La Sagrada Familia
There are three airports you can fly to: El-Prat, Reus and Girona.
El-Prat is located just outside the city and is perfect if all you want to do is visit Barcelona.
Reus is part of the province of Tarragona and 100km away from Barcelona, flights to here may be cheaper than El-Prat, so if you do decide to fly here take some time to have a look around, maybe stay a night. In the province of Tarragona I have only been to Port Aventura, located in Salou, which is a nice place to spend the day. It took me and hour and a half to get from the city center of Barcelona to the theme park by bus. Here there are rides and things to do for everyone, I strongly recommend the mirror maze, I loved it.
The last airport is Girona, located, as its name indicates in the province of Girona. This one is 100km north of Barcelona and like Reus, it may be cheaper. Also take some time to have a look around in Girona, there are museums, and beautiful cathedrals and monasteries to see.
As most places the farther out you stay the cheaper, but being on the outskirts is no problem with the subway, buses, bikes and taxis. There is also the option of renting and apartment, which may or may not be cheaper than a hotel. An apartment is great for when you are traveling with children, as you have your own kitchen and more room than you would in a hotel.
My last trip I stayed in El Campanile, which is cheap but unless you are renting a car there is no way to get into the city other than by taxi, which in the long run may turn out more expensive than staying closer.
During your stay
There is so much to do in Barcelona, you only have to search “What to do in Barcelona” to see there is an endless list of places to visit. Unfortunately I have only spent a total of six days there between my two visits so I can only tell you about the places I had time to see. Before you go, decide on the places you want to visit and prebook the tickets. Barcelona is a very popular place among tourists and most places have very long queues to get in. I also recommend visiting museums, churches and Park Guell with a guide, it is not the same experience going in and thinking “Wow this is pretty” than having someone explain what everything is and the history of that certain place.
- La Sagrada Familia is a must see. It is a Roman Catholic church designed by Antonio Gaudí, and although incomplete it is absolutely breathtaking inside and out, it is said that it should be finished by 2026, I hope to go back and see it then.
- CosmoCaixa is a science museum full of experiments to try, even if you’re not that in to science, which I am not, I really enjoyed it. It is a great place to take your kids.
- La Rambla is a strip connecting Plaza Catalunya with the old port. It is a great place to eat and go shopping, but you have to be very careful with pickpockets. If you really want to experience Spanish culture ignore Burger King, Starbucks and KFC and head into a tapas bar. Also on this strip is la Boqueria, an old market which is also popular among tourists. I found it a little claustrophobic as there were people everywhere.
- Mirador de Colón, located between La Rambla and the old port, is a monument dedicated to Columbus in honor of his first trip to America and as a reminder that he reported to the king and queen of Spain. It’s a nice place to take photos, most people climb on the lions surrounding the column.
- Plaza Catalunya is the middle point between the old city and the new one. In this square you will find sculptures, fountains, cafés and more shops.
- Parque Guell is home to buildings by Antonio Gaudí, the park is a beautiful place to visit but the fact that it is full of tourists ruined the effect for me. My first time here I just walked around and looked at the buildings, I enjoyed it much more the second time with a guide telling me what everything was and what they represented.
- The Magic Fountains of Montjuic, I visited on my first trip, I loved them but unfortunately on my second trip they were being repaired so I couldn’t go back and see them. These are completely free, no booking necessary. You have to check the dates you will be there to see what time and days the show will be on.
- Palace of Montjuic, located above the fountains, is nice, I didn’t go in but it’s pretty and free from the outside.
- Arenas shopping center, I went on my first visit to Barcelona, it was the first thing I saw as the apartment we rented was just around the corner. It used to be a bullring but they turned it into a shopping center, and lucky me, when I went there was an art showing.
If you have the opportunity to go to Barcelona, take it, but be prepared to spend a bit of money because Catalunya is very expensive, hotel and food wise. If you are looking for a place to stop and have a drink I don’t recommend going anywhere surrounding La Sagrada Familia. We stopped in a small café and ended up paying three euros for a small peach juice, when anywhere else it would be 1€ or less. There are some good deals in some tapas bars and restaurants, mostly the ones with set menus.