We had a few days off in January at the start of the year (2019), and the least expensive flights to a place we haven’t visited yet were to Barcelona! (I tend to check Skyscanner to look for the cheapest destinations by typing in Everywhere.) That’s how we made the decision to come to this beautiful place at least!
It has a very tropical feel, and I’m sure in the warmer months even more so. In the middle of January, the highest temperature we experienced was 14C or 57F. At night it dropped way lower though. So don’t think you can leave all your warm clothes at home.
Barcelona is in the northeast region of Spain, called Catalonia, sitting on the Mediterranean Sea. There’s a strong presence for a movement of independence. I didn’t realize until last year that this region has its own language called Catalan. It is a derivative of the Romance languages, but it has many similarities with French. “Please” in Catalan is “si us plau”. On most of the buildings, fences, sidewalks, and roads, we saw so many Catalonian flags and graffiti with a yellow ribbon, and writings about this independence movement. The movement has been going on for sometime really, but it has been in the news recently.
Spain is part of the European Union, and the currency is the Euro. If you are worried about a language barrier, most people we encountered spoke English, but feel free to practice your Spanish or Catalan though! I’ve heard way more American accents in this place than any other European city we have been to so far.
We spent 4 days in Barcelona, and we felt that was enough to enjoy the city. We did what we wanted in 3 days actually, but that’s averaging walking about 10 miles a day! The last day we just walked around some of the same main areas and enjoyed the food and beach. After going there, we’ve created an itinerary if you are looking to spend 4 days in the lovely Barcelona. Some of the attractions are pretty spread out, so if you can section off the days into areas, it saves bouncing around.
4 Days in Barcelona
Day1: La Rambla and Port Vell
La Rambla is the main street in Barcelona considered to be in the city centre. In the center of this street is a large pedestrian area, with vendors. It stretches for 1.2 km or .75 miles. At the top of the street is Plaça de Catalunya which we nicknamed Pigeon Square, and at the bottom is the Monument a Colom, which is the Christopher Columbus monument. Being from the Americas, this was pretty cool. Pop into La Boqueria Market (The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria) on La Rambla for some awesome food.
Port Vell is right below the Christopher Columbus monument. Walk around this area, enjoy the harbor views, restaurants, a big shopping center called Maremagnum, and loads of sailboats. Not far from here is La Barceloneta Beach. We had the Spanish dish paella in one of the restaurants in the Barceloneta neighborhood.
Day 2: Gothic Quarter, Arc de Triomf, Parc de la Ciutadella
The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) feels like you’ve stepped into a different city. It is the oldest part of the city, even though there has been restoration. You find yourself in extremely narrow alleyways which open up into little squares. The structures are amazing. Of course there is the Barcelona Cathedral (Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia). If you are interested in Picasso, the Picasso Museum is right in the Gothic Quarter as well.
Adjacent to the Gothic Quarter is the Arc de Triomf that leads to the Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s a nice walk, and with tasteful street performers.
Day 3: Explore Gaudi Architecture
Antoni Gaudi was a famous architect known for his Catalan Modernism style. His work is very unique, and located around many parts of the city! Several of his pieces are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Park Güell is a public park on a hill in the Gràcia district. One area of the park, called the Monumental Zone, you must have tickets to get in. The rest of the park is free. We booked tickets and reserved a time online the day before. It was definitely worth it in our opinion. A separate ticket is needed for the Gaudi House Museum which is located inside the park.
La Sagrada Família (Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família) is a church designed by Gaudi that is still being completed. It began its construction in 1882! Gaudi passed away in 1926. This is Barcelona’s most visited attraction. Don’t mistake it for the Cathedral of Barcelona. You must have tickets to enter it. We’ve seen plenty of medieval and renaissance cathedrals in our travels around Europe, so we definitely wanted to enter because this architecture is totally different!
Two other buildings worth checking out are in the Eixample District are Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.
Day 4: Montjuïc Hill
You can easily spend a whole day exploring around here. At the top of the hill you will find the Montjuïc Castle. Make sure to go up to the National Palace (Palau Nacional), which holds the National Art of Catalonia Museum (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya). We just went up there for a freeview over the city. Right below is the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc (Font màgica de Montjuïc). Certain days of the week and times, there is a light show. We unfortunately missed it due to the fountain being under construction. There are gardens and beautiful walkways all over the hill, and even a cable car ride you can take.
Sitting at the bottom of Montjuïc Hill, is El-Poble Sec district which is the area we stayed in. There is a pedestrian road called Carrer de Blai, that has cheap tapa bars all the way done. Definitely go there! We ate there at least once a day! We thoroughly enjoyed pinchos! These are small open-faced sandwiches with a toothpick holding it together. You pick out as many as you want from the bar display, save your toothpicks, and pay according to how many you ate. Delicious.
How much did we spend on 4 days in Barcelona?
We used Airbnb for accommodation. We stayed with a family, but had the whole bottom floor to ourselves with our own bathroom, and a backyard terrace to enjoy (even with our own lemon tree!). We spent a lot of time walking, but did take the bus and subway a couple of times. Maybe we could have saved money on food by buying more from the grocery stores instead, but we enjoy eating the local food out when we visit places. As usual, the total prices included are for the two of us traveling together.
|Flights||£85, ~$109, ~€96|
|Accommodation||£180, ~$232, ~€204|
|Travel Insurance||£36, ~$46, ~€41|
|City Transportation||£19, ~$25, ~€22|
|Food||£175, ~$225, ~€198|
|Entrance Tickets (Park Güell & La Sagrada Família)||£45, ~$58, ~€51|
|Souvenirs||£18, ~$23, ~€20|
|TOTAL||£558, ~$718, ~€632|
*Price conversions are estimates as of January 2019.
Beware of Pickpockets
We read and saw other bloggers on YouTube about being aware of pickpockets, especially on La Rambla which is the main street in Barcelona. I think the key is to be smart, keep your belongings in your front pockets and pay attention to your surroundings. After visiting Brazil and Marvin being from there (check out our tips on visiting Recife, Brazil), we honestly felt completely safe in Barcelona. We were talking with our Airbnb host who has lived there for almost 30 years… pickpockets are a problem yes, but they are harmless. Yes, it sucks to get your things stolen, but they don’t use violence. Just be careful is all. We had no issue, even by being the typical tourist with a camera around our neck.
Any tips on how you would spend 4 days in Barcelona? I was told from a friend and from a few blog posts, that a day trip to Montserrat is a great way to spend if you have time for it!