If you love the ocean, amazing cuisine, and a strong cultural presence, then look no further than Barcelona! Though Barcelona is located in Spain, it is in a region called Catalonia, where there is fierce pride in their own language, culture, and customs. A hub for unique architecture, outstanding seafood, and lively entertainment, Barcelona promises something for everyone to love.
When making your travel plans, prioritize booking lodging close to the metro. Not only will this help you get to and from the airport, but it will also guarantee that almost anything in the city is easily accessible. Using the kiosks, you can buy multi-use passes to get more bang for your buck, meaning that not only is travel fast and easy, but extremely affordable. There are endless hostels, five-star beach suites, and everything in between. My advice would be to determine your price range, your optimal location, and book early!
If you are a runner like me, plan a route to take you to Búnquers del Carmel, which are the abandoned anti-aircraft bunkers. Situated above the city, not only will you get a killer workout so you can eat as many tapas as you want for dinner, but you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of beautiful Barcelona. Plus, you’ll be familiar with the area so you can return another day at sunset to drink wine with the locals at their favorite spot. Not into hills? Head the opposite direction, cut through Ciutadella Park, and make your way towards the beach instead! If it’s warm enough, work in a little swim or some surfing. Otherwise, there are pick-up beach volleyball games where you can finish your workout with your new volleyball friends at one of the beach bars.
Speaking of tapas, you’ll be overwhelmed with the choices throughout the city. Cerveseria Catalana is a popular choice and is centrally located, making it a hotspot no matter where you spend your day. However, if you can only choose one nice meal, you must go to Mercado de La Boqueria, the local market. Located on La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous and busiest street, this market is simply incredible. I seriously recommend setting aside a few hours so you can explore the exotic cuisine, sample the delicious wine, and maybe even buy something gourmet like $100 pork. Whatever you fancy, it is likely in this market. In fact, there are restaurants and bars sprinkled throughout the vendors and around the perimeter. I guarantee you will find something mouth-watering. Trust me – you and your taste buds will thank me later.
Sports fans: you’ve died and gone to heaven. As most already know, Barcelona’s Football Club (Soccer) is a world famous force to be reckoned with. If you can, get tickets to a game, deck yourself out in yellow and red, and head to the stadium for an electrifying experience. A word to the wise, the crowds can get rough, so if you are not up for something that could be physically challenging, almost every bar in the city streams the game. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of excitement, cheering, and fun to be had even if you cannot see it live.
Finally, you can’t go to Barcelona without checking out some work by Gaudi. Park Guell is the best if you prefer to be outdoors and walk. You can purchase tickets to explore the main portion of the park, or you can wander the surrounding winding paths and still see the funky, glittering structures fairly well. Of course, you must see Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral started in 1883 and still under construction, with a 2026 projected completion date. Buy your tickets online and definitely tour the towers, it is absolutely incredible. This structure is one of the most moving buildings I have ever stepped foot in. I felt overcome by its prominence, the vastness of its internal cavity, and the ornate yet organic nature of its design. While tickets can be pricey, this is one of those times where it is truly worth it, as you are sure to walk away with a priceless experience.
Barcelona is one of the few cities I’ve visited that I would label as realistically livable. While it boasts an impressive tourist industry, the public transport, presence of parks, affordable essentials, and warmth of the people make it a place that one could stay for more than a little while. In fact, this was one of the times during my travels that I extended my stay for a few extra days of paradise. When you visit Barcelona, make it lengthy, if not forever.