Barcelona Recap: Part 2

I know, it has been a month since our trip to Barcelona. I had big plans to get part 2 of our trip recap published before Christmas
(read part 1 here). But then there were things like shopping, school parties, wrapping, performances and that little thing called sleep that got in the way. Let’s just go with the whole “better late than never” mentality on this one.

Note: This post contains affiliate links

Similar to my part 1 post, I’m doing my best to stick to the highlights, otherwise this might be a 15 part series. And no one wants to read that!

Where we stayed

I talked a little bit about this in my first post, but we stayed at two hotels on our trip. We stayed at the Hotel Arts Barcelona for the first 4 nights and then checked into the Crowne Plaza Fira Center for the last 2. We wanted to see two different parts of town, and it didn’t hurt Kurt had a few different hotel points to use up.

Both were really nice, but between the two, I’d recommend the Hotel Arts. It felt more like a resort with pools and was a beachfront property. The Crowne Plaza was great, but it was more like a business hotel situated in the middle of town. However, on the last night of our trip, we decided to purchase spa passes and visit the Crowne Plaza’s hydro-therapy spa. That was amazing and you don’t have to stay at the hotel to use it. Note to self: end every vacation this way!


One of the things I was most excited about prior to visiting Barcelona was making a day trip to Monserrat. It is one of Spain’s most popular tourist attractions and for such a good reason. It is absolutely beautiful and the history behind it is unlike anything here in the US. If you are going to be in Barcelona for more than a day or two, definitely make the trip to Monserrat.

So for those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, Montserrat is a mountaintop monastery located about an hour away from Barcelona. The first few chapels were built sometime back in the 800’s (no, I’m not missing a 1), although only one is still standing today. Monks still live on the property and people far and wide come to see the Black Madonna statue inside the church.

We took a one hour train ride out of the city and then boarded a cable car, which took us to the top of the mountain. You have the option to take the train all the way around the mountain to get to the top, or take private transportation. However, the cable car is by far the fastest way to get there. Plus, it doesn’t hurt cable cars are pretty fun.

We did a little hiking around the mountain to check out the views, rode one of the Funiculars, attended a little video tour of the property and grabbed a snack and beer (made by the monks) in the cafe. Such a fun little day trip.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

I’m going to be honest for a minute. We didn’t go inside the art museum. I love the occasional museum, but Kurt and I went into this trip looking for relaxation. That meant naps, wandering into tapas restaurants and finding cute spots to grab a drink. I like art, but not enough to spend 20 euro on admission on this particular vacation. However, this spot in Barcelona is BEAUTIFUL.

Our second hotel (the Crowne Plaza) was only two blocks away from Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is this massive museum perched up on top of the hill. Visitors can walk the billion steps or take escalators up to see the museum.

Even though we didn’t go inside, I absolutely loved visiting the site because it has spectacular views of the city. We found a little outdoor cafe that served food and drinks, including a little Spanish sangria. I could have sat there all day, just admiring the architecture and views. Absolutely stunning.

Barcelona Olympic Stadium

On our last day in Barcelona, we decided to go check out the Olympic Stadium. Barcelona hosted the Olympics back in 1992, but the stadium was actually built in 1929. They had part of the stadium open to the public (free of charge!), so we were able to go inside and walk around. I was surprised how small it was – Ohio Stadium where the Buckeyes play is much larger!

My favorite part was walking around the grounds outside the stadium. There are these spectacular fountains, views of the city and amazing towers that line the property. You can also see the Calatrava tower, which was the symbol of the Barcelona games. r

Barcelona Casino and Docks

I already talked about the beaches in part 1 of my trip recap, but I’m adding this as a whole separate category for good reason. Even if you don’t want to hit the sand, there is other fun to be had in this part of town.

The first hotel we stayed at (Hotel Arts Barcelona) was located directly next to the docks and casino. I’ll fully admit, we did walk into the casino one evening, but couldn’t get inside because I didn’t have my ID with me. Barcelona has some sort of technology in place where you have to scan your ID at a turnstyle to enter the casino. I had my passport locked in the safe at the hotel and was too lazy to go back upstairs to grab it. The casino looked fun, but just like any other casino I’ve been in before. I’m not much of a gambler anyways, so we skipped it.

However, the docks right next to the casino are gorgeous. You could rent a boat or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants lined up one after another. Oddly, most were organized by cuisine. Definitely worth strolling through if you are staying nearby.

Would I go back to Barcelona? 100% I would. It is one of those cities where you can just wander around, stop in a cafe and enjoy the beautiful views. I never felt unsafe, loved the food and took in every bit of the culture.
With that, I’m calling my Barcelona trip recap complete.

Who has been to Barcelona? Any other tips to share? Let me know in the comments below.