Barcelona has been at the top of my travel list for as long as I can remember, this vibrant city really has it all, sun, sea, sand, culture, architecture, heritage, food, views, charm and charisma I could keep going on. You can visit for a long weekend or make a whole holiday of your stay and still not see it all but this is my list of what to do in Barcelona.
See Gaudi’s masterpieces
You don’t have to pay to experience the wonders of Gaudi’s work, dotted all around the city they are unmissable. Parc Güell and the famous Basilica of the Sagrada Familia are probably the most well-known of Gaudi’s work but Casa Batlló and La Pedrera are a good place to start along the Passeig de Gracia mingled alongside a host of designer stores.
Hop on a Bus tour
I have always thought of bus tours as overly tourist and uncouth but when talking to people about Barcelona the tour had been mentioned so many times I decided to give it a go and it was one of the best things I did. The bus goes around three routes, red, green and blue. I would recommend sticking to the blue and red. It is 28 euros for the day or 49 euros for a two-day pass and you can hop on and off as you please. I would really recommend it, I saw so many parts of Barcelona I would have missed otherwise.
Sunbath and Swim in the sea
Barcelona really does have it all which is one of the main reasons I chose to visit during the peak summer time, the weather is amazing and the beaches are beautiful. I haven’t seen a sea as clear and nice to swim in since I was in Sydney I was like a small child again. Everyone just grabs a towel and makes a space for themselves. On your way to the beach be sure to check out the harbour, the super yachts there have put other harbours I have seen to shame.
I have never eaten so well as I did last week, the food was absolutely delicious but tapas is undeniably the best food to eat whilst in Barcelona, the small portions allow you to have a taste of what the city really has to offer with so many options to please all. There is no getting away from tapas bars from large restaurants catering for masses to small family run bars down small winding streets.
Being in Spain Paella is a must for me, it’s once of my favourite dishes that I never try to recreate in the UK. Barcelona is on the coast so the fish is so fresh and absolutely perfect for a good Paella to share.
Walk down La Rambla a large tree-lined mall in the heart of the city, full of food, markets and entertainment with small streets leading off it along with Placa Reial a square that resembles Venice with plenty of food, drink and entertainment to choose from.
I promised myself recently after reading Big Magic to start doing a few things well out of my comfort zone, so when the rickety cable car going over the city was suggested my natural instincts kicked in and there was no way I was agreeing to it but I managed to convince myself, and whilst the queue and the tower wait were not the most enjoyable experience in the heat the views definitely made up for it. We went in the early evening on one of the last trips over to Montjuïc. The views and the photo opportunities are definitely worth the sheer terror I felt during the journey. And the cable cars themselves feel completely safe if not just a bit dated.
Sangria is one of the most famous drinks associated with Spain and you can get in made in so many ways in Barcelona, traditionally made up of red wine, brandy, sugar and chopped up fruit. We found Barcelona did their own twist made with Cava instead of wine and it was dangerously good, lighter and more refreshing perfect for those hot beach days.
Another maze of history and outstanding architecture, if you are looking for a lazy afternoon of wandering streets and stopping for tapas head to the Gothic Quarter.
I took the red route bus to Montjuïc, I had heard it was worth a visit for the views alone but I was in complete awe of the panoramic display of Barcelona you could see. The bus takes you to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, MNAC is housed in the Palau Nacional and is considered to be the biggest art museum in Barcelona. The Botanical gardens are also beautiful and well worth a visit if you don’t want to spend money going to the museum.
Take a picnic to Parc Güell
Arguably one of the most photographed section of Barcelona the contrast of colours between Gaudi’s work and the garden are not to be missed. The parc is a bit further out of the city and reachable by the blue route bus tour or taxi. Take a picnic and settle down in the free part (to the right) of the main entrance. There is still a lot to see in this part of the parc and there are picnic benches in the shade overlooking the city.
Go for brunch
Brunch is my favourite meal of the day, I love the lazy, casualness of brunch, and I have found no place that captured brunch better than Australia but Federal Cafe managed to match this. Although not authentic to Barcelona if you want a bit of home from home health then head to Federal café. It’s fitting with the ‘clean eating’ cafes you find in London, offering a range of paleo friendly smoothies and breakfast, known for their delicious avocado and eggs. The laid back atmosphere and communal tables were a perfect start to our day.
Get dressed up for bestial beach club Sunday party
We had lunch here one afternoon, a casual, chilled-out beach bar and restaurant based near the Olympic park. The food was lovely and the atmosphere was so relaxed we couldn’t believe how much it changed on a Sunday night for their weekly beach party. I haven’t seen a venue so busy before or queues so long, the atmosphere was bouncing, young professionals and travelers from all over gathered here. I haven’t been able to find much out about them on the internet but the parties apparently take place every Sunday and are the place to be.
I really thought I would manage to get my Barcelona to do list done in the time I was there but I wasn’t so lucky, I could easily spend the whole summer there and still not have discovered a fraction of what this City has to offer.
My next visit I still would like to
Hire a bike
Just like London, Barcelona has their own Santander Cycles dotted around the city you can pick them up and drop them off at your own convenience. There is also a whole host of affordable bike hire companies around the city.
Go to Picasso museum
Although I am not a massive fan of his work ( I know its a bold statement) I really wanted to get a chance to see Picasso Museum but I just didn’t have time.
Visit La Boqueria Food Market
This was the one thing I was desperate to do on my missed list, I kept putting it off for the perfect time etc and then it was too late. La Boqueria Market is situated on La Rambla and is one of Europes largest food markets. It’s open from 8am – 8pm Monday – Saturday and a perfect place to pick up fresh picnic supplies.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta
On my next visit, this will be one of the first places I am heading, situated out of Barcelona Centre and a taxi or bus ride away, Parc del Laberint d’Horta is the oldest park in Barcelona, stretching over 18 acres including water features, canals, streams and 820-yard long maze.