Hi all, planning a trip. Have never been to Barcelona but literally EVERYONE we speak to who has been loves it there. Weather in December looks nice, cool but not cold. My questions are this. we are very familiar with Paris, is Barcelona kind of like that from the perspective that you can get around without needing a car and can get from the airport to your rental or hotel on a train or via cab? For our first visit we really like to get to know a city and usually spend about 10 days there. From what I have heard there is plenty to keep us busy in Barcelona, would you agree? We are not really into museums or shopping and mostly just enjoy lots of walks, food, architecture, history, Gardens Etc
Barcelona can keep you busy for 10 days, and then there are day-trips.
I used the Aerobus to get to the airport. It runs to and ftom Placa Catalunya. Beyond that point, the city has very good public transportation, but I walked almost everywhere so I could enjoy the architecture.
Suggestions for 10 days in and around Barcelona.
•Sagrada Familia (BOOK a first up visit)
•Hospital Sant Pau
•Eixample - Passeig de Gracia, Casa Mila & Casa Batllo
Day to Montserrat
Day to Tarragona
•Palau de la Musica Catalana (BOOK a first up visit)
•Las Ramblas - La Boqueria, Placa Real
•Bari Gotico - Cathedral
•Park Guell (BOOK a first up visit)
•Plaça Espanya - Las Arenas, MNAC
•Montjuic - Olympic Ring, Castello, Miro Museum
Day to Girona & Figueres (for Dali Museum)
•Picasso Museum (BOOK a first up visit)
•La Ribera - Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
•Parc de la Ciutadella & Barceloneta
Day to Vic, or Sant Sadurní d'Anoia (for cava cellars)
Day to Sitges
You have enough info on Barcelona, itself, from others. I thought I'd add that we spent 3 days/nights in Girona. We absolutely loved that city. I'm not sure how you would enjoy a part of a day there. There is a lot to do there. We spent a few hours just walking on the city walls and enjoying the great views. One of our Girona days, we took a bus to the small town of Besalu. Delightful! I also highly recommend Montserrat. We spent a full day there and also took the funicular to the mountain top and did some hiking. The views were lovely and so fun to be among people from different cultures. Lastly, we were in Barcelona at the end of December/beginning of January. I am from Minnesota, so consider that, but, we thought the weather was great. It was mid 50s to mid 60s and sunny. It made a lot of walking and sight seeing very pleasant. We also went to the beach in the Barceloneta and while we only went in the water up to our knees, we enjoyed ourselves.
I agree that Girona needs a full day. It's lovely and makes a nice change from bustling Barcelona. I wouldn't commit to as many sidetrips as David is proposing, because you may want more than 4 days for Barcelona itself, but I'd research them all, prioritize them, then see how your time in the city plays out.
acraven is correct. Build in a Spare Day (best at the end of your time) to allow for revisits, shopping, or last minute additions/changes. All day trips are easy logistically by train.
We will be in Barcelona for 5 days (6nights) in September. I am aware of pre-purchasing tickets for many sites. But what is a "first-up" visit?
Is there a museum pass that is a good idea to purchase?
Also are there better times of the day to visit the popular sites? This would be to avoid crowds, best light for photographs, etc.?
Thanks in advance for your help.
No, no museum pass per se albeit there is a "passport" covering the most important art museums: http://articketbcn.org/ -very focused for art lovers though rather than a typical regular tourist, which tends to focus on other sites.
I am afraid not, Barcelona is a busy city, "flocks" of tourists are visiting all year long so you're going to find visitors all the time :))
Same in Barcelona, car in the city is rather a nuisance -traffic, parking availability, cost (even parking in the street), etc. Barcelona has an excellent inexpensive public transportation network. As per how to get from the airport to your rental, that, of course, will entirely depend on where your rental is located.
There are people, some frequenting this forum, that has "lived" in the city for a few months -even years- and will confirm that they've been exploring different stuff every day and not repeated once.... so yes, I am sure you can cover 10 days without getting bored, LOL! But again, that depends on one's traveling style and passion for discovering new places and delving into different cultures.
Barcelona is a city "made for walking" --you won't be disappointed in this department-- because our culture here in Catalonia is one of Mediterranean traits. We Catalans are welcoming, outgoing and like to socialize so people go out a lot, every day and at all hours.
Start planning your bucket list:
Weather-like, February is the coldest month of the year, but normal temperatures in this city, next to the sea, are quite mild, say 40s early in the morning to 50s at noon (on an average day that is!)
Also, there are quite a number of interesting "day escapades" that you can make -also by public transportation- to other places here in Catalonia. After all, keep in mind that this is a small nation -now under the rule of Spain- which is not bigger than Maryland but it contains all sort of landscapes, from high mountains (+10,000 ft) to forests, coves, plains, wetlands... and also its own culture, heritage, and traditions (and language!).
Here a handful of ideas -but there are plenty more- so if you want to alternate your "urban" visits with a bit of "country-side"...
or perhaps attending an event or also a "festa major" somewhere in the region can be another great option to immerse yourself in Catalan culture. Every town and city has at least a festa major during the year, so maybe you're lucky to catch one where you're around. In February, Barcelona celebrates her Winter's festa major, Santa Eulàlia. This was last year's program.
If you prefer more traditional text-based advice:
http://catalunya.com/ -Catalonia’s Tourism Agency
http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/ -Barcelona’s Tourism Agency
http://en.costabrava.org/ -Costa Brava Tourism Agency
http://www.lleidatur.com/ -Lleida and Pyrenees-Aran Tourism Agency
http://www.visitpirineus.com/ -Pyrenees-Aran Tourism Agency
http://www.bcn.cat/ -Barcelona City Council
http://www.girona.cat/turisme/eng/index.php -Girona City Council
http://www.tarragonaturisme.cat/ -Tarragona City Council
‘First up’ as in first thing in the morning, so as to avoid wasting time or running late by having to make a schedule in the middle of the day.