Working on cruise ships meant that we have both called in Barcelona several times, but neither of us have really explored further than Las Ramblas. So, when our flight to Paris was cheaper from Barcelona we decided to take the opportunity to explore more. One place I have always wanted to visit was
Park Güell, built by Gaudi. Located on Carmel Hill not only is Park Güell itself a beauty but so are the views of the city. Gaudi started building the park to become a residential area but because of the economic crash the idea was never completed, now the park is one of the most visited sites in Barcelona. Some areas of the park are free but if you want to enter the monumental area which includes the Dragon Stairway, The Hypostyle Room, The Laundry Room Portico and The Greek Theatre or Nature Square there is an extra charge. There are different tickets, some that include a guide but the standard ticket is €7pp, when you book the ticket you have to select a time slot. Now we went in winter and it was busy so if you’re planning a visit in the summer you should definitely pre-book, try to avoid buying at the gate.
Park Güell isn’t the only Gaudi attraction in Barcelona. We discovered two more Casa Batlló and Casa Milá. Easy to find, both sites offer tours inside the buildings for an additional fee. But we were on a budget and we had to choose which sites we really wanted to see, so we passed but we will definitely be back to visit Casa Batlló inside the building looked beautiful. Again, entrance tickets can be pre-purchased online.
Of course, any trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without a visit to Sagrada Familia. The breath-taking church was one of the highlights of our trip, the church is still under construction since 1882. Many churches we have visited are somewhat of a disappointment when you get inside, the grandeur of the outside can sometimes overthrow the interior, with Sagrada Familia this isn’t the case. We visited the church twice, it wasn’t too far away from where we were staying so on our first night we took a walk to see the beauty in the dark. Then we visited again during the day, this is when we went inside the church. Buying the tickets before your visit is a must, we tried to book our tickets for the next day but there were hardly any time slots left. So, make sure you book a couple of days ahead. Again, we booked the basic ticket for €15pp, there are options to climb the towers at an extra cost, something we will do in the future. Stepping inside what took me by surprise was the light, the stained-glass windows flood the church with beautiful light that bounces off the amazing architecture throughout the church.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts I love markets and this probably started with La Boqueria. La Boqueria is one of my favourite markets I have visited. Located just off of Las Ramblas you can find all sorts of foods here, from the famous fresh juices and chocolate to olives and seafood. The market is always busy, I haven’t discovered a time when you don’t have to push yourself through the crowds. My favourite here is the coconut juice, give it a try.
Another beautiful place we discovered was Montjuïc Castle, before we arrived in Barcelona both of us had never heard of the castle and I’m not quite sure how we stumbled across it. The old military fortress is located at the top of Montjuïc hill. To get here we got the metro to Paral·lel Station, once you arrive here you have two options, jump on the cable car for €12pp or walk up the hill to the castle. As we were watching the pennies we could justify €12 for a five minute ride so we walked, and I’m glad we did. It’s a beautiful walk and not as bad as you initially think. It took for 15/20 minutes to reach the castle. Admission to the castle is €5pp, again this is another great way to see the views over the city, including the harbour. We walked around the castle enjoying the views, it was a great way to spend our last night in Barcelona. Fellow budget conscious travellers, don’t ask for a map at the bottom of the hill, they charge you.
Barcelona is definitely a city that can be explore throughout the year, with great food, sites and culture there is something for all kinds of travellers.