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Quick trips: Barcelona or Venice?

BREATHTAKING: The view from the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya offers an incredible view of Spain’s second city;

SHORT BREAKS can be great for getting away on budget. Whether it’s three days partying away in Stockholm, or taking in the architecture and culture of Madrid – short breaks have the ability to be anything you want them to be.

So far for 2017, my travels have taken me to Glasgow, Barcelona and most recently Venice. While Barcelona and Venice are both beautiful cities with much to offer – they also provide very different experiences. But which is best for a short city break?

Travel

Both Venice and Barcelona have fairly short flight durations with a maximum of 2 hours from London, making it super efficient for that super short city break. For Barcelona however, it’s much more accessible to visit different landmarks and make it to the heart of the city, thanks to it’s frequent buses, metro, and a plethora of taxis lining up the streets – if you feel like splashing the cash.

Meanwhile, entering the heart of Venice is slightly trickier – which is understandable considering the city is built upon water. Once I arrived at Treviso airport, my journey consisted of a 40-minute coach ride before getting to where we needed to be. The good thing is once you do get to Venice, everything is within walking distance, and what a leisurely walk that is. From the cobbled back streets, to walking along the cruise ports, everything is easy to discover. However, there are the famous water taxis and gondolas for those who would like to get to certain parts of Venice quicker.


FOODIE: Barcelona’s La Boqueria market offers a huge selection of fresh foods and goods from across the area

Food

Now to my favourite part – the food! And this might be the trickiest decision to make as both Venice and Barcelona do relatively well in the food department. But which is better? Sangria or Bellini’s? pizza or tapas?

Well Barcelona definitely has many food options, particular along La Ramba, one of the busiest streets in Barcelona. Here you’ll find many tapas bars, their amazing food market La Boqueria, along with McDonald’s (of course) and many tourist friendly restaurants and bars. However, it’s a little tricky to find the best of the best, and definitely requires some research, otherwise you’ll find yourself eating sub par tapas with watered down sangrias for your entire trip – or resort to the Hard Rock Café like I did.

Venice has a slight advantage – as the city is much smaller than Barcelona – so finding those special dining experiences was slightly easier. Here you can find numerous gelato shops, (one I found near St. Marks Square played jazz as I scoffed down hazelnut and caramel ice cream) pizzerias and Venetian bistros. From seafood linguine to peach Bellini’s and authentic Italian pizzas – Venice definitely had me in foodie heaven.


VIEWS: Venice’s Santa Maria della Salute is seen from the edge of the city’s Grand Canal

Culture

Both Venice and Barcelona are rich with culture, so which is better is really dependent on what you’re looking for.

Barcelona is great for nightlife, as well as its great gothic architecture. You can scour the city looking at the best of Antoni Gaudí’s work; from the Sagrada Familia to the amazing Park Guell, and then rave throughout the night along the beach strip with numerous bars and clubs. However if you’re not much of techno lover (like me) then many of those clubs may not be for you – but the architecture and galleries (Piccasso’s in particular is pretty great) can keep you entertained during the break.

Venice isn’t a place for partying and is definitely for exploring the city and embracing the culture – which is not difficult to do, as there is a lot to see. Pretty much every major building in Venice – from Saint Mark’s Basilica to Doge’s Palace – is an architecture’s dream; rich with history and monuments that exceed Barcelona’s tenfold.

For culture, Venice is definitely the place to be, but if you’re looking for a little culture and a lot of partying, Barcelona fits the bill.


ICONIC: Gondolas in Venice are part of the experience

Shopping

Now this is short and simple: Barcelona is relatively affordable and Venice is not. In Barcelona you have Zara, H&M, local clothing shops along with designer brands. But Venice, my friend, is designer galore. Every corner you turn there’s a Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Versace store, with no affordable place in sight. However, it does make for some great window-shopping – if you’re into that.

Comfortability

Both Barcelona and Venice work well in terms of travel time and things to do during a short city break. Venice can be a very fulfilling couple of days as it’s pretty easy to see as many monuments, exhibitions and eat until your hearts content in a short space of time.

Barcelona requires a little more time and work. Unless you’re fully equipped with the best restaurants and insider info on the “Real Barcelona,” then you need to take a few more days to discover the magic of Barcelona.

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