The Spanish city Barcelona can offer you a city break and a beach holiday combined, and the city also has a lot of beautiful architecture see. The temperature is usually better than in Norway (where I’m from), so it’s fitting for a weekend trip to Barcelona also during fall. In this post I’m giving you my guide to Barcelona.
First some general information before moving along to hotel, what to do, what to see, and where to eat.
Traveling to Barcelona
We took a direct flight from Stavanger Airport to Barcelona, which took about 3 hours. Not a long flight (from my local airport that is). That makes it a perfect spot for a weekend trip. It’s a bonus if you find good flight times as well where you get to use the travel days to the fullest. When I’m saying good flight times I mean that you arrive early in Barcelona on the first day, and leave late at the day of departure. But it can be an idea to check when your hotel lets you check-in and when you have to check out.
Currency and payment
In Spain, and then also in Barcelona, they use Euros. Today (June 2019) 1 Euro equals 1,11 USD. I usually withdraw cash at the airport before departure so that I have money for transport when arriving. But you will find ATMs all over the city. And by the way, most hotels, stores, and restaurants accept credit cards if you’re having difficulties getting cash. There are several benefits to using credit cars when traveling, and this I will write about in a separate post.
The temperatures are higher in Barcelona than in Norway, also during fall. So a trip to Barcelona is fitting if you want a city break with a slightly higher temperature. During summer it might get too hot, so it’s recommended visiting Barcelona between April and June, or in September.
La Rambla is the busiest pedestrian street in Barcelona, and is very central. Here you’ll find hotels, stores, restaurants, and most of the transport (at one end of the street).
I have been to Barcelona twice. Both times was 4 days, and both times this was enough. But I did not stay at the same hotel both times, so here you get two tips for hotels in Barcelona in different price ranges.
Grupotel Gravina (3 stars)
Grupotel Gravina is a 3-star hotel located only a few minutes walk from La Rambla. We wanted something cheap, but central, so this was perfect. An okay hotel with breakfast buffet and nice staff.
We did not spend that much time in the hotel room because we were out exploring most of the time, but in general we were happy with both the room and hotel. And it seems like most other people are happy with it too because they have a score of 4 out of 5 on Tripadvisor (here you can see pictures from the hotel as well).
Hotel 1898 (4 stars)
Hotel 1898 is of slightly higher standard than Grupotel Gravina. And it’s even more central with its location in the middle of La Rambla. The hotel has a restaurant and rooftop terrace with a bar and a pool. They also serve a breakfast buffet.
We did not spend that much time at the hotel room here either, but we were very happy. I would love to stay here again if I’m ever back in the city. It was very cozy sitting on the rooftop in the evening. But there is something extra exciting about Hotel 1898. The hotel has a historical touch as it is located in the old headquarters of «Philippine Tobacco Company». The basement of the former tobacco factory, which was used as a coal bunker and later as a vault, is today used as a full service spa with an indoor pool, sauna, and gym. You should absolutely check this out. The hotel has taken good care of the old premises.
Like for Grupotel Gravina it seems that most people staying at Hotel 1898 are happy. They have a 4,5 out of 5 on Tripadvisor.
What to do in Barcelona?
Last time I was in Barcelona we went on a tour with the «Barcelona City Tour» bus. Here you can buy a ticket that lasts for one day, and you can hop on and off wherever you want. It’s possible to see most of Barcelona by taking this bus.
Be aware that the bus has two routes so if you want to see everything you probably have to spend a whole day on the bus, or buy a 2-day ticket.
Some of the things you can do and see by taking the City Tour-bus:
Plaça de Catalunya
In one end of La Rambla you find the main square of Barcelona, «Plaça de Catalunya». Here you find aerobuses, City Tour busses, and taxis. The plaza is also known for its statues and fountains, and the fact that it’s so close to many of the attractions in Barcelona. It’s also known as a gathering point for pigeons.
This skyscraper is 144 meters tall, which makes it the third tallest building in Barcelona. It is also covered in glass in different colors, and lights up at night.
We only saw Torre Glòries from the bus and we didn’t really know what it was. But it is a special and cool building, so absolutely worth a look if you’re in the area.
La Sagrada Familia – Still not finished
If you ever find yourself in Barcelona I would say that visiting the church La Sagrada Familia is a must. They started building the church in 1882, but it is still not finished. It is currently planned to be finished by 2025. That means almost 150 years from start to finish.
