Get Familia with this fabulous city

The remarkable Park Güell (photo: XQSPAIN Media)The remarkable Park Güell (photo: XQSPAIN Media)
The remarkable Park Güell (photo: XQSPAIN Media)

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Barcelona offers so much on a short break to Spain - even the beach!

Beautiful, bustling Barcelona was my home for three days and I came away with a lasting appreciation for this city that has so much to offer - for all ages.

It boasts stunning buildings, cultural offerings, great restaurants and bars and, as a brilliant added bonus, the beach. Much of it is walkable, but getting around couldn’t be easier with buses, the metro, trams and taxis at very reasonable rates. So here’s my take on an itinerary that worked for us.

Day one

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One of the sights on Barcelona BeachOne of the sights on Barcelona Beach
One of the sights on Barcelona Beach

Our Jet2 flight from Birmingham was a comfortable and efficient experience. The food and snack offerings on board were great and there was even my favourite Yorkshire Tea! We’d treated ourselves to a hotel stay the night before and a relaxing airport lounge before takeoff.

After a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport we found our hotel - NH Collection Barcelona Podium - was in a great location near enough to walk to the famous Placa de Catalunya and shopping and entertainment mecca Las Ramblas, but tucked away in a quiet street. The hotel has a rooftop swimming pool and sun deck but although the early March weather put me off a dip, I just enjoyed the view over the rooftops.

Helped greatly by advice from Nils, a super friendly and knowledgeable member of the Guest Relations team at our hotel, we set off on the 20-30 minute walk to Las Ramblas. It was very crowded in Las Ramblas, but its side streets in the stunning Gothic Quarter were less busy and provided plenty of sights such as the Barcelona Cathedral and small cafes and individual shops to enjoy. A highlight for me on the main street was La Bocharia market. Stalls dazzle with delicious looking fruit, fish, sweets, and, of course, meats and cheese from the Catalan region. There are sit-down cafes where you can enjoy tapas and a glass of beer or wine.

Top tip: In Las Ramblas be very aware of pickpockets. Wear your backpack on the front of your body, use front and not back pockets and leave valuables (including passport) in your hotel safe.

Barcelona's atmospheric Gothic Quarter (photo: Ludivine Bastien/Turisme de Barcelona)Barcelona's atmospheric Gothic Quarter (photo: Ludivine Bastien/Turisme de Barcelona)
Barcelona's atmospheric Gothic Quarter (photo: Ludivine Bastien/Turisme de Barcelona)

Day two

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We designated this as our Gaudi day. That’s Antoni Gaudi, the Modernisme architect whose stunning and distinctive style, akin to art nouveau, is revered here. A visit to the world renowned, and still, unfinished, La Sagrada Familia cathedral was the main focus of our trip, but first, to whet our appetite for his genius, we got a taxi (around 15 Euros and recommended to save a long walk uphill) right to the gates of another of his masterpieces - Parc Guell, built between 1900 and 1914. This stunning park with its amazing mosaic balcony seating and almost surreal, Disney-like houses and structures was conceived as an exclusive housing development. Gaudi himself did live here, but his idea as a whole didn’t take off and, lucky for us, it was opened to the public in 1926. In 1984 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside other Gaudi works. But the mind-blowing highlight of the whole city break was La Sagrada Familia. Its towers dominate the city. Under construction for over 140 years, it is, hopefully, due for completion in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Stepping inside this iconic building brings pure wonder. We were advised to visit at sunset when the mellow light streamed through the stained glass windows to cast ever-changing, colourful reflections on the stone walls.

Top tip: It’s essential to pre-order your entry tickets online for these sites. For Sagrada Familia, I recommend buying on the official site and downloading the audio guide in advance.

Day three

La Boqueria in Barcelona (photo: Francesc Cloquell/Turisme de Barcelona)La Boqueria in Barcelona (photo: Francesc Cloquell/Turisme de Barcelona)
La Boqueria in Barcelona (photo: Francesc Cloquell/Turisme de Barcelona)

We took the official open-top bus tour of the city with two routes and various crossover points so you can cover both in a day. We chose the red route, taking in the beach and Olympic park area and Passeig de Gracia, an upmarket shopping street with two more examples of Gaudi architecture - Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. But another fun stop-off and a stunning way to see over the entire city, port and sea is the cable car ride up to Montjuic Castle and the view from its ramparts.

The evening was set aside for my own personal favourite - flamenco. Again, pre-booked tickets are a must. We got up close and personal in the intimate and traditional Tablao Flamenco Cordobes in Las Ramblas for an authentic performance in all its intense glory of song and dance.

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Top tip: Research, research, research before your visit. Also, pre-book tickets for your must-do priorities. I found useful for all bookings.

Las Ramblas remains a major attraction (photo: Spain Stock/Turisme de Barcelona)Las Ramblas remains a major attraction (photo: Spain Stock/Turisme de Barcelona)
Las Ramblas remains a major attraction (photo: Spain Stock/Turisme de Barcelona)

Leading leisure airline offers friendly low fares, great flight times, and a generous 22kg baggage allowance to Barcelona from three UK Airports, including Birmingham.

Flights start from £35pp one way, including taxes.

For more information, please visit or call 0800 408 5599.

Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges, and transfers – and last year its customers saved an average of £191 per trip by booking their airport parking in advance. Booking an Airport Hotel and an Airport Lounge means you can enjoy more holiday with less hassle. Plus with Flextras, if you need to cancel or amend you can without charge. One night’s accommodation at Hilton Garden Inn At Birmingham Airport is available at £171.90 based on arrival on May 22. Access to the Aspire Lounge at Birmingham Airport for two adults starts at £73.78 based on arrival on May 22. For more information and to book, see or call 0800 316 5678.

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Ruth stayed at NH Collection Barcelona Pódium, an upscale hotel in the heart of the city and close to many of the most popular attractions. Rooms start from £197 per night in May (excluding taxes). Book at

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