below is enclosed for convenience.
Day 1 :
Start at 8.30 am and head directly to La Sagrada Familia, which is open at 9am. There are two advantages of getting there early. The first is obviously you will beat the lines that inevitably form around this “attraction”. Secondly, by seeing “Sagrada”, you will appreciate how it can be seen from all points around Barcelona.
- Metro : Sagrada Familia : Note the two metro icons in this picture.
- Head off to FC Barcelona for a tour of the facilities. Nou Camp is world famous to all football fans and either invokes love or hatred depending on one’s perspective but the self directed tour is good easy time and the audio visual display is definitely something to see. It costs €17 but the cost includes the self directed tour as well as access to the museum. More likely than not, this tour will take about 2 hours.
- Metro : Colblanc or Badal. From either metro station, it is a 10 minute walk to the Nou Camp facility.
- From the Stadium, head over to Passieg de Gracia. It is undoubtedly one of the more elegant and striking boulevards in the Eixample quarter. It also links Plaça de Catalunya on the edge of the old town with the Gràcia district to the northwest adjoining the Eixample. This is a central point of Barcelona. From here one can wander up and down the streets to see Casa Mila but nowadays it’s more commonly known as La Pedrera which means “quarry” . In addition, heading over to Plaça de Catalunya for the pigeons and the fountains, one can grab lunch here at this point and take a breather.
On the walk, it is quite easy to head over to Casa Mila
On the way to the quarry, you can also pass by Casa Batlló, which is another stunning Gaudi creation (Is there anything in this city, that the man has not created)
Visiting this area and grabbing lunch, should take you in the later afternoon.
Metro : Colblanc or Badal. From either metro station, it is a 10 minute walk to the Nou Camp facility.
- From Placa Cataluyna, head out of the downtown core for a reststop and refresher at Park Güell. This park was commissioned by Eusebi Güell as part of a failed real estate development, and instead the city got a stylish park for Barcelona aristocracy. The park contains amazing stone structures (see below), stunning tiling and fascinating buildings. Touring the park involves a lot of walking and hiking. However there is a little trick I found out to make this walk better … why go up when you can basically walk down. If you take the metro to “Vallcarca” you can then take the escalators to the back of the park and start at the highest point and the best views. You can slowly make your way down the windy walkways and view the whole of the park, and effectively save the best for last – the ornate entrance complete with dragon fountain and Hansel and Gretel houses. Unbeatable.The park can easily take about three hours to tour and enjoy, especially on a weekend when there is music, performances and buskers all around.
Metro : Vallcarca L3 line – then head up the escalators.
- To end the day, head from the park to the Gothic Quarter. El Gòtic, also known as Barri Gòtic (‘Gothic Quarter’ in Catalan; Spanish: Barrio Gótico) is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere.There are tons of little streets that all seem to form a maze within the city. It is easy to get lost, but also as easy to find your way out. There are so many churches in the quarter to visit, that it could easily take a day or two just to figure out El Gotic, but you don’t have that luxury of time in a 2 day itinerary, so head over to the La Seu Cathedral (Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia) and hopefully at night, you can take in mass as well as see people dancing in the streets.
This should take you straight into the middle of the night or possibly till midnight, but the end of the touring and exploration of the Gothic quarter as well as having dinner and drinks and maybe even walking back to Plaça de Catalunya at night.
Metro : Jaume I – L4 line ; Liceu and Drassanes – L3 line.
- First thing on the second day is to head out to the Montjuïc is a hill located near the center of Barcelona. The best way to get up the mountain is to take the cable car. The cable car is called Telefèric de Montjuïc and there are 3 stations: Parc Montjuïc, Mirador and Castell. This is one of two different cable car rides that you can take.
- Once you’re in the park, there are many gardens and spectacular views of Barcelona and the seaport on clear days from the Montjuïc Castle. Walking around the castle, taking pictures and enjoying the view, will pretty much take up most of the morning into early afternoon.
Once, you’re finished enjoying the view and the castle and walk down the garden path past the Olympic diving pool, past the dancing kids and head over to the Barcelona Port Cable Car ride, which is the second cable car ride.
- The second cable car ride is called Transbordador Aeri del Port or the Barcelona Port Cable car. The great thing about taking this cable car ride down is that it drops you right in the heart of Barceloneta. Personally, I felt that the staff were abrupt, the ride is slow and the service is poor, however for €9 on a sunny day, the cable ride is arguably the most stunning and exhilarating way to see Barcelona and links two of the city’s prime locations – Montjuic and Barceloneta
- After the cable car dropped you off at Barceloneta, then the rest of the early afternoon can be spent grabbing lunch and walking the boardwalk. Barceloneta is known for its sandy beach,restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk. There is enough here to take you through into the late evening; Parc de la Ciutadella, Zoo, Aquarium and Olympic park
- If there is still time in the day or you want to attempt to pass out from exhaustion, head up to Tibidabo for an alternate view of the city.
To get up to Tibidabo there is the the small blue tram – the ‘Tramvia Blau’, which is a signature ride in Barcelona. Its quaint appearance and friendly driver make it a pleasant experience for those wishing make it all the way to the top for the Tibidabo Amusement Park and the church- the ‘Temple de Sagrat Cor’. However, it can serve as an activity in itself- an entertaining ride finishing at the lovely Plaça Dr Andreu.
The easiest way to get to the tram’s starting point is on the L7 train that leaves from Plaza de Catalunya station in the centre of town. This will take about ten minutes and drops you in Plaza de John Kennedy, right next to the necessary bus stop, which is at 2 Avenida Tibidabo- directly in front of you. Take a look at the beautiful La Rotonda building on your way past. The bus stop is right in front of this building, so it will also help you to find where you need to be.
- To end the day, if you’re not ready to drop down because of sheer exhaustion, head over to Las Ramblas for peopel watching and some shopping.
By the end of this two day itinerary, you would have seen the majority of Barcelona’s highlights, albeit a a breakneck pace.