Barcelona is a city full of passion.
And that passion is deeper than the Catalan independence uprisings you’ve probably seen on the news.
Just take a look at each building designed by Art Nouveau architect Antoni Gaudi, who has spared no expense to express his dedication to simulating nature. Then there are masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, whose modernist abstract paintings emphasize his passion with feminine form.
It is also the city to fall in love with everything Spanish, from delicious paella to rice dish and fruity sangria cocktail to flamenco dance and afternoon nap.
Oh yeahhhh, those naps.
If you have little time, you may have to give up a few naps in favor of hardcore sightseeing tours.
I suggest ordering a Turbopass Barcelona City Pass to save money on tours, shops, restaurants and enjoyment, as well as admission to iconic attractions such as the Sagrada Familia and dozens of fascinating museums.
I proved that it is possible to spend 4 days in Barcelona without breaking the bank. Here’s how.
About the turbopass Barcelona City Pass
Choose between a turbopass Barcelona City Pass for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days. This route works best with a 4-day turbo pass to incorporate more attractions – the more you see, the more you save
The Turbo Pass offers access to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Mirador de Colom viewpoint, the modernist mansion Casa de les Punxes, a boat trip in the harbor, a 24-hour hop-on hop-off bus and a guided tour of the Gothic quarter. It also comes with a map of Barcelona that provides access to public transport; admission to museums such as the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum and the Historical Museum; and big discounts on walking tours and day trips, restaurants, admission to places like Gaudi’s Casa Mila and enjoyment such as flamenco shows.
Once you have chosen the duration of your turbo pass and are at the checkout, you will be asked to choose a date to visit the Sagrada Familia, as the availability is exhausted days (or even weeks) in advance. You will also have the opportunity to upgrade your ticket for the Sagrada Familia to an audio guide and the ascent to the tower.
I was impressed by how easy it was to use my turbo pass in all the included attractions. My public transport ticket was just as easy as my Barcelona ticket to museums with free admission.
However, using the discounts of the Barcelona Card turned out to be difficult. The most popular attractions, such as Gaudi’s Guell Park, have massive queues, especially in the high season (July-August). The only way to claim the reduced price (usually 10-50% discount) is to stand in line, develop the patience of a saint and hope that there is still room in it, as some attractions limit entry for security reasons.
If you die without losing patience, I have heard that this is a quick way to canonization.
Personally, I would have preferred to buy quick tickets online for a few euros, get in faster and go home in time for a nap. Your mental health is worth much more. And nap too.
Get your Barcelona Card and your public transport card
If you choose to have your turbo Pass delivered, your turbo pass, your Barcelona card, your public transport card and your Sagrada Familia ticket will be delivered to you for a small delivery fee.
If you choose to be picked up, your Turbo Pass and Sagrada Familia ticket will be sent to you by e-mail for electronic use and your Barcelona card and public transport card must be picked up at the Tourist Office at Barcelona El Prat Airport or Plaça Catalunya. Simply present the payment slip sent by e-mail with your Turbopass to redeem your cards.
I picked up my tickets at the tourist office on Plaça Catalunya, which is actually located under the public square. Pay attention to the tourist information board next to a descending staircase.
Learn more about the Gothic quarter on a walking tour
Your Turbopass includes a 2-hour walking tour of the stories and legends of the Gothic quarter, which must be booked at least 48 hours in advance by sending your name, Turbopass number and the date of your preferred tour to the email address provided by Turbopass.
I met my tour guide, Aida, and a group of about 15 people at the Barcelona Plaça de Sant Jaume Tourist Office at 9: 15 am for a departure at 9:30 am. Have your booking confirmation and turbo pass ready for the staff to check you.
Aida shared a brief history of Barcelona dating back to a Roman settlement from the 1st century BC before she set out to explore the Gothic quarter. During the tour, she pointed out the best places to buy locally made souvenirs, the best food markets to stop for lunch, and quiet hiding places to escape the crowds of cruise ships.
Aida has highlighted different types of architecture throughout the city, from Gothic and Baroque to Romanesque and neoclassicism. Among his favorite examples were the Cathedral of Barcelona, built more than 200 years ago in the Baroque and neo-Gothic style; “wandering buildings” removed from their original location; and the History Museum of Barcelona, where we saw models of how the city has grown and changed over the centuries.
Hop on the Hop-on Hop-off Bus In the City
One of the best ways to see Barcelona is from the top of a hop-on hop-off bus. The Turbo Pass includes a 24-hour sightseeing bus ticket to Barcelona, so check out the online map to find the nearest bus stop to your hotel. When you board for the first time, you need to scan your Turbopass voucher in exchange for a paper ticket and a helmet, which you need to keep for the rest of the day.
You have the choice between 3 different bus routes. Blue for the city center, red for Port Vell and green for the beaches. I jumped on the Blue Line at the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista stop and stayed for about 90 minutes, until the Placa de Catalunya stop. We walked past landmarks such as Barcelona football Club, Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo. The audio guide shared information about the life of Antoni Gaudi, the various residential areas of the city, cultural festivals, local customs and shopping.
Discover the fashion of yesteryear at the Barcelona Design Museum
Start the day at the Barcelona design Museum and show your Barcelona Card. Backpacks must be stored in lockers for a refundable piece. The museum is divided into 4 levels, covering 4 design areas: product design, art, textiles and visual communication.
The product design exhibitions have been the most interesting in my opinion, with Spanish designers who have pushed the boundaries to create ultra-functional and durable products such as chairs, bicycles and kitchen and cleaning appliances. I especially liked a rug that also serves as a chair, and water bottles that shrink in size when they are empty.
The textile exhibitions showed Catalan fashion from the Middle Ages to the 1980s, with informative posters explaining how fashion has evolved to follow national and international trends and influences.
Additional Days and Other Options
If you are lucky enough to spend more than 4 days in Barcelona, or if you are looking for alternatives to the above options, visit other free museums included with your Barcelona card, such as the Centre de La contemporaria Culturelle de Barcelona (CCCB) to see a collection of modern and contemporary art, or MUHBA El Call to learn more about the history of the Jewish community in Barcelona and the impact of the Spanish Inquisition.
If not, visit other Gaudi’s masterpieces, such as Park Guell, a botched settlement that was offered to the city and turned into a city park. Most of the park is free to visit, so you can walk along the windy alleys and pose next to the classic Gaudi-style mosaic balconies and benches without paying a penny. Tickets are only required to visit the UNESCO World Heritage “Restricted Area”, which contains complete houses designed by Gaudi and the most vulnerable parts of the park. Admission is limited to 400 people (which fills up surprisingly quickly), so I strongly recommend that you book your tickets online in advance. I saw dozens of hopeful visitors pushed by security just an hour after the doors opened.