My trip to Spain was so dear to my heart, I have a Spanish great grandmother, & it was important to me that I meet the people, taste the food, & experience the culture first hand. I’d visited Barcelona as a child, and I remembered it to be exactly as it was when I returned as an adult, impactful. I’ve fallen in love with Spain, and I’ve only seen a small slice of it. It was the first time I’ve ever visited a foreign place, and thought wow I could live here. There is so much more of the country I’m looking forward to seeing and experience, but for now please see my personal guide & tips for Mallorca and Barcelona.
A love letter: Your art, the sound of the Spanish guitar echoing from the street corner, your whimsical architecture, an air of elegance, yummy tapas, your beautiful language, the sweet sangria, and how alive and colorful the city is after dark. It is so easy to fall in love with you Barcelona. I felt completely at home and I can’t wait to return to you.
HOW LONG SHOULD I VISIT
Barcelona is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. It is known for its late-night dinners and midday siestas. To truly immerse yourself in the culture, I recommend living as the Spaniards do and scheduling your days at an easy pace. I suggest a minimum of four days. This will give you time to see all of the major sites at a leisurely tempo + some extra time for a beach day or day trip.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
There are a few things you should know before you go. First, there are no Ubers in Barcelona – so you’ll need to take a taxi or car service from the airport. Second, Barcelona is a great city to explore on foot— so don’t be afraid to get lost and zigzag your way through the different alleyways. Finally, the metro is safe and reliable if you don’t want to walk or take taxi’s everywhere. (Tip: taxi’s do take credit and debit cards, however I recommend having some extra euros just in case)
MY TEN FAVORITE PLACES & THINGS TO DO
La Sagrada Familia: is not only an iconic and beautiful church, but no matter your faith, this Antoni Gaudi masterpiece will take your breath away and leave you with so many emotions. The cost to enter is 26 euros, and it is well worth the visit. I can be such a tourist, and I’m always guilty of trying to capture a million photos, because of this I purchased the first self-guided tour of the morning, so that I could see the world renowned La Sagrada Familia in all its glory with a manageable crowd. Be sure to visit the park across the street, “Placa de la Sagrada Familia” for another fascinating perspective of the church. La Sagrada Familia is massive & to really appreciate its architectural beauty I found myself circling the entire block to see it from all different angles. I highly recommend this.
Mercat de la Boqueria: In the heart of Barcelona lies a busy and vibrant open-air food market. Mercat de la Boqueria is the perfect place to grab a bite & stroll Barcelona’s famous La Rambla Avenue. The popular landmark sells some of the freshest fruits, seafood, and vegetables in all of Barcelona. Although, the market can be a bit overwhelming, and crowded at certain times of the day it is not to be missed. After a long flight from Los Angeles, Mercat de la Boqueria was our first stop after checking into the hotel. We grabbed a quick bite here before we set to explore. Two items not to be missed are the homemade warm and crispy empanadas that come in variety of different fillings. Be sure to wash down your empanadas with one of the famous natural fruit juices that come in all different flavors. I chose the cucumber watermelon and my boyfriend chose the pineapple mango. Absolutely, refreshing!
Bar Paradiso: Visit one of the 50 best bars in the world in Barcelona’s El Born neighborhood: Bypass a pastrami sandwich shop & hidden behind a refrigerator lies the majestic speak easy Bar Paradiso. Once you’re inside, you’re immediately transported to “Paradiso,” and welcomed by the skillful mixologists. Bar Paradiso’s drinks are not your ordinary. The glow in the dark menu draws creative inspiration from the universe and serves show stopping cocktails with names like: “Volcano Negroni,” “Parallel Worlds,” and “Space Colada”. Bar Paradiso is very popular with both the locals and tourists, and because of this you can expect a long wait. For reference, I waited in line a little over an hour at 10pm. The presentation and the cocktails are well worth the wait. Bar Paradiso is not your typical bar. Consider your visit a true experience.
Dr Stravinksy: Dr Stravinksy is another speak easy bar that has made the list for the 50 best bars in the world. This hidden gem is located in the trendy El Born neighborhood and is well worth the effort to find it. It came at no surprise, my boyfriend and I both agreed we had the best cocktails we’ve ever had. You can expect a line at Dr. Stravinksy. We were lucky, and only waited about 20 minutes when we visited. Once you’re inside the 1960s themed bar your attention is drawn to the talented mixologist cocktail shaker show. The curated cosmo menu is divided into a compass with planets descriptors such as salty, sour, sweet, and spicy to guide you in creating a unique concoction perfect for your palate.