One of the architects that has been a part of the process is Antoni Gaudí who has been the architect of several of Barcelona’s attractions. Amongst them is the park Park Güell that you can read about below. Gaudí had a very special and characteristic style, so the buildings and the park is worth a visit, even though you might not be interested in architecture.
You can also enter the church by purchasing a ticket, but I have actually not done this any of the times I’ve been there. Last time we did plan to go in, but we got told that we had to pre-order tickets, so be aware if you want to visit the church (this was in 2016).
Park Güell is a popular, but large park. So even though there might be a lot of tourists in the park you have a lot of space. The park was designed by Gaudí and was built at the beginning of the 20th century. It’s also part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site amongst other of Gaudí’s works.
Gaudí and his family’s vision was to build a small village in the park, but it did not turn out the way they had planned. Only a couple of houses were built because of the family’s economical problems. But one of the houses became Gaudí’s and he lived here for several years (the white house pictured below).
It was fun with a day in the park where we got to see plants and architecture, and doing something different than walking around in the city streets. And on one of the hills inside the park there even was a little bit of entertainment. This man were playing his guitar and singing both times I have visited the park (and even in the same outfit).
There is a part of the park decorated with mosaic, but there you have to pay to get in. I have never bought a ticket to get in there, so I have never seen this special part of the park up close. In this part of the park there is usually a lot of people, so I have prioritized the other parts of the park. But it’s probably worth a look if you’re interested in architecture or just want to see something out of the ordinary.
La Rambla – the busiest pedestrian street in Barcelona
Most tourists will take at least one walk through this street during their Barcelona visit. And for good reason. With it’s 1,2 km it is room for a lot of shops and restaurants. It is this street we have taken as the starting point when we have chosen a hotel because we want to be as central as possible on our city break. And in addition to being central you can also shop, eat, and find transport if you want to see what else Barcelona has to offer in this street.
Or you can visit…
- The Colombus Monument – in the opposite end of Plaça de Catalunya in La Rambla.
- Rambla de Mar – the marina by the Columbus Monument
- The beach – just follow Rambla de Mar
Where to eat?
Barcelona har nok av fastfood-restauranter om du ønsker kjapp og billig mat. Heldigvis har de også et godt utvalg av andre restauranter. Noe for enhver smak. Her kommer noen av mine tips.
La Poma is an Italian restaurant and is located in La Rambla, close to Plaça de Catalunya. We ate dinner here on evening, and lunch the day after. It was nice having a restaurant close to the hotel the day before and the same day as checking out. It was crowded during the evening so we made a reservation. They had good food and fine wine. I wouldn’t mind going here again for lunch or for dinner.
H1898 is the restaurant at the Hotel 1898 and they serve Mediterranean food. The food is tasty, and as a bonus you can finish your meal at the roof terrace. Here you can enjoy cocktails and an amazing view over Barcelona. I visited the rooftop terrace several times on my first Barcelona trip, and I’m happy to visit it again if I’m ever back in town.
Hard Rock Café
I guess most of you are familiar with Hard Rock Café. But if you are one of the people who has never eaten or tasted one of their cocktails you should do that next time you have the chance. I love Hard Rock Café, and I always try to visit the restaurant in every city I’m in. This is a restaurant chain with restaurants in 68 countries. They play rock music and exhibit guitars and clothes from famous artists and bands.
Hard Rock Café serves American food. I usually order the same burger every time, it’s always a winner for me. They also have a great cocktail menu were everyone should find something to their taste. This restaurant is also right by Plaça de Catalunya.
We wanted to eat at Agust Gastrobar because this was on the list of the best restaurants in Barcelona according to Tripadvisor (in 2016). We were early to make sure we got a table because we thought it would be filled up quickly. That was not a problem that evening. We probably were out way earlier than the Spaniards, so that might be the reason we didn’t have to share the restaurant with that many people.
They had great food and dessert, and the service was amazing. The restaurant was a bit difficult to find for three ladies without sense of place, but we got there eventually. It is located about 10-15 minutes from La Rambla (when walking).
Want to read what other people think of the restaurants?
Barcelona is a great city with a lot to offer. Even though I’ve been there twice the last few years there is a lot I haven’t seen yet.
Have you ever been to Barcelona? What did you think of the city?
Read more of my English posts here.