We're a 20 something couple who loves to travel backpack style on a budget. We don't stay in hostels, but we definitely don't spend a lot on hotels since really, you're only sleeping there. We use go to venere . com to book our hotels -- its like the amazon of hotels. There are photos and customer feedback, so you can find out if it's really in the perfect area, etc.
I've visited Barcelona before and it's definitely in my top 3 favorites. This book helped me remember my favorite places so I could take my boyfriend as well as introduced me to new spots for us to discover together. I personally love all the gaudi spots, like parc Guell,Casa Batlló(my favorite), Casa Milà(La Pedrera), and going to the top of the Sagrada Familia was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Also worth a visit: Palau de la Música Catalana, the music palace. Just the stained glass ceiling alone is epic, but the history of the place was really interesting too.
If you've got time to burn, take a walk around Parc De La Ciutadella. As far I could tell, this is the city park. Some awesome sites in the park such as the Cascada, a gigantic waterfall/monument which a young Gaudi helped construct. If you're looking to help your tired feet, rent a boat on the artificial lake farther into the park.
Anyway! We've used these slim lonely planet books for cities all over Spain, Italy and Portugal. They are amazing. I first got them on a trip to Italy, since we were visiting a few cities I hadn't been before. They were such an integral part of why we enjoyed ourselves so much, so I absolutely had to get them for our next trip to Spain and Portugal.
The books are very compact and fit in my tiny day bag(which just about houses my small camera, chapstick and a few other odds and ends). It was really all we needed when we ventured out every day. It has GREAT maps, about 5 different maps per book. And they're not gigantic, so thankfully you will not be the 'obvious tourist' which is something that I get very concerned about. I don't want to be the stereotypical American blocking off a sidewalk while staring at a map that's 2x5. Each map concentrates on a different section of the city, so you can see specific streets and points of interest.
I usually read thru these books page by page to decide my daily itinerary before we leave for our trip. I cross reference them with other guides and websites, to make sure I won't be skipping anything crucial. I made notes on the pages and highlight parts of the maps so that I can easily find things I am going to.
An indispensable aspect of these books is not only does it at least give you an idea of pricing, if not the exact amount, but it tells student/senior pricing as well as hours and even hours for different seasons if the point of interests breaks down that way. We always knew when something was open or closed so there was never wasted time walking to something and finding it closed or just about to be closed. When you're in a city for a short amount of time, that is VERY important!!
There is also a wide variety of color pictures, which I really like. It gives me a better idea of if i want to visit that museum or fountain or building.
This book can get you into a completely unknown city and help you get from an airport to where ever you're going. It tells you all the transportation choices and what is best for getting where. It has highlights for places you absolutely should not miss, sights and activities, walking tours(how often can you take yourself on a walking tour of an unknown city?!), day trips, shopping including food and flea markets, restaurants,hotels, places to visit for kids.
Lastly, my favorite section which is the 'directory', it's a how-to for the specific city your book is based on: on arrival and departure(which I mentioned before)info on tipping, your embassy, getting around: telling you about metro cards and buses and trains, basics on language and emergencies. Even tips for women or gay and lesbian travelers.
I would recommend this book whole heartedly and look forward to my next vacation so I can buy more. And afterwards, it's totally something sentimental to keep because it has all the notes on where we went and what we liked and didn't like. It really brings us back to the excitement of visiting a new, unknown place.