Last week I enjoyed the delicious tapas, towering buildings and moderate sunshine of Barcelona. It was my first trip to the Spanish city and a fantastic introduction to this beautiful place. I took about a thousand photos (editing them was FUN), ate ’til I was bursting and drank lots of sangria. All in all, a successful holiday.
We flew with Ryanair from Liverpool for about £100 and arrived into El Pratt Airport after three hours. We jumped in a taxi and in 20 minutes we were slap-bang in the middle of the city.
We stayed in an AirBnB apartment in Barri Gotic, which is the old part of Barcelona. It’s right off Las Ramblas, the main street that runs through the city, but isn’t saturated with touristy things and still has a lot of the old school Catalan charm. Our apartment was a great base for exploring the city and it was amazing to come back to a comfy home after a long day of walking around (which we did lots of).
Barcelona is packed with interesting sights. There are churches around every corner, beautiful architecture on every street and Gaudi buildings hiding everywhere.
On our first day, we did the 5k architectural walking tour which was just breathtaking. Barcelona’s buildings are probably the best bit about the city – one apartment block could be bright orange, while its neighbour has floral mosaic balconies. I had a crick in my neck from looking up constantly.
The architectural tour takes you across the city to explore churches, museums, Casa Batllo by Gaudi and La Sagrada Familia, one of Barcelona’s most famous buildings. We ended up walking about 7k and we were exhausted afterwards, but it’s a great way to see the city and there are plenty of nice places to stop along the way (including Sephora, as my credit card soon discovered!).
Later on in our trip, we headed out of the city to the Gaudi House-Museum in Park Güell, where Gaudi lived for many years. It’s a fantastic open park with more of Gaudi’s distinct architectural style, teamed with stunning views across the city.
When the sun shone, we spent some time down at the port – a lovely area to walk around and enjoy nice weather. We headed up into the mountains by cable car and ate lunch with the city looming below – a great experience, although the queue for the cable car was looooooong and it’s such a short ride. I’d recommend getting the metro up and enjoying the views once you’re there.
The beauty of Barca is there’s always something to look at. We spent a day just wandering, exploring the Le Born district, visting the Picasso museum (don’t get the audio guide – it’s confusing!) and stumbling upon crumbling churches and tiny tapas bars. There wasn’t a single second where we were stuck for something to do, but it never felt rushed or harried. The pace is laidback but exciting. A great combination.
Local markets – we saw these everywhere on Sunday. Selling handmade jewellery, fresh produce and crafts, they’re a really good way to experience Catalan culture.
A trip to the beach – we didn’t quite make it onto the sand, but I can imagine the beach is a great place to cool off after a hot day in the city!
Hot chocolate and churros – a culinary experience not to be missed when in Barcelona! The hot chocolate is ridiculously thick, so much so that I used a spoon to drink mine. Delicious.
Café de l’Academia – a classic restaurant with a focus on fresh, local food. It’s a tiny place with a cosy atmosphere and great G&Ts!
Ciudad Condal – amazing, amazing tapas. Be prepared to wait – it’s worth it and the sangria is a good distraction!
La Pizza del Born – supposedly the best pizza in Barcelona. We certainly thought so! Choose two slices from the huge range of handmade pizzas, sit at the bar and enjoy.
Barcelona is for night owls, not early birds – evenings start at 10pm and go on into the wee hours. Don’t be tempted by an early dinner – you’ll miss all the fun!
Pickpocketing is a much-discussed problem in the city, but we didn’t have any issues. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your belongings tucked away and don’t let it put you off
The metro is really easy to use and covers the entire city. If you can’t walk it, jump on a train.
Take comfortable shoes – there’s A LOT of walking!