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Feedback on Barcelona Itinerary Please

Hello, my husband and I are traveling to Barcelona in April. We are in our mid-fifties and are okay with walking a lot. As well, when we travel, we book a hotel in a more central location so we can take a short mid-day break when possible.
I have created the following itinerary but would love to get feedback from those of you who know the City well:

1. April 14th- Landing at 10:30am and taking a cab from the airport so hope to arrive at our hotel in Eixample by 12:30ish. From there grab some lunch on our walk down to see the Arc de Triomf and Cascada del Parc de la Ciutadella. Our destination that day is the Barcelona Zoo. They close at 7pm in April so we should enjoy a couple of relaxed hours strolling around in there. Afterward take the bus back to our hotel and have supper somewhere between the bus stop and the hotel. Given that we do not know if there will be any travel delays, or if we will be too jetlagged (after our 17 hours of travel), I did not want to schedule any “must see” attractions that I will need reservations for. As well, we find spending time outside on arrival day helps us with jetlag.
2. April 15th – Planning on buying tickets in advance for 9:30am entry to Parc Guell which we would travel to by bus, afterwards walking down to Casa Vicens for a guided tour if available otherwise a self-guided tour. I plan on buying tickets on site rather than in advance. Afterwards picking up lunch to bring back to the hotel where we can put our feet up for an hour or so. Later we would walk down to La Rambla and visit La Boqueria Market. I understand we are better off visiting the market in the morning, but cannot seem to make that work with my schedule. Wander around Gothic Quarter (planning to view Catedral de Barcelona & Palau de la Musica Catalana from outside only). Eat supper in the Placa de Catalunya area then back to the hotel for the night.
3. April 16th – Walk to Sagrada Família (plan to purchase tickets in advance for a 9:15 slot of a guided tour without tower access), head to Sant Pau Recinte Modernista (was just going to buy tickets on site) then lunch on way back to hotel for a short respite. Later afternoon visit Palau Guell (going to buy tickets on site rather than in advance), followed by a trip to Corte Inglés to do some shopping and have a meal in the cafeteria on the top floor (for the view) before heading back to the hotel.
4. April 17th – Walk to area with Casa Mila, Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó Morera to view from the outside. After reading a lot of reviews, I decided not to tour Casa Batlló, putting that time and money to use elsewhere instead. I plan on buying tickets for a 10am self-guided slot at the Picasso Museum in advance. If we are up to visiting another museum, we will have lunch and head to MUHBA (Placa Del Rei) for a couple of hours. Although I fear this may be too ambitious. Afterward we will walk to La Barceloneta beach for a look around and supper. Afterwards take bus back to area of the hotel.
5. April 18th – Take bus to Plaça d'Espanya, then walk to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (buy tickets on site) where we will spend a few hours and have a quick lunch in the cafeteria. Afterwards walk over to the Montjuic cable car ticket office to buy a round trip ticket. Based on reviews I have read, I don’t intend to buy tickets to enter the castle, just walk around the outside and take in the views. Afterwards, we will take public transport back to the hotel. It will be our last night so we will likely just eat at a restaurant in the area, walk around nearby neighborhoods a little and pack.

Thanks to everyone for helping first time visitors like myself.

Posted by
7 posts

You might want to consider taking a bike tour when you first get there. It's a great way to get a good overview of the city, its history and sights. Tours in general last about 2 hours, with stops and starts and may have 10-15 people. We've done bike tours in Barcelona, and regular bike tours in Paris, Amsterdam and London. You don't have to be an avid cyclist to do this.

Posted by
7 posts

Prior to our Rick Steves tour of Barcelona and Madrid we stumbled on a concert at the Palau de la Musica Catalana; Joan Baez happened to be playing that night. It was an awesome concert. Checkout their concerts and take in a show- Candlelight Orchestra- A Coldplay Tribute is there in April.

