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I’m carrying on with my Catalonia posts today. For me, the most exciting part of our holiday was spending a day in Barcelona. It is a city I have wanted to see for a long time now and I am so happy I have finally seen it for myself.
A day in Barcelona – getting there
Staying in Santa Susanna is a great base for getting around Catalonia. The train station is a 10 minute walk and trains to Barcelona are every thirty minutes. From Santa Susanna to Barcelona takes just over one hour. There are several stops in Barcelona, Place de Catalunya is the main station. Coming up from the underground station will bring you straight to the crossroads in the centre of town. You will be in the plaza and Rambla de Catalunya, La Rambla and Passeig de Garcia all meet here.
A day in Barcelona – Placa de Catalunya
Arriving early morning, before the huge crowds of tourists means Placa de Catalunya (the Plaza) and fountains are first on the list for a day in Barcelona. The fountains are one of Barcelonas most iconic sights. It is so peaceful and pretty there, I love hearing the water bubbling and running.
On a sunny day sitting by the fountains is a nice way to spend half an hour before the hustle and bustle of the city.
A day in Barcelona – the city
Walking around Barcelona from sight to sight I quickly fell in love with it. I have a huge love of architecture, especially the Gothic Spanish look. (You might already know this from my Palma post.) So Barcelona is another perfect city for me.
The buildings in Barcelona are beautiful with stunning carvings and ornate decorations. So many of the building have gorgeous balconies. Can’t you just picture yourself sitting with your morning cup of tea watching the world go by from one?
The statues are incredibly eye catching and you can find them wherever you look.
And I love the street names too.
There are lots of shops in the city. From the big fashion names and beauty stores (yes they have Sephora!) to local stores and gift shops.
A day in Barcelona – Frisos del Col-legi d’Arquitectes
Gaudi is probably the artist most people think of when they think of Barcelona. But, Picasso has a strong influence here too. If you are spending a day in Barcelona it is worth stopping off at Frisos del Col-legi d’Arquitectes on the way to the Cathedral. Here you can see three scaled versions of friezes by Pablo Picasso.
A day in Barcelona – Catedral de Barcelona / La Seu
I couldn’t spend a day in Barcelona and not visit the cathedral. It was the one “must see” sight on my list before we went. Catedral de Barcelona or La Seu is one of the most famous and celebrated sites.
It is incredibly crowded by the Cathedral and pretty impossible to get a tourist-free photograph of it. You can go inside but there is a fee and there were long queues to get in when we were there.
We spent a long time sitting on the Cathedral steps. There are musicians playing, street sellers, tourists and locals all milling around.
A day in Barcelona – La Rambla
La Rambla is probably the most famous street in Barcelona. It is a long, straight, tree lined street with shops and restaurants on either side. There are markets, street sellers, artists, buskers and street performers as you walk down. I really love the pavement cafes and bars along the walk.
La Rambla is around a mile long and looks never ending as you walk down it. Despite being so busy it is a gorgeous walk.
A day in Barcelona – Columbus monument
If you are spending a day in Barcelona and walk the length of La Rambla you will eventually end up at the Columbus monument at the port. It is 60 metres tall and marks the spot where Christopher Columbus first stepped on to Spanish soil.
After the long walk down La Rambla the Columbus monument is another great place for a stop and sit down. The monument over looks the port so you can sit and watch the cruise liners and yachts. And have your photograph taken by the lions at the base of the monument.
A day in Barcelona – Barcelona port
Looking out over the port you can see the cruise liners, yachts and boats ready for day trips.
Across the water you can see the World Trade Centre, a business park set on the waters. How amazing would the view out of those office windows be?!
A day in Barcelona – the sights we missed
There are a few things I had planned to see during our day in Barcelona, unfortunately we just didn’t have the time. Barcelona is a huge city and not all of the sights are central. It does have a great public transport system though to get around the sights.
I would love to see the Gaudi cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. Unfortunately this is around 2.5 km away from the centre so you will have a long walk or need to take the train to it.
The Arc de Triomf is fairly central and I would have liked to have seen it, but we prioritised walking the other way and seeing other sights first.
Park Guell is another sight for Antoni Gaudis work. It is World Heritage sight and the high points of the park have views over the whole city. Again it is a long way out of the city (4 km) so a long walk or train away.
A day in Barcelona – pickpockets
If you are spending a day in Barcelona one thing you need to be aware of is that it is very well known for having problems with pickpockets / bag thieves. It is known as the pickpocket capital of the world. Whilst we were there we had no problems at all. But, knowing its reputation I did take a few steps to try prevent any problems.
We only have very minimal things with us for the day out. I had a messenger bag on that I wore much higher than I usually would and made sure it sat across my front with the zips facing my body. Both me and Ellie kept our mobiles in my bag unless we took them out to take a photograph. In the busier areas like by the cathedral or walking La Rambla I kept my hand over my bag all the time. I did this when we were standing watching the street performers too. We didn’t stop in the cafes or restaurants, instead getting bottle of water to drink or bag of chips to eat as we walked. I would be aware of where you put your bag etc if you do stop somewhere.
I wouldn’t let this problem put you off spending a day in Barcelona, just make sure you are aware of your possessions and surroundings.
A day in Barcelona – final thoughts
Both me and Ellie love Barcelona and had an amazing day there. The sights are stunning, the walks around them all is beautiful and it is very easy to do on a budget. I find the locals friendly and helpful and it feels very safe to walk around as a single mum. It is a large city and too big for us to see in a day. I would love to go back and spend a few more days there to see the rest of the sights. And walk La Rambla again as I just never want that street to end!
Have you been to Barcelona? What is your favourite sight there? I would love other recommendations of similar cities too, so please let me know your suggestions in the comments below.