Barcelona in Three Days: Medium Budget Edition

FINALLY after 10 months of being in Spain I made it to Barcelona. The city of my favorite fútbol team (yes I call it fútbol now), were nightlife thrives, and breathtaking architecture dominates the city. I currently live in a city called Vilafranca del Penedes which is about 60 kilometers west of Barcelona and I’ve been lucky to be able to travel so easily to Barcelona by train. I have a few friends in Barcelona and they were so kind to show me around. I really felt like a local going to the regular spots around the city. I wanted to put together a couple guides for you fellow travelers so you can enjoy Barcelona like the barcelonéses. I’m basing this trip on the guess that you won’t have a huge bag since it’s just a weekend but if you do happen to be carrying a massive suitcase go ahead and drop it off at your hotel/airbnb/hostel/couchsurfing/whatever and take out one spot of interest on the first day and just move it over to the next one! This is just what I would do if I arrived in the evening after work!

I’m going to start on a Friday evening since not all of us will arrive in the morning! If you’re here earlier then great!! You have a little more time to walk around and get lost among the streets of Barcelona. Ready to explore? Let’s get started.

Friday:

I arrived from Burgos, Castilla y Leon at the Sants station. Turns out it’s the biggest in Barcelona so it’s a good chance that you will arrive there too. From there you’ll want to grab a 10 pass metro card for only 10 euros. This metro card also works for the bus and tram in Barcelona and a one way ticket will set you back 1,60 euros so it makes sense to get a longer pass. With this metro card you’re going to want to take Line 5 which is the blue line to the Sagrada Familia. Take this line four stops going in the direction of Vall d’Hebron and hop off when you arrive at the stop.

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The most Instagrammed monument in Europe in 2015

A ticket to go inside La Sagrada Familia is just 15 euros for a regular un-guided visit. I HIGHLY, STRONGLY, FIERCELY recommend buying your ticket in advance so you can skip the seemingly never ending line.

It’ll take you about an hour to wander throughout and take your photos while admiring the stunning architecture originally designed by the late architect Antoni Gaudi.

Once you’re done visiting La Sagrada Familia you should walk to the street called Provenca. It’ll take you only about 15 minutes to walk from the Sagrada Familia to another Gaudi masterpiece, the Casa Milà. It’ll take you an hour to do the complete tour if you’re interested in that. La Pedrera, as it is nicknamed, is 16,50 for students to enter and 20,50 if you are a non-student with no discount. Again you should buy your tickets in advance which you can find on their website.

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A five minute walk south on Passeig de Gracia you’ll find the next Gaudi treasure; the Casa Battlo. If you arrived before 8:00 pm or you pre-purchased your ticket good news!! You can enter. Even though the house is open until 9:00pm they won’t sell tickets past 8 so it’s best if you try to spend less time in Casa Milà or pre buy your pass inside. You might be thinking this is crazy who goes to tour things at 6-9 pm!? Well, not a whole lot of people actually but that’s BETTER!! Who wants to wait in line for an hour or have a bunch of strangers in the picture. I always try going as early or as late as possible to hit up the tourist spots. Anyway, hop in line and work your way around the house. Be sure to take lots of pretty pictures on top of the house with all the pretty tiles. ((Photography tip: Right about now you’ll be in what’s called “the golden hour” which will make your photos look INCREDIBLE…..de nada))

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Now that you’ve toured three of Gaudi’s showpieces it’s time for dinner. I realize that it is around 8:00 pm and you’re probably like “dinner!??! at 8 pm” well amigos that’s how it goes in Spain. In fact dinner time here isn’t until 10 or 11:00 pm here. Granted you will find a lot of tourist spots that do cater to people who maybe not accustomed to eating that late but you might not find the highest quality meals. Anyway you could walk 12 minutes to get to my favorite restaurant in Barcelona, Flax and Kale. Judging by the name you could probably guess that this isn’t your typical Spanish food fare and you’re right. I like super fresh and healthy food but if you want some of the more traditional Spanish foods I would recommended going to La Flauta which is right next to the University of Barcelona. Back to the kale though…It’s literally my favorite restaurant in Barcelona and they have a variety of fresh cold pressed, raw and plant based meals, pastas, delicious fish dishes, and healthy desserts. They also have an awesome upper-level terrace for an intimate and chic dining experience.

