48 hours in Barcelona
Lexie Hall, a third year Geography student at Newcastle University, visited Barcelona with a friend in March 2016. It’s a city that truly can be done on a student budget, especially if you’re willing to get fit in the process! This is very much a walking tour of the city, but single metro tickets do cost just €2.15 a ride, so are certainly a viable alternative!
As one of Western Europe’s top destinations for a weekend (or mid-week!) break, Barcelona is a city everyone should visit once. And with return flights from London for under £100, is one everyone truly can. Even better, it’s one that truly can be done on a student budget, especially if you’re willing to get fit in the process! This is very much a walking tour of the city, but single metro tickets do cost just €2.15 a ride, so are certainly a viable alternative!
Depart Gatwick at 8:50am and you can be in Barcelona by lunchtime, with an Aerobus from the airport right into the city centre taking only 25 minutes and costing €5.90 (a return is €10.20). First things first, time to settle into your hostel – an abundance of which can be found hidden amongst the city’s main attractions. These are great for the price, but unless you have access to a safe, be certain to keep your most valuable possessions with you at all times. Your fellow residents may not be too fussed by your spare socks and shower gel, but never underestimate the allure of those hard-earned Euros or British passport.
It’s then time to head onto Barcelona’s most famous street La Rambla for a light lunch: it’s the ultimate tourist district but really a must-see, lined with shops, cafes and plenty of souvenir stalls. Barcelona’s Boqueria food market, another one to tick off your list, has its entrance on this too. However, if you do head to La Rambla it’s worth warning you that the street is a notorious pickpocketing hotspot… Do not be caught out: keep your wits about you and your belongings in a secure bag, not to be let out of sight.
After ambling down the street you’ll find yourself at Port Vell, with a great view of the sea, yachts and the cable car which offers trips up Montjuic Hill. However, the cable car is relatively expensive, so a great alternative (and a good way to build up an appetite for dinner) is to ascend the hill yourself. This walk is well-signposted and takes you past a whole range of attractions to suit all tastes, from Montjuic Castle, to the Olympic Stadium and the spectacular Palau Nacional (‘National Palace’). Don’t worry, an abundance of stunning hilltop gardens ensures that there’s plenty of benches to rest those weary legs!
After a short respite at your accommodation, an early start and an abundance of walking probably means you’ll fancy a quiet dinner and an early night! Just a short stroll into the central Gotic or Raval districts, you find loads of reasonable and delicious places to eat.
Another busy day begins! Map in hand, stroll across the city to Gaudi’s spectacular Sagrada Familia – the cathedral which has notoriously been under construction since 1882! A stay in Barcelona really is not complete without a visit here, but be aware that those wanting to step inside the cathedral walls really are advised to book in advance; spontaneous visitors really do have very little chance of immediate entry.
After a quick spot of lunch, it’s time to walk onwards and upwards (it really is very hilly so be mindful of footwear choices!) to spend an afternoon in the fabulous Parc Guell! There really is so much to see here, whether you’re more of a horticulturalist, want to look at fantastic views right over the city and across to the Balearic Sea, or just want to sit down and have an ice cream or a cold drink. However again, be aware that the Parc’s Monumental Zone, another Gaudi creation (he was a busy man!) is now also ticketed, so planning ahead really is your best bet to get a great experience of the entire Parc.
It’s then time to stroll (or metro!) back to your accommodation to freshen up for the night ahead! A trip to Spain really is not complete without indulging in some fabulous tapas, and the city centre is bustling with plenty of delicious and affordable tapas bars, perfect for student budgets. Accompanied by a glass or two of refreshing Sangria, this is the perfect cultural experience to commence an evening of socialising, whether this takes you to cocktail bars or churros stalls (personally, I think it has to be both!)
Your final few hours! Football fans may wish to venture to Camp Nou aka the home of FC Barcelona, but for the rest of us, who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo? Found in Parc de la Ciutadella, this is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours amongst big cats, birds and a LOT of monkeys (my personal favourite). Even better, the Parc is just a ten-minute walk from… THE BEACH!
It’s time for your final meal in beautiful Barcelona, and what could be more perfect than traditional Spanish paella in one of an abundance of beachside restaurants. The beach is a bit of a tourist trap in parts however, so if you want to avoid being hassled every two minutes being asked to buy a mojito or rug, the northern end of the beach, away from the main port, is your best bet. Then you can sit back, slap on that sun cream and relax for an afternoon on the sand, until you have to head back to catch the Aerobus for that early evening flight back to the UK. Barcelona, it’s been a pleasure.
Planning ahead really is your best bet when considering a trip to this fabulous European city, ensuring you really do get the opportunity to take in unmissable sights such as the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. However, your planning shouldn’t fail to include the basics – head here to make sure you’ve got everything you need before you head abroad and follow @FCOtravel on Twitter for the latest travel advice.