The ultimate solo travel guide to Barcelona. Where to sleep, cycle and eat tapas :)
In September, I took a trip to Barcelona. My first solo trip since having my daughter. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive, and well, out of practice. I wrote a piece for Selfish Mother - 'In praise of being selfish'. All about how important it is, no matter what our demands or how busy we get, to take time out for ourselves. And I'm so glad I did!
SEE ALSO: 7 tips for guests to get the best out of Airbnb
Female solo travel in Barcelona
This was my third trip to Barcelona but my first solo trip. I booked myself into an Airbnb just around the corner from Passeig de Gràcia. It was a beautiful apartment with top floor views of the Eixample neighbourhood.
I arrived around 7 pm on a Sunday evening, and the cleaner, a lady in her 70s, let me in. I speak a little Spanish and when I asked her if there was a supermarket nearby (I need my cup of tea in the morning!), she thought on it for a while, then grabbed my hand and led me back outside. Before I knew it, my honorary Abuela was linking my arm, chatting to me in Spanish about how I need a warmer coat, and did I know that it is going to rain tonight? She walked me to the supermarket in person, then gave me a huge hug and said goodbye. I had only been in Barcelona for about an hour and already felt extremely happy and at home.
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The best tapas restaurant for a solo traveller in Barcelona :)
After all of that travel and supermarket excitement, I needed tapas. ASAP! Tapas 24 was just a five minute stroll away, and despite the queues, I got straight in, with a seat at the bar. One of the many benefits of travelling solo in Barcelona, you don't often need to queue for just one person at a buzzing Tapas restaurant. I celebrated my arrival with a glass of Cava and several plates of delicious treats - including my favourite - the 'Bomba de Barceloneta' - creamy, potatoey, fried little meat bombs. Heaven. I also made a friend, Ryan, from Florida, who was on a work trip. He let me share his mussels then apologised, on behalf of the entire U.S. for the living nightmare that is Donald Trump.
Top Gaudí sights to see in Barcelona
Of course you can't go to Barcelona without indulging in a little Gaudí. In previous visits, I had explored La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila and Parc Guell. Up first in this trip, it was Casa Batlló. It's definitely worth getting the FastPass ticket option. Who wants to waste their precious time in a queue! And the audio guide is essential (to find out the reasons behind the colourful tile formations, to learn more about the family that this was designed for... and to drown out the other visitors! ;)
I bought tickets for the first slot of the day - 9 am. It's quieter plus there are fewer people. For a little extra, you can buy 'Be the first' tickets, where they only sell 20 tickets for the 8:30 slot. I would have gone for this had it not been sold out. Treat yourself to some featherlight croissants at the buzzing pastelaria institution that is Mauri afterwards.
Buy tickets in advance for Sagrada Familia
Pumped up on sugary sweet buns, I took a short ride on the L2 metro and revisited La Sagrada Familia. Top tip: you absolutely need to buy tickets in advance (I opted for the 'Top views' ticket - which has a timed entrance plus entrance to one of the towers). Otherwise, like many visitors on the day I visited, you may be turned away if you chance it without a ticket.
I hadn't visited Sagrada Familia since 2002 and the never ending building work had advanced in ways that took me off guard. Maybe it was because it was a sunny day, but the light, shining through those beautiful stained glass windows actually took my breath away. I am not religious, but if I was, this would be where I would hang out. It's a cathedral of stone sculptured trees and awe inspiring light. Honestly, I cannot gush enough. If you only see one piece of Gaudí architecture, I URGE you, please make it the Sagrada Familia.
The most beautiful scenic cycle route in Barcelona
On my third and final day in Barcelona, I decided to hire a bike. Green Bikes Barcelona were super friendly and helpful. They kitted me out with a bike and a lock then I was off! I pootled around the Gothic Quarter then along the beautiful beachside Passeig Maritim. Watching paddle boarders at the W Hotel, all the way to the Olympic village underneath palm tree lined cycle paths. Happiness on two wheels.
Don't miss the fat juicy prawns in La Boqueria
There was just enough time before my flight home, to stop off for a quick lunch at Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria. Fat juicy prawns, squid and chickpeas all washed down with another glass of Cava. I even had a brief chat with Juanito the owner. There are only a handful of seats around the counter, but again, this is where being on your own gets you a seat, and a little more advice on what to order from the waiters.
Do you have any top Barcelona tips to share? Leave them in the comments section below :)