One of my favorites things about living in the UK is the ease of travel, both in terms of time and money. I mean, I've booked return flights to Europe for less than what it cost me to take the NJ Transit to and from NYC - really can't get much better than that.
I also recently noticed that more flight options become available as the travel date gets closer, and even those last minute tickets can be affordable. For instance, I was able to surprise my best friend with tickets to Barcelona for a few days in the first week of the new year after finding super reasonable tickets just one week before our departure date.
For just £70 per person (approximately $115), we flew from London Gatwick reaching Barcelona El Prat at 10 am on Wednesday, and left Barcelona early Saturday morning, reaching London Stansted at 8:45 am. This gave us three full days and nights in the city. I jumped on the opportunity to get us away from the gloomy England weather to sunny 70°F Barcelona.
We stayed in the Gothic Quarter, known for its narrow yet charming streets and lively atmosphere. To get there, we first had to ask an Enterprise receptionist at the airport. There was no information desk at arrivals and my map app wasn't being helpful. He suggested taking a half hour airport shuttle bus, which would drop us off at Placa de Catalunya, about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, Barcelona House. The cost for the shuttle was €5.90 per person.
Traveling through the city by public transport was actually easy and convenient once we figured out how to use the ticket machines. There are multiple metro and bus lines with frequent stops so that you never really have to walk too far. The fare is also reasonable - €2.40 one way - and there are also a few options for unlimited travel - one day, two day and three day passes. With taxis quite expensive and no Uber, we relied a lot on the metro.
We arrived at our hotel at about 11:30 am. After freshening up, we headed out for lunch. There are so many restaurants and cafes in the Gothic Quarter, the tough part was making the decision to pick one. We didn't find any place that was particularly cheap though (which can be expected in Barcelona), especially when you have to order a few tapas to fill you up, so we tried to save by splitting a few things between the two of us.
Also as a vegetarian, it was a bit difficult to find Spanish restaurants that served more than patatas bravas and piquillo peppers - seafood is the cuisine of choice - but we did find one restaurant tucked into the wall around the corner from our hotel, and we LOVED it! We would have gone back to Bodega Biarritz for all our meals if we could have. Their menu changes, but they always have a wide selection of meat and vegetarian tapas. You may see a line outside the door - the actual restaurant is tiny - but you can sip on sangria outside while you wait. Just be sure to bring enough euros because it's cash only.
As for things to do, our top two must-sees in the city were the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. Both need tickets, which you are better off booking in advance. For Sagrada Familia, I recommend opting for the guided tour, which was highly recommended to us. The tickets are €22 per person. The tickets for Park Güell are €7.5 each.