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Madrid vs Barcelona

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Jun 5th, 2011, 06:46 PM
  #1
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Madrid vs Barcelona

Last Year I took a trip to major european cities in several countries. 2 cities I went to were madrid and Barcelona. I think Madrid had a lot to check out such as plaza mayor, museo del prado and more.

I went to Barcelona was not to impressed, dont get me wrong it is a very nice looking city. I walked around la rambla and port olympic and took the hop on hop off city bus tour.I will admit that I was not very interested in checking out this cities famous things such as sagrada familia, la pedrera, and more.I was mostly hoping on and of checking out the city and taking pic. I had a much beter time in madrid as well as other cities such as rome, berlin, paris, lisbon, london, amsterdam, venice, lisbon.

I would like some opinions of what people think of Barcelona vs Madrid on which is the better city. For those who have seen both which was your favorite.

My thing is that Barcelona does not have iconic sights such as other major european cities. I just went to take pic, hop on hop off bus, walk la rambla, and walk port olympic. Its very nice looking, however i think its overrated.
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Jun 5th, 2011, 07:39 PM
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This is often discussed matter with regard to Spain.

There are few cities in the world that have a sense of design and joie de vivre like Barcelona. Which is something that is difficult to sample from the Hop On bus. And If you do not think the works of Gaudi or the Barri Gotic are worthwhile, then we have different criteria for worthwhile.

I also enjoy Madrid and have spent countless hours in the museums and have walked the city. But as a friend says, "Madrid is a Spanish city while Barcelona is an international city."
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Jun 6th, 2011, 02:56 AM
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To star with I do not feel this is a comparison that has any sense.Both cities have their own merits. Let us leave it there. Sorry, but I found pointless the comparison.

Having said this, I have recently returned from Barcelona. I have been in Barcelona several times before but in a way this is the first time I really enjoyed it. Why not before>?, probably because the previous stays were not long enough, or simply due to bad luck or unfavorable personal circumstances. I am aware then that it can happen to any visitor.

Barcelona, in my opinion, is a fantastic city, its location to star with is tops : it is located by the ocean where you can actually enjoy beaches of clear water, and surrounded by green hills with outstanding views ....
The old quarters have survived time, like the Gothic and the Born, as have survived time many modernistic architectural pieces, several due to the genius of
Gaudi and the time he lived in, and of course other belonging to XXI century architects,.
BARCELONA is also amazing if measured by
the welcoming of its industrious citizens., or by its unique MEditerranean cuisine surprising and delicious, using all kind of fresh produce, sea fare and everything that can be imagined....also
by its cavas, by it joie de vivre....Museums are amazing, some harboring its own sons or adopted sons work like Miro and Picasso, others covering its history and past mostly romanesque , often the buildings that house the art collections are in themselves fantastic and worth a visit, i.e. the Picasso museum...
Music has the most outstanding auditoriums and theaters to be performed in and plays an important part in Barcelona's life, it is a walkable city and also a city that can now, easily be ride in bicycle, or in buses....etc

I have returned home only to dream to go again to Barcelona. ( Of course I also like Madrid,
and many more cities in Spain and elsewhere, what does this has to do with Barcelona>?)
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Jun 6th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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In a short visit, some cities may impress more than others, which may require a longer visit to shine. If you are looking for "iconic sights" and are there for a short visit, you may feel like you have seen Paris if you see the Eiffel Tower and will be satisfied. If you don't have an image of a city through such an "iconic sight", as the OP apparently did not for Barcelona, a short visit might not tick off the same box of satisfaction. Just guessing here.

I have had two short visits to Madrid and I loved it. Music, food, art, vibrant evening atmosphere. I have had two short visits (one a very long time ago) and one longer visit to Barcelona and I loved that too. I think the food I had in Barcelona is equal to any of the best food I have had anywhere in my life. The Catalan language and culture adds spice to the mix. The waterfront and medieval shipyards, the mountainous terrain, the underground Roman city, the moderniste architecture, the wonderful artistic heritage all combine in my very happy memories.

Which is better? I find I can have a wonderful time just about anywhere. Or I can have a bad day or two, which might affect my impression of a place where I have had a short stay.
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Jun 6th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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agree with PPs
What cites people like is totally subjective
Posters have declared their dislike of Paris, Prague, Rome, Madrid etc
It is a good thing we all have different interests. BTW, Barcelona is my favorite city in Europe.
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Jun 6th, 2011, 12:01 PM
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I think Madrid plays a far less interesting style but has a coach who is nearly as much a genius as everyone thinks he claims he is but Barcelona has more talent on the pitch with Messi against 10 defenders than most teams can aggregate on their whole rosters and that's why Barca won more trophies.

Oh wait, this wasn't about futbol?
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Jul 16th, 2011, 06:16 AM
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I agree that Barcelona and Madrid are two different cities and that Barcelona has its own merits, but, if I had to choose, Madrid would be my choice.

I think Barcelona has developed a theme park quality focused on tourism. Madrid, on the other hand, seems more focused on being itself regardless of tourism.

