Barcelona city break with Jet2holidays

We recently visited Barcelona for a short break. Located on the northeastern coast of Spain, it is a city known for its stunning architecture, sandy beaches, delicious cuisine, art, nightlife, festivals, football and more. It is the second-largest city in Spain and is an interesting mix of Catalan culture and Spanish heritage, making it a fantastic destination to visit; especially as a short haul city break from the UK.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

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So, when Jet2holidays invited us to experience Jet2CityBreaks, we zeroed in on Barcelona. There is plenty to see and do in Barcelona, and we knew that the Jet2CityBreak would be perfect for us to enjoy everything this amazing city has to offer.  

Plus, Jet2 had flights from Birmingham Airport to Barcelona which was very convenient for us as we are now based in the West Midlands.


Jet2holidays offer fantastic holiday packages to several destinations across Europe from different airports in the UK. Once we had picked Barcelona as our destination, it was time to pick a hotel from Jet2holidays' wide range of 2-5 star accommodation. There were over 75 hotels to choose from and it wasn't easy to finalise on one. However, we wanted a hotel that was centrally located giving us easy access to all major attractions in the city and so we finally zeroed-in on Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gracia. The hotel was opposite the popular Placa de Catalunya and was centrally located in a historic building. It ticked all the right boxes and was perfect for our needs.

Once our Jet2CityBreak to Barcelona had been booked, we received all the booking information via email. The information was available on the Jet2 app as well. Our holiday package included return flights, the hotel stay, 22kg checked-in baggage and 10kg hand luggage. The Jet2 app also gives users the option to reserve on-board meals, add extra luggage and book additional services like travel insurance, car hire etc. And as you would expect, the holiday comes with ATOL protection.

We already had travel insurance in place and did not need a car for the holiday, so we did not avail these services but it is good to have the option to book everything through the app and have everything in one place.

Jet2 flight from Birmingham Airport

As I mentioned earlier, Jet2CityBreaks' flights to Barcelona depart from a number of UK airports like Bristol, Belfast, London Stansted, Edinburgh, Manchester and more.

We flew from Birmingham Airport as that is the nearest airport for us. We had checked-in in advance via the app (you can check-in online from 28 days before the holiday start date) and made our way to the airport with time to spare as Birmingham Airport can have long queues at times. On arrival at the airport, we went to the self-service baggage drop-off point near the Jet2 check-in desks and dropped our bags off. And then it was onto the security check. The airport was busy but the security check was quick and efficient and in no time we were headed towards the boarding gates. It couldn't have been any smoother!

Jet2 flight from Birmingham to Barcelona

The boarding was easy & speedy and our flight departed on time. The on-flight service was good and the overall flight went smoothly. It is a 2 hour 15 mins journey from Birmingham to Barcelona and in no time we were in Barcelona. After clearing the immigration (it was pretty quick), we made our way to the baggage carousel, grabbed our bags and walked out to the Aerobús departure point.

Aerobús is the official shuttle service connecting the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport to the center of Barcelona. With a large space reserved for luggage (onboard) and with the service operating 24 hours a day, the Aerobús is a convenient mode of transport to the city centre from the airport. The bus stops at key locations within the city like Plaça Espanya, Gran Via and Plaça Universitat with the last stop being Plaça Catalunya which is where our hotel was located.

Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

We stayed at the Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia with Jet2holidays.

Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia - 4 star hotel in Barcelona

Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia is a 4-star superior hotel housed in a beautifully restored historic building, right in the heart of Barcelona, opposite Placa de Catalunya. Spread over 14 floors, the hotel has 119 rooms with different room types like twin, double, triple, deluxe and suites. You can opt for 'Room Only' or 'Bed And Breakfast' option when booking your holiday. We picked the latter as we did not want to search around in the morning for a breakfast venue.

After a warm welcome and a quick check-in, we were in our room at the hotel.

Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia in Barcelona

Our room at the Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

We stayed in a Classic Double which is a standard double room that sleeps 2 adults (and 1 infant).

