Food, football, fashion and f….antastic art (nailed it). Barcelona is somehow excitingly fast-paced and extremely relaxed at the same time. With its incredible festivals, lively nightlife and a trend-setting fashion scene, balanced with blissful days at the beach and putting a good portion of time aside during the day to really indulge in food.
This culture and vibrancy, but laid-back attitude, is what draws so many people in.
Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia division of Spain. With a deeply interesting history stretching back to the Roman era, it’s easy to dip in and out of historic streets into trendy bars and past modernist architecture.
Works by the famous Antoni Gaudi sit comfortably within city streets, whilst his mosaics and sculptures coat some of the city’s public parks. Tree-lined boulevards and squares offer shade to those sitting in tapas bars and restaurants, taking the time to enjoy good food and wine.
CURRENCY | Euro
TIME NEEDED | 2-4 days
SEASONS & WEATHER | Cold/mild in winter, hot in summer. Visit anytime, but late spring, summer and early autumn should guarantee better weather.
LANGUAGES | Spanish, Catalan, and English is widely spoken too
HOW TO SAY HELLO | Hola!
HOW TO SAY THANK YOU | Gracias
TRANSPORT | Walking, metro, bus
THE NEAREST AIRPORT | Barcelona airport (Aeroport de Barcelona-El Prat) (BCN)
NEAREST TRAIN STATION | Barcelona Sants
NEAREST BUS STATION | Barcelona Nord (Bus and Coach Station)
1. Las Ramblas & Passeig de Gràcia
Two incredibly famous boulevards that join some of Barcelona’s most prominent districts. The trees provide a welcome shade from the midday sun, and each street is packed full of museums, boutiques, tapas bars and some of Gaudi’s famous architectural creations, including Palacio Güell, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà.
Plaça de Catalunya is a famous square which joins the two boulevards together. It has a beautiful central fountain and is essentially at the heart of the city, making it a great meeting point, or a great central place to base yourself for your stay in Barcelona.
Don’t miss out on ducking into the narrow side streets too. With balconies coated in plants and clotheslines, and people dashing between roads on mopeds, this is where you’ll see the ‘real’ Barcelona.
2. The beach and Marina
At the southern end of La Rambla, you’ll find yourself emerging into the marina and the seafront. With plenty of shops and luxury yachts to peruse, you’re a relatively short walk away from Port Olímpic (another great place to browse boats and stop for lunch) and the city’s main beaches of Playa de La Barceloneta, Platja de Sant Sebastià and Playa de Bogatell.
3. Park Güell
Boasting incredible views out across the city, this park is also home to a plethora of Gaudi’s sculptures and artwork. It’s 10 euros a ticket to enter the main area that holds Gaudi’s work and it’s definitely worth a wander. The famous Dragon Stairway and Greek Theatre are great areas for photos.
Make sure to book in advance, as tickets get snapped up quickly.
4. Montjuïc Hill
Situated in the south of the city, Montjuïc Hill is jam-packed with interesting places to explore. From Montjuïc Castle, a number of museums including the Catalan Museum of Archaeology, the Joan Miró Foundation (a museum dedicated to another great Spanish artist), the beautiful fountain ‘Font Màgica de Montjuïc‘, and the numerous gardens interspersed between.
You can reach the top by walking, or by hopping into a cable car from the port or near the exit of the funicular railway, which is essentially another part of the metro network which takes you part way up the hill.
5. The Olympic Park
Another huge feature of Montjuïc Hill is the Olympic Park. The Olympic Games came to Barcelona in 1992 and it’s still possible to wander through part of the stadium and across the forecourt where all the action took place.
It’s also possible to swim in the Olympic pool itself, but at 12 euros, it’s a little on the pricey side. There is another public pool (Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc) near to the Funicular rail that’s a little cheaper and has an incredible view over the city!
The Palau Sant Jordi arena now hosts concerts and events, so keep your eyes peeled for any interesting acts that might be on while you’re in the city!
6. Camp Nou
OK, keeping with the sports theme, and I know football might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s hard to deny the incredible reputation that Barcelona FC have worldwide. Even if you don’t watch/follow football, you’ve likely heard of them! It’s possible to tour the stadium, and there’s also a museum to explore as well.
If you’re in town when there’s a home game on… well, you’ll know about it. Football is a huge part of Spanish culture, so if you feel like becoming a part of the atmospheric action, grab a ticket and cheer on Barça, Barça, Baaarça!
7. Tapas Bars & Markets
Spanish food has to be some of the most comforting and hearty cuisine on the planet. The huge indoor market, La Boqueria (open every day apart from Sundays), is a great place to experience the full force of Spanish food right at its core. It’s in a perfect central location just off La Rambla.
If you’re in an Airbnb, or have the ability to cook your own meals, this is the perfect place to sample tapas ideas, and then buy fresh produce to create your own.
There are a huge number of cooking classes on offer in Barcelona too. Learning a recipe you picked up from a tapas cooking lesson is the perfect memento to take home with you.
8. Unleash your inner art critic
If you’re up on Montjuïc Hill, head over to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) to wander between artwork from the Renaissance and Romanesque period. And when you’re wandering the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, navigate towards the Picasso Museum dedicated to one of Spain’s (and the World’s) most famous artists.
9. The Gothic Quarter
By the Harbourside you’ll find the Gothic quarter. Here you’ll discover narrow paved streets where balconies almost touch, plus the impressive Barcelona Cathedral and Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA), which holds remains of the old Roman city of Barcelona, or Barcino as it was known at the time.
10. Sagrada Familia
The most iconic structure in Barcelona, and another incredible architectural piece by Gaudi. This church is famous not only for its unique design, blending gothic and art nouveau styles, but the fact it is still yet to be completed (after work began over 130 years ago!). So don’t be too surprised if parts of the church are obstructed here and there with scaffolding.
Make sure to book your visit in advance, as tickets go quickly!
The attention to detail is staggering, with unique religious motifs and styling adorning every surface. The interior is unlike any church you will ever see, it’s really quite breathtaking.