I also think that, when it comes to food, you need to do a some research to find good places to eat in Barcelona because there are many tourist traps. In Madrid, however, I think it is easier to find good places to eat because the entire city seems devoted to eating.

When my week in Barcelona was over, I was ready to move on and think of my next trip. When my week in Madrid was over, I was already thinking of an excuse to go back.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 06:47 AM
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Jun 9th, 2013, 08:16 AM
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That's really interesting to read as often I would use the exact same words of judgement - but on the opposite city.

My personal, highly unfair and massive biased preference is with Barcelona.
While I have been to Madrid several times, it never got much higher in my ranking than "uh nice".
After you've seen the three big museums and the palace, what should you do next?
As OP was talking about "iconic landmarks", I wonder where those are hidden in Madrid (nope, Escorial does not count, only what also the HoHo bus would cover)? Sagrada Familia, not THE iconic landmark of Spain (after the Alhambra, maybe).
Not that it would matter, but I am always amazed how small the center of Madrid is - compared with the city's massive size.
So, for me, Madrid has only one item where it leaves BCN light years behind, and that is museums.

I am pretty sure that there is nothing wrong with Madrid, and it's just me that I cannot enjoy it as much as others... but Barcelona is just.. Barcelona.. more a state of mind, I guess... you just drift through the medieval alleys in the morning when the tourists aren't up yet, explore the lush green and fairy tale palaces of Zona Alta, stroll down Passeig de Gracia, enjoy the sea breeze with a cocktail in your hand, or the nature and hidden little cafes on Montjuic, chill at night in Gracia.. perfect
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Jun 9th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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Since seekocean is topping old threads I'll comment on Barcelona.

I haven't been to Madrid but recently visited Barcelona for 8 days. I wasn't thrilled with the city but loved the sightseeing. I think I should have stayed in Barri Gotic and that would have made me happier, not for the Ramblas (bit of a disappointment) but for the small, narrow, rabbit warren of streets that I so enjoy.

Iconic sights is an overused phrase and I've never understood what that meant. Anyway, Barcelona is much more than the Ramblas and Olympic Port. I took a lot of great photos, saw lots of sights, and now realize I never saw a HOHO bus. Does Barcelona have those?
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Jun 9th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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I think this is like asking which is better NYC or LA?

I've never been to Barcelona, but Madrid, while not having the iconic symbols like the Eiffel Tower was a much more manageable city, with polite people and a certain Spanishness. Loved Prado and Sofia museums, the walking tours of the old quarters and the San Miguel market. Plus being so close to Toledo and Segovia. I wasn't expecting much from Madrid but I really liked the city and it's people.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 03:30 PM
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Madrid is a more business and governmental city. And it is an excellent hub to visit nearby towns. The food in Barcelona is quite good and to me a much interesting city. I am museum person and even though the museums in Madrid are far superior, Barcelona is always my first choice.
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Jun 15th, 2013, 04:55 PM
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Great thread! And thanks to seeksocean for bringing it back to life.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:46 AM
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How about 4 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid? And, both cities being anchor points in which to see museums, outlying towns (itinerary suggestions PLEASE), etc. We fly home from Madrid. Season wise..this is in mid May. Thanks for the thanks Nepenthe! I love Fodors for many great ideas on traveling. Being informed and having somewhat of a plan optimizes your journey!!
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 07:04 AM
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"My thing is that Barcelona does not have iconic sights" and there are plenty of people who would strongly disagree with what assertion.

Sagrada Familia among others comes to mind. Is it "iconic" like the Eiffel Tower? perhaps not to you but i am sure it is for many.

Barcelona vs. Madrid? Foolish IMO. Better to say Barcelona AND Madrid because IMO they are both very worthwhile if for different reasons. It does help to know what one's expectations are before spending time and money.
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Jun 25th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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Dukey1...I like your post. Thanks. Would you be into offering me a few site seeing suggestions for spending 4 nights in Barcelona and 3 in Madrid? We are into architecture (I could stare at doors for hours!), scenery, food, wine, culture, museums, walking.....
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Jun 25th, 2013, 11:19 AM
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I always see Madrid similar to Washington DC and Barcelona similar to LA..beach, cafes, not a ton of historical sights but relaxing, great to just hangout.....
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Jun 25th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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While Madrid may be similiar to DC, there is no city that compares to Barcelona because of the inluence of moderisme and gothic architecture. As far as history is concerned it was founded as a Roman city.

Barcelona is a great walking city and unlike LA, it is not just a series of suburban towns connected by elephantine highways.
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Jun 25th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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I think you say the highways are both elephantine and serpentine.
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Jun 25th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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The original thread is daft. If someone is uninterested in "this cities [sic] famous things such as sagrada familia, la pedrera, and more" and then complains that Barcelona lacks iconic sites after deliberately avoiding those icons, the conclusion is either refuted by the premises or negated by the failure to test them.

As for the interloper, seeksocean, there are plenty of references for Barcelona sites. First order of business as an architecture fan could be going to Passeig de Gracia at the north end of Catalunya, walk away from the old town and into Eixample along PdG for about three blocks (maybe four). Look around.
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