Flax and Kale

Once you’re done with dinner it’s time to keep moving. Depending on how long you take for your dinner (usually expect about an hour or two) it’s time to experience a little of the bar scene here in Barcelona. I’d recommend two or three only for Friday night. Usually Friday is more casual whereas Saturday gets a little more crazy. Barcelona definitely doesn’t slack on the number of bars and chic clubs in the old town so it won’t be hard at all to find one to throw a few back but one’s that I like a lot are Le-Pop, 33/45, and Robadors. Le-Pop is a cool hipster bar that offers cocktail classes and feature drinks using fresh fruit from La Boqueria, Barcelona’s uber famous market. 33/45 is an old school bar with vintage sofas and live music. Then for Robadors which offers everything from Jazz, to Rumba, to Flamenco. Definitely the place for the music lover.

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Photo Credits: Le Meridien Barcelona

By this time you might be a little tired so it’s back to your lodging. See you tomorrow bright and early!

Saturday:

Buenos dias! I don’t know about you but I NEED coffee or tea in the morning before I can even think about doing any touring or a lot of activity. So it’s off to the old part of Barcelona again. If you’re not in the center grab your metro card and take yourself to/or near to Liceu (Line 3 Trinitat Nova) right on Las Ramblas. For breakfast I like ARTiSA they have a great selection of coffees and teas with a large menu for breakfast. You can get things like crepes, toast with various toppings, smoothies, eggs, and paninis. Surely you’ll find something and not spend more than 7 or 8 euros.

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I’ll take one of everything

After breakfast walk northwest towards the Raval district to take a look at the two cathedrals of Barcelona. I realize that La Boqueria will be on your left and you’ll be tempted to visit that first but hang on, we will get there soon. Meander your way to find these cathedrals and admire the incredible Gothic design. You can go inside but honestly I’m not a huge cathedral person unless it’s a really famous one but you can definitely go inside. I’m just not sure of the prices.

Next, just get lost in the Gothic quarter. There are some streets that are so small you can touch both sides with your arms held out wide. Balconies are practically touching each other from up high and every now and again you get whiffs of fresh baked bread and home cooked meals. It’s always fun to walk down the street only to find that it turns into an open plaza. It’s a great way to pass some time and appreciate the history.

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Even with this awful quality you can tell how tiny these streets are

Alright, you’ve waited long enough. It’s time for….La Boqueria. Now I don’t know about you but I’m OBSESSED with local markets and I somehow always have the best time looking at food in the stalls, smelling the fresh fruit, and buying the same things that locals have bought for decades. Walk to Pinotxo Bar which is towards the front of the market right where you walked in. If you want to eat right away and there is a free spot then go for it! They have amazing selections of fresh seafood, traditional Spanish food (I hear their callos is killer if you’re into that sort of thing), vegetarian food, and tapas. Eat some lunch and then tour the market or vice versa! Be sure to pick up some fresh fruit to go for an afternoon snack.

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You can buy a cup of fresh fruit for as little as 1 euro

Next I’d recommend walking south on Las Ramblas towards the statue of Christopher Columbus. When you’re there head down the port and do some shopping at the Maremagnum shopping center. If you don’t feel like spending your hard earned cash on things that’ll have to fight for space in your luggage you can grab a cafe con leche with almond milk at Federal Cafe or a refreshing cocktail at Baritimo where you’ll get a fantastic view of the port.

