Girona is the perfect day trip from Barcelona. It is a beautiful city in Catalonia, Spain, known for its medieval architecture and a must-visit if you’re craving an escape from the “big city” or just want to see something outside Barcelona. Read More
Let me start this post by stating I don’t usually like amusement parks. I don’t like the flashing lights, the plastic rides and how they all look the same. But Tibidabo doesn’t look like other amusement parks. Just like Barcelona’s other attractions, it leaves you with a sense of delight. Read More
Barcelona’s one of m y favourite cities. In fact, it’s where I live now! Its known as a city that has it all – from history and culture to beach and football. These are the tips I give my friends when they ask me what they NEED to see.
And if you want a personalised itinerary, check out my profile at TripUniq – it’s a pretty cool way for me to design a tailor-made action plan for you to enjoy Barcelona:
Gegants i capgrossos These “giants and big-heads” are common at Catalan parades and represent various archetypes. When touring Barcelona you might catch them on display at a festival or in a museum.
In this episode we’ll explore a list of things to do in Barcelona, stopping to hear Catalan rappers drink from the Canaletes fountain and go for a dip at the beach. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 things to do in Barcelona, Spain.
1) The beach
Barcelona boasts beaches right in the city centre. Even if it isn’t warm enough to swim yet, you can enjoy walking, rollerblading or biking along the shore. The city beaches are fine, especially in the early morning, but if you go there in the middle of the day during peak season it can be hard to find a spot to put your towel.
My friend Claire demonstrates how to put on tights without flashing anyone (but doesn’t manage to avoid giving herself a wedgie).
Claire going for a dip at the beach in Barcelona in winter. She claims she didn’t go in completely because she didn’t have her swimsuit.
If you want to go to really beautiful beaches I would recommend you to take a train north for 45min and enjoy the little towns of Costa Brava. There are far fewer people, the water is cleaner, the calas (coves) are gorgeous… Make a day of it.
This area was revived in 1992 for the Olympics. It lies between the Icària and Barceloneta beaches. The development that occurred around the Olympics was a huge success story for the city. It brought Barcelona international exposure and the infrastructure built for the games is still being used today. There are plenty of restaurants and bars and the seafront is used for leisure activities like running, biking and beach volleyball. The modern apartment complexes that were built here for Olimpic athletes are now inhabited by locals.
2) La Pedrera (Casa Mila) & Casa Batlló
Head to Passeig de Gracia where you’ll find Barcelona’s shopping street with designer and high street stores. More importantly, it’s where you can get your first look at Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí’s creations.
La Pedrera looks like giant waves made out in pure stone, the terrace has chimneys shaped like middle ages soldier helmets. Casa Batlló looks as if it was brought out from the sea. The balconies are shaped like fish bones and the terrace is shaped like a dragon. Cool ha?
If you want to get inside, you could buy the tickets online for both, the Casa Milà (Pedrera), and the Casa Batlló. Both of them are a bit expensive though. Casa Batlló has an extravagant and fantastical façade decorated in a pastel mosaic and scale-like tiles. You may be happy to stare in wonder from the street, but if you venture inside you will find a museum showcasing the building’s history and rooms for cultural events.
Casa Batlló’s underwater-themed façade
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
Casa Milà, known as La Pedrera, has a rough, rock-like appearance. It was built as two apartment blocks but is now enjoyed by visitors. The outside doesn’t look like much, but you must explore its extraordinary rooftop terrace. It is one of Gaudí’s most ambitious designs and is considered to be far ahead of its time. It is also a symbol of the Modernista or Catalan Art Nouveau period.
Gaudí may have passed away, but his masterpiece is still in the works. The Sagrada Família has been under construction for more than 100 years. It has become the city’s icon and is the most visited monument in Spain.
Up in the mountain the Güell Family asked Gaudi to design a house for them with a nice calm park around it. He took the assignment seriously. The Park is now one of Barcelona’s main tourist attractions. Most of it is free to wander around, but the centre with the main architecture is only accessible by paying the 7€ entrance. You also can get the tickets online.
I have a specific video for this one too: PARK GÜELL, BARCELONA VIDEO TRAVEL GUIDE
5) Las Ramblas
The word rambla refers to a waterway, but now that the water is gone, this is a footpath in the centre of the city that connects Port Vell and the Columbus statue on one end to Plaça de Catalunya on the other. In the middle is the Liceu (the most famous theatre in Barcelona) and the Boquería market, one of the oldest markets in Barcelona.