Posted by
27434 posts

I think your ticket-acquisition strategies are sound with the possible exception of Palau Guell, where I observed a line in 2016. Not a very long line, but I wasn't sure whether the hang up was the ticket purchase itself (which wouldn't take long) or the metering in of people only as others left (as is done at some other Barcelona sights, something that can lead to unanticipated delays). I went back at some other point and got in easily. I don't remember whether I had purchased a ticket in the meantime.

I've been to nearly every Gaudi-designed building in Spain that can be visited, and quite a few other modernista buildings as well. Palau Guell and Casa Vicens will be a lot less crowded than Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, and I assume they're still (individually, at least) less expensive. Barcelona's a costly city, so I wouldn't tell anyone they have to visit every Gaudi building there. I will say, however, that of those four buildings, Casa Mila is my favorite and Casa Batllo my second favorite. I didn't regret dealing with the crowds, though they were annoying. As of 2019 I felt the interior of Casa Vicens didn't have a great deal to see, because not many of the rooms had been restored--a situation which may have changed in the meantime. I should also note that I didn't have to pay today's prices at Casa Mila and Casa Batllo.

Another building I'd definitely choose over Palau Guell or Casa Vicens is the Palau de la Musica Catalana. The English tours sometimes sell out.

Casa Amatller is pseudo-Gothic rather than modernist on the inside; I've been there and wouldn't make it a top priority for fans of modernisme.

I didn't realize Casa Lleo Morera had reopened to the public, but I see there's a website now--though it won't open for me. I'm glad you mentioned it; it definitely goes on my list for next time. The interior is said to be gorgeous.

Posted by
7 posts
  • mosesna thank you for the suggestions. In particular, I am so glad you mentioned the candlelight orchestra shows as I did not know about them and it sounds like a wonderful way to spend an evening. I am hoping to get tickets to the 7pm Coldplay Tribute show on the 16th.
  • acraven thank you for all of this information. I based my decision on which places to tour on Trip Advisor reviews but it is nice to hear from someone who has been to all of them. I am now hoping to go to a show at the Palau de la Musica Catalana so will get to see that one after all. It was helpful to hear what you encountered with Palau Guell as well. I may look at buying those the day of our visit rather than just showing up.
Posted by
27434 posts

Since you obviously are really interested in the Barcelona's funky architecture, I'd recommend spending some time on the Ruta del Modernisme website at https://rutadelmodernisme.com/en/. They've documented lots of buildings you can manage to walk by as you move around the city, as well as the pay-to-enter buildings. They have a nice (paperbound but quite heavy) guidebook that makes a good souvenir if you don't mind adding to the weight of your suitcase. The book comes with discount coupons for most of the paid-entry buildings, but using those coupons means (or at least it used to) waiting to buy your tickets when you show up. Because of the ticket lines, that's not practical. But the guidebook (and there's a map, too, I think) is very useful.

In 2016 the Barcelona tourist office had a free map and a more detailed map of the city for 1 euro. I bought the better map and found it had a lot of unknown-to-me modernista buildings marked. Referring to that map frequently assure that I'd didn't miss something worthwhile nearby as I walked around. I think that map would be useful to you if it's still available and you don't have time to go over to the Ruta del Modernisme office to buy their guidebook/map package. I assume the tourist office still has a location beneath the Placa de Catalunya.

Posted by
2651 posts

You have put a lot of excellent effort into sorting this out. I'm guessing you're a pretty big Gaudi fan. I have been to most - but not quite all - of the Modernista buildings in Barcelona. I absolutely love it there - heck I'm headed back to my third visit this year - just for the architecture!

I'm glad you're rethinking the Palau de la Musica Catalana. It's gorgeous in there - the stained glass is extraordinarily pretty.

And Casa Batllo is worth the cost. It's really whimsical and quite extensively decorated with fun architectural details. I know it's expensive and I know it's crowded but I tend to go in each time. It might be worth a second thought.