Double room at Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

The room was good-sized and came with a very comfortable bed, flat screen television, coffee-making facilities and a daily room cleaning and towel change service. It was also kitted out with essentials like a hairdryer, an ironing board and a safety deposit box. Wi-fi and air conditioning was also available in the room.

The bathroom was clean, of a decent size and had a shower. Toiletries, bathrobes and slippers were provided.

Double room - Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia In Barcelona

The decor in the room was lovely. Light tones were layered to create a relaxed feel, with the floor to ceiling windows letting in ample natural light. A wall mural featuring Iguana lizards created a dramatic focal point in the room.

Double room - Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

Double room - Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

I would also like to point out some of the sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives that the hotel has in place. The hotel has done away with the miniature bathroom toiletries (that usually come in plastic bottles) and replaced them with larger, refillable dispensers.

Plastic water bottles have also been done away with and have been replaced with glass bottles that can be refilled from a water cooler and ice machine that is located near the lifts on each floor. Both simple, eco-friendly practices but a great step towards making the hotel a sustainable property.

Overall, the room we stayed in was lovely. Spacious and comfortable, it was the perfect place to relax after a full day exploring the city.

Facilities at the Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

The hotel's Ca's Menestral restaurant was where breakfast was served every day. It was a mix of breakfast buffet and made-to-order warm food. The buffet included a selection of pastries, bread, cereals, fruits, fruit juices, yoghurts, cheese, cold cuts, salads and more. The cooked breakfast menu had limited options for vegetarians but what was included was well-cooked and filling.

Ca's Menestral Restaurant at Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

Ca's Menestral Restaurant at Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

Breakfast at Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia

The hotel has a pool bar located on the roof terrace but this is open only between 01 Apr and 01 Oct. When we visited it was closed as was the rooftop swimming pool as some renovation was going on.

For those who follow their workout routine even on holidays, there is a fitness centre in the hotel with the latest gym machines.

Sightseeing in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of Europe's trendiest cities with an array of attractions to visit and loads to do. We think that 3-4 days is a good time frame to visit the city's main attraction in a relaxed manner. Here are some of our top recommendations based on our recent visit to the city.

Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Família (Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família) is an unfinished church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. It is a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular and most visited attractions in the city.

The church is known for its unique and striking architecture, which combines Gothic and Art Nouveau styles with Gaudí's signature organic forms and intricate ornamentation. The design features 18 towers, each representing a different figure from the Bible, and three grand facades (the Nativity façade, the Passion façade, and the Glory façade) each depicting a different chapter of Christ's life.

The interior of the church is just as impressive as the exterior, with soaring columns, intricate stained glass windows, and a stunning central nave. The colorful light that filters through the stained glass creates a breathtaking effect, particularly when the sun is shining.

Interiors of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Advance booking of tickets is recommended as tickets sell out pretty quickly.

Park Güell

Park Güell is a public park located in the Gràcia district of Barcelona. It was designed by Gaudí and was built between 1900 and 1914. The original plan was to build a housing development for wealthy residents, but the project was abandoned after only two houses were built.

The park covers an area of 17.18 hectares and features many of Gaudí's signature elements, such as colorful mosaics, curved lines and organic shapes. One of the most famous features of the park is the large terrace area known as the 'Greek Theatre', which offers spectacular views of the city.

Park Güell in Barcelona

Other notable features of Park Güell include the Dragon Stairway and the Hypostyle Room. The former is a long staircase decorated with a colorful dragon statue (and is one of the most popular photographed spots in the park) while the latter is a large covered area supported by 86 columns.

Of the 2 show houses built on the site, Gaudí bought one and lived in with his family from 1906 to 1926. Today, the house is the Casa Museu Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum) which you can visit. Tickets to Park Güell do not include the access to the Gaudí House Museum. You will need to purchase the tickets to the museum separately.

Casa Batlló

The locals call it the 'House of Bones' because of its skeletal look but this one is one of the masterpieces of Gaudí.

