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Things To Do in Barcelona

20th Nov 2019

Last month, we took a trip to Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. Known for its art and architecture, we wanted to see for ourselves why traveling to Barcelona is one of Europe’s top vacation destinations. From La Sagrada Família to Playa de La Barceloneta, read on for our top recommendations for sightseeing, beaches to explore, tapas to eat, cafes to visit, what to pack, and more!

Sightseeing in Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia - this is probably the most popular tourist attraction when visiting Barcelona, but is a sight that should not be missed! Even if you only have time to walk around this incredible masterpiece, do it! Tickets sell out in advance if you’re looking to see the inside of the church so book your tickets online before you arrive. You’ll be sadly disappointed when you arrive and the tickets are sold out for the entire time you’re in Barcelona.

Park Guell

Park Guell - Park Guell is another of Barcelona’s top attractions and features the work of architect Antoni Gaudi. You can purchase tickets online as well for Park Guell. The best times to visit are at sunrise or sunset, so we recommend booking your entry time for as soon as they open. Entry is staggered but there is no time limit so crowds tend to build up as more reservations are allowed into the park. There are free areas to explore in Park Guell too, and we recommend exploring after you visit the paid part of the park. You won’t see the mosaic tiles throughout the free areas of the park that Gaudi is known for but there are still lots of great treasures to explore!

Gaudi House Museum

Gaudi House Museum - the Gaudi House Museum is located within Park Guell and you can purchase tickets on site or as a package with your tickets for Park Guell or La Sagrada Familia when booking online. Gaudi lived here for nearly 20 years during the 20th century and you’ll see a collection of furniture and objects designed by the architect while he lived here overseeing Park Guell’s construction and the construction of La Sagrada Familia.

Castell de Montjuïc

Castell de Montjuïc - This is an old military fortress dating back to 1640. This castle-looking estate was built on top of Montjuïc hill in Barcelona, making it an adventure to get to! If you decide to walk, keep in mind that this is a very steep walk and long walk from the nearest subway stop. There are taxis and buses that make their way up the hill. We recommend you purchase tickets in advance to go in. If you decide to just visit the outside, you’ll find beautiful views of the city on the way up and spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea when you get to the top. Nearby is Font Màgica de Montjuïc, the Magic Fountain, which is a great place to visit at night to view the water & light show choreographed to music.

Acr de Triomf

Arc de Triomf - The Arc de Triomf was the main gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. Today, it’s a great place for gathering and watching street performers. Walking toward the sea away from the arc, you will find yourself in Parc de la Ciutadella which features the Barcelona Zoo.

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau - Located in El Guinardó neighborhood, this hospital is now a museum for tourists. This hospital block was built during the first 30 years of the 20th century and was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. You’ll be able to see tools that were used throughout the 20th century in the hospital and visit hospital wings that have been restored since closing down. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tickets are required and can be purchased on site.

Beaches in Barcelona

Playa Barceloneta

Playa Barceloneta - Dip your toes in the Mediterranean Sea. The sun rises above the sea making an early morning visit to la playa a must! There is a boardwalk along the beach as well where you’ll find lots of people walking or running with their dogs, making this another great people-watching place. This is the most visited beach in Barcelona. There are several other beaches north of Playa Barceloneta if you’re looking for a less touristy place to sunbathe.

Markets/Cafes in Barcelona

La Boqueria

La Boqueria - The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a great place to shop local fruit and seafood vendors in an invigorating environment full of Catalan locals and tourists! This public market is located in La Rambla and is a great place to get a taste of Barcelona by grabbing a little bit of everything from different vendors.

365 Cafe

365 Cafè - This chain of cafès feels nothing like the coffee shop chains you envision when thinking of US-based chains. Grab a delicious cappuccino or espresso paired with an affordable and fresh sandwich or croissant. There is one near La Sagrada Familia making this a great spot for your morning caffeine before heading into the church!

Al Passatore 11

Al Passatore 11 - Located in El Born neighborhood, we turned this restaurant into a brunch spot! With great cappuccinos and bocadillos, you can’t go wrong. Larger lunch and dinner plates are available including pizza, fish, and pasta.

Macxipa el Born

Macxipa el Born - If you find yourself craving a croissant at any time of day, Macxipa is the place to go! Being open 24 hours makes it easy to get delicious homemade bread that is kneaded at night and placed in the display windows for purchase the next morning.

