Barcelona in a flash!
May 5, 2012 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Trying to plan a *very* short, cheap, but very special trip to Barcelona later this month. My partner and I aren't great at planning and we're feeling overwhelmed by all the possibilities against the limited amount of time we have. Halp!

First, I asked this question recently, but unfortunately we had to abandon plans to Italy in favour of a cheaper option. Barcelona looks amazing, and has always been on my list, but it does seem a little more fast-paced than the destination we orginally had in mind. Nevertheless--Barcelona!! I've seen this, this and this (wonderful comment, kathryn!), checked out a Lonely Planet from the library, and downloaded Maribel's Guide.

Needless to say, we are now absolutely overwhelmed by all of the magnificent things we'd like to do. Here's the lowdown:
-We get in on a Tuesday evening around 8pm, and leave Thursday at around 1pm--not a whole lot of time.
-We're staying in a hotel near Las Ramblas
-We'd like to bring back some nice wine as gifts
-We'd like to see some neat architecture, and beautiful parks. Art museums eat up a lot of time, so are out. But, we would like to check out Sagrada Familia, if we can swing it.
-Trying to decide between Parc Guell and Montjuic.
-Bike tour of a cool neighborhood sounds right up our alley
-We'd love a romantic dinner, cocktails, and/or stroll somewhere
-I don't eat seafood (except sushi very very rarely), but my partner does. How much of a problem will this be? I love cheese and wine, and non-seafood tapas, though.

I know it's hard to see a real problem here, but that's because it's mostly internal! This is meant to be a romantic break to celebrate the time we've had together and look to the future. We're both okay with picking a couple really great things, and saving the rest for another trip. The problem is I can already feel the tension and stress of trying to squeeze in a bunch of sights and activities, worrying about time and money, and feeling the relaxing, fun, "us time" aspect of the trip get crowded out.

So, I guess I'm just looking for some help devising a loose, realistic itinerary for this sort of trip from more knowledgeable folks. Any advice?

Many many thanks!
posted by sundaydriver to Travel & Transportation around Barcelona, Spain (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: drop your plans, drop the tours, drop the museums, definitely drop the 5km line to get into the sagrada familia. You've already explained what you want in your post: "romantic break to celebrate the time we've had together".

Do that.

Barcelona is perfect for just walking around and savouring the city and savouring your time together in the city.

Drop every plan, and be together - see where that takes you.
posted by alchemist at 6:48 AM on May 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

I know you've said no to museums, so it will be difficult for me to make recommendations...we've made multiple trips to Barcelona just for the sake of the museums. I also totally agree with alchemist's comment: it's a wonderful city to wander. If you did decide to spend a *small* amount of time indoors...we've *really* enjoyed touring the Guell Palace (not to be confused with the Parc) and the Gaudi Apartments...seeing the architecture from within was really wonderful and not so terribly time-consuming as a full-scale museum.

I don't know what to tell you about the wine because we drink nothing but sangria and cava while there...neither travels particularly well, though. And as for will find them wherever you wander and as long as you avoid the places that have a typical "tourists" menu, you will rarely go wrong.

There are many tapas that are not predominately seafood, but if you are talking about an allergy I'd be wary...many are cooked in shellfish stock.
posted by squasha at 6:53 AM on May 5, 2012

Personally, I'd skip Sagrada Familia unless you really have a special interest in it. Parc Guell is awesome if you go as early as possible in the morning (to avoid the crowds).

I've spent my first weekend in Barcelona just wandering around and ignoring all the attractions, and enjoyed it a lot.
posted by dhoe at 8:05 AM on May 5, 2012

I'm normally not a tourist bus kind of person, but when we only had a couple of days in Barcelona (and the bf had a cold) it was totally worth it to get a day pass on one of the double-decker systems and just ride around taking in the city. We stopped off and walked around Sagrada Familia but didn't go in. There was no way I would wait in a line that long but we still got to see the amazing architecture in person.
posted by brilliantine at 8:44 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Only been once and it was last summer. A few nights right in the Gothic and a few nights in Raval. Drop the plans and just wander around. Get away from Las Ramblas if you are looking for more affordable dining. Although the Mercat de La Boqueria is pretty cool and has some reasonably priced dining options inside. Parc Guell was great. We packed a little picnic of items we got in the Mercat and sat on a bench drinking wine and eating cheese and it was fantastic.

Also enjoyed a stroll down Passeig de Joan de Borbó towards the W Hotel. Stopping at some cool little beach bars for a drink and eventual dinner at the W, which wasn't cheap of course. And then drinks with some local friends in the side streets of La Barceloneta. It was a fun night and wasn't on our radar until we learned some friends would be in town and wanted to meet there.

And although kind of cheesy and touristy, one of our favorite memories after running around way too much trying to take in all the sites was crashing at one of the outdoor bars on Las Ramblas and drinking giant glasses of sangria and people watching. It was great.
posted by WickedPissah at 11:51 AM on May 5, 2012

I did the tour of Sagrada Familia where you walk up one of the towers, and it was robust and radical and I'm super glad I did it. It didn't take all day, but could have been 3-4 hours.

+1 on Parc Guell, early as dhoe says. It's really teensy-tiny so you can use it as the lauching point for other wanderings.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 2:22 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are gardens around Parc Guell are nice for a bit of a stroll.

The bits of the Botanical gardens I walked through were nice but I was there when it was hot so I didn't do too much exploring.

Walk past the Gaudi buildings and see if there's a line-up - if not, duck in, they don't take too long. Parc Guell I had to get to by tourist bus so I had to walk up the hill - so you will have to make a decision to go there as with SF. But the other Gaudi stuff in Barcelona is in the middle of everything and you can do it if the mood takes you - otherwise just wander around, Barcelona is a good place for that. You'll find all kinds of wonderful things.
posted by mleigh at 3:19 PM on May 5, 2012

If you do Sagrada Familia each of you take a camera because otherwise you will run out of battery before you leave. You can get a lift up the towers and walk back down again - even the view down the stairwell was amazing and that's the point at which my battery ran out.

Apart from that, seconding just walking about. The square in front of the cathedral near Las Ramblas (sorry don't remember street names) hosted a flea market on weekends but the most magical thing was seeing the Catalan people spontaneously forming groups to dance Sardana in that square on Saturday evening.
posted by glasseyes at 3:39 PM on May 5, 2012

You can easily avoid the very long lineup at Sagrada Familia. What you'll do is go to a "Servicaixa" ATM (the yellow ones in La Caixa bank, with a Miró star for logo). There are quite a few of them near Sagrada, buy a General visit ticket (with audio guide definitely!) and then there's a special entrance for Servicaixa Tickets, right beside the long line. No wait at all!
posted by BubbleWrap at 1:01 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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