The facade with its undulating lines pattern, protruding balconies and an arched roof that resembles the spine of a dragon is beautiful no doubt, but the interiors are even more stunning and eye-catching. Like all of Gaudí's designs, the attention to little details is delightful. The interiors are a beautiful cohesion of curves, colours, natural light and functionality. It has the stamp of Gaudí's aesthetics all over.

Interiors of Casa Batlló in Barcelona

At the end of the guided tour, there is an immersive installation called 'In the mind of Gaudí' which was fantastic.

Casa Vicens

Another one of Gaudí's beautiful works is the modernist building of Casa Vicens located in the Gràcia neighbourhood of the city. It is said that this is the first major project of Gaudí. Despite being a starting point in his illustrious career, the house with its excellent use of colour, decorative motifs and incorporation of a number of natural elements in the design is considered one of the first masterpieces of Modernism.

Casa Vicens

I loved this house. The use of colorful tiles and turrets, the carpentry, the ironwork, the oriental flavour of architecture, the influence of Hispanic Islamic art, the usage of exposed bricks, all come together to give this house a distinct style. A must-visit.

Palau de la Música Catalana

Located in a section of old Barcelona known as Casc Antic, is the Palau de la Música Catalana, a beautiful concert hall designed in the Catalan modernista style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

You can explore this spectacular building from the inside either by going to a concert at the hall or on a self-guided audio tour (which is available at select times of the day).

Featuring brightly coloured stained glass, beautiful carvings and decorative elements, the concert hall is one of the most unique and stunning halls we have visited.

Palau de la Música Catalana - Concert Hall in Barcelona

We did not get the chance to attend a concert at the venue this time around but the audio guide tour was very informative and if we are back in Barcelona, we will surely be booking ourselves tickets to a performance at the Palau de la Música Catalana.

The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is one of the most visited neighbourhoods in Barcelona. It is one of oldest parts of the city with the medieval Jewish quarter also located within this area.

There are a number of historical landmarks in the Gothic Quarter including the Roman and Medieval walls, Santa Maria del Pi (a 15th-century Gothic church), the Palau Reial Major (a complex of historic buildings), Barcelona City Hall, Basílica de la Mercè (a Baroque-style basilica), Plaça de Sant Felip Neri and Barcelona Cathedral (featured below).

Barcelona Cathedral

In addition to the historic buildings, the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter have a large number of small cafes, tapas bars, restaurants, small shops and more. There's history around every corner and you can spend hours exploring these ancient streets.

La Rambla (Las Ramblas)

La Rambla is a tree-lined pedestrian street that is around 1.2 km long and connects Plaça de Catalunya with the Columbus Monument at Port Vell. Shops and restaurants are located on both sides of the street and this area is always packed with tourists, locals and street artists.

It can be very busy and over-crowded during peak season but a visit is suggested nonetheless. Just keep a watchful eye on your belongings.

As you stroll down the street, you will find attractions along the route. Font de Canaletes, an ornate fountain, crowned by a lamp post is on this street as is Palau de la Virreina, a palace built sometime in the 1770s and now a venue for cultural events and art exhibitions.

Gran Teatre del Liceu, one of Europe's most well-known opera houses, is also on the La Rambla.

During our stay in Barcelona, we walked down the street several times and each time we found a beautiful piece of architecture. One of my favourite buildings was the Casa Bruno Cuadros (pictured below) which was designed by architect Josep Vilaseca. 

Casa Bruno Cuadros in Barcelona

The facade of this building has an eclectic style featuring oriental motifs and characters, like a Chinese dragon holding an oriental lantern. It was only later that we came to know the story behind the building. A businessman had been renting a shop in the building since the 1850s and his store stocked and sold umbrellas, fans, etc that were imported from the Far East. When the building was being remodeled in the 1880s, the businessman (who had by then been able to buy the entire building) asked for an oriental-themed facade to go with his shop.

The Columbus Monument

The Columbus Monument (known as Mirador de Colón in Spanish) is a 60m tall monument located at the lower end of La Rambla. It has a 7.2m tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus at the top depicting Columbus pointing towards the Americas.

