Europe: Day 4, Barcelona When you're in a European city and all the museums and shops are beginning to blur together, there's only one thing to do: Head to the train station. Budget Travel Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 12:00 AM Budget Travel LLC, 2016


Europe: Day 4, Barcelona

When you're in a European city and all the museums and shops are beginning to blur together, there's only one thing to do: Head to the train station.

Europe's train systems make it possible to reclaim a sense of adventure--and still be back in time for dinner.

From the surreal to the sublime (and then back to the surreal): Figueres is home to what might be the zaniest cultural institution on the planet: Salvador Dalí's outrageous interactive museum, the Teatre-Museu Dalí. The mischievous surrealist's sense of humor is instantly evident: The building is crowned with cream-colored eggs and adorned with cement "knots of bread." Inside, it's a circus of trompe l'oeil, holograms, and staged mob hits. Dalí's works, which include countless wild portraits of his wife, Gala, fill a maze of rooms around a central courtyard. Even his crypt is on view; the artist was laid to rest here after his death in 1989. Figueres is also Catalonia's original foodie destination. At the unassuming Hotel Empordà, a 10-minute walk from the center of town, Jaume Subiròs i Jordà cooks some of the region's best food. The $51 menu del día, which may include chilled cream of asparagus soup, poached hake with a coulis of fennel and sweet red pepper, and handmade lime sorbet, is a reasonably affordable way to experience Spain's ongoing culinary revolution. Arrive hungry and begin with a glass of cava on the terrace, surrounded by golden fields. One of the largest fortified castles in Europe, the 18th-century Castell de Sant Ferran, overlooks the town, but it's a bit run-down on the inside (skip paying the admission and instead take the two-hour walk around the stone wall, where there's a bird's-eye view). Down the street from the Teatre-Museu Dalí is the Museu del Joguet de Catalunya. The little toy museum has such nostalgic objets as marionettes, tin cars, and love-worn teddy bears from the 1930s. There's an amusing exhibit dedicated to Catalonia's most famous symbol--a small pooping man with a red hat and a pipe. The caganer is thought to bring luck because he fertilizes the earth, enabling good fortune to grow. The caganer figurines in the gift shop make memorable souvenirs.

Return-trip snack
A bittersweet-chocolate brownie or a tortilla española sandwich--on bread that's been rubbed with tomato and drizzled with olive oil--from Salvador Dalí's hangout, Café Hotel Paris.

Teatre-Museu Dalí: Plaça Gala-Salvador Dalí 5, 011-34/972-677-500,, $13. Hotel Empordà: Avenida Salvador Dalí 170, 011-34/972-500-562, Castell de Sant Ferran: Pujada al Castell, 011-34/972-506-094,, $4. Museu del Joguet de Catalunya: Carrer de Sant Pere 1, 011-34/972-504-585,, $6.50. Café Hotel Paris: Rambla 10, 011-34/972-500-713, sandwich $3.

Train info
106 minutes each way. Round-trip ticket: $22. Trains to Figueres run at least once every hour from Barcelona's main train station, Estacio-Sants, but the best connection is the Catalunya Expres, which takes one hour and 46 minutes. The 9:25 A.M. train operates daily; tickets ($22 round trip) can be purchased at the station's counters up to two hours before departure. Keep the receipt: You'll need it to pick up the return ticket at a booth in Figueres. There's a 4:00 p.m. train that arrives in Barcelona at 5:46 p.m. Schedules at

Get Inspired with more from

Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Budget Travel Real Deals

  • From $1,078
  • From $3,084

See more deals »


Our newsletter delivers vacation inspiration straight to your inbox.

Check Prices