Barcelona is a truly magical place, thanks to the architectural influence of Gaudí, the incredibly welcoming people who live there, and the fact that Barcelona is home to some of the best food in the world. It’s a place you absolutely cannot miss seeing, especially if you’re visiting other places in Spain.
Barcelona is situated in the Catalonia region, and very proud of it’s distinctive cultural identity and language separate from the rest of Spain. The main language of this region is Catalan, though dont worry, they speak and understand Castellano perfectly. The region declared its independence from Spain in October of 2017, though the Spanish goverment in Madrid does not formally recognize Catalonia’s autonomy.
There is SO much to do in Barcelona, so you definitely wont find yourself bored, that’s for sure. Some of my favorite sights include:
- La Sagrada Familia: the massive and unique cathedral designed by Gaudi, it’s an absolute must-see while you’re in Barcelona – even if you don’t have time to go inside, just admiring the outside will be well worth your time
- Park Guell: another Gaudi claim-to-fame, Park Guell is a massive public park situated up the hill overlooking the city of Barcelona. Grab lunch and maybe a beverage or two before heading up there for an afternoon to enjoy some sunshine and the beautiful views of both the city and ocean!
- Casa Batlló: one of Gaudi’s masterpieces (you’re seeing a theme by now, aren’t you?). This house is my favorite of his homes – very Doctor Seuss-esque and totally worth a visit. It’s cheaper to buy online versus once you arrive (entry fee is 24.5 Euro)
- Mercat St Josep La Boqueria: the most famous market in Barcelona and one of the top markets worldwide, it’s absolutely worth a visit while you’re in Barcelona. You can spend 30 minutes or you can spend 3 hours – totally depends on how much time you have and how much you love markets (I think we probably spent about 1.5 hours wandering around)
- Barrio Gotico: the Gothic district is really beautiful to walk through, and it’s close to a lot of the other sites so I’d recommend planning to check it out on your way to someplace else, like La Boqueria.
- Las Ramblas is fun to walk down and one of the better known sights in Barcelona, but it’s touristy and therefore FULL of pickpockets, so be careful. The city in general is notorious for terrible pickpockets, including inside restaurants, so wear your bags/purses on your front and be alert…you’ll be fine
- Camp Nou: the home of FC Barcelona – if you’re a fan, try to get tickets to a game in the Nou Camp. There’s no experience like it!
- And last but certainly not least, check out the beach. Barcelona is a beach town, after all!
There are also tons of day trips or overnight excursions in the region that would be worth checking out:
- Costa Brava: you could spend weeks exploring the charming towns of the Costa Brava region, but some of the highlights are Girona, Pals, Cadaques, Peratallada, and Figueres (home to the Dali museum)
- Montserrat Monastery is located just 30 miles west of Barcelona; the train ride takes a little over an hour and you do have to transfer about halfway
- The Salvador Dali Museum is located about an hour away on the Ave (high speed train), just up the coast. Dali is buried in the crypt below the museum
As for food, the small hole-in-the-wall tapas bars are where you’ll want to eat. The food is incredible, the drinks are cheap, and you’ll get a really authentic Catalan experience start-to-finish. But, if you’re in the mood for something a bit nicer, check out Tickets or ABaC. Both are Michelin-starred and offer amazing Spanish tastings, they just come at a heftier price tag than the smaller tapas bars.
Enjoy your time in Barcelona! Been already? Let me know your favorite spots!