Barcelona and the Pyrenees in late September--Advice; Recommendations?
August 26, 2022 6:25 AM   Subscribe

The trip will be divided into two phases: a week of leisurely sightseeing in Barcelona, followed by a second week of driving around the Besalú region of the Pyrenees.

Phase 1 (Barcelona): We'll probably spend most of our time in the Gothic neighborhood and nearby beaches, with quick jaunts to the Gaudí buildings. Since we're early risers, our days will probably end with an early bedtime, and we'd like to stay in an AirBnB in a quiet, relatively low-key neighborhood.
Which neighborhood would meet this goal? We're avid urban walkers who don't mind hoofing it for half an hour to get to a great restaurant or museum.
Phase 2 (the Pyrenees): This portion of the trip will involve renting a car at the Barcelona Airport and driving north to the region around Besalú.
What town in this area would be best for using as a base? Any recommendations for quiet, romantic villages to visit by car, as well as trails to hike on?
Is it feasible to cross the border in to France, assuming mountain towns there are worth visiting?
Additionally, are there any complications to eating in this area, such as long shut-down periods for restaurants in the afternoons or a lack of vegetarian options?
posted by Gordion Knott to Travel & Transportation around Spain (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Additionally, are there any complications to eating in this area, such as long shut-down periods for restaurants in the afternoons or a lack of vegetarian options?

Apologies if you already know this, but typical Spanish lunch and dinner times are much later than you may be accustomed to, depending where you are coming from.

Lunch is usually between 2-4pm (if you enter a restaurant that is open at 1:30pm you are likely to be the very first diner in) and dinner is usually from 8:30 or 9pm onward, though in rural areas and on weekdays these times may be slightly earlier.

It doesn't mean that food is absolutely impossible to find outside of these times, but you may have to be a bit more creative and not expect "full-service" restaurants to be open or serving a full menu outside of standard dining times.

If you cross into France, restaurants often keep similarly rigid hours though on an earlier schedule -- many French restaurants open for lunch from noon to 2 or 2:30pm, and then don't re-open for dinner again until 7 or 7:30pm. (And keep in mind France is an hour ahead of Spain.)
posted by andrewesque at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2022


Consider doing some day trips outside Barcelona. Tarragona is only an hour away by train and has plenty to reward the stroller in terms of its UNESCO World Heritage Roman ruins. Additionally, the Santa Tecla festival in Tarragona is a big deal and runs from 14-24th September, so you may be able to catch some of it.

Crossing the border into France is just a matter of driving along the road. Spain and France are both in the Schengen area and passage should be unrestricted, since you will have entered the area and had customs checks when entering Spain.
posted by biffa at 7:16 AM on August 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


For the full (non)border experience, you might consider driving 115km WNW from Besalú to the Spanish exclave of Llivia. Homework with Tim Traveller (7min).
posted by BobTheScientist at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2022


(And keep in mind France is an hour ahead of Spain.)

No, we're both in the CET timezone (GMT+1, and another +1 for DST now). Only the Canary Islands are in GMT.

Some of the most scenic views are around Montserrat, but there are more natural parks like Aigüestortes.

As for "quiet, relatively low-key neighborhood"s in BCN, the more AirBnBs in the zone, the more tourists there will be and the more noise there will be by night, sorry. Also, the Barri Gòtic and the Raval have a bit of a bad name for safety at night. But generally speaking, I haven't had a lot of trouble going to hotels in the Eixample area. I usually get a hotel near Sants train station when I'm flying out of the airport, and while it's convenient, the area around Sants isn't particularly pretty.
posted by sukeban at 9:35 AM on August 26, 2022


I have not been to Barcelona since 2017, but when I was there last I stayed around El Camp de l'Arpa del Clot, which at that time suited your desires.

It's close to Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and other things you may wish to check out.

If you like a good cocktail, Anabel at Elephanta makes a mean martini.
posted by dobbs at 9:39 AM on August 26, 2022


(And keep in mind France is an hour ahead of Spain.)

No, we're both in the CET timezone (GMT+1, and another +1 for DST now). Only the Canary Islands are in GMT.


Doh, you're totally right and I've even literally crossed the border and realized this! I'll chalk this up to lack of morning caffeine...
posted by andrewesque at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2022


The one thing I would absolutely do again in Barcelona (visited in 2019) is the Joan Miro museum. And if you have any inclination towards football, a tour of Camp Nou.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:47 PM on August 26, 2022


I live in Barcelona. Am happy to provide restaurant/bar/cultural recommendations depending on your taste and budget - warning, it will come with a strong caveat to avoid/limit your time in the Gotic, which is overtouristed, noisy, and prone to petty crime. Feel free to DM me to discuss and I hope you enjoy your visit.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 11:23 AM on August 28, 2022


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