A weekend of Fun, Fitness and Food!
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most famous and favourite coastal cities, perfect if you’re interested in history, sport, architecture, culture or relaxing on the beach, we are!
So it proved to be a great long weekend escape from the cold February days in Ireland.
As with many city breaks there could be and should be plenty of walking involved, making the most of a map and exploring the streets of Barcelona on foot is the best way to get about.
The main form of activity on this trip was walking, and although we didn’t explore any of Barcelona’s hikes we did walk for a good 8 hours each day at least.
My Training highlight of the trip was early morning HIIT sessions, outside each day with the surroundings of the roof-top pool at the hotel.
Barcelona Fira Renaissance has views of the city far and wide from its rooftop, you can pick out famous landmarks and monuments in the distance, with views of the Pyrénées in the far distance, these surroundings added to the training session and made for some awesome workouts.
Each morning I did a short 15-minute giant set of exercises after a gym session, not for anything specific to training, just for an excuse to go out there and train really for one of the most scenic HIIT workouts ever!
During the four-day break, I did 3 weight sessions/3 HIIT sessions/ Yoga by the pool and swimming.
Scenic walks, rambling up and down Las Ramblas and the city centre, a stroll in the park, stair climbing the hotels magnificent outdoor floral staircase, and a walk along the beach and marina area, a very active trip.
The main training was all done in the hotel, we didn’t need to go anywhere else. Excellent fitness facilities and relaxing surroundings were something we looked for when we booked.
Barcelona Fira Renaissance is one of Barcelona’s finest, the gym and pools are excellent and the hotel has relaxing surroundings throughout.
One of Barcelona’s most famous areas is Las Ramblas, I had been here many times before, so the intention was to stop through, then explore some new places.
However, there is one stop I will never intentionally leave out of a trip to this great city and I am happy to navigate hoards of tourists to get there.
Described as a gastronomic temple by some, La Boqueria is so much more than a food market.
It’s a maze of vibrant colours, tempting aromas, high energy people, fun, laughter and specialist food stalls.
La Boqueria is busy with producers, bakers, butchers, grocers and fishmongers who provide the food, whilst locals and tourists weave through the stalls eyes wide open, taste buds at the ready.
I love it here, there is so much freshly delivered produce to choose from, you can take 2 hours exploring, or whizz through for a quick and delicious snack.
Even though I was staying in the hotel, I made a quick shopping list before I left.
Sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fruit, and dried hams were on my shopping list that day, by the time we left I had added nuts, cheeses, seafood, greens smoothie, and a wood fired Pizza to my shop!
My haul of shopping was more like a weekly food shop, it made for a delicious all day picnic as we cruised around the city on the sightseeing bus.
Whether you buy some picnic ingredients, feast at one of the tapas bars, or simply take a look, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable experience in La Boqueria.
If we didn’t have plans to explore I may well have stayed and eaten the whole market!
A must visit for all who visit Barcelona.
Parc de la Ciutadella
Another stop we hopped off at, and a first-time visit was Ciutadella park, the sun was beaming on this late February day.
The Park seemed popular with fellow tourists and locals, taking leisurely walks, soaking up the sun as birds buzzed around them, and summer vibes were starting to fill the air.
Impressive monuments and statues are located throughout the park, in particular, another great symbol of the city and gateway to the main park area is the Arc de Triomf or Arco de Triunfo in Spanish.
We strolled along the walkways flanked by palm trees before takings a break for a beer outside a small cafe to enjoy more sunshine.
The park was a very cool place with many others out walking, and yoga enthusiasts on the grass areas striking a pose, enjoying the warm weather.
Home of course to FC Barcelona, the envy of Europe and second only to the mighty QPR.
My first visit to the Nou Camp football stadium, and the first place I had circled on the bus map.
No game at the time of our trip, but we still made the most of things with the informative stadium tour.
The tour took us through the clubs history, the boots, the shirts, the trophies and spectacular stadium views.
The fans in the capital of Catalonia take their football very seriously, with a massive worldwide fan base travelling to matches adding to the local fans, they need this huge 100,000 capacity stadium to fit everyone in.
Montjuïc Magic Foundation & Plaça Espanya
I highly recommend a visit to this area, the fountain, Nacional Art Museum, and Arenas de Barcelona are all located together.