Posted by
7 posts
  • acraven thank you for the introduction to the Ruta del Modernisme website. A quick peek shows it will be very informative!
  • Valerie I appreciate you taking the time to send along your thoughts on my itinerary. I have been working on it a while and keep going back and forth on a number of decisions - Casa Batllo being a big one that I am consistently debating! Hearing from people such as yourself who have been to these places is always a big help in coming up with my final game plan.
Posted by
960 posts

Bill, I'm not sure why seeing the Teresian College would be unusual for a Gaudi or general architecture fan. It is one of Gaudi's buildings that is frequently discussed in books on his works. Did I miss something - or perhaps you just wanted to bring the building to the attention of the Gaudi fans reading this post. I don't mean to be rude or argumentative with my question, just a bit confused.

Again, without meaning to be rude or "dissing" Bill's above contribution, acraven - Thanks for your posts. I haven't had so much "on the ground" experience. It is helpful to see a comprehensive review of a traveler with an experience that includes more "Gaudi hot spots" than most.

Posted by
960 posts

Thanks for bringing this people's attention! Well worth exploring, even if off the "beaten path" for many!

Posted by
27434 posts

That's mean, Bill. I went over there on my most recent trip to Barcelona (2019), and the guard at the gate wouldn't let me in--not even to take a quick peak! I'm too short to be able to see over the wall. I did consider buying a step stool...

You beat me to Casa Batllo by decades, but I saw La Sagrada Familia in 1972, so there!

Posted by
27434 posts

I'm afraid I was oblivious to any sanctions that may have existed in 1972. Spain was definitely open for business that year. As were Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the DDR and the USSR.

Posted by
19 posts

Advance tickets for tourist sites are usually a good idea. Sometimes there are slight savings and you can occasionally book a time slot for entry and skip the lines.

I would be wary of buying tickets to local concerts in advance. That's because things can happen and the concert "postponed." Why the emphasis on the word "postponed?" Because that's the loophole used to keep you from getting a refund. That concert could be rescheduled two years in the future and all you'll get is tickets for the new date when there's a slim chance you'll be there. If the concert is "cancelled" then you get in line for a refund.

Posted by
7 posts

Dick G. thanks for bringing the "postponing" of shows practice to my attention. I realize that it is not always the case, but I also know someone that happened to and it totally slipped my mind. Although attending the show sounds lovely, I have decided to buy tickets for the last self-guided slot of the day (3:30 pm) on April 15th instead so I can ensure I get to see the venue.

Posted by
7 posts

History Traveler thank you for recommending Bar Les Cascades and Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc. In particular, I had not noticed the little café when researching the area and think it would be a nice alternative to the cafeteria.

Posted by
27434 posts

MNAC has a couple of cool collections beyond the usual art you'd expect to find: modernisme (mainly furniture, decorative art and jewelry) and medieval frescoes rescued from churches in the Pyrenees.

The Miro Museum is quite near MNAC. I know there are exceptions, but sometimes you can walk right up to the Miro and get in without waiting in a ticket line. But MNAC can be very time-consuming.

Posted by
7 posts

acraven, I am looking forward to the MNAC visit for sure! I am afraid that our schedule does not allow for a stop at Miro though, especially now that we will be visiting the Montjuic Castle rather than just walking around it (my husband thinks it looks interesting) and the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera which I had not originally planned on doing that day.

As well, you may find it interesting given your earlier notes to me regarding Cassa Batllo, I now plan on buying blue level tickets for the 9am slot on April 17th rather than just viewing it from the outside. In addition, I will book a self-guided tour of the Palau de la Musica rather than just viewing it from the outside. Adding these two, I have decided not to tour Cassa Vicens as I originally planned, but just view it from the outside.

Posted by
27434 posts

I think you'll be very happy to see the interiors of Casa Batllo and the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

The exterior of Casa Vicens is quite striking. I don't remember how much you can see from the street; it might pay to walk around the block. I went by the location before it opened to the public, and I recall wandering around a bit to try to get a good view.

Posted by
7 posts

acraven, I think I may have regretted it if I missed viewing them. It means the schedule is more packed (and more costly) but I am happy with it. As for Cassa Vicens, from Google Maps it looks like I will get to see a lot of the exterior so that makes me happy also.