This is the second article of a series of three where Spotted by Locals informs you of the wonderful opportunities of travelling by train. This time we will take you through Spain. A day trip from Madrid to Barcelona by train, without the stress of driving there, traffic, finding a parking spot for your car. All the spots are located within walking distance of the train station. Taking the train is the perfect way of transport for a city trip, all you have to do is sit back and relax!
Train trips around the world allow you to relax in the picturesque scenery. In Europe, there is no better way to enjoy the stunning views. Riding on the rails gives you a glimpse into some of the most spectacular places on the continent while sitting and enjoying the ride. It is also a very sustainable way of travelling and you can leave all the driving stress behind. Just get on a train and it will take you to your destination, in the meantime, you can read your newspaper, have a bite, play a game with your kids… Enjoy this comfortable way of travelling through Europe and don’t forget to enjoy the views!
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Breakfast in Madrid
We start our day in Madrid. After waking up and packing your stuff for the day trip, you might want to get some coffee or breakfast in your belly before getting on the train. For this occasion, we have selected Adorado Bar for you. This all-day-long breakfast bar is located only 20 minutes away (by foot) from the train station and makes for the perfect stop before getting on the train. It’s a really nice coffee shop, customer service is good and attentive, and their outdoor terrace is big and charming. At Adorado, you will find yummy brunch options like benedict eggs, waffles, yogurt, or pancakes, available at any time of the day. Other than that they also serve many sweets and homemade cakes.
Spotted by Nadia Perez Rojas
Taking the train
After visiting this lovely breakfast bar, it’s time to head to Madrid Atocha station to take your train. This will approximately take you 20 minutes to get there. The journey from Madrid to Barcelona with Eurail, takes only 2:30 hours for a distance of 620 kilometers. You will use an AVE high-speed train of RENF, for this train a seat reservation is needed. You’ll depart from “Madrid Atocha” and arrive in “Barcelona Sants”. Trains frequent at least every hour, so you will never have to wait a long time before departing. So if you want to stay at Adorado a little longer or stroll through the streets of Madrid for a while, nothing’s stopping you, you can always take the next train!
Lunch in Barcelona
After a two and a half-hour train ride, you might be hungry. That’s why we picked out Albé for you! This place is plus or minus 20 minutes away from the station by foot. At Albé you can enjoy the best that Catalunya has to offer together with a genuine Lebanese touch. You cannot visit Barcelona without trying its Catalonian food right? That’s why this is the perfect lunch spot for your day in Barcelona!
The dishes included patatas bravas, roasted eggplant, octopus with an amazing beetroot sauce, and Pluma Iberica de Bellota, amazingly tender pork meat with delicious seasoning. If you’re not fully stuffed after your meal, order a chocolate tart with cardamom foam and Azahar caramel – absolutely fantastic. Other than that Albé has a very kind staff and is decorated really beautifully.
Spotted by Rafael Maggion
Discover the city of Barcelona
After lunch, we are ready to discover the beautiful city of Barcelona! With a full stomach from lunch, you might be in the mood to sniff around a little in a local second-hand bookshop. Located not far from Albé is Re-Read. They have different spots in the city so you can always find one near you. The place is very welcoming, with its warm lights and stacks upon stacks of books. The books are divided into categories and you can find books in many languages besides Spanish and Catalan! The prices are pretty cheap and the more books you buy, the cheaper they get. You can get up to 5 books for 10€!
Spotted by Andia Ago
If you want to buy something authentic from Barcelona and want to avoid “I LOVE BCN” t-shirts or Gaudi-style ashtrays, La Nostra Ciutat is the place to visit! Posters, postcards, mugs, tote bags…. All made by talented local designers and artists.
When you walk into any of the three stores of La Nostra Ciutat, you will feel like you’re walking around an outdoor design summer market with products of different kinds made by artisans and designers. All the walls of the stores are covered with creative posters, such as maps of Barcelona’s neighbourhoods, Catalan culture, and gastronomy, among other funny motives. It’s always hard to decide which one to pick to decorate your home!
There is also jewellery, some of which with details of Barcelona which makes it really cool if you want to buy something that will remind you of the city. Because it’s so small, it won’t bother you even if you have to take a flight! The best part about this place is that you are also helping local artists to keep creating.
Spotted by Gina Xifra
Now it’s time to go outside a little and enjoy the Spanish sun! Head to Parc de la Ciutadella for some fresh air! The park has several playgrounds for kids, a big fountain, and a little boat lake. At the bottom of the park there’s the zoo entrance, a good option if you are visiting with young kids! In this park you will never be bored, it actually looks like a true circus. Acro-yoga, ropemanship, African drummers, Spanish guitar players, or bubble makers to entertain the kids; every corner of the park has a view and an ‘artist’ to enjoy. Here, you can spend hours just looking or listening if you’ve found a good spot.
I would advise you to pick up some picnic take-out food, bring some drinks and find yourself a nice spot on the grass. If not for the many things to see there, you will probably love it for simply relaxing in the sun in the less hot seasons or the welcome shade during a hot summer.
Spotted by Ilse de Ridder
After relaxing at the park for a while, it’s time to do something sporty in Barcelona! Head to Bloc District Barcelona, a wall climbing oasis in the middle of the city, with an extremely good speciality coffee shop and healthy food! Do not miss this great mix of extreme sports and good shots of caffeine.
Spotted by Rafael Maggion
Dinner in Barcelona
After a sporty activity, you might be up for a snack! Barcelona is always bursting with food truck events and these rolling kitchens have some mouth-watering street food to offer. Van Van Market was one of the first events that brought the food truck hype to Barcelona and it is still a very popular festival.
To make sure we are not only depending on the festival to get a street food fix, Van Van came up with a brilliant idea. In the upcoming industrial neighbourhood of Poble Nou they have opened a fixed kitchen. Van Van Var is not a kitchen changing venue…. but a venue changing kitchen! The small bar and the sun-drenched terrace are simple and fit the industrial yet trendy vibes of the neighbourhood. Many offices around make it a popular lunch and after-work spot.
The reason Van Van Var is so special is that they host a different food truck every week. The chefs of the rolling kitchens take over and offer a limited but delicious menu of their street food dishes. Think fried chicken of Masala 73, the amazing burgers of Deligotessen, or Peruvian food by Warike. Apart from the weekly changing menu, they also have a fixed bar menu with some very simple tapas. It’s always sunny at Van Van Var, so a perfect spot to start with some beers and snacks before you start exploring Poble Nou!
Spotted by Ilse de Ridder
Evening drinks in Barcelona
To end our lovely day in Barcelona, let’s have a nice view of the city. Located in the heart of one of Barcelona’s most famous neighbourhoods, stands the Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel Rooftop. Walk up the “stairway to heaven” and reach the rooftop by Lolea for a 360-degree view.
It’s the perfect combination of a nice city view, a cocktail in your hand, and chill-out music in the background. All this while you watch the sun go down over the most iconic buildings of Barcelona. It also has a gorgeous pool you can dip into, or if you prefer to stay dry, sit by the pool in the tree-linked lounge. Either way, you can’t really go wrong up there.
During the weekend they hold special events with live bands, concerts and, as the sun goes down, DJs. Come up here and pinpoint Barcelona’s most recognizable monuments!
Spotted by Tatiana Martinez