Travel tips for Barcelona
Have you ever thought of visiting this gorgeous city? My daughter and I had the opportunity to travel to Barcelona earlier this year, so I thought I’d share some of our experiences and some tips with you for when you possibly get a chance to travel to Barcelona.
I’ve wanted to visit this city for years, mostly because I’d studied Antoni Gaudi’s unique architectural style when I was in high school and in more recent years, because I collect sea glass for my jewelry range, and I’d heard that Barcelona was a great place to find sea glass. I’ll also give you some tips on other art museums, eating out and public transport to make your stay truly enjoyable.
You’ll most likely arrive in Barcelona at the airport. You can take the Aerobus at €10 for a one way ride into town, or you can just head to the train station at the airport and purchase a T-10 ticket for €10.40 which will get you to the city center for just over €1 on the RENFE train and you’ll be able to use the other 9 journeys on the Metro while you are in Barcelona. You can purchase the T-10 ticket from the vending machines at the train station. I think there are trains into town about 4 times an hour. Another feature of the T-10 ticket is if you travel on the Metro within one hour of starting your journey, those journeys are considered part of the first journey and will only be one punch stamp on your card.
Best travel deal ever - the T-10 ticket for the metro, buses and RENFE train
The buses also use the T-10 card, but we found the metro more convenient, so we stuck with using that.
I’d highly recommend doing a lot of sightseeing on foot. For one, it gives you a better impression of the layout of the city and its’ neighborhoods and secondly it helped us know where we wanted to go back to. Also once we’d walked most areas, we used the metro to save time and to get value out of our T-10 card.
Barcelona has incredible architecture and amazing city and town planning with some of the more recent (think 100 years ago, laying out squares and neighborhood meeting spots). Just about everywhere you look there will be interesting buildings, churches and apartments. Pop into any churches you may see as a lot of them are free and are totally worth seeing.
Our main interest was to see some of Antoni Gaudi’s work, so I had reserved some tickets for us to tour La Familia Sagrada which is Gaudi’s cathedral in Barcelona. (If you don’t reserve tickets in advance, you will probably not be able to get tickets on the day). La Familia Sagrada is in its final stages of construction even though it was started in 1882. It is hoped it will be finished around 2026. Even though it is still under construction, I’d highly recommend you visit it. It is quite the most amazing cathedral that I’ve ever visited.
Interior of East facing stained glass windows in La Familia Sagrada.
We did the audio tour that included an elevator ride up the most complete tower and then we walked down the tower stairs and we were able to see some of the mosaics on the turrets and towers near by. The audio guide was very informative too. If I remember correctly the cost of the ticket was €27 plus a booking fee, but it was worth it. You can visit the cathedral for less, but your access to all areas will not be the same as what we had.
External sculptures of La Familia Sagrada
We did walk by views of both Casa Battlo and Casa Mila, and yes, it would have been nice to see the roof top sculptures or the inside staircases, but we chose to spend our €€’s elsewhere.
Casa Battlo exterior
Casa Mila exterior
We also had reserved tickets for Gaudi’s Park Güell. For this outing we just enjoyed going through the Park at our own pace and not with a tour guide.
The Gatehouse at Park Güell
I especially loved how Gaudi was an upcycler and recycler before it was fashionable. A lot of the mosaics in the Park are recycled from old buildings or are the not perfect ones from tile factories which have been rebroken and used in the mosaics all around the Park.. I also loved how he used some real plates in some of his work.
Probably the most photographed Lizard sculpture in the world. It's hard not to get people in the picture too
Mosaic medallions on ceiling at Park Güell
Details of mosaic section
I also upcycle in my jewelry designs and use damaged china in my broken china jewelry range, so it’s no great surprise that I loved these mosaics at Park Güell.
Here is one of my broken china and sterling silver pendants.
Sterling silver and broken china pendant with Limoges porcelain.
We didn’t go to many museums, but there are lots of options in Barcelona. From the guide book that I read prior to our trip, it seems that most museums are free on Sunday afternoons. We wanted to see the Museu Picasso and it’s free on Thursdays from 6-9pm. You can reserve your spot online 4 days before at this link. Apologies for no photos from the museum, but photography was not allowed. The museum had some of Picasso’s very early work which was lovely to see as one tends to have his more modern work in mind.
