Recently I took a last minute trip to Barcelona (as in booked a week prior). I’ve always wanted to visit Spain ever since taking Spanish in middle school all the way thru college. At one point I wanted to double major in Spanish and study in Spain. I didn’t make it until x amount of years later. 😀 Better late than never. Here are a few tips to help you plan a vacation in Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona is one of the located in the municipality of Catalonia region. This spectacular city can be found on the coast of the sea and it is filled with architectural wonders, historical features, inspirational art, fantastic nightlife, and delectable cuisine. Currency is Euro and Spanish and Catalan are the majority languages spoken. Be sure to download both for offline use in Google Translate.
Getting around in Barcelona
There are five different modes of transportation within the city of Barcelona, which is fabulous for anyone who chooses to go there for vacation. The Metro is an excellent option for those who want an easy way to reach every major sight within the city, however, the buses may be good options for those who are planning on staying within the city center. Taxis and hired cars are two other modes of getting around, yet they are much more expensive. The last way that everyone can get around Barcelona is by walking along the streets, and it is the only way that every visitor can see all the intricate details of every inch of the city. Uber is available but after my experience, I would not recommend. Check out Cabify.
Where to stay in Barcelona
There are a plethora of hotels in Barcelona, but these three are considered the best by many travelers:
This luxurious hotel offers views of both the Mediterranean Sea and the entire city, and guests will enjoy being able to stroll along the nearby boardwalk whenever they wish. Everyone will want to check out BRAVO24, WAVE, the W LOUNGE, and the ECLIPSE rooftop bar during their stay, as each area offers the ultimate in relaxation, food, and drinks.
This trendy historic hotel is located in the building that used to be the Association of Cotton House Manufacturers. Inside, there is a marble staircase and a spiral staircase that was constructed back in the 1950s. Any time guests do not want to be in their rooms, they can choose to spend time in the lounges, expansive library, the glass conservatory, or any of the numerous great rooms.
Casa Bonay can be found in a renovated mansion in downtown Barcelona and every guest will want to try to reserve one of the five large courtyard terrace rooms for their stay. The views from the private terraces are phenomenal and everyone will want to lay on their hammock out there as they soak in the rays of the sun.
What to do in Barcelona
Out of all the amazing things to do and see in Barcelona, here are a few that should be on every visitor’s must-do itinerary when they arrive in the city:
- Visit La Boqueria at Rambla, 91 – Every visitor needs to experience this infamous food market for themselves, which is why approximately forty-five thousand people go there each day. Vendors sell everything from cheese to charcuterie alongside produce and seafood. Visitors will want to try the traditional foods that include stewed chickpeas with black pudding and tender baby squid with white beans. There is no charge to enter the market, so people will only spend money on the food that they purchase.
- Visit La Sagrada Familia at Calle Mallorca 401 – A guided tour of this basilica can be taken for 24€ per person. Antoni Gaudi created the design for this masterpiece, but he died before even a quarter of this project was completed. In fact, La Sagrada Familia is still under construction and won’t be finished until at least 2026.
- Visit Las Ramblas – This is a boulevard that goes through the center of Barcelona, between the Plaça de Catalunya and Port Vell. Visitors can stroll along this street without spending any money, as they watch street performances and sit under the trees as they watch the people that pass them by. Everyone should use caution when in this area though, as pickpockets are notorious for spending time on this street.
- Visit Park Güell at Carrer d’Olot, 5 – Visitors can enter the free section of the park whenever they wish, but the Monumental Core requires a ticket for a specific entry time. It is recommended that everyone chooses a ticket that includes a guided tour so that they can learn as much about the park as possible during their time inside. Download the official Park Guell app for maps and tips for your visit. Guided tour entry tickets are 27€, while a basic entry ticket cost 7.50€. This park was a private garden before it was opened to the public for events and turned into a municipal park in 1926.
- Barceloneta Beach Barcelona is filled with so many different uniques areas, you can view mountains and the beach!
- Check out a Flamenco show, click to read my experience at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes.
Every year, there are festivals held throughout Barcelona. Each one is unique, yet they all bring out the locals, as well as the people who are there visiting the city. One of the most vibrant festivals is La Merce Festival and it is normally held towards the end of September. There are approximately 3,000 performers and artists who create more than five hundred of the activities that take place during the festivities. During the festival people can also go on hot air balloon rides, attend food and wine shows, and watch fireworks light up the sky.
The Grec Arts Festival is also popular, especially for those who are interested in music, theater, dance, and literature. Performers from all over the world arrive for this festival that takes place between the end of June and the beginning of August. In addition to all the stages, artists can also be seen on the streets throughout the city.
Nightlife in Barcelona
There are plenty of clubs and bars waiting with music, drinks, and even some snacks for those who need to keep their energy levels high. Each district within the city has their own type of nightlife and visitors will want to venture over to the one that will have the type of entertainment that they will enjoy the most. Over in Las Ramblas, visitors will see plenty of tourists filling the streets, but the smartest people will keep going until they reach the clubs over in the Gothic Quarter. It is there that you will find cozy little pubs and bars tucked away. Also, drinks and food are cheaper there. El Born is slightly more sophisticated, while Raval has a unique blend of hip, glamorous, and legendary options.
Where to eat in Barcelona
Before heading out for the evening, many visitors will want to grab a bite to eat at one of the amazing restaurants in Barcelona. There are plenty to choose from, but these three are favorites amongst everyone within the city:
Can Culleretes at Quintana 5
This restaurant was opened in 1786 and the walls of the building have some stories to tell those who choose to venture inside the second oldest restaurant in the country. Diners should start with the garlic shrimp before continuing with the Culleretes salad and lamb chops. Dessert is a must, but everyone will have difficulty choosing between the tiramisu, apple tart tatin with vanilla ice cream, and the Trianon.
Bar Celta at Carrer de Simó Oller, 3
This tapas bar filled a void when it opened more than forty years ago, as it is modeled after one of the old-fashioned ones that have practically disappeared from the city. There are many standard tapas available including tortillas and patatas bravas, but most people will prefer the boiled octopus and fried squid.
Pla at Calle Bellafila, 5
This elegant restaurant can be found tucked away on a side street in the Gothic Quarter that is surprisingly easy to find. Guests will dine by candlelight as they enjoy delectable Mediterranean cuisine, as well as other cultural dishes. Everyone should begin with tomato rubbed flatbread before enjoying a green seasonal salad. The smoked eggplant or grilled duck breast are excellent choices for the main meal and they both go well with the green beans mixed with hazelnuts and sesame oil. A dessert of Catalan cream is the perfect ending to any romantic meal.
Barcelona is such a fascinating city that everyone will love visiting, especially if they do the things listed above. Travelers will find themselves wondering why they didn’t discover this little gem sooner, as Barcelona is much different than many of the other cities around the world. What do you like about Barcelona or look forward to seeing during your visit to Barcelona? Comment below!