Day or night, La Rambla is a crowded street. During the day it is lined with kiosks selling souvenirs, newspapers, flowers and animals. It used to have more animals and flowers, but the souvenirs and low-quality restaurants catering to tourists with pizza and paella (neither are local foods in case you were wondering) and have unfortunately been taking over.
At night, it becomes a haunt for drunk tourists and prostitutes. There are good bars in the area.
Whatever you may think of La Rambla, it is a must see and you’ll probably have to cross through it at some point anyway, since it is at the heart of the city.
Pickpocketing on La Rambla
Everyone will tell you to watch for pickpockets here. With all the warnings, you’ll feel foolish if it happens to you, so watch your bags and wallet! An really useful tip is to store your wallet in your front pocket, never in the back. The same goes for your bag – keep it in front of you at all times and hold on tight.
Font de Canaletes
There has been a fountain in this spot since the 16th century. It’s a popular meeting point, especially for rowdy football fans after Barça matches.
“If you drink water from the fountain of Canaletes you will forever be in love with Barcelona. And if you go far away, you will always return.”
Rumor has it that if you drink from the Font de Canaletes, you will come back to Barcelona. It says so on the fountain’s plaque – so it must be true.
6) Santa María del Mar
This is my favourite church in Barcelona. It is built in pure Catalan Gothic style and its interior is really impressive and calming. It is located in El Born, which used to be a fishermen’s district. It is named after the fishing patron saint, Santa Maria. You could buy an entrance ticket, but if you go there during mass hours, you could get in for free. Check it out in my video EXPLORING EL BORN NEIGHBORHOOD IN BARCELONA.
7) Camp Nou
Vica el Barça i visca Catalunya!
This isn’t actually on my personal list (all stadiums kind of look the same to me), but I recognize it is vital for many visitors.
Pretending to be a fan at Camp Nou.
The Barça Museum and stadium is the second most visited museum in Spain. It’s the biggest stadium in Europe and I’ve been told FCBarcelona is the best football team in the XXIst century.
So if you’re a fan, you can buy the tickets to the museum or a match.
Montjuïc is a mountain full of secrets and stuff to see. After climbing to the top you’ll first find the Catalunya National Gallery. Behind it there is a botanical garden and for those of you who are into modern art, the Miró Foundation. There’s also an Olympic stadium, Olympic museum and Montjuïc castle with some of the best views in Barcelona. All of these are linked by beautiful gardens that make up Barcelona’s biggest park area.
You should consider coming back at night to see the magic fountain show (when the fountain lights up and they play music to accompany the lights). It sounds cheesy, but it’s actually fun.
Magic Fountains timetable:
SPRING – SUMMER
From 31 March to 30 October (inclusive)
Thursday to Sunday, 9 pm – 11:30 pm. The shows start at 9, 9:30, 10, 10:30 and 11 pm.
AUTUMN – WINTER
From 31 October 2013 to 30 March (inclusive)
Fridays and Saturdays, 7 pm – 9 pm. The shows start at 7, 7:30, 8, and 8:30 pm.
Catalunya National Gallery
9) Parc de la Ciutadella
After Montjuïc, this is the second biggest green space in Barcelona. It used to be a citadel, but its military days are long over and it’s been turned into a fantastic park. There’s a grand fountain, a small lake, museums and tables for ping pong. This is where families bring their kids to play, yoga and other sports gatherings take place and friends get together for picnics. The zoo is also nearby.
10) Picasso Museum
Of Barcelona’s museums, this is my favourite. Although it doesn’t have his most iconic paintings, it’s the biggest collection of Picasso’s work and covers all his life stages. If you’re a fan, it’s a must see. I think it’s really interesting to see his earlier, non-abstract paintings. You’ll barely recognize them as Picassos. You can also see that he tried making ceramics and that these aren’t really his forté.
To avoid the queue you can buy the tickets online.
Want your own personalised itinerary? I’ll make you one myself:
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We were looking for a bar in Barcelona, specifically cocktails of course. So Sara the Posh Traveler and I wandered into Boadas on a weeknight around 11pm. Seeing it was deserted, we got shy and began turning back towards the door. But the bartender called us over, insisting we stay awhile and that he doesn’t bite).Read More
Barcelona’s Born neighbourhood is the perfect mix of old with trendy and modern.
It has the small, winding streets of Barri Gòtic but is less touristy. You can spend an evening checking out the restaurants, cafés and boutiques, then head to Passeig de Born for the nightlife. Read More