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Need to spend a few days around Barcelona

My Wife and I are taking a cruise from Barcelona the 21st of September for a week to Italy and France then return the 28th. We need to get our air tickets yet but we want to spend a few days before to cruise to get acclimated and enjoy some of Spain since we have never been. Rail is our preference. Suggestions for 3 or 4 days AND best Air options from the Midwest? Thank You!

Posted by
1178 posts

Consider these

Salvador Dali House www.salvador-dali.org/.../portlligat/en_in. amazing drive from Barcelona to it

Girona. Another great side trip.

But there is much to do and see in Barcelona...Las Ramblas, Sagrada Familia, Cathedral just to mention a few...

Posted by
11292 posts

I'll second the recommendation for Girona. The guidebook I was using at the time said it was "a world class city patiently waiting for the world to notice" and they were 100% right.

As for air options, use Kayak http://www.kayak.com/flights or Matrix ITA http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ to find flights. You will need to make one or more connections, so look carefully at connecting airports (many prefer to avoid London and Paris connections), connecting times (you don't want to be running through terminals, but you don't want too long between flights either), and of course price. On Kayak, there are "filters" on the left that let you choose airline, connecting airport, number of stops, duration of layover, etc - very handy.

"The Midwest" covers a lot of ground - what are your closest airports, and what further away airports could you reach if the savings or route were more appealing? There's no rhyme or reason in airfares anymore. For instance, it may be cheaper to take a flight from Chicago to Madrid, or it may be cheaper to fly from Des Moines to Chicago to Madrid. So don't assume that flights from international hubs like Chicago or Minneapolis or Toronto are cheaper. Most people in your region prefer to fly from the Midwest to Europe in one go, rather than changing on the East Coast; the flight times are usually shorter, and if there's a problem with your final connection, you're already in Europe, which makes logistics easier.

You want to buy "open jaw" tickets (into one city and out of another) to avoid backtracking. For instance, into Madrid and out of Rome (or wherever your cruise ends). To find these, choose "multi city" rather than "one way" or "round trip" on Kayak, etc. Don't book two one ways - that's MUCH more expensive.

Posted by
16883 posts

If you're not returning to Barcelona at the end of the cruise, then I'd definitely spend a few days there beforehand. Or if you spend a few days in Madrid, the train ride to Barcelona takes only 2.5 hours, but best to buy tickets ahead for a discount (see www.petrabax.com).

Posted by
11973 posts

The tourist information center in Barcelona can help you get a day tour to Montserrat. This is something to do by either car or bus and I wouldn't get a car just for this, there are more than enough cheap buses available.

The best use of the train is to head up the coast to some Costa Brava beach towns. While there are beaches in town, they're just okay.

I also agree that Barcelona has plenty to keep you busy for several days without any side trips.