help me decide: barcelona OR prague

Jan 25th, 2009, 08:18 AM
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help me decide: barcelona OR prague

hi fodorites,

i'm stuck and need some help.

DH and i are looking to return to paris this october for about a week. i'm THRILLED about this. we were in paris/provence in fall 2008 and loved it.

originally, for this fall, i had looked into doing normandy/loire valley and then spending a week in paris. however, after some consideration, i think it would be good to try a different country and then go to paris.

ideally, we would get an open-jaw flight to destination #1 and then catch a cheapie inter-european flight to paris and then fly home from paris.

so, in lieu of doing other parts of france, we're trying to decide between barcelona OR prague.

some details:

- five nights (arriving saturday, september 26, departing thursday, october 1) - five nights is our max - but we're not opposed to going to destination #1 for LESS time
- DH and i are in our early 30's and are very active -- we move FAST
- i'd like to stay in ONE place for the five nights - i hate packing-unpacking-packing-etc.
- we love markets, food, history, etc.
- no problems with different languages
- we're not really into nightlife
- we're totally open to renting an apartment in destination #1 (would prefer it)
- don't want to rent a car for destination #1 - i.e. would prefer somewhere with good public transit

so, what do you think? barcelona? prague?

as an aside, we're planning an italy trip so we're 'saving' destinations like rome, florence, etc. for another time.

thanks in advance for your help!!

lilaki is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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From an overall perspective, both cities should fit. I lean towards Barcelona. Culture, food, history, shopping, but plus the beaches. And many possible daytrips by cheap trains. Extensive public transportion system also in the city.
If one wanted to be really picky, one could say that Prague will probably be a few degrees more "different" than Barcelona -- when compared with Paris.
Cowboy1968 is online now  
Jan 25th, 2009, 08:58 AM
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Both are wonderful destinations but they are very different. Prague was never bombed and thus preserved an incredibly rich architectural diversity. It's a beautiful city with wonderful markets, great food and is steeped in history. The public transportation is good. Barcelona boasts Gaudi, great museums and again, good food, shopping and history. If I had to choose one to visit again, I'd go back to Prague first. I suggest that you read extensively about both cities since they are very different. Bon voyage!
saige is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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They are so different, as saige said. Barcelona feels much more like a "big city" than Prague does. Prague feels more "intimate", charming, beautiful, almost fairy-tale like in the old city, with gorgeous vistas, the castle (of course), the Jewish quarter, music and churches everywhere. It's a wonderful city and I'd love to go back. Barcelona (which I also loved) is big, sprawling (Prague may sprawl, too, in fact, but its "sections" - new town, old town, middle town - are somewhat clearly defined). Barcelona has all the Gaudi stuff, of course, the Ramblas, outstanding museums and churches and cathedrals, but it's in a more big-city setting.

Hope that helps. You'll love whichever you choose.
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 25th, 2009, 09:36 AM
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I have only been to Prague once but to Barcelona several times. The architecture in Prague is diverse and grand and the Old Town is charming. I understand the food has improved since my visit.

Barcelona, on the other hand, has a sense of culture that is rare anywhere. The architecture of Gaudi and Puig premeate the city and contributes greatly to the sense of style and community. The food ranges from adequate to very good and there are small but interesting museums.

There is an old food market that has a small restaurant in the back that should not be missed.

The Ramblas is more a tourist attraction and once pass should suffice. You can go to the Cathedral on Santurday night or Sunday morning to watch the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance. If you have the courage to join, you will be welcomed. Just put your bag in the middle of the circle like the others and enjoy.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 09:48 AM
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Definitely Barcelona!
dutyfree is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 10:02 AM
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have not been to Prague yet , but Barcelona is one of my favorite cities
The food is great, easy to get around (walk or subway), , side trips ,like Girona, only an hour away, the beaches, parks, churches, numerous galleries.....
... We visited Barcelona twice in Oct. and the weather was lovely.

