The Ultimate Guide to Barcelona
Often times, when we put something on a pedestal, the reality doesn’t measure up because expectations are too high. Barcelona has been on a pedestal for me for about ten years. I’ve wanted to visit the Catalan city for as long as I can remember and finally, I had the chance.
I recently spent eight lovely days in Barcelona with my partner and absolutely fell in love with this amazing city. As soon as we arrived, I knew it dethrone New York as my favourite city. Having returned home, I now have quite the monumental task of trying to write about it. So instead of writing a 3,000 words article, I’ve decided to break it all up into three separate posts.
Today, I’m reminiscing about all the wonderful sites I saw and places I visited last month in Barcelona. Here are my top picks on where to go and what to see.
La Sagrada Familia
Yes, this is a super touristy spot this is a must visit in Barcelona. We booked La Sagrada Familia as our first thing to see in Barcelona through a skip-the-line tour with TGI. The tour was 90 minutes and was a great way to learn more about Antoni Gaudi and his masterpiece.
Growing up in a religious household, I’ve been to my share of churches. But no other church I’ve seen has the WOW factor that La Sagrada Familia has. The details in the architecture and the inside design was breathtaking. You could definitely get a sense of how spiritual Gaudi was as this whole church represents his admiration of nature and love of God.
They say the basilica will be completed in ten years to coincide with the centennial of Gaudi’s death, but our guide seriously doubted it would be completed by then. There are still ten more towers to build and the whole third phase. But, it’s still magnificent. Definitely go to La Sagrada Familia and book a tour so that you don’t have to stand in line. I plan to visit again in ten years to check out the progress.
This wasn’t on my list at all but after finishing up the Devour Barcelona Gracia Food Tour (will have a post on this next week), we decided to head up to Park Guell, another Gaudi design, since we were in the area. The directions we were given said a ten minute walk – it ended up being almost a 30 minute walk and it was hot as hell that day.
owever, by the time we arrived at the park at the top of the hill, it was totally worth the walk. The view of Barcelona was stunning and park provided a nice urban retreat. Park Guell is free but there is one section where you have to pay for admittance. We didn’t pay and we still had a great experience. If it weren’t so hot and I wasn’t dressed head to toe in black, we would’ve stayed longer.
C Barcelona is regarded as the best football team in the world so a visit to Camp Nou is a must when visiting Barcelona, even if you aren’t a football fan. I’m a big football fan (Manchester United) so Camp Nou was obvious. We were in Barcelona during El Classico and unfortunately couldn’t afford the tickerts (started at $700) but we decided to tour Cap Nou regardless.
The stadium holds 99,000 people (more than the population of Bermuda) and is pretty impressive. Johan Cruyff, former player and manager of FC Barcelona died days before we arrived in Barcelona and his memorial was going on at Camp Nou while we were there. We paid our respects and took a few pics of the many flowers and gifts left for the legend.
uper touristy, yes. Worth a visit, yes. My dad travelled to Barcelona some ten/eleven years ago – actually that’s probably why I’ve been obsessed as long as I have because he fell in love with the city. He told me I had to visit Las Ramblas just to take a stroll down and take it all in. And he was right. It was so busy, loud and touristy but was worth walking down. Actually, my favourite place to eat was tucked off in an alley at the top of Las Ramblas and my favourite bar was just off Las Ramblas so it was worth it! Make sure you guard your belongings, seriously, pickpockets are next level in Barcelona.
When I told the driver I wanted to go to Port Olympico, I thought I was talking about the Olympic Stadium. So when we ended up at a beach port, I was surprised. Silly me. But seriously, go to Port Olympico. It starts off the miles-long stretch of beach that Barcelona is famous for. We sat off at a restaurant on the beach sipping drinks and loving the view. We truly felt like we were on vacation at this moment. I didn’t find the beach to be gorgeous, but, I am a beach snob thanks to the world-renowned beaches in Bermuda. However, I loved the beach vibe down at Port Olympico.
A little far off from the centre of town but still worth the trek to see the site of the 1992 Olympics. The stadium is vast although I don’t think it’s in use anymore. This isn’t a must visit place but if you’ve got time, take a taxi over and wander around. It’s great for photo ops.
- Barcelona is super walkable. We walked around as much as we could except for the long journeys, of course. It was a great way to see the different neighbourhoods.
- If you don’t fancy being around tourists, stay up in Eixample. We stayed here at The Mirror and loved the area. It has great restaurants and posh hotels despite being residential. Next time, we will stay closer to the beach as we preferred that vibe.
- Taxis are super cheap in Barcelona so if you aren’t sure about the metro, use the taxis. We never had any issues with pickpockets likely because we either walked or took taxis.
- If you don’t know any Spanish, learn some key phrases. My Spanish was OK, not great but OK. I had also brushed up on a few Catalan phrases so I was able to communicate efficiently for the most part. However, in situations where people spoke no English, I did have a hard time but it wasn’t impossible.
- Bring your sunglasses. Barcelona is super bright and sunny and as a shades addict, I have almost no pics of me in Barcelona without them. Not only will you look fashionable, but you won’t have to squint everywhere you go.