Seeking Suggestions for Barcelona

Jul 5th, 2019, 11:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 503
Seeking Suggestions for Barcelona

Drats!!! We usually don’t plan out itineraries within cities we visit, keeping it flexible depending on the weather and our whims

But … in Barcelona so many of the sites require timed entry tickets that are best bought in advance. So we’re trying to figure out an itinerary for our 4 full days (5 nights) there in mid September.

We got so many ideas from you Fodorites on planning our 4 weeks in Spain (First & Likely Only Trip to Spain) that we thought we’d ask for your thoughts about our first cut at our Barcelona itinerary. We have no idea whether the times allowed are realistic, or if there are things we should add, change, or subtract. Where I talk about “wandering” or “exploring” I’ve doubled the time suggested in a couple of guide books for some walking tours.

Although we are both 75, we are energetic and often walk anywhere from 2 to 6 miles on a normal day at home, and we both cycle a fair amount. We want to see some of the famous sites (I’m particularly interested in architecture, city planning, and transportation planning). But we also want to get a feel for the city life, including such things as street art and some of the edgier things, as well as more genteel things. We don’t usually plan our days around food … we just stop for body fuel when we need to, but am always open to suggestions.

We’ll be staying at Casa Mathilde in Eixample about half a block from Avenguda Diagonal, about halfway between the Diagonal and Verdaguer Metro stations (each about a 5 minute walk), so will be using the Metro a lot. We wonder if we should strike Montjuis and spend more time in the other parts of Barcelona

  • Arrive jet-lagged from US west coast late afternoon, eat, sleep
  • Metro to Drassnes Metro Station to catch a pre-arranged pivate bicycle tour (Bamboo Bike Tours) 10:30 – 13:30 riding/touring through the beach area, Poble Nou, El Born, Barri Gotic.
  • Lunch, then wander up La Rambla and Passiege de Gracia to Casa Battlo, en route visiting Placa Reial, exterior only of Palau Guell, La Boqueria Market, Placa de Catalunya, Explore side streets as our interest, energy, and time allows. 1.8 km Allow 3 hrs.?
  • Casa Battlo. try for entry at 18:00? Allow 2 hrs?
  • Walk to hotel, eat dinner nearby, explore the surroundings if energy allows, sleep.
  • Metro to Voltcarca Station thence bus or walk to Park Guell.
  • Park Guell. try for entry at 9:00? Allow 2.5 hrs?
  • Wander down through Garcia to Diagonal Metro Station 2.5 – 3 km Allow 2.5 hrs incl. lunch?
  • Metro to Liceu Metro Station,
  • walk to the Cathedral try for 15:00 entry allow 1 hour
  • explore the Barri Gotic and La Ribera including possibly the Barcelona History Museum or maybe the Picasso Museum allow 3 hr.?
  • Dinner somewhere and metro back to our hotel.
  • Metro to Urquinaona Station, explore area
  • Palau de la Musica Try for 11:00 tour, Allow 1 hr (or consider Picasso Museum 9:00-12:00)
  • Metro to Parc del Centre de Poblenou to watch a Castell that is scheduled for 13:00
  • Lunch somewhere and Metro to Paral-lel Station (transfer en route) thence funicular to Montjuic
  • Cable Car to Montjuic Castle for view
  • Catalan Art Museum
  • Magic Fountains
  • Placa d’Espanya then Metro to hotel
  • Breakfast then tour Le Pedrera (try for 9:00 entry), allow 2 hrs?
  • Walk to Sagrada Familia 1.3 km allow 30 min.
  • Sagrada Familia try for entry at 11:30 Allow 2 hrs.?
  • walk to Hospital de la Sant Creu incl. lunch 0.9 km Allow 1.5 hrs.
  • Hospital de la Sant Creu … try for entry at 15:00 Allow 2 hrs.
  • Walk or metro back to hotel, relax and freshen up
  • Metro to Palau de la Musica for concert @ 21:00. A nice Dinner somewhere en route.
  • Fly off to Granada mid morning
elbegewa is offline  
Jul 5th, 2019, 11:43 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,369
On a cursory glance, I think you have a reasonable plan -- just be flexible and make sure you are prepared to adjust your plan on the fly. How much time to spend in any one place varies a lot! For example, I wanted close to 5 hours for the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya; many people would make do with just a couple of hours. I wanted about 3 hours for the Sagrada Familia; many people want just an hour. And then there are the questions of WHEN to visit -- I wanted to visit Parc Guell and La Padrera in the evening, which doesn't work for everyone.