Going back to Barcelona in the fall.
We rented an apt form
and were very happy.
danon is online now  
Jan 25th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Vueling flies Paris Barcelona
for about 50 euros

danon is online now  
Jan 25th, 2009, 11:01 AM
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Been to both... tough choice. Would probably lean towards Barcelona.
iowamom is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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wow - thanks everyone for the replies!

seems like barcelona is leading the polls ... if just by a hair.

keep the recos coming!

lilaki is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 01:12 PM
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One other consideration. At the end of September, beginning October, Barcelona still runs about 70 degrees (on 9/30/08 it was 29 C)whereas Prague is about 50's, maybe low 60's. And with bad luck can be lower. When we were there in September 2006 it was in the low 60's. So, depends too on what kind of weather and temperature you would like to have while getting around, etc.
winnick is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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The market to which I think Aduchamp is referring is sensational - La Boqueria.
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 25th, 2009, 04:04 PM
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We have been to both, and loved both but I would pick Barcelona in a heartbeat!! Definitely spend the whole 5 days there. The weather will be great, Gaudi is awesome and the food incredible!!
jgg is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 11:32 AM
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i'm definitely getting swayed by all the feedback for barcelona.

perhaps prague could be saved for a central/eastern european trip...
lilaki is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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I have been to both cities and I love them both, but as everyone has said, they are so different.

Barcelona has better food imho.

It also has more of a "big city" feel as mentioned, but that may be because the tourist sites are more spread out, while the historic center of Prague is quite compact. There is a large part of the city of Prague that I didn't see because I was focused on the tourist area, whereas to see the highlights of Barcelona, you have to move around a bit more.

Both cities have wonderful architecture but of course they could not be more different. Prague is "Ye Olde Medieval Town" (Brothers Grimm) and Barcelona is wacky and whimsical (Dr. Seuss).

I'd love to go back to either city anytime, but if I had a free ticket to one of them next week, I'd choose Barcelona. But if I were paying for the ticket, I'd go with whatever was cheaper. You really can't make a "wrong" choice here.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 05:39 AM
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hey fodorites,

thanks to everyone for all of the advice.

two questions ...

1. which city has better (food) markets? one of the highlights of our france experience was the daily market trip.

2. we MAY have to shrink down our our stay to FOUR nights - which means we would really only have three whole days in destination #1. which city would be better for that amount of time?

lilaki is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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Barcelona is a much better food destination than Prague. No comparison. There are amazing chocolate shops and the Boqueria is a fantastic market, comparable to the best ones in Paris. At the Boqueria you can sit up at the food bars and enjoy fresh seafood and other tapas cooked to order. Both Prague and BCN are tourist traps in the summer so late Sept will be the perfect time to be there.
Spud_ is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 05:02 AM
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hi spud,

thanks for the info on the markets ...

do you think four nights/three full days in barcelona would be sufficient to see the big sights?
lilaki is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 08:27 AM
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There is a ton of things to see in Barcelona - it depends on your interest. We have visited Barcelona twice (14 days in total), and are going back in the fall.
If you take ho-ho bus you can get the general idea, and see the "major"
cites in a short time.
Barcelona is a great place to walk around .
danon is online now  
Jan 28th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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I keep maintaining that Barcelona is the new Paris. It rewards all the time you can spend and multiple trips, year after year, just like Paris. On our second trip we found ourselves comparing so many things between the two cities and frequently Barcelona would be the equivalent or even better. Besides the Boqueria (the largest market on the Ramblas) there are several other markets in town, including the beautiful Santa Caterina near the El Born area. There is also the Concepcio market, and the Libertad, and probably even more for me yet to find out about. The food scene is the best of just about anywhere--and less expensive than many large cities. There are lots of apartments available and many rent for shorter periods so even with 3 or 4 nights you should be able to find something. Most importantly Barcelona is a youthful city and your 30 something go, go, go bent will fit right in. You'll love it. Enjoy.
JulieVikmanis is offline  

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