We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Which Barcelona hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
36 posts
12 reviews
Save Topic
First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions please, we're a couple just starting to plan our first trip to Spain for late September, about 8-10 days including travel. Barcelona and Bilbao are high on our list of must-sees. Not sure where else we should go on this trip beyond Barcelona / Bilbao or what's easily accessible from there? We prefer not to drive and enjoy dining, the arts, museums, contemporary art, architecture, fashion, shopping--and some tourist sites but we don't typically do tour groups or highly touristy things. We don't have an unlimited budget but do like to travel in comfort.

Any suggestions re. what to see, where to go or how to plan that speaks to our interests would be greatly appreciated, thanks so much. (gracias!)

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,840 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Late September is a great time to go to BCN because you could be there for La Merce. See this link for more info: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187497-c178383/Barce…

Hotel-wise you should get booking quickly because availability is already limited for those dates. Have a look on booking.com for example, enter your dates and requirements (use the filters on the left hand side to narrow down your search and use a browser like Google Chrome as I've noticed recently that it doesn't work with Internet Explorer anymore). Base yourself somewhere central, maybe near Placa Catalunya or Passeig de Gracia (good for shopping) from where you can walk to a lot of sights. The metro is also very easy to use and costs a mere €9.65 for 10 rides (T-10 ticket which can be shared). With your interests I'd recommend the Sagrada Familia, Casa Battlo, Casa Mila (La Pedrera), Parc Guell and the Palau de la Musica Catalana. Museum-wise the Picasso Museum (do pre-book as queues are enormous especially on days when it's free entry) and the MNAC. Then there's the awesome Boqueria food market just off Ramblas. If you want to treat yourself for a nice long lunch or dinner, you could have the tasting menu at Cinc Sentits or Alkimia restaurants both have a Michelin star. For a day trip you could go to visit Monserrat or the Dali museum in Figueres.

In Bilbao there's the Guggenheim Museum and the Museo de Bellas Artes (I preferred the latter and spent twice as much time there). For lunch/dinner try the famous Cafe Iruna (100 years old) or head for Plaza Nueva in the Casco Viejo (Old Town) for pintxos (Basque tapas). There's plenty of shopping on Gran Via.

Those are just a few suggestions. You may also want to read the Top Questions on the right hand side to give you some more ideas and info.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
36 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Nicoleta, thanks so much for taking the time to send all this great info., wonderful to have all your ideas, thanks!

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,840 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

My pleasure. I went to BCN for the first time last May, fell in love with it, have been back 4 times already in one year and have just booked my 6th trip! I'll be there for La Merce this year after just missing it last year. I also just spent a weekend in Bilbao three weeks ago, but it rained a lot and I didn't get to see as much as I would've liked.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
36 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

So lucky you can get there easily and often! Just got an update from my significant other--he wants to see Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, San Sebastiano, Bilbao. Hmm, might be too much for 8 days or so...will have to research distances between these places. :-)

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,840 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Definitely too many places to see in just 8 days, you won't have time to really enjoy any of them if you're trying to fit them all in. For a first-time visitor I'd recommend a minimum of 3-4 days in BCN, same for Madrid which is even bigger (I'm just in the middle of planning my first visit there in November). So you could visit those two and take the hi-speed AVE train between the two. Or do BCN and then fly to Seville. Or visit BCN and then Bilbao (1-2 days max., I found it little quiet) and San Sebastian (beautiful I hear). But I think either the BCN/MAD combination or BCN/SVL would be a better contrast. I'm sure the other regular contributors to this forum will have different ideas. ;-)

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
36 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Thanks again, I think you're probably right--will have to research distances and best ways to get from one place to the next. I read about an amazing place as well called Afueras de Torrent Hotel + Spa, in Girona about 2 hrs. north of Barcelona (www.mastorrent.com) -- all so tempting in so little time!

Malaga, Spain
Destination Expert
for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
Level Contributor
56,716 posts
3,568 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Canadian:

This is my recommendation:

3 days in Barcelona.

Take the AVE to Madrid. Read Buying Renfe Tickets Online.

5 days in Madrid. Take one day trip to Toledo, one to Segovia and another to Cordoba. Read about these day trips in the Madrid forum top questions.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
36 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

Thanks Benny! Can you please tell me why you recommend more days in Madrid than Barcelona? I'll read your suggestions, much appreciated.

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona
Level Contributor
6,636 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

as you want go to Bilbao i think that a good option could be:

4 days in Barcelona (5 if you do a day trip to Girona or Tarragona as example), 2 days in Zaragoza and then 3 days in Bilbao (you could do a day trip to San Sebastian, Vitoria or any of the small coast towns).

You can do both trip sides by train.

Shrewsbury
Destination Expert
for Barcelona
Level Contributor
11,337 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: First trip to Spain, Barcelona + beyond? ROP

I don't think that Benny has experienced La Merce or he might change his weighting. Assuming that your dates and the festival coincide and that you would like to enjoy some of the popular culture of the region - everything from the tradition of Toc d'Inici, the terror of Correfoc, the artistic and creative achievements of the projections or the sheer childlike pleasure of Piromusical then you should definitely take it into account - plus it's all free.