The relaxed vibe of sun soaked Barcelona is irresistible. This colourful coastal gem is seriously stunning and offers a good ol’ dose of Spanish culture. If sangria, tapas and sunshine are your bag – and let’s face it, how could they not be?! – look no further than this ultimate dreamboat of a city.
Our five days felt like a whirlwind; the city really is a treasure chest of things to see and do.
This was my first time in Barca and admittedly, I was on full tourist mode, so I’ve rounded up some of my highlights below.
The view from Montjuic Hill.
Things to do
The Gothic Quarter quickly became my favourite part of Barcelona. The little backstreets house some of the coolest shops, bars and restaurants that the city has to offer.
Hit the beach
It would be complete loon-a-sea to not visit Barceloneta beach. It’s the city’s best spot for working on your tan, taking a dip or just enjoying a smoothie in one of the many beach bars.
You can’t walk too far before stumbling across one of local artist, Antoni Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces. My favourites were:
Casa Batlló: a centrally located house designed by the architect and the one I was the most excited to see. It’s a magical take on gothic and unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Park Guell: simply, beautiful. The park has been sympathetically designed to fit in with the natural landscape. The park includes the famous Guadi wall, botanical gardens and talk about panoramic views! One thing to note though, you need to book online (on the day) for access to the monuments as tickets sell out within the first few hours during peak seasons.
Sagrada Família is Gaudi’s true masterpiece and 100 years on, development continues. You could spend hours observing the intricacy in the architectural design.
Want some time to catch your breath, away from the haste of the city? Well then head to Montjuic Hill for a large helping of beautiful green spaces, hiking trails and a great view of Barcelona below.
Spend an evening in true Catalan style, listening to the sweet, folksy sounds of the traditional Catalonian guitar.
Our visit actually coincided with the lead up to Rio. It seemed only right for us to head on over to Barca’s Olympic park and check out the arena where Linford Christie won gold in the 100m men’s final!
Hop on, hop off bus
Did someone order a tourist? These busses are super cheap and allow you to do exactly that. Seeing what you want, at your pace. Busses are frequent (every 10 minutes or so) but queues can be lengthy around the major touristy sights. Bus Turistic: €28
I would recommend taking the cable car for the view alone, you can see everything from up there. It also takes your right up to Montjuic – two birds, one stone and all that.
Food tour’s are a brilliant way experiencing the best of a cultures gastronomy and there are so many to choose from in Barca. Slightly pricey but definitely worth it.
Where to eat
Barcelona is the ultimate foody heaven! Make sure you have those expandable waistbands at the ready!
Mercado de la Boqueria – Food Market
You must make time to check out this market. It’s alive with colours and smells and is complete chaos, but that just adds to the spirit. You will find everything and anything your heart (or more likely, your belly) desires, I’m talking fish, fruit, Spanish sausage and local wines. Did someone say sangria?
Sensi Gourmet Tapas
A friend recommended this place and I’m so glad she did! The food is seriously delicioso! Tapas with a gourmet twist, I’d recommend…everything!
Great food in a casual basement setting. There’s a real communal feel to the restaurant as you’re seated on sharer tables.
Flax and Kale
Eat better, be happier, live longer, is their motto. The food looks as good as it tastes and they also offer vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.
Satan’s Coffee Corner
Located in the Gothic Quarter, this is THE place to get that morning coffee fix before a day of exploring.
Where to stay
We stayed at Hotel Granvia in the Eixample district and I couldn’t recommend it more. The stairway is even more impressive IRL. The huge suite, great balcony and exceptionally comfortable bed made our stay in Barca all the more enjoyable.
I’ve also narrowed down a few low cost accommodation choices which you can also check out here.