Barcelona, a haven for architecture lovers. I’m no architect, nor expert in architecture or art, but I’m an admirer, and if there is something that is always a highlight whenever I visit the capital of Catalunya again, that is the architecture. Oh, and the ice cream, and the sea, and the views… and the architecture again.
Each time I visited the city I had the chance to check out something different, of course, by now I have my favorites, so I decided to compile my 10 must do’s in Barcelona. It is one more post among my series of 10 must do’s in… So far the series include Dresden, Berlin and Marrakech.
Enjoy the city from above
To me, this is always a must do in any city. Despite being afraid of heights, there is nothing like seeing a city from above. And if you are interested on understanding how Barcelona was built, on watching the sunset, or simply on having a different angle, there are plenty of places where you can do that. That being on rooftops spread out around the city, or from nearby parks and mountains. Some spots to consider: Park Güell, Bunker del Carmel, Monjuic and Collserola Park.
Fall crazily in love with the architecture
Even if you aren’t an architecture lover, you won’t be able to not fall in love with the local architecture. All the work of the genius Gaudí and the incredible Montaner might leave you breathless. And if you want much more than just taking pictures of the stunning buildings, take an architecture walk around the city. We had the pleasure of joining a walk with Barcelona Architecture Walks, in which we spent 3 hours walking and learning more about Gaudí’s work from a local architect.
Here are some architecture gems you shouldn’t miss in Barcelona:
La Pedrera or Casa Milà
Palau de la Música Catalana
La Sagrada Família
Mercat de Santa Catarina
More: Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau, Torre Agbar, Església de Santa Maria del Mar, Casa Amatller, Pavelló Mies van der Rohe.
Go to the beach
Especially if the weather is favorable, a visit to the beach in Barcelona is a must. And I’m not talking about only the famous among tourists, Barceloneta. There are many others where you can sit back and relax, and enjoy a cocktail on the sand beach feeling the ocean breeze. A hidden gem is a beach behind the airport (yes, I’m not kidding, and it’s actually a tip from our local friends) called Playa El Prat.
♥ My tip: if you are having a long connection at the airport, take a taxi and go to Playa El Prat to chill until your next flight!
Don’t miss the markets
I love markets! Nothing like having fresh juice, finding exotic products, trying new tastes, all of this for a fair price. In Barcelona there are several markets, in the center city the most popular ones are Mercado de La Boqueria and Santa Catarina. Even though they are not the cheapest in town, you’ll still be amazed with the prices… and the variety of products!
♥ My tip: grab something to eat there in case you don’t feel like looking for a restaurant or want to save a few Euros.
Have an ice cream
I don’t know why, but to me, Barcelona screams for an ice cream. Options are endless, though not always cheap, especially if all you want is a view to the Marina. In truth? It’s always worth it, and something you have to do in Barcelona, preferably in a very hot and sunny day!
Have some Tapas
It took me a long while to open my mind to eat tapas. I’m a foodie, and I love trying new things, but somehow I never understood how it works with ordering and enjoying tapas. With the help of local friends, W and I finally got to appreciate the local food, and regret not trying it sooner!
If, like us, you also have no clue of how it works with tapas, here is a very simple explanation: you know that desire of trying a little bit of everything? That’s what’s tapear is. You order small portions of the foods you like and there you have it. It’s something like finger food. Some are more expensive, others cheaper.
Get out of the city center
Barcelona isn’t only about the city center. You’d be amazed if you saw some very different parts of the city just a few kilometers away from the center. As you may notice, the center lacks green, as the city was constructed in a way that ended up not prioritizing green areas. Whereas around the city you find more parks and green spaces.
Barcelona is a great place for shopping, especially for those living in other European countries, where prices are higher. Start by walking along Passeig de Gracia, Ramblas and the Old Town. There are also shopping malls such as L’illa Diagonal, Diagonal Mar, and La Maquinista. Don’t miss the famous Spanish department store El Corte Inglés, and if you have some spare time, take a bus from the city center to visit the outlet La Roca Village a few kilometers away from the city.
♥ My tip: something I love about shopping in Barcelona are the small boutiques with unique products and generally with great prices.
If you’re into sports, don’t miss visiting the Camp Nou stadium, home of the famous F.C. Barcelona and maybe even getting a ticket to watch a match. Also, if like us you’re a Formula 1 fan, every year in May the Spanish GP happens at the Circuit de Catalunya. This year we went to the GP for the first time and loved it. Probably one of our favorites on the Formula 1 calendar so far.
Take a day trip
If there is a city with endless options of beautiful day trips, that is Barcelona. Some of them are: Sitges, Girona, Montserrat Mountain, Tarragona and much more. You can find some day trip tickets over at Barcelona Turisme.
Some useful tips
♥ Barcelona is incredibly touristic, which means, queuing is something common specially to visit the most famous attractions. I highly recommend you to buy the tickets in advance to skip the lines and avoid waiting. It will save you money (most tickets offer discounts when buying online) and lots of time! Tickets you find here.
♥ Taxi in Barcelona is actually quite cheap compared to other European cities, so don’t be afraid to take one.
♥ A nice and practical way of having an overview of the city is to take the Barcelona BusTurístic, the official hop on hop off bus of Barcelona. The bus offers free Wi-fi and takes you to several tourist attractions. You can buy your ticket here and get a discount.
♥ Yes, hotels are expensive. In fact, Barcelona got quite expensive in comparison to the last time I visited, back in 2013. You can try some last minute deals or renting an apartment to save on accommodation.
Pin it up!
During our trip we received press cards from the Barcelona Turisme and had the opportunity to work with Barcelona Architecture Walks. As always, views and opinions are our own and we only recommend what we like and believe our readers will like too. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you decide to buy via one of them we will earn a small commission at no extras costs for you.