Have you ever been to Barcelona? If your answer was no, you should go! Barcelona is arguably one of the best cities in the world, and who am I to have the authority to say this? Just a local… but around 32 million tourists came in 2017 and that proves to me, at least, I’m mildly right.
I have lived in Barcelona for 22 years and it is still in my top 3 cities in the world to live in. In this post, I’m going to tell you 20 reasons which will make you fall in love with Barcelona, so you can visit and get to know this beautiful city. Barcelona has something for everyone, whatever you are looking for.
MARVEL AT GAUDÍS ARCHITECTURE
Gaudí was an architect during Catalan Modernism. His work and art only became famous after his death, but there are many buildings around Barcelona with his footprint. Stare at the unfinished Sagrada Família, do an audio tour of La Casa Batlló or check out the undulating façade of Casa Milà also called La Pedrera.
WANDER AROUND COLOURFUL LA BOQUERIA MARKET
The market that (almost) never sleeps. La Boqueria is located right off the very touristy street of Las Ramblas (which you can walk through quickly, it is aimed at tourists… so I want to say don’t even make it a stop). Off the street, you will find these bustling markets with their vivid colours, fresh fruit, yelling vendors and some of the best food in town. You’ll appreciate how busy everyone is and there’s a shop for just about every craving.
EAT GREAT TAPAS
You cannot leave the city without trying some delicious tapas. The word tapa means lid, and the word originated when, long ago, people would put a plate-lid on top of a glass and the plate would have some food on top. The lid was there to prevent mosquitoes and flies from getting in the drink.
At La Flauta they have the most incredible food. You might have to queue for around 5-15 minutes but it is well worth the wait! Enjoy some fried fish, Iberian ham with “pa amb tomàquet” or bravas (the famous wedges with a spicy sauce).
SUNSET IN BÚNKERS EL CARMEL
One of the best viewpoints in Barcelona, Búnkers has become a popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. It will be packed so I would recommend getting there more than an hour before sunset, to guarantee that you get a nice spot.
VIEW LA SAGRADA FAMÍLIA FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
La Sagrada Família is one of Gaudí’s building, the one that is still unfinished. The building has been under construction for hundreds of years because the construction is entirely funded through donations. You can get one of the best perspectives from the park in front of it, between the monument and Lepant St. If you want a different perspective you should go have a drink at Hotel Ayre. From their rooftop, you can experience a great viewpoint of this iconic monument, and it’s a great place for brunch or a drink too!
FEEL THE VIBE OF GRÀCIAS’ NEIGHBOURHOOD
Gràcia was a nearby village many years ago, and now is one of the best neighbourhoods in the city. Although my opinion may be biased, as I’ve lived there all my life. The neighbourhood is known for its village feeling and the many squares. The neighbourhood has these big open squares surrounded by bars and restaurants, making the outside area their own terrace.
In the middle, kids play and adults sit down to chat. It is very common to see the squares full of people when the sun is setting, just catching up and eating. It sounds crazy, but it is one of my favourite things to do in the city and it feels right once you arrive and can experience it for yourself.
EAT PAELLA BY THE SEA
The first rule of paella is you never should eat it for dinner. It is too dense to go down well if you eat it and then go straight to bed. So take the morning to stroll around La Barceloneta beach and finish up at W Hotel (the sail-looking hotel). The restaurant is called Pez Vela and I like how they make the bottom crispy with just the right amount of burn.
VISIT EL CAMP NOU, THE BARCELONA’S FOOTBALL TEAM STADIUM
This one is going to hurt. But the abbreviation of Futbol Club Barcelona is Barça. The abbreviation for Barcelona (the city) is Barna. Sorry everyone who always says “I’m going to Barça”, you were incorrect. This said El Camp Nou is a very impressive stadium to go to if you like football. I would recommend going there for a game if you get the chance. It is always an amazing vibe when the stadium starts singing and yelling as one. If you are going during winter make sure to keep warm as the wind can be quite cold.
