Barcelona City & Day Trips

Jul 22nd, 2010, 10:45 AM
  #1  
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Barcelona City & Day Trips

We're planning a trip to Barcelona, hoping to take in some of the coastal areas and a bit of the mountains. We normally like to be independent in our travels, rather than taking fully-escorted tours. After reading all the helpful information on the Fodor's Forum (Thanks to all who posted!) we have a few remaining questions:

1. We about to book what seems to be a very nice hotel in Las Ramblas area. We do like to be in the heart of things, with restaurants etc. nearly. Any thoughts on this area?
Is it too touristy? The hotel is Le Meridien.

2. How easy/convenient is it to rent a car after a few days in our Barcelon city hotel to do a 2 or 3-day trip? e.g. Cost: Is car rental more expensive if we book in Barcelona rather than book ahead from home? (We'd prefer to wait to play our options with weather, etc.) Logisitcs: Is renting the car in/out of downtown Barcelona, involving navigating through Barcelona traffic, a big headache? Is going in and out of the airport car rental less hastle? Our other option is to book day excursions, either by day group tours or using trains to explore on our own. However, these latter two don't give us as much flexibility in terms of distances and choices. Any thoughts on this?

2. We would really like to see Valencia. A car rental could afford us that option, but does anyone know if its practical to do a day train trip there?

3. Regarding money: We normally carry enough Euros to get us started, and then plan to get cash there with an ATM card, using our credit card where possible. Have any readers who've been to Barcelona recently had any difficulty using a PNC Visa ATM?

We'd really appreciate anyone's ideas on these questions, as well as other suggestions for enjoying Barcelona and its surroundings. Thanks so much!
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 11:14 AM
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1. Yes, you can stay on the Ramblas. No, you don't have to stay there to have a trillion restaurants and stores in walking distance.
Recommendation: Stay in El Born or Eixample esquerra

2. car:
I think that car rentals are always cheaper when you reserve ahead. Especially with consolidators like autoeurope, cardelmar, or the rest.

Driving in Barcelona is fairly easy. A lot of the city is in a checkboard pattern, and to leave the city you gotta use one of the major arteries that are hardly to miss. BUT: How long you will need thru the morning commute is another thing. Treking to the airport also needs time you must deduct from your overall time budget for your day trip
Recommendation: Many day trip destinations are easily accessible by train. For some the train is even more fun, like Montserrat (train+ cogwheel train or cable car)

2. Valencia
I would not consider Valencia a day trip from Barcelona.
Especially not with a car. The toll for the motorways will also cost quite a bit..
Alternatives: Tarragona, Girona.

3. I have no clue
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 12:29 PM
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Thanks, "Cowboy". Good thoughts about using trains instead of car rental in our situation. We plan to be in Barcelona 9 days, but haven't "locked in" our flights as yet. So we could stretch it for another day or so. We're planning day trips to Montserrat, Girona, Tarragona, and Sitges.

Are there other trips, for example, along the Costa Brava or in the mountains, that may be doable as a day trip with an early morning start? Maybe with a local tour company?

Would appreciate any insights here.
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 12:39 PM
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We stayed at Hotel Inglaterra, located between Plaza Catalunya and the University. It was walking distance to almost everything, and near several metros. Those areas cowboy mentions are also good ones. There's no need to stay on Las Ramblas, it's a bit of a zoo along that stretch.

