Please sign in to post.

Review and Suggestions Appreciated for Barcelona Plans for Feb visit

My husband and I and another couple will be spending 7 nights in Barcelona in February. We've traveled in several other European countries, but this will be our first trip to Spain. We have booked our flights and hotel (it was a package) at the Novotel Barcelona City.

Below is our current plans. Would welcome your review and suggestions for additions and any need changes:

  • Tue, Feb 5 - plan arrives at 10:10 AM. Unpack, lunch and siesta. Explore. Only other activity planned is Evening Tapas and Wine Tasting tour from 6:30-9:30 PM that night, to help us stay up and get a good intro to the city.
  • Wed, Feb 6 - Ramblas area exploration is all that we have planned thus far.
  • Thu, Feb 7 - Montserrat Tour all day (https://www.viator.com/tours/Barcelona/Montserrat-Tour-from-Barcelona-Including-Lunch-and-Wine-Tasting-in-Oller-del-Mas/d562-5716P2)
  • Fri, Feb 8 - planning to book a guided tour of Markets with possible cooking class. Recommendations?
  • Sat, Feb 9 - morning open thus far. Have tickets to see The Magic Flute opera at 6:30 PM at Palau de la Musica Catalana; plan to arrive early for pre-show Tapas and plan to reserve fine dining for after. (By the way, how formal should we plan to dress that evening?)
  • Sun, Feb 10 - see the Sardina dances in the square in front of the Cathedral beginning at 11:15. Other recommendations? Looking for game tickets if there are any matches available.
  • Mon, Feb 11 - will book timed tickets to see Sagrada Familia in the morning. Visit Parc Guell in afternoon.
  • Tue, Feb 12 - 12:10 PM flight departure.

Other activities we plan to book advanced tickets, but haven't decided what days/times to plan for these:
- Picasso Museum
- La Pedrera (Casa Mila)

In addition, we 'd like to stop by one of the local beaches and see the Mediterranean Sea and see the Museu National d'Art de Catalunya if time.

I'd greatly appreciate all thoughts and suggestions on this schedule and what other things you'd recommend. I have purchased Rick's 2019 Spain book that just was released, as well as his pocket guide to Barcelona.

Thank you.
Suzette (Atlanta, GA)

Posted by
12036 posts

The Ramblas is basically a big nothing. You will almost certainly find yourself on it as you move from one place to another in the city. There's no need to make a special effort to go there. Rick has had it in his books since their first editions, I think, and it should have been excised long ago. There's so much to see elsewhere in Barcelona.

Expect the Picasso Museum to be a grotesque madhouse. I have no idea whether there's a time of day that is perhaps a bit less crowded, but I'm not optimistic. Few art museums are so crowded that they sell timed tickets, and this particular one appears to pack people in to the limit allowed by the fire marshall. The MNAC is much easier to appreciate, and the nearby Miro Museum was blessedly uncrowded at the time of my visit (summer 2016).

I'd book the first time slot of the day at La Sagrada Familia if it's available. The church will be somewhat less crowded for you then, at least initially. You'll need to decide whether you want to ascend a tower. If you do that, I think your tower entry is timed for right after your church entry, so you don't get the benefit of the semi-empty church.

I really liked the Barri Gotic walking tour conducted by the tourist office. I think it's offered either once or twice a day. Runner Bean, often recommended here, may have more frequent tours, but what I especially liked about the T.O. tour was that our group was comparatively small.

The Sant Pau modernista sight is beautiful and up to this point no one has reported needing to buy a ticket in advance. I expect that to change eventually, so it would be worth asking at the tourist office if you find yourself near on. (There's one beneath Placa Catalunya). It's very helpful to have sightseeing targets in Barcelona that you can just slot into your day when you have a spare block of time.

Barcelona has a lot of good museums, some of which might be of particular interest to your group. There are some additional modernista sites as well. It all depends on what you're interested in. Consult your guidebook. When I have a good bit of time in a large city like Barcelona, I also like to skim through the Sightseeing section of TripAdvisor. I sometimes find out about minor places of interest that haven't yet made it into guidebooks.