Whatever you do, do not miss the castellers!

If you haven't already seen it, post # 12 of my trip report covers what I actually did in Barcelona; see days 24 +
Four Awesome Weeks in the North of Spain and Catalunya
kja is offline  
Jul 6th, 2019, 03:19 AM
Join Date: May 2007
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Just a little tip (I guess you call this now a "hack"):
Barcelona's terrain is not flat. The further you get from the sea, the higher the elevation.
So if you arranged your Monday in reverse order, starting at Santa Creu i Sant Pau and ending at La Pedrera, you would always walk "downhill".
Not downhill as in steep incline. But eventually more pleasant to walk than "uphill", IMO.
There are many places to eat/have coffee in between Santa Creu i Sant Pau and Sagrada Familia on the pedestrian zone which is Av. Gaudi.

When you're looking for a quieter place near the Ramblas to relax, try the courtyard cafe of the Old Hospital de Santa Creu. It's more or less 2 minutes walking "West" (or towards Montjuic) from the Boqueria.
The website makes it look as if it was a place where you'd only be welcome when sipping expensive cocktails - but that's not the case. You can just drop it for a coffee as well.
Cowboy1968 is online now  
Jul 6th, 2019, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,845
Montjuic/ Fundacio Joan Miró*is wonderful. Do not miss the roof top sculpture garden. You also can see various Olympic venues.*
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Jul 6th, 2019, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,650
I think it looks okay, of course you can change things depending on how you feel at a time and how much time you really want to spend in these places, I don't think it would affect anything. Also, there isn't really any exciting neighborhood to explore around the Palau de Musica, so I wouldn't allocate lots of time to that in advance, if you care much about wasting time (I mean if you have an appt for 11 am I wouldn't arrive at 9 am thinking the neighborhood is fascinating to explore for a couple hours). Unless you consider chain stores and fast food places exciting.

I"m not sure why you chose to take the metro to some station which is I presume Vallcarca (never heard of Voltarca) to visit Parc Guell. There isn't any bus that goes by there that would go to the park, the only one I know of goes NW/SW (bus 27), and the streets around there are not straightforward, there isn't any direct line from that metro stop to the parc. So you could get a little lost or turned around. Given where you are staying, I'd suggest just taking the bus 24, it goes right there and has a stop near the Diagonal metro stop. You are left off near the top entrance which has a path to the the Gaudi house museum.Since the parc is on a hill, if you walk down it towards the bottom section, you can then walk from there down to the street the bus runs along (Travessera de Dalt) or to the Lesseps metro stop, if you want metro (which is about 1.2 km away from the bottom park entrance) or all the way back to wherever you want, as you planned. I'm not sure you realize that park is on a hill, so if you really did your original plan (not sure what bus you were planning to take), you'd be walking uphill and then back downhill. Unless you planned to walk somehow from that metro stop up and around to enter somewhere at the top of the park, but tha's' a bit convoluted, I hope you've looked at a map to see those streets.

YOu sure are energetic, I'd be dead after your day 2, the second day after I arrive in Europe with such a big time difference and long flight. Of course, if you cycle a lot, maybe a 3 hour bike ride is no big deal before spending hours walking around (uphill slightly, as noted). Although that is really only about 1.5 mile, true. But I guess if you've traveled a lot to Europe, you know what you feel like that day and what you can do.
Christina is online now  
Jul 14th, 2019, 10:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 503
Thanks for your comments, they help. We've modified our tentative schedule quite a bit based on your comments and other things we've read, but its close enough to the original that I won't bore you with the details at this time (they'll ultimately find their way into our trip report).

