It makes me sick to my stomach to think that just a few weeks ago, my family and I were in the beautiful, enchanting city that is Barcelona and that within a matter of days, so many lives would be forever changed by the pure evil that it takes to execute a terror attack. It's a sad reality of our world today-that we must always remain vigilant because of the possibility that something like this could happen anywhere we are. I don't know how to fix it. But I do know this: we cannot live our lives in fear. We must still travel to all of the beautiful places on this Earth to expand our world views and not ever let the idea that something might happen stop us from doing so. My heart goes out to all of the victims and loved ones of this week's attack in Barcelona.
Barcelona is still a wonderful city, rich with history. It deserves to be celebrated and visited on every occasion! Here is my guide for how to enjoy this city on your next trip.
When my family had the idea to go to Barcelona this summer, I immediately said “sign me up!” I had only ever heard glowing reviews of this city. The culture, the architecture, the people, the food…most important part for me! And let me tell you, Barcelona lived up to every expectation I had. For a short trip, we made the most of the city by checking out all of the sights and by eating all of the food (and, as usual, drinking all of the drinks!) that were available. Any city that hangs its hat on tapas, seafood, and sangria is fine by me!
How To Get To Barcelona
Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) is easily accessible from many points internationally. The airport mostly serves domestic European destinations, but there are many options for direct flights from several points in the U.S.
Where To Stay
I can’t speak more highly of the H10 Montcada Hotel. If you know me, you know I’m a complete sucker for a boutique hotel. I love anywhere with a personality! Well, this place was no exception. The hotel is situated in the perfect location in the center of Barcelona, just steps from so many sights around town, there is an awesome view from the rooftop bar, and they even treated Joe with a birthday surprise of dessert and champagne delivered to the room! I may or may not have helped him out with both of those treats 😉
Getting Around Town
No need for a rental car here. The airport is only about 20 minutes away from the city center, so taxi cabs are usually the best method of transportation. There is also an underground Metro and a citywide bus service. Or, if you’re like my mother and can’t miss a good open-top bus tour, they have those as well!
Barcelona is in the heart of the Calalonia Region of Spain. Residents of the city widely speak both Spanish and Catalan, but many people, especially in the tourist areas, understand English.
Sights To See
Catedral de Barcelona
This gorgeous Gothic cathedral was constructed in the 14th century and its architecture is swoon-worthy. If you intend to enter the building, plan your outfit accordingly! Shoulders must be covered, but not to worry, there are ladies selling shawls outside if you are exploring the city in tank top weather. And, if you’re lucky, you might catch a fun folkloric dance performance outside!
The Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s most iconic modern sights. Construction began in the 1880s by famed Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí and is still unfinished even to this day! This work in progress is expected to be finished by 2026 and is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pro tip: if you plan on taking a tour of the inside of the building, it is a must to reserve your tickets in advance as it is not unusual for the tickets to sell out days prior.
This hill that overlooks the city includes several sites all within easy walking distance. As an added bonus, part of the hill has hidden escalators for the tourist whose legs may have grown weary (me, of course)! Start at the base of the Montjuïc hill and your first stop is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Right behind that is the Olympic Stadium, home of the 1992 Olympic Games. Entrance is free to the stadium, and there is also an Olympic Museum close by. Beware though, the museum is closed on Mondays! From there, the Teleféric de Montjuïc cable cars are a must! The gondola takes you high above Barcelona and treats you to the most beautiful views at the Montjuïc Castle. In all, this bundle of a trip will take about half a day.
This is the ultimate experience for the sports fan. FC Barcelona is the second most valuable sports franchise in the world and after seeing this stadium, it’s easy to see why! The Camp Nou Experience offers you a walking tour of the stadium and FC Barcelona museum areas for around €20 per person and is open year round. Visit the field, sit on the bench, score a goal…ok, maybe not that one, they don’t let you anywhere near the perfectly manicured grass!
Another Gaudí masterpiece, this park is decorated entirely with mosaic tiles. There are free entry areas of the Parc Güell, but to witness the Monumental Zone complete with colorful, zigzagged benches, a mosaic lizard, and an unforgettable view over Barcelona, you have to book your tickets ahead of time as they only allow a handful of visitors into the area at a time to avoid wear and tear on the structure.
Playa del Bogatell
What better for a quick break from city life than a visit to the beach?! Playa del Bogatell is just a short cab ride away from the city center and worth a walk along the coast!
Where To Eat & Drink
Sangria to go?!? Yes, please! This is a cute little walk-in bar that lets you leave with these things I so fondly named “sangria purses”!
A great dinner spot, 7 Portes has served people ranging from Picasso and Dalí to Robert de Niro and Harrison Ford in its time. The restaurant does some awesome fresh seafood.
I think this was the winner for our favorite little eatery in Barcelona! Sagardi is a casual tapas shop that specializes in bite sized eats known as pintxos. Help yourself to whichever of these tasty treats catches your eye and pay at the end based on how many toothpicks you accumulate. This is the perfect spot to grab some sangria and watch the world go by!
Tapas, rose, and a square frequently visited by street performers (or as my mom dubbed them “a muscular flash mob”!). Teleferic does an afternoon tapas break right! Their fois gras was voted best tapas in Barcelona, so you know it’s good.
One of our favorite finds of this trip was a beautiful square situated just off of Las Ramblas called Plaça Reial. All kinds of restaurants and bars surround this plaza making it the perfect escape from some of the more tourist-heavy areas nearby. Take your pick: red, white, or cava sangria!
Also located in Plaça Reial, this restaurant belongs to the DO Boutique Hotel. This is the kind of place where you’ll want to order some paella, a few bottles of wine, and get carried away in the magic of Barcelona! Accordion and guitar players, and rose peddlers may stop by and offer their services. If you’re looking for a laugh, pay them and sit back and enjoy your serenade!
There are several locations of Taller de Tapas across Barcelona, one of which is located right next to Camp Nou. This is a great spot to snack and sip before heading to the stadium for a tour or a game!
It’s hard to beat a restaurant with a front row seat to the sea! This restaurant, located on Playa del Bogatell has the best pulpo (aka octopus…yes, octopus!) and tuna tartare we ate all trip!
What are some of your must-dos in Barcelona?