- Get lost in the maze of the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gótic).
- Rent a bike and cycle along the Barceloneta.
- See the entire city of Barcelona from the top of Park Güell.
- Admire the unfinished masterpiece of La Sagrada Família.
- Shop the local boutiques and stores.
- Have a picnic in the park alongside the Arc de Triomf.
- Explore the colourful aisles of tropical fruit at the Mercat de la Boqueria.
- Get yourself some sangria and tapas!
- Go back in time to the hangout place of Picasso in his early art career at Els 4 Gats.
- Enjoy the sunrise after a night at Razzmatazz.
- Spend much time walking the street of Las Ramblas. It's overpopulated with tourists and pick pocketers.
- Take your attention off of your belongings while you're wandering around Barcelona or leave your things unattended at the beach. Robbers and pick pocketers are plentiful. Don't be afraid, just be aware of your surroundings. If you want to go in the water, take turns with your friends, or ask one of your neighbors to keep an eye on your things.
- Expect warm seas. Water temperatures warm up in summer but not by much.
Helpful tip: During your stay in Barca, download the Barcelona metro app from Zuti. This app works offline, and is extremely helpful when trying to navigate the city. Plus using the metro is a fast and efficient way of getting around.
A two day getaway to Barcelona for some sun and sea is just what I needed to get back into the swing of things. The city is the perfect place to wander around for hours. I stayed in the Gothic Quarter, which I highly recommend not only for location (you're in the center of everything and you're in walking distance to the beach) but also for the scenery. I fell in love with this area. Tall gothic buildings line the tiny alley ways and there is something going on, on every corner you turn. The dark architecture is stunning. My biggest tip here: get lost. Or go shopping. With so many boutiques and shops in the area, you won't be able to leave without some 'made in Barcelona' threads. Some of my favourite shops: Ernesto de Barcelona, System Action, & Bon Vent.
I stayed at Equity Point Gothic Quarter and if you value your sleep and sanity, don't stay here. Or at least don't stay in the dorm rooms. You run the risk of having some idiot waking you up at 6 in the morning for some rolling papers. Not the ideal wake up call.
One of the first things I did of course was make my way to the beach. Barceloneta is the main beach where you can join the masses and sunbathe on the sand, have a stroll or take a bike ride down the main walkway, or eat at one of the many posh restaurants that line the strand. If you decide to relax in the sand, don't be surprised by the dozens of people that will come up to you asking if you want a massage or hair braid. If you don't want their services, just don't give them attention and they'll go away.
HERE is a good website for a guide to the cities beaches.
If you go the route of renting a bike, which is a great choice because you'll see much more of the city this way, bike down La Barceloneta and towards the park where you can see the Arc de Triomf. Take a break and enjoy the scenery of the park with the arc just in front of you. The cost of renting a bike can be as cheap as 5 euros for the day!
After stopping at the Arc de Triomf, make your way to La Sagrada Familia since it isn't much further. You definitely won't want to miss out on this infamous landmark of Barcelona. The architecture is unlike anything I've seen and since it's unfinished, it leaves room for some imagination as to how it will look once complete. It's 15 euros to go inside.
Once you've biked around the city, you're going to want to have a decent dinner to reward yourself for all your hard work. Or at least that's what I wanted. The cuisine in Barcelona is world class, not to mention you can't go wrong with tapas and paella. Walk around a bit to find a restaurant that suits you. Tapeo del Born is a great place to enjoy some tapas, but with plenty of tapas bars scattered around the area, you won't be disappointed with the flavors Barca has to offer.
The city stays alive quite late, with most people going out to dinner around 9pm. Meaning the party doesn't start until around midnight. There are always things going on every day of the week, but if you're in Barca on a Saturday get yourself to Razzmatazz and thank me later. It's a crazy club with 5 different rooms each playing different music. You'll be so occupied that you won't even realize it's 6am when you leave. Make sure to watch the sunrise since you're right next to the beach. If it's not a Saturday, don't be shy to ask your hostel/hotel for places to go each night.
On your second day (once you're awake) take a trip to Park Güell, where you can see beautiful panoramas of the city. The park also houses the Gaudí House Museum, where Gaudí lived for quite some time. It's 5,50 euros to get into the area where you can see the house and the detail of Gaudí's work. If you're not into paying, you can go to the lookout point that overlooks the museum and it's free. You'll probably have to wait for at LEAST 30 minutes, as they only let a few hundred people on the balcony in intervals. The best view however, is definitely at the cross, which is the highest point of the park. Make your way there before or after you check out the Gaudí museum. Side note: be prepared to walk up some steep hills to get to the park if you don't find the outdoor escalators on Baixada de la Glòria just near the Vallcarca subway station.
For lunch, I would recommend taking the subway back into the city to go to the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. One of the most colourful markets I've ever seen, you can find every food item you'll need here, including a surplus of tropical fruits aka my heaven. It may be a little more expensive because it's a tourist destination, but whether you're a vegetarian, have some sort of allergy, or want to experience the cuisine of Barca, La Boqueria has something for everyone. Enjoy the local seafood, or grab a fruit juice that comes in every flavor.
After a sensory overload from the market, there are some more sites to be seen. Luckily everything is in walking distance and the next destination was the Catedral de Barcelona. While it is really impressive to look at from the outside, I'm sure you'll want to go inside as well. One helpful tip here: you cannot enter if you do not have the proper attire. So no shorts or tanks. I had no idea and since I hate wearing pants, I was not able to enter. But like I said, really impressive from the outside.
My next stop, if you're into art, is Els 4Gats, which is an old cafe where Picasso used to frequent. If anything go to check out the decor and interior of the cafe that will make you feel like your in a Picasso Museum. Since I already ate at the market, I admired the cafe but did not dine here.
If you've overdone it on the tapas, or you're in the mood for something different try Pim Pam Burger for one of the best burgers in Barcelona. For a more health conscious option, there's a juice bar/cafe called Flax&Kale. A little bit on the pricey side, however, they have AÇAI BOWLS!! Yes, I'm obsessed.
In the end, whatever it is you decide to do on your holiday in Barcelona, whether it be sight see, relax at the beach, or dine like a local, make sure you don't forget to wander around the city. You will without a doubt run into some of the city's many hidden gems that way.