DISCOVER THE GOTHIC QUARTER
Get lost in the charming little streets of the gothic quarter. In this area, you will find the Cathedral of Barcelona. Right in front of it is the little Isidre Nonell square with a collage depicting two mouths kissing. If you go behind the cathedral, in a little alley that doesn’t look very promising, you will find one of the smallest and cutest squares, Plaça Felip Neri. My suggestion? Just walk around, try to keep away from the main roads and discover the little alleys.
GO TO PARK GÜELL FOR THE BEST CITY VIEWS
Another one of Gaudí’s creations, the Park Güell became famous for its dragon and the columns room. Your can buy your tickets online to save some time waiting in line. Once you are done with the modernism area, follow the paths going uphill to find some of the best views of the city.
ENJOY A SHOW AT LICEU OR PALAU DE LA MÚSICA
Barcelona is renowned for the art of orchestra, opera and other ballets stopping by. In both theatres, you will have an amazing night and enjoy the spectacularity of the music. Check what’s on when you arrive or days before and decide which ones pique your interest.
VISIT THE MONTJUIC CASTLE
See the city from an opposite viewpoint up at the Montjuic Castle. The castle can be accessed by cable car, bus, or walking through some uphill gardens. Pick your favourite approach and enjoy the views!
GET OUT OF THE HORTA MAZE
The Horta Maze looks small-ish. I thought it would be easier to get out of it. It wasn’t… like all mazes I suppose. The maze is in a bigger garden so you can spend a couple of hours getting lost and finding your way again.
EAT BRAVAS AT ONE OF THE BEST BARS IN BARCELONA
Bravas are sort of religion around here. They are potato wedges served with a special (and always different) mix of allioli, chili sauce, and mayonnaise. Every chef does them differently. You can find them in almost every place with a kitchen, and they are great to enjoy with a beer. Two of the best-known bars are La Esquinica and Bar Tomás.
VISIT PALO ALTO MARKET
If you want to find local designers, food trucks, live bands, and locals, go here. Palo Alto Market happens on the first Saturday of every month. If you happen to be visiting then, make sure to spend half a day here.
WATCH THE MAGIC FOUNTAIN SHOW
The fountain is located on the stairs leading to the MNAC. The National Museum of Art of Catalonia showcases some very important Catalan Romanesque pieces. When you are done you can head down the stairs to the magic fountain, which has shows at night. These involve music, water, and lighting. They are great to witness after checking out the museum.
ENJOY 360 VIEWS OF THE CITY
Go to the iconic shaped building occupied by Hotel Barceló Raval. The terrace boasts a 360-degree view of the city.
EAT FIDEUÀ, THE CATALAN DISH
We love our food and Fideuà is no exception. The dish is made of noodles with seafood or meat. It usually comes with aioli on the side: the best way to eat it is to mix everything up. You can eat one of my favourite ones at Arrosseria Xàtiva.
CHECK OUT THE TIBIDABO
Tibidabo is the name of the mountain behind the city. It’s also the name of a theme park on that hill. From both the inside of the park and outside, the views are spectacular. I like the colours of the cabin wheels against the city’s skyline.
LEARN TO PARTY AS WE DO
You are not going to like this. But the truth is, the night only starts at 11:30 pm (at the earliest). Learn to follow our schedule if you don’t want to be the first one at the club! I’ll break it down for you:
- 21:00 – 23:00 Eat and chill
- 23:00 – 23:30 Get ready and leave the house/hostel
- 23:30 – 01:30 Or even 02:00 Pre-drink. You can find a bar that you like or have one drink at various locations. It will depend on which area of the city you plan to go out in.
- 02:00 – 06:00 Dance like nobody is watching!
I know it can sound bizarre. But that is a regular night out with friends. Not even a crazy one that finished super late (if you are one of those, Maxcipan bakeries open at 6:00 am and you can get some breakfast before heading home!).
Looking for flights to Barcelona already? I’d recommend visiting during the quieter season (October-November, and March-May) to avoid large crowds of tourists. These are just 20 things to fall in love with Barcelona, but there are many more. The appeal of Barcelona is in its vibrant squares, great weather, and party timetables!
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Barcelona. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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- W Hotel Barcelona
- Hotel Barceló Raval
- Hotel Casa Fuster G.L Monumento
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