Beach time and sea glass hunting
If any of my readers know me personally or because they’ve bought jewelry from me, you’ll know that I or my family collect all the sea glass that I use in my designs. I’ve collected sea glass for about 14 years and I’ve been able to do it in various parts of the world. One of the best beaches I’ve collected sea glass at, is Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California. Honestly and truly, Barcelona came in a close second for me. Yes, it doesn’t have mounds of sea glass like Fort Bragg that you just sift through with your fingers, but the pieces are well rounded and have a lovely frosting to them. There were also a lot of aquas and teals that I’m really looking forward to using in my jewelry designs. I even found a few multi’s (multi colored glass that probably from blown art glass).
Here is a small portion of my sea glass finds from Barceloneta Beach
I only went to one beach in Barcelona, Barceloneta Beach, and it certainly did not disappoint. I managed to go to this beach a total of 4 times during our week in Barcelona and after a storm rolled through on the first evening, the pebble mounds which contained the sea glass, seemed to have grown. I suspect the storm had some waves which really helped bring up some lovely pieces of sea glass.
Sea glass, sun, the Mediterranean, what more could you ask for?
I visited Barceloneta Beach at different tides and I didn’t really find a huge difference in the amount of sea glass on the beach. The tidal range is only about 1.3 feet or 50 cm which is negligible. One thing I will suggest is that you wear shoes that can get wet. Not only will you have to be prepared to grab special pieces in the waves, but the sand on Barceloneta beach is incredibly coarse and it’s really quite tough on bare feet. I read somewhere that the sand was imported from Egypt to create a beach resort feel to this part of Barcelona for the 1992 Olympic Games and it certainly felt different from the beach sand further south in the town Sitges. Perhaps its coarseness helps weather the sea glass here to its perfection?
I was thrilled with the pieces of sea glass that I found here and will have many months work of jewelry creating with these pieces.
Whopping chunkers of sea glass which I'll probably make into a dangle mobile for myself.
I also found these incredibly chunky large pieces of sea glass at this beach. If anyone knows what they might have been from I’d love to know your thoughts. I was wondering if perhaps they came over with the sand from Egypt or if the sand was from a garbage dump or something.
We went out a few times in Barcelona and the most memorable are the ones that I will mention below. Our first foodie stop was La Boqueria which is a covered food market and is close to La Rambla (the main pedestrian and shopping walkway).
Some totally yummy looking fruit and very reasonable prices too.
At La Boqueria we purchased potato croquettes in different flavors and they were delicious. We also bought a package of salami from one of the meat vendors. It had a selection of different salamis and they were all totally tasty.
Even though this croquette was spinach, it was still delicious.
One evening we had a slice of pizza at this location in the El Born area of the city. The slices were huge for €2 and their choices were innovative and delicious.
Pizzeria Micaela is crazy good and reasonably priced for pizza. Sorry, no website but you can find them on Yelp.
For lunch one day we ate at a Middle Eastern Restaurant in the El Raval area of the city. It was quite undoubtedly the best lamb shawarma that I've ever eaten. I even told the owner he needed to open a restaurant in Seattle.
Baba Kebab Naan was in the El Raval neighborhood. You can find them on Trip Advisor or Yelp and they have excellent ratings.
The most delicious shawarma that I have ever eaten was at Baba restaurant.
On our final morning we decided to treat ourselves to a local breakfast near where we had stayed in the L'Eixample area of the city. I can honestly say that Hole cafe made the yummiest pancakes ever and their presentation was incredible. It didn't hurt that their coffee was amazing too. We even liked the atmosphere in the cafe and could imagine ourselves doing some writing or blogging there.
Hole in Barcelona has ratings of 5 stars and it's not surprising why.
Doesn't this Nutella Pancake look amazing?
On one day we decided to head south of the city on the RENFE train to the little sea side town of Sitges which a friend had told me about. We enjoyed browsing the shops there and walking along the waterfront and seeing the gorgeous beaches and bays. Our train ticket was about 8 Euros return. I did not find any sea glass here, but did pick up some lovely clam shells. I may end up using these to make a mold for some silver shells for my ocean inspired jewelry range.
Yup, this is me taking in the sights of Sitges in Spain.
Where to Stay
At this stage of my life I am beyond staying in a hostel type of accommodation unlike our daughter who is a student. We opted not for a hotel option, but instead went for an AIrBnB, Our accommodation was in the L'Example neighborhood of Barcelona and we had access to the kitchen and our host was a super British guy. It's location was incredible for most of Barcelona both for walking and also for public transport.
I hope that I've given you some good tips for your visit to Barcelona. If you've already visited the city, maybe I covered something here that you did not do. If I've inspired you to visit Barcelona, pin this post for when you do get there. I'm sure you'll do some of these activities while you are there.
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