Foto: Jp.Escobar
Photo: Jp.Escobar

Next grab yourself a seat on the cable to Montjuïc, Barcelona’s castle, for panoramic views of the city. Travel Tip: If you buy your ticket online you save 10%! That’s like…another glass of wine! Spend some time snapping photos of the entire city of Barcelona and there are even some museums you can enter.

Now it is probably about time to grab some dinner. A great place to get a nice sit down meal is BlackLab Brewhouse and Kitchen. There they have incredible entrees, tapas, salads, and burgers. Expect to spend about 5-15 euros for your food and 2,50-17 euros on your drink ((the 17 euros is for an entire bottle of wine)). But the main attraction here is the beer. They brew their own here! You can choose from  year round classics like a variety of India Pale Ales and American Pale Ales or you can have seasonal drinks that are fruity, dark stouts, and even more.

To get your Saturday night started I’d suggest walking down to the Barcelonteta area for drinks at Ice Barcelona. This is the perfect place to start your night on the town since it is a bit more classy than some other bars around it. It’s a really cool experience because everything is made from…ice! Ice Barcelona is the first ice bar on a beach in the world and it’s truly an amazing time. An “experience” as they call it lasts about 45 minutes and you are given a thermal jacket and gloves to keep you warm.

Should you choose to hit up the strip of Barceloneta for more fiesta you’ll find many options to keep you going. They have salsa and bachata clubs, electronic dance music discos, casinos, hookah bars, and plenty more to keep you going until the sunrise.

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Sunday:

Here we are! The last day of our weekend getaway to sunny Barcelona. Hopefully you don’t have too much of a headache because guess what! We are going hiking! Just kidding. There’s a bus, and a metro, annnd an escalator to where we are headed so no heavy amount of physical activity is needed after your fun night out.

But first..COFFEE. I’d recommend getting as close to the north of the city as possible because our tour continues north of the historic old center. A great cafe quite near to everything we are going to see today is the Gaudi Bakery. They literally have the most mouthwatering cakes and sweets I’ve ever seen. It’s Sunday anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you eat a carrot cake, a blue-velvet cake (you heard me right), or a piece of toast with loads of jamón piled top. Calories don’t count on Sunday. This cafe/bakery is right in between the metro stops Sagrada Familia and Verdaguer so use up that Metro pass if you don’t want to walk.

After you’re done devouring scrumptious cakes and coffee or tea you’re going to want to decide if you will take the metro or the bus to Park Guell. Here’s a handy “how to get here guide” that’ll show you exactly which transportation options are best for you. Unfortunately due to the high number of visitors during the past few years they have started charging admission to get into the park. It won’t break the bank since it’s only 8 euros but again I’d recommend buying your ticket in advance because officials only let a few hundred people in a day and admission comes in the form of blocks every half hour. So you never really know if you’ll get the time you want. I had a pretty good view for not paying but you can definitely get a better one for spending the fee.

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Not a bad view

Last stop on our Barcelona journey is to see Camp Nou. Now if you’re not a fútbol fan just omit this last stop but still, it’s an EXTRAORDINARY place that I think is worth the visit. You can just walk around it and admire the fact that this is a massive building (the second biggest fútbol stadium in the world) or you can go inside for the Camp Nou Experience. You’ll get a VIP tour of the entire complex, scope out the locker room, and see the trophy room. You’ll also get to take cheesy photo shopped pictures of the fútbol stars. I’m only being salty because my sister currently holds a picture of herself with my future husband. Prices range from 18 euros to 23 euros so depending on your age/who you have with you expect those prices.

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Still jealous….

And that’s it! Of course if you have more time on your hands go explore! My personal favorites are the Gothic Quarter and the Gracia district if you just want to wander. These are just some of my favorite spots so far in Barcelona and I hope you like them. Let me know if you’ve been to any and if you follow this guide. Stay tuned for the “Barcelona in Three Days: Low Budget Edition”

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My favorite place in Barcelona

Hasta luego!

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