If you’re looking for a city break that ticks every box, then I can’t think of anywhere better than Barcelona. Combining stunning architecture, fine dining, first class shopping, great night life and stacks of history and culture, there really is something for everyone. And did I mention they even have a beach?
I traveled there for the third time back in May with my girlfriend, and it was hands down the best weekend break experience I’ve ever had. We stayed in the four star Ayre Hotel Rosellon in the Eixample area, just a few blocks from La Sagrada Familia, it boasts stunning views of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece from its rooftop terrace bar.
Barcelona’s most famous landmark is due for completion in 2028, but I will believe that when I see it. I blame the siesta culture. I recommend you take a trip inside the cathedral itself, but make sure you get your hotel to book online. You will save a long wait in one of the biggest queues I’ve seen outside of Disneyland.
Despite being the second largest city in Spain, the majority of the attractions are in a fairly compact area, meaning you’re never more than 20-30 minutes away from anything you want to see or do. The Metro system is so slick and reliable, it makes a complete mockery of the London Underground, and the roads are relatively pain free too.
One of the best ways to see the cities hot spots is to book onto the City Sightseeing tour bus. Tickets are considerably cheaper if you book via the company website prior to your visit (£22.50 adults, £13 children). If you have the time and want to see all of the landmarks covered on the trip, book a two day pass for just a few extra pounds.
Gaudi fans should go along to Park Guell, where you can pay to visit his house, or just take a wander around the winding paths of the park itself.
It’s also worth taking a trip to the Olympic village, and just a bit further along, you can get a cable car and experience panoramic views of the city as you head on up to Montjuic Castle.
If you’re a bit of a foodie, you really are spoilt for choice in Barcelona. After doing a spot of research on Tripadvisor (being careful to look out for some of those blatantly fake reviews), we booked a table at Cera 23 in the Raval district. This area is fairly run down, however get your taxi to drop you right at the door and as soon as you step inside, you forget about the shabby street and shops outside.
This small, intimate and friendly restaurant really is a cut above and serves some fantastic cuisine. Sip one of their Blackberry Mojitos whilst you wait for your table and you will see what all the fuss is about. The food and service are spot on.
The crunchy king prawns with spicy mango sauce were like nothing else I’ve tried and the steak and duck were out of this world. They didn’t even bat an eye lid or charge us when my girlfriend took one bite of her octopus main and decided it wasn’t to her taste. Now that’s customer service.
With a little room left for a few more drinks, we took a taxi to the very grand W Hotel, located right near the beach, where we had reserved a table at the Eclipse bar situated on the 26th floor. Cocktails here are overpriced to say the least, but it’s worth going for a special occasion or if you simply fancy a treat. We paid just shy of 50 euros for two rounds, but loved every minute and you get a great view of Barcelona at night.
We then headed down to the Marina area to the Ice Bar. For 17 euros, you get entrance to the relatively small bar, a cocktail and of course thermal jacket to prevent you from freezing to death. As the name suggests, everything from the bar, to the floor, to La Sagrada Familia statues and even your glass are made entirely from ice. It’s a complete novelty, but great fun at the same time.
We finished the night off next door at Shoko. This place is a Japanese restaurant up until 11pm, when the tables are cleared and it becomes a bar/club. I’ve been here a few times and it’s good enough to rival similar places on offer in Vegas and even Ibiza, a great place to let your hair down.
Although we traveled as a couple, Barcelona has plenty to offer for those traveling with children too. As well as a zoo, they have a fantastic aquarium and of course the beach. I would suggest you stay for at least 3 days, but you could quite easily spend a week in this city and not get bored. Every place has a downside, and with Barcelona, it has to be the thieves, who hats off to them, are excellent at what they do. Keep your eyes peeled and your belongings close and you’ll be fine. You’re going to love this city.
Post provided by Moneycorp Travel Money
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