Beauty in Barcelona

Barcelona. Even the name is glamorous. I have wanted to visit the Catalan city for a long time. I have imagined myself wafting through mediterranean markets and designer boutiques, sipping Sangria in Old Town elegance and admiring the young and beautiful sauntering along the city-side beach.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

On paper it’s a city that has everything a visitor desires and last weekend I finally got to see it for myself – in what can only be described as the best surprise birthday treat of ALL time!

I’ve reached the age where a birthday is a bitter pill to swallow. However, I am a firm believer that a glass of local tipple helps to dissolve that pill like nothing else. Fortunately my boyfriend knows me rather well and pulled off a secret mission that resulted in three nights in Barcelona.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

We stayed in Hotel Picasso. The location was excellent, just a short walk from the Arc de Triomf underground station. There is a rooftop terrace and pool, an amazing breakfast, helpful staff and a romantic bar where I indulged in some tipsy star gazing whilst quaffing the bottle of birthday bubbles that the hotel had very generously treated me to. Highly recommended for quality, service and location.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Arc de Triomf

The Beauty:
Barcelona is absolutely glistening with beauty; whether you hit the tourist trail or just wander around soaking it up Mediterranean-mañana-style, you can’t fail to absorb it.
For obvious, open-mouthed awe make sure you visit Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. You don’t even have to venture inside to be impressed as the view alone is outstanding, so it’s worth a visit even if art doesn’t interest you.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

DO NOT (as I’m ashamed to say we did) miss the magic fountain light and water show – Magic Fountain of Montjuïc… (This enormous tourism faux pas was in no way connected to drinking our body weight in sangria and over-staying in Egyptian Hookah lounges on La Rambla).
The fountain glows in a stunningly colourful display but at this time of year (Oct-Mar) only on Friday and Saturday evenings and from 7pm-9pm. It’s ‘reportedly’ unmissable…

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

A local indulgence

Other places not to miss include Park Güell, beautiful gardens with views over the city; entry to the main park is free and well worth a look.  We also made time to stare up at Torre Agbar wondering whether it was remarkably ugly or strikingly impressive and failing to reach a conclusion.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Torre Agbar

Of course, the most famous landmark is the Sagrada Familia, this feat of architecture has been in the making since 1882 – lengthy even by mediterranean standards. It’s the instantly recognisable emblem of the city with towers corkscrewing upwards, a patchwork of stone and incredible ornate detail on every outward surface. However, I must confess to being a shade disappointed with how vastly different the real thing is from the images we see on postcards and in guide books.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Under construction since 1882

La Rambla:
I absolutely adored the vibrancy of this street. From performers and flower markets to theatres, bars and alfresco dining with paella dishes the size of coffee tables, it’s buzzing from dawn ’til dusk and beyond.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Sky Views
On the final evening we took a skyride over the city just as the sun was setting. Take the Montjuïc gondola cable car 750 metres up to the top of the mountain at Montjuïc Castle for incredible views over the city and down to the port. In winter it operates 10am to 6pm and the return ticket was €10.80 per adult.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

We were warned severely and repeatedly by hotel material, books and tour guides that pick-pocketing is a huge problem and to be on our guard at all times. Do not stop to engage with strangers that try to get your attention, don’t use the underground late at night and don’t carry more valuables than you absolutely have to – that said, we had no problems and it’s advice I would follow as standard in any city in any country in the world.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Angel in Barcelona

Free attractions:
*The golden beach looked inviting and that’s hard to do on a rainy November day. Best enjoyed in summer, naturally.
*Entry to the Olympic Stadium, Estadi Olímpic, is free and you will find it in the Avinguda De L’Estadi behind the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
*Take a trip to the waterfront at the port for fresh fish and dining with a view and see the ‘Barcelona Colon’ en route – it’s a 197ft monument, if you’re wondering!
*Wander around the old town – we had a lovely meal at one of the restaurants right in front of the Santa Maria Del Mar, a beautiful Catalan Gothic style church.

Barcelona by Sara Hardman Travels

Santa Maria Del Mar

If you’ve visited Barcelona and there’s anything else I should have seen, please let me know. After the whole Magic Fountain of Montjuïc debacle, I have vowed to return to the city with culture and sobriety higher on the agenda.





20 thoughts on “Beauty in Barcelona

  1. Amazing city and fantastic blog post Sara, really made me laugh! Think you should really go back and see the fountains I saw them a couple of years ago and it’s worth it. I’m reblogging this 🙂

    1. Thanks, Dan. It was an amazing way to spend a birthday and I’m totally using my birthday as the excuse for enjoying far to much tapas and sangria and too few museums and galleries…

  2. Really useful post, I have also wanted to go here for a long time. Great guide, I’ll save it for when I go. Thanks!!

    1. Thank you, really glad it might be of use to you. One thing I would also say is to get the Travel 10 underground card if you’re making a lot of journeys around the city. The one card can be used by as many people as you have in your group, you just pass it on as you go through the barrier – feels illegal but isn’t! As a couple it was great value for us. Have a lovely time 🙂

  3. I went here and I only made it to the sealife centre so you did well! I did only have 24 hours but my friends were ashamed of my choice lol. Beautiful pics too x

    1. How was it? I did see lots of great blog reviews about the Sealife Centre. We just didn’t have time to visit but that’s a great excuse to go back!

    1. Thank you! Glad I wasn’t the only one. I was expecting it to be every night. It was pretty disappointing when I saw how beautiful it looked on all the postcards 🙂

  4. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world! One thing I love about it is that there are so many different neighborhoods with their own identities, and so many different things to do, depending on your interests. One site you didn’t mention that I’d highly recommend is the Museu d’Història de Barcelona (Museum of the History of Barcelona) — it’s probably the best history museum I’ve ever been to.

    1. Thanks so much, that’s great, I’m compiling a list for my return 🙂
      I did love all the different neighborhoods and back streets. With every corner we turned there was something to photograph or a really stunning piece of architecture. I could have easily spend a full week there – maybe next time.

  5. Totally get the birthday bitter pill thing – I have a similar problem!! What better way to sweeten it though than travelling somewhere gorgeous like Barcelona. We went a couple of years ago in May so did manage to spend a while on the beach – highly recommended, but also missed the fountains! Still, a good excuse to go back sometime. Great post.

    1. Thank you very much. It’s nice to know it’s happened to a few of us; I’d highly recommend the cable car ride though. I would love to see the beach in the sunshine, May sounds like nice time to go, before it’s too crowded.

  6. As always fabulous pictures Sara.

    I’ve never been to Barcelona, or even Spain. I hear wonderful things about Barcelona and everyone tells me I should add it to my list. I see you agree.

    1. Thank you, it was an amazing birthday surprise! Such a beautiful city and lovely hospitality. I’d certainly recommend it for a visit. I’m planning to go back to see the fountain!

  7. Beautiful photos Sara. Love the 2nd one, the building on the corner. I was in Barcelona almost 30 years ago and thought it was beautiful. I guess its time to go back 🙂
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Thank you, Frank. I think there’s so much to see that you could return several times and still be impressed and find new things to do. The architecture was incredible and the hospitality was lovely 🙂

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