Most of our trips to Europe have involved multi-stop itineraries. With this trip (OUR HONEYMOON!) we decided that Barcelona alone was enough to keep us busy for 10 days.
We went the first week of November. In my opinion, this was the best time to go! When we arrived it was sunny and 75 degrees. Perfect weather for exploring a new city! It was comical to see the locals in full winter gear while we strolled along Las Ramblas in our flip-flops and t-shirts.
Amidst wedding planning, I put a lot of time and effort into researching Barcelona. I like to figure out the best area’s to stay and find an affordable hotel in that area. All my research pointed to Las Ramblas. This is the main strip in Barcelona, located at the heart of the city. It stretches just about 1 kilometer, and is home to many restaurants, churches, and shops.
We were able to find a hotel located right in the middle of Las Ramblas. Hotel 1898 is elegant and had the most amazing underground spa and a rooftop bar and pool for all day fun. I highly suggest taking a peek at their website, the spa is breathtaking! They are also offering a 5% discount for anyone who signs up for their newsletter. I will note, that with so many culinary options we never did make it to their restaurant, but everything we tasted from the rooftop bar was delectable.
Now, my husband and I are not the type of people who live and die by travel itineraries. It is simply not our style. I prefer to do some research ahead of time, identify a few things I would like to do, and then fit them in as we want. More often than not this works for us. In Barcelona it resulted in us not being able to catch a futbol game since they run all their purchases through an online site, and our credit card could not make purchases online in Spain. The benefit of being flexible far outweighs these infrequent problems.
If you find yourself in Catalonia here are a few things you must do:
Tablao Flamenco Cordobes, Barcelona, Spain: For about 80€ you can get dinner, see the show, and have a drink! My husband didn’t care for the show, but I loved it! Tablao Flamenco Cordobes puts on an authentic falmenco show, that is full of energy and passion. If you are looking for some culture, this is sure to impress.
Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, Catalonia, Spain: This one is a trek, but I promise, it is completely worth it! I could have spent hours swooning over the scenery and the beauty of the Abbey itself. This Benedictine Abbey was built into the mountain side back in the 10th century. It continues to be a functioning Abbey with 150 monks living in it today. Unfortunately we did not have time to wait in the line, but this Abbey is well know for being home to the Virgin of Montserrat (One of the Black Madonna’s carved in the early days of the Church) She is considered the patron saint of Spain.
The Gothic Quarter, Barcelona, Spain: As an American, I am incredibly jealous of the architecture that exists in Europe. Nothing here is old. The great thing about loving old architecture is that it is free. I am perfectly happy exploring alleyways and scouting out old churches. The Gothic Quarter is prime exploration territory.
Montjuïc Castle, Barcelona, Spain: This old military fortress is a nice quick stop, that is only a stones throw away from Las Ramblas. If you love history, this is a must see. This fortress has served many purposes over the past few centuries, some of which have been more dark and macabre than others.