Take the lift to the top of Arenas de Barcelona opposite the fountain to the rooftop viewing platform for a great view of Plaça Espanya and panoramic views of the city.
Barcelona has an abundance of incredible restaurants, and we had many delicious meals, one of the nicest was lunch at the top of Placa Espanya.
The famous Montjuic Magic Fountain show at night with lights and choreographed music is another must see.
Art, Design and Architecture.
Gaudi’s distinctive modern art is all over Barcelona, Parc Güell, the astonishingly sculpted Casa Milá, Casa Figueres and the renowned Casa Battló.
Of course, the tourists flock to these areas especially the impressive centrepiece Sagrada Familia Cathedral, an unfinished masterpiece still under construction.
If genial architecture is your thing, you will be exploring the jewels of Barcelona for weeks.
An active long weekend in Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach, a short walk will take you out of the busy streets and onto Barcelona’s shoreline and it’s famous urban beaches.
We took a long walk along the La Barceloneta beach around the Marina on the day we visited.
Plenty of people were getting stuck into their training sessions and jogging the beach, whilst others chilled out and took a swim in the sea.
We had already done a training session that morning in the Hotel, so we took a long sightseeing walk, it’s a very popular area with fitness enthusiasts.
Iv’e only been to this beach so that’s all I can recommend, but La Barceloneta is a large beach, plenty of room for everyone and very close to the city centre if you fancy a dip in the Med.
Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympics arguably the best Olympics ever (open to debate). It was great to see the Olympic stadium overlooking the city on Montjuic mountain,
The stadium is open to view and includes a museum, the surrounding areas are very nice with landscaped walkways, a plaza and viewpoints of the city.
As a lover of all sports, it really was a great experience to see this iconic building and the tower of the Olympic flame, I love the Olympics and their history.
The Cafe’s opposite serve a very good coffee, which I enjoyed as I sang the Barcelonaaaaa Olympic theme tune and took in the incredible view of the city from the old Olympic swimming pool area.
Our visit to Tibadaboo was a totally unplanned trip on day 3, this recommendation by the hotel concierge turned into the highlight of the weekend, I can’t recommend a visit to Tibadaboo highly enough.
Tibadaboo is a mountain overlooking Barcelona, at the top of this sits a Cathedral called Temple of the sacred heart or Tibadaboo temple, an incredible sight.
Tibadaboo offers by far the best views of Barcelona, there is also a theme park with a Ferris wheel.
Highly visible from most areas of the city, it can be reached by tram or a taxi up the long winding road.
When we visited it was a national holiday, so the tram was closed, and the theme park was closed for annual maintenance.
Some passengers were disappointed and turned back when the tram was closed, but we persevered and found our own way up along the road and through the village via taxi, well worth it.
Tibadaboo was incredibly quiet because of the closures, with just 20-30 people wandering around no rush, no crowds, a rare and brilliant experience.
The amazing architecture and design of the Cathedral are staggering, we paid the small fee and scaled high up the church tower, the view from the top is breathtaking.
One of the best places in Barcelona really, go there and don’t forget your camera.
New, unique, and memorable experiences are why we all travel, and the Barcelona Fira Renaissance hotel certainly added to the ones Barcelona gave us.
We had purposely chosen the hotel for the fitness and relaxation facilities and just the fact it looked like a seriously cool place to stay, it was.
The luxurious surroundings, pristine facilities, delicious food, chilled out rooftop pool area, and informative super friendly staff make it a great place for an active weekend away.
The experience was seriously cool, the environment is incredibly relaxing with a vertical garden oasis surrounding the internal stairway and the Mediterranean restaurant and chilled out lounge bar both serve delicious meals.
I have already mentioned the fitness facilities and pools were great, keeping things in balance our stay also included the best Sangria we have ever had.
Mornings kicked off with a big post workout breakfast, I may have even tried a few of the cakes (Tarta de Santiago was top choice) freshly made in the hotel bakery.
At night we visited the outdoor rooftop pool again letting the evening meal go down, taking in some fresh air and reflecting on the day’s sightseeing whilst gazing out over the city and the lights of the Barcelona night.
Barcelona is a great long weekend break with a massive variety of things to do, meaning you could spend longer to truly explore all the sights.
No matter how many times you re-visit Barcelona there are always new places to discover with endless things to do.