Posted by
1610 posts

Could not agree more with acraven about Las Ramblas. Anytime you spend there will be pushing through crowds, trying to avoid the pickpockets, and there are plenty. We were hoping to grab a bite at the Mercado Boqueria. Yeah, well, good luck with that, the crowds were even worse. We used this company in Lisbon and were pleased https://culinarybackstreets.com/culinary-walks/barcelona/. If you can nab a reservation here https://elbarri.com/en/restaurant/tickets/ you’ll dine well, but not cheaply.

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks Alan for the restaurant suggestion. I did look and it looks interesting; however, website indicates they are taking a break during the time we are there. I appreciate your insight.

Posted by
7112 posts

My plan of attack with four days in Barcelona and the pre booking of sights.

Day 1
•Sagrada Familia (BOOK a first up visit)
•Hospital Sant Pau
•Eixample - Passeig de Gracia, Casa Mila & Casa Batllo

Day 2
•Palau de la Musica Catalana (BOOK a first up visit)
•Las Ramblas - La Boqueria, Placa Real
•Bari Gotico - Cathedral

Day 3
•Picasso Museum (BOOK a first up visit)
•La Ribera - Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
•Parc de la Ciutadella
•Barceloneta

Day 4
•Park Guell (BOOK a first up visit)
•Montjuic (funicular from Parallel) - Joan Miro Foundation, Castello, Olympic Ring
•Plaça Espanya - MNAC, Las Arenas, Magic Fountains

NOTE: Joan Miro & MNAC are both closed on Mondays.

Posted by
11839 posts

Wed. In February, La Rambla probably won't be crowded but it is never interesting and you'll be there more than once as you sightsee the city. Use the day to explore the Barri Gotic, the cathedral and other sights. Take one of the TI walking tours. I've taken the Barri Gotic and the Modernisme tours, both excellent. Runnerbean has a very limited schedule (if any) in February so I haven't managed to take any of their tours yet, but they have been highly recommended here.
Fri You will probably visit La Boqueria market on your tapas tour. Visit the Santa Caterina market on your own - maybe on Wednesday. Maybe spend the day on Montjuic . . . MNAC (Museu National d'Art de Catalunya) - allow at least 2 hours, Miro Museum, there's also an ethnology museum, small but very interesting as you walk down through the gardens (nice views too) from Miro to MNAC. The CaixaForum is just below MNAC too - see if there's an interesting exhibition on. Check if the Magic Fountain has sound and light shows while you're in Barcelona. If so, you could see that after MNAC (if you need to hang around a while, walk down to Plaza Espana and have some wine and tapas).
Sun The Ayuntamiento (City Hall) is open to the public every Sunday from 10.00-13.30 and well worth a visit.
Mon You used to book entrance time and tower time separately. It sounds like now you must go straight to the tower and then visit the rest of the site afterward. I was underwhelmed by the tower visit. I was advised to book the first entry and line up 15-30 minutes in advance, to be one of the first in the building. I stopped first to pick up the audio guide (good) and had at least 30 minutes of relative quiet to enjoy the main church and take some nearly people-less photos. At about 10 am I went up the tower, when I came down, the noise was at a high level - hundreds of people chatting and the drilling and hammering of the workmen (remember it is still under construction). It's an easy 15-20 minute walk from SF to Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau along Av. de Gaudi, with cafes along the way where you can stop for a drink or a meal. From there you can take the metro to .. .. wherever.

I recommend the rooftop tour of Santa Maria del Mar.

Posted by
200 posts

If you can, book your Sagrada Familia tickets now. I was watching for the three month window when I was planning last year and got the first tickets the day they were finally available for me. I’d heard that tour operators do this, and snap up many tickets to resell for their tours. We chose a tour by a guide from SF and it was excellent.

I agree with the others...we were so glad to get there early, as the crowds at 10:30 were large and loud, and we knew that would continue! This was July 3, so hopefully your experience won’t be so crowded, but the experience of walking in early in the morning and seeing those glorious beams of colored light was very special, and truly memorable for our whole family. We also found the school on site to be interesting...and it was quiet and air conditioned.