Park Güell: If you’re searching for a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, look no further than Park Güell. Designed by the famous architect Antonio Gaudi, this park is set atop a hill with stunning views of the city. Art lovers, photographers, and tourists from all over the world come to Park Güell to enjoy the peaceful gardens and incredible mosaic mural. I recommend taking the first tour of the day at 9:30am to avoid the crowds. Admission to enter the park is 10 euros.
Hotel Sercotel Rosellon Rooftop: One of the best things about Barcelona is the wealth of amazing rooftop bars. Hotel Sercotel Rosellon is one of my favorites, thanks to its stunning panoramic views of The Sagrada Familia. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset with a glass of sangria in hand, and the tapas menu is delicious too. The rooftop is one of the most popular in the city, so you’ll need to book a reservation 7 days in advance at midnight Barcelona time to secure a reservation. However, if you’re staying at the hotel, you’ll have access to the rooftop anytime you want. Such a great perk!
Palau de la Musica: This stunning music concert hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, famous for its bright and colorful stained glass panes. If you’re lucky, you might catch a rehearsal taking place during your visit. Music lovers, photographers, and art enthusiasts will all appreciate the Palau de la Musica’s stunning architecture. You’ll need about an hour to explore the hall. The cost to enter for a self-guided tour is 15 euros.
El Born Neighborhood: El Born is a lively neighborhood in Barcelona that is definitely worth a visit. This bohemian area is home to many creatives. You’ll discover a ton of trendy cafes, bistros, funky shops, chic cocktail bars, and art galleries. You can easily spend a few hours (or more) strolling around and taking in the vibrant atmosphere. The energy is great to visit both during the day and at night. The El Born neighborhood was my favorite part of Barcelona, and I kept finding my way back for either a drink, gelato, or a stroll.
Gothic Quarters: The Gothic quarters is one of the oldest districts, and is in the heart of Barcelona. It is known for its winding and narrow cobble stone roads. The historic area is home to the Placa del Rei, a medieval public square that attracts locals and tourists from around the world. This is the perfect place to people watch, listen to the Spanish guitar, or enjoy a coffee. Be sure to check out the unique boutique shops in the area as well. My hotel lodging was located in the Gothic Quarters, and I found the location to be very central to all of the major sites.
Bar Canete Restaurant: If you’re searching for authentic tapas and paella, Bar Canete is not to be missed. This busy and buzzing fine-dining restaurant is the locals favorite. Because of its popularity, you’ll want to make a reservation well in advanced. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date night or a fun girls night out. You will not be disappointed. Be sure to save room for dessert!
- Casa Vicens, Antoni Gaudi’s first home
- Casa Battlo, a masterpiece building designed by Antoni Gaudi
- Picasso Museum
- Stroll Passeig de Gracia, one of Barcelona’s most elegant avenues. Home to all the upscale shopping.
- Watch a flamingo show
- Kiss of Freedom Mural
- Visit Ohla rooftop or Hotel Colon Rooftop
- Bunkers of Carmel: A hidden gem featuring a panoramic view of Barcelona. An ideal place for sunset or sunrise.
STILL HUNGRY? HERES A FEW OTHER FAVORITES!
- National BCN, In the heart of Passegi de Gracia lies a beautiful multi-space venue with 4 restaurants and bars.
- Crematt 11, a trendy and yummy breakfast spot.
- Belles Restaurant; If you’re looking for a break from tapas, check out this Italian favorite.
WHERE TO STAY?
If you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time with friends or solo, there is a ton of safe, and charming accommodation options for every travelers budget. You can choose from luxury to boutique hotels, air bnb’s & even hostels. Below is my review on the hotel I stayed at as well as a few other amazing options for your Barcelona travels.
H10MADISON HOTEL: Upon searching for the perfect hotel, I became a bit overwhelmed with the endless options. I chose H10 Madison for many reasons. First off, the hotel is located in the heart of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarters neighborhood. I explored by foot many of the sites, and if I chose to hop in a cab it was only a short drive away. I visited in August. So a rooftop, and pool to cool down from the sweltering heat was ideal. H10 Madison has a beautiful rooftop and plunge pool with privileged views of the cathedral. The hotel is modern, clean and chic. My absolute favorite part was the stone balcony in my room. The balcony felt very romantic. It overlooked the hotels charming property with stunning views of the cathedral. The staff was lovely, and super helpful! Lastly, I found H10 Madison’s summer rate to be very affordable for our budget. I would definitely return for another stay!
- Casa Bonay: A trendy & vibrant boutique hotel.Casa Bonay is known for its sustainable design.
- Mandarin Oriental: A luxury hotel located on the prestigious Passeig de Gracia.
- Cotton House Hotel: A luxury hotel attracting business travelers with a 1950’s Gatsby vibe.
- Sercotel Rosellon Hotel: A simple and budget friendly option. Popular for its terrace featuring panoramic views of the Sagrada Familia.