Forn Puiggros

Forn Puiggros - This cafè is near Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and has a large display of breads and pastries. Grab your favorite with a cappuccino or espresso as you continue your exploring of Barcelona.

Tapas in Barcelona



Tasca el Corral - Join the locals at this tapas bar for vermouth, a glass of sidra, or chorizo del diablo, which is set aflame at your table and you mix the chorizo to as the alcohol burns off and completes the cooking process right at your table. Also notice how the server pours your sidra overhead, it’s all part of the experience!

La Tinaja

La Tinaja - The tapas here should be paired with your drink of choice, the main reason that tapas were invented in the first place! We ordered a cheese and meat platter and it was plenty for everyone! We even tried pa amb tomàquet, Catalan tomato bread, which consists of toasted bread, fresh garlic, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and salt.

Quimet & Quimet

Quimet & Quimet - This tapas bar is on your way to Castell de Montjuïc and we recommend pairing this two places together because we didn’t find ourselves making our way into this area that often during our time in Barcelona. Great drinks and delicious tapas, you can’t go wrong!

Transportation Tips in Barcelona

Metro in Barcelona

Metro - During our time in Barcelona, the easiest method of transportation for us was taking the metro or the subway. This was a fun way to get around the city quickly and there are many different ticket options to choose from at each subway station. Tickets can be shared between a group of people making this an affordable method of travel. Your tickets can also be used for other public transport, including most bus routes as well.

Taxi - Taxis are very easy to find in Barcelona and are also an easy way to get around the city, but are not as affordable as the metro. You also have to battle traffic when in a taxi. However, if you’re looking to go somewhere where the subway doesn’t service, taking a taxing can be a great option for you!

Walking - This city is walkable if you are interested in and have the time for exploring everything in between the major sights. There are so many beautiful plazas in Barcelona so walking will always be full of adventure!

*Transportation Tip: Maps.me is a great app that is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play if you are planning on staying in airplane mode throughout your European adventure. A lot of the popular attractions will already be pinned for you and you can pin your hotel/hostel stay so you always know how to return home. Save your favorite restaurants and sights to see that you’ve just read about to easily make a plan for each day of your trip!

Accommodations

Gothic Quarter - We recommend staying in the Gothic Quarter. You’ll be close enough to the beach and there are plenty of metro lines taking you to other parts of the city. This neighborhood is medieval, narrow and crowded, the perfect place to experience all of Barcelona.

El Born - Located right next to the Gotchic Quarter, El Born is vibrant, artsy, and centrally located for exploring the entire city. This is also one of the best neighborhoods for tapas.

Packing for Barcelona

Packing Cubes - Whether Barcelona is your only destination or is one of several European cities you plan on visiting during your trip, packing cubes are a must. Having an organized suitcase relieves so much stress while traveling.

Outlet Converter - If you plan on bringing any American electronics along, you’re going to need a converter. We have a variety of options that fit many countries, so plan ahead and be sure your accessories will be charged no matter where you go.

WaterSeals Waterproof Magnetic Phone Pouch - If you are planning on a beach day, this phone pouch is perfect for exploring the shoreline and can be used underwater for some great vacation photos!

WaterSeals Cinch Backpack with Secura Lock Technology - This is a versatile bag for most any activity. It can protect against water, sand, dirt, and more. The anti-theft buckle with Secura Lock Technology protects contents and secures to a stationary object to help prevent opportunistic theft. You can attach and securely lock this backpack to a chair, bench, fence, and more, making this perfect for your trip to la playa.

Datablock RFID-Blocking Waist Stash - Pick-pocketing is always a concern when traveling abroad. This waist stash is designed to make your currency, documents, and other valuables easily retrievable. This product features an added layer of protection in the form of RFID-blocking technology.

Hanging Toiletry Kit - Just like the packing cubes, it’s important to stay organized while traveling. Keep your toiletries all in one place with our convenient hanging toiletry kit.

Travel Door Alarm - If you’ve ever traveled with kids, you know that staying in a new place can be very confusing. Use this door alarm to alert you if a door or window has been opened to keep your children safe. This door alarm can also be used to alert you of anyone entering your hotel/hostel/vacation home, adding an extra level of peace of mind during your trip.