We are looking at going to Barcelona the first 2 weeks of November 2019 with our 22 year old and 25 year old. What is the best place to stay that’s not too loud and crowded and close to public transportation. We prefer an apartment so we all have some space. We are looking for fun day trips out of the city by train. We would make Barcelona our home base. We love the mountains and good views but we cannot hike currently since my husband will be 2 month out of a knee replacement. But we love views. Thank you!
I love Girona with its medieval center. Easy by train from Barcelona. There's a lot to see there, and it's also a great base city for trips farther north and west, such as to Figueres (Dali Theatre-Museum), Cadaques and Besalu. Each of those places can be visited from Barcelona, but you'd be burning up the rails on repeated train trips from Barcelona to Girona and back. Cadaques is rather far away, requiring a bus beyond Figueres. You'd need to get a really early start to do a combo trip to Figueres and Cadaques. Note that Cadaques is a coastal town and I don't know what Cadaques is like in November. So I'd recommend switching a few of your nights from Bacelona to Girona for logistical reasons.
I'll leave it to others to sing the praises of Tarragona and Montserrat. I don't know whether Montserrat would work well for someone coming off a knee replacement.
I don't think the Pyrenees are a viable day-trip by public transportation from Barcelona (perhaps someone has managed that and will educate us), but there's a one-day bus tour to medieval Catalan villages (including Besalu) that one of our other posters has recommended. It sounds like a good plan for those without cars.
I can't help with specific apartments, but I would recommend you look in the Gràcia area, I think it checks off most of your boxes.
As for day trips with mountains, but enjoyable for non-hikers, you can try:
Montserrat - holy mountain in Catalonia with a monastery on top. Easy to get to from Barcelona, and does not require any hiking to enjoy, you ride a rack railway to the top. For more detailed transport info: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/spain/a-visit-to-montserrat-the-holy-mountain-near-barcelona-in-catalonia
Vall de Núria - large valley deep in the Pyrenees (close to France), but surprisingly easy to get to from Barcelona. First you take the direct R3 train from Barcelona to Ribes de Freser, then switch to a rack railway that takes you to Núria. Once you get up there is a historic hotel/restaurant, ancient pilgrimage site, and a large alpine lake/picnic area. Really no need for any long hikings here, just an easy walk around the lake will do. On the way back riding the rack railway, you can stop at the medieval stone village of Queralbs. A good English article explaining Núria: https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/exploring-nuria-valley-in-pyrenees/
We stayed at a wonderful apartment in Barcelona on the Grand Via. This was in 2013. We had our two grand daughters with us. It was a huge place and we have wonderful memories from it. The email I have for Connie Dines is email@example.com. If she is still renting this we would highly recommend it.
We were fortunate to find an apartment near the Sagrada Familia. Waking up to that view was pretty awesome. It was called "Sagrada Familia Family Apartments" Unfortunately, our exact apartment is not available for your dates. The street scene nearby is vibrant. It was great being part of a neighborhood and the nightly parade of the locals as they walked their dogs and greeted each other with a kiss. I'm not fond of noisy places, but the singing and even one night with a cellist was such fun. The subway is easily navigable, there are elevators if your husband has difficulty with stairs. We took a day tour to Monserrat, a winery and the beach at Sitgues. It was a great use of our time. We rented a car for a couple of days. Driving in Barcelona is crazy but the countryside is gorgeous. You are going to have such a great time!
Thank you for all your comments!!