Kja: I hadn't looked at your trip report before. Read the whole thing (even places we don't have on our itinerary). Enjoyed it and found it useful.

Cowboy1968: Yup, walking downhill is often better than uphill (except when one's trying to summit a mountain), so have adjusted. El Jardi sounds like a nice spot to stop for a drink or bite.

HappyTrvlr: Montjuis and Miro hadn't been high on our list, but after more research they've risen. Thanks or the recco .. the rooftop garden would have been easy to miss had you not mentioned it ... I appreciate all art, but sculpture is usually my favorite.

Christina: You're right, I mis-typed the metro stop. And thanks for the bus #24 mention. Since then, we've discovered that Parc Guell now includes as part of its online ticket a free shuttle between the Alfons X metro station and the park. (From what I've been reading, that's due to the locals complaining about the tourists crowding their bus) Now we'll have the option depending how we feel that day: the 24 bus (which would at least let us see things during its trip) or the metro+shuttle (which might be more convenient but dull). Re the biking: For us, we've usually found that a bit of physical activity early in the day helps us ameliorate jet lag. But we've planned the walk back up to our lodging such that at any point we can either stop for a long idle at a coffee shop, or abort and take the metro back to our bed. When younger we'd think nothing of hiking into the mountains for 20 miles to camp one night during a weekend, or to summit any of the nearby 10,000+ feet mountains. It's hard for the brain to adjust to getting older, so yah, we sometimes plan intentions that we later have to adjust to our age.
elbegewa is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 05:48 PM
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Posts: 21,369
I'm glad you found my trip report enjoyable and useful! Thanks for letting me know.
kja is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 05:56 PM
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My experience

As a 62-year-old former planner and outdoors lover, I think we may share some interests. My husband and I made our first trip to Barcelona last fall.
Some of my biased opinions from our experience:

Loved Palau de la Musica Catalana and went early like many others to walk around both levels and take photos along with everyone else. The concert ticket did include a discount to return for a tour behind the scenes during the day, but we didn't have time. There was a small cafe in the building with the usual offerings that was packed with patrons before the concert.

Casa Mila was probably my favorite from among Palau Guell, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila. All crowded in places. We probably spent 1 hour or so in each.

La Sagrada Familia was amazing. I would recommend the 9:00am first time slot if possible, go directly inside and wander the interior first, then check out the facades and the side room displays. It does fill up fast so by getting in first you get a better experience. I think we spent an hour inside and I could have spent longer gazing. Then you can view the outside at your leisure.

We rode the 24 bus to Park Guell. I think I would have been just as satisfied walking along the perimeter of the monumental core, seeing the Hansel and Gretel houses through the fence and the lizard from a distance. I was not impressed by the rest. (We did not tour the house.) Way too crowded with people taking selfies and screaming children.

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is interesting, but only a small number of buildings restored and open for tourists. Almost deserted, so very quiet. We spent 1-2 hours.

We rode the bus to the Miro museum (funicular was closed). We enjoy art, but aren't big fans of Miro. For us it was OK, but it took a long time for transport. It was rainy, so no great views from Montjuic. So, overall wished we had spent the afternoon elsewhere.

We didn't make it to the other museums you are considering. I had gathered architecture walking tour information and charted some our routes to pass various scattered notable buildings, which worked well for me to see more buildings without my husband having to inside in tour any more.

Kay2 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 09:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 649
If you must visit the Boqueria I'd suggest going early. Opening time you'll avoid the tourists and have a better chance of seeing more than the back of somebody's head. In addition Santa Caterina market is less touristy and might be more interesting
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick View Post
Santa Caterina market is less touristy and might be more interesting [than Boqueria]
I agree!
kja is offline  
Jul 15th, 2019, 04:58 AM
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Santa Caterina market

We didn't find Santa Caterina market very interesting--OK to walk through if passing by or to buy fish/fruit/vegetables for cooking in your apartment, but not worth going out of the way as a tourist.
Kay2 is offline  
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