The Columbus Monument in Barcelona

There is a small lift inside the tower that takes you to the top of the monument to a viewing platform from where you get 360 degree views of the city.

View of Barcelona from The Columbus Monument

Mercado de La Boqueria

We always make it a point to visit local markets while travelling. It is an experience in itself; a chance to soak up the lively atmosphere, interact with local merchants, try some local food and to click awesome photos.

There are many markets in the city but this one located off the La Rambla is one of the most visited ones because of its colorful displays and stalls. It is an experience for the senses with its combination of sights, smell, sounds and taste. As with most markets, it can get quite busy and chaotic at times, so be mindful of your belongings when visiting.

Mercado de La Boqueria - Public Market in Barcelona

Top tip: If you want to buy something, don't buy it in the very first shop that you spot it at. Walk around and compare the prices in different stalls before you buy anything.

The market is also a great place to pick up some Spanish souvenirs.

Sailing and Vineyard Tour

If you are a wine lover and a sailing enthusiast to boot, then we recommend one of the Sailing and Winery Tours from Barcelona. Most tours set sail from Port Olimpic, taking in the sights and enjoying complimentary drinks & snacks while you sail. You will then visit a vineyard in the Alella wine region where you are taken on a guided tour of the vineyard and winery, followed by wine tasting.

We opted for a 3-in-1 tour which was an e-biking, vineyard visit and sailing tour departing from Barcelona. We e-biked (around 1.5 hours) along the Catalan coast to a family-run winery near the village of Alella. After a guided tour, we sampled some of the winery's best wines along with some snacks. It was then time for a quick 10-minute bike ride to a harbour near Alella where a yacht was waiting to take us back to Barcelona. During the sailing experience we were treated to some more drinks (Cava, Sangria, beer ec.) and snacks.

Wine tasting at Bouquet d’Alella winery in Spain

It was a wonderful tour and we enjoyed all aspects of it.

Watch a Flamenco Show

Flamenco is a Spanish art form that is made up of three parts, 'toque' (music - the guitarist's touch), 'cante' (song) and 'baile' (dance). If you are visiting Barcelona, it is recommended to watch a flamenco show.

We picked a 1-hour show at the historic City Hall Theater which was next door to Iberostar Selection Paseo de Gràcia (our hotel).

The show was fantastic. The singers, the musicians, the dancers, all of them were excellent. Each of them got a chance to showcase their skills and all of them gave authentic renditions. We could feel their passion for whatever they were doing. It was amazing; we enjoyed the whole experience and at the end of the show we were glad that we had booked this.

Flamenco Show at the City Hall in Barcelona

These are just a few of the highlights of what you can see and do in Barcelona; there's plenty more to explore. We are pleased with what we were able to see and do on this short break to the city but would happily go back to experience and enjoy everything else that Barcelona has to offer.

The Jet2 flight from Barcelona Airport

On our last day in Barcelona, we enjoyed one last breakfast at Ca's Menestral and checked out of the hotel. The Aerobús departure point (to the airport) was just a couple of minutes walk away from the hotel. And with these buses running 24 hours a day, we found one waiting for us as we arrived at the bus stop. In around half an hour we were at the airport.

Since we had already checked-in, we just had to drop our baggage off and make our way to the security. It took a little longer to clear security than it took us at Birmingham Airport, but we were soon at the boarding gates. The flight was delayed a little but the pilot made up for the lost time and we arrived back at Birmingham on time. The flight was comfortable; nothing to fault.

Jet2 flight from Barcelona to Birmingham

Would we travel with Jet2holidays again?

Overall, our experience with Jet2holidays was wonderful. This was the first time we went on a package holiday with them and it was lovely. Both the outbound and inbound flights were great, the ground staff at Birmingham were helpful, the in-flight service was nice and the hotel stay was also great.

Would we go on another Jet2holidays city break? Yes, we would do it again in a heartbeat and have no hesitation in recommending it to others too.

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