Barcelona… the city of art, culture, beaches and sangria. Over the years Barcelona has reinvented itself to become the number one holiday destination. It has captured the hearts of travellers and expats alike who have flooded to Barcelona to explore the city that has everything (me included).
Barcelona has a lot to offer, nearly too much, the problem is how do you see everything in so little time? Looking back to the few months I spent in Barcelona last year, and as we cross fingers for the arrival of summer, I have put together the top twelve things to do and see when you’re in Barcelona.
Worship the architecture of La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is probably the most recognisable sight in Barcelona. Even if you haven’t been to Barcelona before, I’m sure you will be familiar with the modern architecture of the La Sagrada Familia. Brainchild of Antoni Gaudi, this beautiful sight is a ‘must-see’ when in Barcelona. It’s a celebration of religion in a seamless blend of modern, classical and unique architecture. La Sagrada Familia is simply stunning both from the outside and the inside. It will be the most memorable part of your trip and is a sight that will stay with you for years.
Capture the view of the city from Tibidabo
Do you want the best view of the city? Take the trip up to Tibidabo. Yes, it’s an amusement park (mainly targeting young kids) but it’s probably the only amusement park in the world to have such a fantastic view! So not only can you enjoy the sites but hey, you can have fun at the same time!
Have a picnic at Parc Guell
If you can’t make it to Tibidabo, Parc Guell is the next best thing. Being the creation of the one and only Antoni Gaudi, Parc Guell has its own commemorations for being in this list. Gaudi has made his mark upon nearly every corner of Barcelona. After taking the short walk (uphill I’m afraid) to this fantastic spot, you are immediately drawn to the quirky buildings and designs that is quintessentially Gaudi. With stunning views of the city (great for any nomad photographers)this trip should be at the top of your list of things to do in Barcelona… and just like I mentioned in the bullet point, why not take a picnic with you and enjoy the view for longer?
Watch a flamenco show (or go to the opera)
Watching the Opera or discovering a Flamenco show is something that my partner and I really wanted to do when we first visited Barcelona. I’ve put it in this list because, whilst I never got the chance to do it (a cheeky omission guys, sorry), it’s still on my bucket list and I want to make sure you don’t get to miss the opportunity the same as I did. There are plenty of shows in small, underground venues for the complete Spanish vibe and the Liceu Opera Theatre on Las Ramblas also hosts a number of fantastic operatic and musical performances where you can appreciate the stunning modernista architecture of the building alongside the gentle strum of a Spanish guitar.
Be Enchanted by the Magic Fountains
When I was living in Barcelona, I actually saw this nearly every weekend for a solid three months! Situated in Placa de Catalunya the fountains are set along the pathway up to the Museo Nacional D’arte de Catalunya. Expect bright lights, thrilling music and dancing fountains- literally, it’s like they’re dancing. The show is spectacular especially as it takes place at just the right time to see the sun set over the gorgeous horizon. Plus, you can take a little tour of the area and stroll through the gardens of Montjuic.
Go on a Wine Tour
Catalunya is famous for producing some of the best wines in the world. I had one of the best days whilst living in Barcelona when I took a wine tour (and I promise I’m not an alchie) across Catalunya. One of the best things about going on tours or planned excursions is that it gets you out of the city. Whilst I loved being in the hustle and bustle of Barcelona city life, it’s great to explore what else Catalunya has to offer. Whatever the tour you go on (it doesn’t have to be a wine tour), I recommend spreading your wings and exploring places like Montserrat or even a shopping trip at La Roca Village all of which can be found on the same tour guide we used, Catalunya Bus Turistic.
Taste Tapas, Drink Sangria and find Barcelona’s Best Eateries
You can’t go to Spain without tasting the Tapas. No matter where you dine in Barcelona you will be offered a selection of tapas to be washed down with some sweet sangria. In my experience, El 58 in Poblenou is the best place to try some of the most delicious, traditional tapas dishes. It’s a little bit out of the way from the centre but it fast became a local to us as our flat was on 5 minutes away. However, there are plenty more places to discover just don’t be afraid to take the backstreets to find the most authentic menus.
Take a trip to Costa Brava
Are you staying in Barcelona for longer than a couple of weeks? If so, then I urge you to explore the famous Costa Brava coastline. The Costa Brava is well known for its lovely small town beach resorts which have drawn tourists to the area for decades. We, my partner and I, took a week off to explore the area for ourselves- a well-deserved holiday from a holiday (haha). You’ll find many beautiful destinations as you head up the coast (we took the train which was so easy), however, I do warn you not to follow in our footsteps and get a hotel in Lloret de Mar which was great for its nightlife but probably one of the most ‘chaviest’ places we’ve visited!
Soar to the 26th floor of the W Hotel
Prepare for a first class night out and take the two-second elevator ride to the 26th floor of the famous W hotel Barcelona where you can party the night away with fantastic views of the city and its beaches up at the Eclipse bar. Not only do you get to see the whole city at night but also drink some of the best tasting cocktails and shots in your life.
Relive History at Montjuic Castle
Take the Furnicular and Cable Car up to the old military fortress of Montjuic Castle for a touch of Barcelona history dating as far back as 1640. Even if you’re not into your history, it’s still worth a quick tour. You’ll get great views of the city (and also a sneak peak at some of the cruise ships docked at the bay), plus, if you time it right, Barcelona hosts an outdoor cinema experience and other live entertainment right in the castle walls- a fan favourite for locals and tourists alike- which are also worth a watch.
And so much more….
There’s still so much that I haven’t covered like the museums (including the Picasso Museum), the quirky bars, and for football fans, Camp Nou! But maybe it’s time for you to discover what else there is to see in Barcelona and take a trip there for yourself. Or, if you’ve been there before, what are your favourite sights to see and things to do in Barcelona?