Here are a few less common things we enjoyed in Barcelona:
An unexpected find for our family was the restaurant in El Cortes Ingles department store. Lots of good food choices, cafeteria style, and many seats by the windows overlooking Plaça Catalunya. Reasonable prices for our hungry (adult) kids, and the best sangria we’d had in Spain. (Maybe we didn’t get very many opportunities to compare, but we were all happy with this one!)

We also drank lots of fresh juices from the Boqueria Market. Prices were cut near closing, and there were so many different blends. So good!

La Fábrica was a great casual place for Argentinian empanadas, and we went there twice as we were strolling around. El Fornet had a truly awesome almond pastry that I enjoyed with a cafe...still a happy memory.

And if you’re a Nespresso fan, or even just curious, check out the Nespresso Boutique on the Passeig de Gràcia. Prices are lower there than shipping to your home, it is like a museum in the way they do their displays, and you can taste the coffees for free in their tasting room. It was an elegant little break in our wandering that day. We first saw this in Paris, and were interested to see it in Barcelona.

Souvenirs we liked: beautiful painted bowls from the shops scattered around the city, and Gaudi-style mugs and espresso sets found in El Cortes Ingles. Those prices were better, and we didn’t have the persistent/borderline aggressive salesmen pressuring us as we found in some of the touristy stores.

Barcelona was the last stop of our France and Spain trip, and it was the largest city we visited as well. We were happy to see what we did see in our 2 full days, and hope to see more another time! We were on alert for pickpockets, but did not have any trouble. We used the metro some, but mostly walked and walked as we explored. Our hotel was on Las Ramblas, and I wouldn’t recommend that...so busy and noisy.

Side note: We all preferred San Sebastián, which we’d visited before Barcelona, and I’d highly recommend a visit there if you can. We took the train between the cities, which was high speed most of the time, and about a 6 hour trip. We booked that way in advance, and found that the cost was better and the hassle was less than a flight would have been for a family of 5. San Sebastián was awesome.

Have a great trip!
Laurie

Posted by
200 posts

I just read these two articles about La Boqueria this morning. They will give you more insight into the history of the market as well is a good approach to enjoy the market without the masses. We did venture back the last day in Barcelona right as it opened, and it was a much more enjoyable experience. My one regret was that there were not five seats available at the Pinotxo Bar. Juanito was so friendly, and we had a chance to chat, but it didn’t seem like our whole family would fit there. Now, I wish we had had the boys stand and parents sit, and squish into that space so we could’ve enjoyed that experience for breakfast! That’s what we saw people doing later that morning! Oh well. It was like a time warp connection to Rick’s video about Barcelona, to see this friendly, hard working gentleman in real life.

https://roadsandkingdoms.com/2018/know-before-you-go-to-the-boqueria/

https://roadsandkingdoms.com/2018/the-battle-for-the-boqueria/

Laurie

Posted by
8 posts

We spent 8 days in Barcelona. Instead of a market tour, I recommend the “10 Tastes of Barcelona” tour with WithLocals tour. You stop at a market, but many other interesting stops with local specialties “vermut”! Our first day we booked a 90 minute intro tour with WithLocals and it was great. You’ll get a good overview of town.
I’d skip the Picasso Museum - it doesn’t represent his best works. Definitely La Pedrera, and book for early in the day.
If you like wine, we took the local train to Sant Adurni de Adroia and visited Frexeinet and Cordonui wineries. It was the highlight of our trip! We only see the base cavas in the US and they have much more sophisticated varieties. Frexeinet is next to the train station but Cordonui is farther out of town - taxi or their bus. You can book a tour on their websites.
Enjoy!

Posted by
67 posts

Hi Enric. Thanks for the link. I actually discovered this event a while back, but I’ve been trying to determine what the correct schedule of events is since some of the dates seem to be off as I click into the links.

The link seems to be referencing incorrect dates (maybe last years?). For example, I see the 2019 parade listed as Monday, the 12th - while Feb 12 is actually on Tuesday in 2019.

Do you know whether the parade will be held on Monday or Tuesday at 18:30?


https://www-lameva.barcelona.cat/santaeulalia/en/santa-eulalia/programa#node-759

Parade and Dance of the Laies
Monday 12, 18:30h
Parade: 7 pm.
Route: Carrer del Pi, Plaça de la Cucurulla, Carrer dels Boters, Plaça Nova, Carrer del Bisbe, Carrer de Sant Sever, Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, Carrer dels Banys Nous, Carrer de Ferran, Plaça de Sant Jaume (arriving at around 7.40 pm).

