And nearly three months after we arrived back in New York, I’m finally publishing a more comprehensive Barcelona guide! It was a great trip and we did a lot. If you’ve never been to the city, add it to your to-visit list ASAP. While I’ll admit it’s not my favorite European city — London and Paris hold the top spots, followed by places like Prague, Salzburg and Nice, Barcelona is really beautiful + has a ton of culture. Plus, the food is excellent. Read on for more from my trip, including what to do and where to eat!
What To Do
La Rambla: This is Barcelona’s main drag. It’s a little touristy, but an absolute must-see. It starts in downtown Barcelona, and you can walk down the center of it. At the end, you’ll hit the Mediterranean, and a harbor with tons of boats (seen above.) Near the harbor is my favorite building in Barcelona, which I included a photo of above. It’s so beautiful — I love all the little details.
La Boqueria: Off of La Rambla is La Boqueria, a food market. There’s tons of smoothies and treats, as well as meats and such. Go for a juice and then walk around the market to see all the food!
Gothic Quarter: This area really feels like old Barcelona, with a church (Barcelona Cathedral) in the middle. Cars don’t drive on the skinny streets, there’s tons of restaurants and beautiful architecture. A gorgeous area to just spend the afternoon walking around.
Palau de la Música Catalana: A music hall with frequent concerts, as well as a restaurant and bar inside. The architecture is beautiful. We didn’t see a show, but we did stop by the outside, which is gorgeous and really unique looking. It’s in the Gothic Quarter, so definitely worth stopping by!
The beach: Of course, one of Barcelona’s biggest selling points is its proximity to the Mediterranean. Of course, we went in December, so we couldn’t go swimming, but it was still lovely to walk along the water on a sunny day. If you’re in Barcelona, you must to do this!
Museu Picasso: We visited the Musee Picasso in Paris in April, so we obviously needed to stop by the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. The collection isn’t quite as extensive, but if you’re a fan of the artist/art in general, it’s a must-stop and was one of the only museums we went to in Barcelona (versus the TONS of museums we went to in Paris.) Warning: The lines are long. We waited about 45 minutes, but as we learned in Barcelona, that’s sort of just the way things work there.
Jardins de Joan Maragall: We stumbled upon this park searching for the Joan Miró Foundation, and it was honestly stunning. It offers gorgeous views of the city, groomed gardens, and it sits on top of a hill. It was tough to navigate our way through to the museum (god, traveling without LTE is tough) but worth it to get a glimpse of this beautiful space.
Camp Nou: The Spanish love their soccer, and I insisted that we go see a “futbol” game at the famous Camp Nou staidum. It was so fun. Barcelona won, and they scored three goals, so it was an exciting game, too! I’m a casual sports fan (enjoy them, but I’m not obsessed) and I had a great time. People get so excited, it’s such an amazing atmosphere. The downside? The concessions aren’t nearly as good as they are in the U.S. — though they are a lot cheaper!
Gaudi: I did a whole post on this, but all the Gaudi sights are not to be missed in Barcelona. If you’re interested, I would just read that post, because I go into way more detail. But I recommend doing the walking tour, it’s an easy way to get a primer on the bulk of the sights, and then you can head back to the ones you’re interested in learning more about later.
What to Eat
Sadly, I didn’t take enough notes of the meals we had (and some of them were really, really good!) Here’s what I did remember!
Churros: When in Spain, you must eat churros. My friend who studied abroad in Barcelona recommended La Pallaresa and Valor, and we tried them both. Both delicious, both affordable. Eat all the churros you can — even from a street vendor! It’s such a classic Spanish treat and they’re very tasty.
La Catalana: A buzzy restaurant with tapas and delicious Spanish food. It was probably the nicest meal we had in Barcelona. Be sure to order the “huevos cabreaos” — fries in garlic sauce with an egg on top. So tasty!
Can Recasens: This restaurant was right our AirBnB. It’s not a traditional Spanish restaurant, but after eating Spanish food all week, we were ready for a break. They have salads, cheese fondue, and the most Spanish open faced sandwiches. So good.
Along the beach: I won’t name names here, but there were tons of cute seaside restaurants along the beach. Nice spots for seafood on a warm and sunny day!
Tapas: This is more general, but of course, eat a lot of tapas when you’re in Spain! We did a tapas tour through New Sandmans Europe, my favorite company for tours. It was a lot of fun — they provide tapas at several restaurants, plus sangria and other drinks. These sorts of tours are also a great way to meet other travelers. Some of my favorite tapas include anything with chorizo, patatas bravas (potatoes with an amazing sauce on top), the bread with tomato spread on it, and croquettes (fried potato balls with ham.)
Dow Jones: A definite study abroad-esque choice, but this stock market-themed bar has drinks that change prices depending on how the stocks are doing. We didn’t stop by, but peered in and it seems so fun!
Sangria: Order it everywhere, obviously!
Where to Stay
When I visited Barcelona in high school, we stayed near La Rambla, right in the center of town. We stayed a little further out this time, at this AirBnB. The space was gorgeous, although it was too cold to use the balcony. One complaint is that it was quite a few flights up, which was a lot of walking after spending the day exploring the city. My biggest recommendation is to stay near the Metro. It’s a very efficient subway system and runs frequently. We stayed near the Llacuna stop on the yellow line — I’d recommend going a little further in to be walking distance to the biggest sights. However, the Metro is really cheap. If you buy a 10-ride pass, it’s just one euro a ride. So taking it is no big deal!