We have two full days in Barcelona full of Gaudi, Gothic, and Las Ramblas. We will arrive the day before at noon. I thought the Port Cable Car and Montjuic cable car might be a fun way to fill the afternoon, without too much brain commitment. We are going in December, so the sun will set early. Has anyone done these? They are mid-priced. Should I do one, both, neither? It's downhill from the hotel to the beach, so I was thinking of walking. We are getting the T10 pack of tickets so we could Funicular/Metro back from Montjuic. Is there a better, more fun way to do this? Or should I skip it all together and do something else.
I did the Montjuic cable car. I wasn't too impressed. We could have walked it and seen the same things. The view from the fort is pretty especially on a nice day.
I'm from Barcelona and I don't know a single local who has been on that cable car lol! Jules is spot on about the views from Montjuïc fortress though, some of the best in the city. Since you will have a T-10, you can easily get to the top of Montjuïc by the bus #150, from Plaza España.
I am utterly brain-dead on arrival day. If I were not, I'd enjoy playing spot-the-modernista-buildings in the Eixample. Many are marked on local maps, including the one I bought (in 2016) from the tourist office for 1 euro.
I was much less enamored of Barceloneta, but some others like it.
The author Carlos Ruiz Zafón offers a travel guide to his hometown with a darker spin on some familiar spots.
Mr. Ruiz Zafón likes taking the funicular to the top of Tibidabo mountain. Once there, he might appreciate the stunning view of Barcelona with a drink at La Venta, a century-old restaurant. Further up the mountain is Gran Hotel La Florida, which has been restored to five-star splendor, and the Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo, a refurbished amusement park that, to Mr. Ruiz Zafón’s chagrin, has lost some character in the modernization. Still, he’s drawn by the mountain’s history, and even by its name. “In Latin, tibidabo means ‘I’ll give you,’ which are the words the Devil uses to tempt Jesus. I always thought it was very appropriate — Barcelona has this very dark soul. It makes sense that the devil would get up on this mountain trying to tempt us with all of these worldly pleasures.”
I'm going to add that we are skiers, so maybe the cable car ride would be more fun for nonskiers?? It just isn't that far off the ground, hence, you can see the same things walking. If you do choose to go up by the fort walking or by Montjuic cable car, make sure its a clear day. Every day we were in Barcelona was absolutely stunning. Sunny and crisp. Except for the day we took the cable car to Montjuic. It was cloudy and hazy and visibility wasn't great. We were there at the beginning of January BTW. Also, check google maps or something but I think its a long walk from Montjuic to Barceloneta(beach), especially with your limited time. We liked Barceloneta well enough, but with just two days, it wouldn't make my cut off for things to do.
Please, no one take offense at what I'm about to say, and keep in mind that Barcelona is currently my third favorite city in the world. The aerial views of the city are not stunning, in fact not all that interesting. Okay, I didn't take the port cable car and I didn't enter the fort (you will have the best views from the ramparts, the views around the fort at ground level and mostly obscured by trees), so I can't compare them. There are some pretty good views as you walk down Montjuic through the gardens from the Miro Museum. I've seen other views from fairly high up. My favorite views were from the roof of the Santa Maria del Mar Church (the tour is excellent) because you are close up and can make out more details.
Sunset in December is between 5.22 and 5.31 pm. From mid-month sunset gets later. What time do you get to your hotel? If you're flying in from a non-Schengen country, you'll have to go through passport control, maybe wait for baggage. Even if your flight is on time, it could be 2.30 or later before you get to your hotel. And as acraven noted, you may be zonked.
You could take a walk around Plaça Catalunya, down La Rambla, stopping in La Boqueria for snacks or a light meal, continue to the cathedral and stop in the big TI, and wander through the Barri Gotic.
I really like the teleferic (cable car) up to Montjuic, but it's only a short ride - not an afternoon. From the top, you can walk or take a bus down the mountain. But I'd only go if I were going to museums there, which is not how I'd want to spend my first day.
If you do take the teleferic, I see it has a 10% discount for online advance tickets: https://www.holabarcelona.com/tickets/cable-car-montjuic-barcelona
I agree that a better way to spend your first day is to walk around the Barri Gotic or the Eixample.
Bah! unless you come from the "flatlands", it's not worth the time, views are not that impressive, the ride is expensive for the short time you spend on it and it's always packed to the rim with damn tourists, LOL!
This coming from a born and bred Barcelonian who's last time he was in one of those he was still wearing a school uniform :)
As mentioned, you can reach the same places via regular buses.
Thanks for all the great responses. We were just looking to do something low-key on the first half day. We do ski so there's no novelty to it. We were hoping it would be a fantastic view of the city or something. We did one in Albuquerque, New Mexico and it was fantastic.
Consider visiting some of the Barcelona sites that are available without pre purchase. Museum of History Placa Rei sub roman ruins, Casa Vicens (Gaudi), Park Guell non pay walk to the top for views. Or take a Roadalie train ride north or south along the sea.
We had never been to Barcelona, we walked many neighborhoods. The walk to Port Vell with a MereMagnum mall was quiet in May. There is a pay bath inside the mall and a McDonalds around the corner. There is a view of Montjuic. Easy to walk the Gothic neighborhood from here. My favorite walk was from Placa Espanya to the Museum and on to the expensive Montjuic cable. There is a free view from the top of the Placa Espanya, take free elevator and escalators. The port views were very nice from the fort. The port is so organized. We walked down to the Botanical Garden, it is a bit weary. After going down the Montjuic cable, walk down the steps near the preschool which takes you down to up steps to the Roman theater. In May the roses were in season for a lovely garden. There is a viewing area looking East. Looking North will be views of the museum.
Similar to Chani, our favorite view and tour occurred at Santa Maria del Mar Church.
I suggest reading my trip report for Barcelona.