Posted by
2174 posts

... the programme for these sort of "festivals" -much like La Mercè in Sept- is not available until a few weeks in advance. There are many activities and its organisation is quite complex so the final program is not available until a few weeks before. What's now online is last year's programme. The Festes de Santa Eulàlia tend to fall from Friday to Monday, so one could assume for 2019 it's going to be Fri 8th to Mon 11th. Try in mid January or so to confirm it.

In any case, have a look at it so you know the "sort" of activities that you'll see. Many of them are the same, year after year, especially those related to heritage and tradition, albeit not necessarily at the same hours. Then, when the final program is out you can pinpoint the exact timing for that particular activity.

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks everyone for all the great recommendations! We are trying to incorporate as many as possible into our schedule. We have learned the Magic Fountains are closed during our visit.

Below is our revised schedule at this point. Will also incorporate some Santa Eulalia festival events as we can. We have purchased VIP tickets to Casa Mila (gives us skip-the-line, any day/time tickets), so trying to earmark a day for this (maybe Sunday?). Thinking 4:00 pm entrance, try to time terrace view around 6:13 PM sunset then depart right after.

Tuesday - 10:10 AM arrival from Atlanta. Hotel check-in, lunch, rest, explore. We have a 6:30-9:30 PM walking tapas and wine tour in the Born district with stops at 3 tapas bars, to help us stay awake and get acclimated to time zone change. Our hotel is Novotel Barcelona City, which is across from the Torre Glories.

Wednesday - Leisurely day exploring Gothic Quarter, Placa de Catalunya, La Rambla, Barri Gotic, Barcelona Cathedral, waterfront, Barceloneta to see beaches. May do a T1 or other walking tour in the early part of day.

Thursday - Montserrat tour booked, 8:45 AM - 7:30 PM. Includes tour of basilica and monastery, Oller del Mas estate winery cellar and vineyards tour, tasting and lunch.

Friday - exploring options for tours that will take us to both major markets and include a meal. See Catalan Art Museum. Possibly Montjuïc.

Saturday - Picasso Museum tickets booked at 9:00 AM. Only other thing booked so far this day is Magic Flute opera tickets booked for 6:30 pm performance at Palace of Catalan Music. We’re looking for a splurge restaurant to dine in after the show.

Sunday - see Sardinia dances in the square in front of the Cathedral beginning at 11:15 AM. Visit City hall while open until 1:30. Lunch, then Eixample walk.

Monday - Sagrada Familia tickets booked for 9:00 AM, Passion Facade tower. Visit Parc Guell in afternoon (should we buy timed tickets?). Try to incorporate Santa Eulalia festival events this day, depending on timing.

Tuesday - 12:10 flight departs back to the states.

Let me know what you think and any other recommendations you have.

Thank you!
Suzette

Posted by
12036 posts

I recommend getting the Parc Guell tickets ahead of time. The park is so popular that they are switching (not sure when) to a system requiring pre-purchased tickets, with no option to pay at the park. You wouldn't want to stand in the ticket line at the park, anyway.

Posted by
2174 posts

That's likely to be in Spring, but no date has been announced yet.

Posted by
332 posts

... La Mercè in Sept- is not available until a few weeks in advance. There are many activities and its organisation is quite complex so the final program is not available until a few weeks before.

It was a huge festival. I was at the Trabucaires parade starting location according to the website on time, and it was deserted. The friendly policemen there tried to help and made a few inquiry calls, but came up with nothing. I left heading to another event instead. Somewhere on my way, distant popping sounds caught my attention. Finally caught up with the parade before they reached the plaza destination to fire their cannons.

Posted by
2174 posts

For info: trabucaires (tra-boo-ka-ee-rahs) is Catalan -the local language here in Catalonia- for 'blunderbuss gangs", which pay homage to the ancient blunderbuss weapon. Here a video of another similar celebration, every April, of "La Revolta de la Quinta of 1870” (Revolt of the Conscripts of 1870), in the Vila de Gràcia neighbourhood.