Four days in Barcelona
FOUR DAYS is really all you need to fall in love with Barcelona and explore this beautiful city, writes Erin Saxcoburg. Whether you are walking around the Gothic quarter along cobbled streets, or making your way to scope out Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, you will be immersed in a diverse variation of architecture, delicious food and culture.
Where to stay…
The city of Barcelona has an easy-to-navigate underground tube system, so in all honesty it doesn’t really matter where in the city you stay. I can wholeheartedly recommend the B&B we stayed in, The Conica Deluxe Bed and Breakfast. The rooms were gorgeous; we had a large double bed and sitting room; the ceilings had exposed wooden beams; and the bathroom was kitted out in granite and marble. A continental breakfast was served in the morning with fresh pastries and bread from local bakeries, along with coffee, cereals, fruit and a selection of deli meats and cheeses.
They also provide free tea and coffee throughout your stay and the most delicious cookies and biscuits! The B&B was in a convenient location, with a tube station nearby and it was just a short walk to Barcelona’s La Rambla. Jay and I have stayed in pretty rough, run-down hostels during our travels, so this was a real taste of luxury. Our four-night stay in March 2019 cost £300.
What to eat…
We ate GOOD in Barcelona, we ate real good. The thing that should be at the top of your what-to-eat list is paella. There are two places I can recommend for amazing paella. The first is Bodega Joan, which just happened to be a few minutes away from our B&B. This family-owned restaurant has been open since 1942. We ordered the seafood paella, which was an absolute triumph of flavour. It took around 30 minutes to be served as they make it fresh to order, and it was beautiful. Immersed within this dish were mussels, crevettes, prawns and squid, all tied together with a generous squeeze of lemon. The dish is served on the basis that it is shared between two people and is €14.90 per person.
The second place I can thoroughly recommend for paella and tapas is Bosque Palermo. We ate here twice and loved it each time. We ordered tapas as a starter and got patatas bravas – fried potatoes served with alioli and a rich tomato sauce. We also got black rice, which initially we were sceptical about trying, but it was one of the nicest things I have ever eaten. It was rice cooked with squid ink, with fried squid and served with garlic sauce. We ordered the meat paella and it was beautiful. The rice was obviously cooked in a homemade, rich meat broth with tender pieces of pork throughout and perfectly cooked vegetables. The paella was oven baked after cooking on the stove which meant we had delicious, crispy pieces along the edges of the pan. Our tapas set us back around €5 a dish, and the paella was €10 per person.
What to do:
Park Guell: Weirdly enough, I had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had whilst in Barcelona – and I’ve travelled throughout Italy! Jay and I were walking around the Gothic quarter after sitting by the Arc de Triomf. We were both starving when we stumbled across Les Dues Sicilies, a small, hole-in-the-wall pizzeria. As there were no tables or chairs, we ordered a couple of mini calzone and ate them standing up against the wall, which had a small ledge to place your food. We loved it so much we went back the next day!A slice of pizza will set you back around €4 and our calzone were around €.
La Sagrada Familia: I’m sure you’ve heard of Spain’s most inspiring building, and one of Gaudi’s most triumphant pieces of architecture. This church is still under construction, but don’t wait for it to be finished before you decide to come here. You will need to purchase tickets to enter the church, and I highly recommend you do. Although you can walk around the church for free and marvel at its surface, the beauty lies within – trust me. Tickets start at around €22 and you can chose to add on extras such as going up the towers and guided tours. We got an audio guide with our tickets and this was definitely worth it as we delved into Gaudi’s history and the religious value behind each aspect of the architecture.:
This is another one of Gaudi’s top trumps, featuring mosaic-covered buildings and sculptures with panoramic views of the city. You will need tickets to enter the park and book a time slot to enter. We did this on the day we wanted to go and found that there was no need to book too much in advance. We went in the evening, which was a really nice time to go as it was much cooler and not as busy. Tickets cost us around €14. Bare in mind that if you plan to walk there, like we did, you will be met with very steep hills and lots of steps.
Las Rambla: The walking street of Barcelona, this 1.2km, tree-lined street is full of shops, florists and restaurants (where you can get some of the biggest glasses of beer I’ve ever seen). If you walk the full stretch you’ll be met by Port Vell at the bottom, where you can continue to take a stroll along the coast. The street perks up considerably in the evening, and although we never stopped for food or drinks (prices increase by at least 25 per cent along this street) we loved simply watching people having fun and had a look at all the different trinkets on offer. Be aware that you will no doubt be asked if you want to go to a ‘coffee shop’. These are shops to buy and smoke weed – I’ll leave it up to you whether you go or not… If you’re not interested, a polite ‘No thank you’ will send them on their way.
Explore the Gothic quarter: I love Gothic architecture. We spent a good couple of hours wandering the cobbled streets, dipping in and out of small, independent shops full of hand-painted pottery, art and clothing. There are beautiful cafés to stop and have a coffee within the small squares throughout the quarter. Besides mindlessly wandering around and taking in all the beautiful buildings, within the Gothic Quarter also lies The Cathedral of Barcelona, a stunning, 15th century Gothic cathedral. As well as this, the Arc De Triomf is nearby.
La Boqueria: This massive food market is located on La Rambla. I love food, it’s one of the main reasons I travel, so I’m always happy if I get the chance visit a local food market and indulge my senses in spices, fresh produce and baked goods. This particular market is always really busy, but I found this added to the wonderfully immersive experience. We came here twice and I ended up taking home a paella seasoning mix!
With so much to see and do in Barcelona, I have narrowed it down to the top five things I think should be on your itinerary. It all depends on how you want to spend your time there. If you want to relax, take it easy, have lie-ins every morning, and sit back and watch the world go by, then these five things will fill your weekend nicely at a slow pace. If Barcelona is a stop on a number of European destinations and you are looking to pick up the pace and see as much as you can in four days, then you may be interested in adding a few extras. Bare in mind the price of each – especially if you are travelling on a budget.
Casa Mila – If you are walking around the city you can add this into your journey and spend no longer than 30 minutes admiring this beautiful building. You can buy tickets to go inside with a guided tour if you have the time. An entrance ticket with an audio guide will cost €22.
Casa Batllo – Another of Gaudi’s stunning architectural works, you can merely gander from the outside, or enter the building that is now a museum. This will set you back €25.
The Picasso Museum – Located in the Gothic Quarter, the museum itself is gorgeous. Within the museum lay some of Picasso’s most famous artworks, including his self portrait. If you are an art lover, it would be worth checking this out as tickets aren’t too expensive at just €12.50.
Erotic Museum of Barcelona – Not for the faint of heart, but genuinely really interesting. A history of sexuality in mankind dating back hundreds of years, featuring artwork and sculptures and some of the first pornographic videos made. With 14 rooms, each dedicated to a period of time, you can spend a good couple of hours here. Located on Las Rambla, a ticket costs €10.
I hope you have a great time in Barcelona. May you eat as well as we did, sleep as well as we did, and leave with the best memories of a beautiful city.
- Last year Erin returned from a three-month long journey around southeast Asia, having travelled seven countries. Since then she has been on city breaks within Europe, and is due to leave for China in the coming weeks. Erin will spend 16 days travelling the east of China before moving on to Australia for a couple of years, where she will travel the east coast and work along the way. From Australia she plans to visit Japan, Fiji, New Zealand and Hawaii before heading back to some of her favourite places in Asia.
- Main image | Barcelona | courtesy Pixabay