We used ATMs without any problems, but not PNC Visa (I think we used HSBC).
MFNYC is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 12:40 PM
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I just want to add, print out Maribel's Barcelona Guide at www.maribelsguides.com. Lots of useful info there.
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 01:16 PM
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I don't care for Ramblas ( touristy, filled with fast food places, etc).
Valencia is about 3 hours by train ; could be an overnight trip ?
You might consider renting an apt in Barcelona for a longer stay.
danon is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 01:44 PM
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We're trying to explore the El Born area hotels, but it's often difficult to tell exactly which area a certain hotel is in. Could anyone suggest a nice hotel in El Born district? Another area we're exploring is Eixample. We definitely want to be in the middle of things, with restaurants, bars, metro stops etc. nearby. Thanks.
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 02:15 PM
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Additional question about Barcelona Hotel in Las Ramblas area vs. El Born. We had been looking at a hotel, Le Meridien, which was rec'd to us. But we're now wondering: Is Las Ramblas really rife with pickpockets? Dangerous? Or is it just that additional vigilance and precaution is advisable? This concern has led us to begin our search of the El Born area.
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 02:24 PM
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it is always busy so I would not call it dangerous - just not very attractive part of Barcelona IMO.
You will find a better selection of hotels in Eixample. El Born is rather small area.
danon is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 02:59 PM
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We would be interested in finding a hotel in the Eixample area, but haven't figured out a way to identify those hotels in that area when searching out 100's of hotels. Would anyone know the "zip" or district code for Eixample, or have a suggestion of a nice hotel there? Would really appreciate.
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 03:12 PM
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well, all depends on your budget. We always rent apts. so I cannot recommend a hotel. Eixample is a big area and not all of it is equally central.
Placa Catalunya is the very center of Barcelona.
My favorite street in Barcelona is Rambla de Catlunya....
not far is Passeig de Gracia with most expensive hotels and stores. .
There are numerous hotels in the area. Try search function here for ides.
danon is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 03:44 PM
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I also stayed at the Hotel Inglaterra and thought it was really nice, a good value, though the room was small. Staff was helpful. Friends stayed at Le Meridien on Las Ramblas. Don't know when you are going but I have just returned. They are working on the street (Ramblas) and taxis cannot get to the door of Le Meridien so our friends had to pull their luggage down the sidewalk. Inglaterra is a good location for walking to most everywhere and is right by the metro which we took to Sagrada Familia. Happy travels!!!
mimipam is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 05:24 PM
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Thanks to you Fodor's posters for your very helpful info. The suggestion to stay in the L'Eixample area is great. Also the info regarding the construction in the area of Le Meridien. We're checking Hotel Inglaterra and have located a few other hotels in the L'Eixample area.

Also, we've decided after other info received on this site to forego renting a car, and use trains and other day tours to explore the surrounding areas. I think we're realizing that getting up into the mtns. very far isn't doable without an overnight. Or is there someone who has any ideas about a day trip into mountains or the Costa Brava? Thanks again!
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 05:58 PM
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On the trip Advisor hotel search tool you can choose by neighborhood, price, etc. A good d ay trip by train is Girona, Tarragona or Sitges, depending on what you are looking for. Or Montserrat.
jubilada is online now  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 07:10 PM
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we liked Girona.. one hour from Barcelona.

you can check train schedules here:
http://www.renfe.com/
danon is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2010, 07:14 AM
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Thanks to Fodorites, we've progressed a long way in our planning for an 8 day, 9 night stay in Barcelona. We've narrowed down our hotel choices to the Eixample area. On this point, any preference for locations near Rambla de Catlyna vs. Passeig de Gracia as far as convenience to restaurants, metro, etc.?
We're looking at the Hotel Actual, closer to Passeig de Gracia. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!
tomarkot is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2010, 07:35 AM
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Great location for the hotel. Just around the corner from Casa Mila and Dior.
The two streets are about 5 min. from one another.
Barcelona is a wonderful city to walk around also, the metro is very good and inexpensive. Taxis everywhere.
danon is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2010, 07:40 AM
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re. day trips into the mountains.

I'd think that the Pyrenees do require an overnight stay. Otherwise you would literally be driving all day.

An alternative (but also with a rental car) could be the mountains south of Barcelona, roughly between Tarragona and Tortosa. Lots of history from UNESCO world heritage monestaries and the castles of the Templars to the trenches of the Civil War, hidden picture-postcard villages, vineyards, some Picasso and Gaudí, and the massive delta of the Ebro river squeezed into a rather compact area. But still, from Barcelona it might be too much as a 1-day-trip.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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Thanks to all for the good suggestions regarding day trips from Barcelona. We've gotten a bit distracted from planning our time in Barcelona and surrounding area because of big concerns regarding a general strike which is scheduled for Sept. 29th, the day we're due to arrive. Trying to find out just what will be affected by a strike, and researching a Plan B in case our travel itinerary is disrupted, has diverted us from the fun of planning our time in Barcelona. Right now we're wishing that we had decided on another destination outside Spain, as this recent strike worry has turned what was intended to be a relaxing trip into a headache. But we're trying to remain hopeful and are sure that if/when we get to Barcelona, we'll have a wonderful time.
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