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Barcelona, Spain: The Ultimate Travel Guide

The city of Barcelona is one of Spain’s most famous tourist destinations for its beautiful beaches, its art, history, and culture, and the abounding, beautiful architecture that can be found in so many places around the city.

Barcelona is home to the Catalan community, that speaks Catalan and even wants to become independent from the rest of Spain. While just about everyone also speaks Spanish (they call it Castellano), you’ll see and hear lots of Catalan around you in Barcelona.

Whether you do more sight-seeing or spend your days in Barcelona as a beach bum, you can be sure to find delicious food everywhere you go. We had some of the best food of our entire trip in Barcelona!

Food in Barcelona

What to eat

Seafood! – Barcelona is right on the water so seafood is great here! Many of their dishes, like Paella, include seafood so make sure you try some! They have some really great dishes with pulpo, or octopus in English.

Sangria – They have this all over Spain, but I definitely had my favorite Sangria so far in Barcelona. I included the place I had it in this guide and our Barcelona itinerary.

Vermut – This is another Spanish drink that is wonderful and surprising light and sweet -try it at least once!

Catalan Food – You can very easily find more familiar Spanish food, like in the rest of Spain, as well as tons of international fare, but you won’t be able to find Catalan food in many other places! Seek out some restaurants that serve traditional Catalan cuisine and be open to anything!

Where to eat

Pla de La Garsa – This place requires reservations and is a little more upscale (nothing crazy), but has some great food! We had the set menu (we’re terrible with decisions) and it was great!

Casa Lolea – This was definitely our favorite place on this trip! The ceviche de pulpo, risotto de pasta con trufa negra, marinated salmon bites, and house Sangria (4 options!) are all amazing. I’m still dreaming about that risotto!

Rosa Negra – Not actually Spanish food, but Mexican. We decided to give it a shot one night and loved the atmosphere and food! Their tacos and burritos are fantastic!

Barcelona Beaches

What to do

Beach – We did this many, many times. The beaches are a bit crowded, but beautiful all the same! Take advantage of your proximity and get some sun!

Palau de la Música Catalana – This is a site we didn’t end up getting to go to, but it has a strong reputation for being absolutely stunning inside and worth the visit!

The Picasso Museum – this is a lovely and uncrowded museum that displays some of Picasso’s works and makes an effort to display how he changed, and his work changed, throughout his life. While other museums are home to some of his most famous works, like Guernica, this museum’s goal is to represent him as an artist and a person.

La Sagrada Familia – If you see nothing else in Barcelona – see this! This site is still under construction and is one of the most famous examples of Gaudi architecture and design in Barcelona. The outside facade of the church is incredibly unique and detailed, while the inside is a wonderland of colorful, filtered light through the large array of stained glass of all different colors. You should definitely get tickets in advance for this -you’ll still have to wait in line, but not for as long. Try to go as close to sunset as you can to see the stained glass at its best! You can also climb up one of the two towers, but it is quite cramped, and the views are somewhat limited. If you like heights though, this can be a fun addition to the visit!

Catedral de Barcelona – The Cathedral of Barcelona is a stunning piece of gothic architecture and houses 13 geese at all times in its courtyard! We loved visiting this Cathedral. I highly recommend buying a ticket beforehand to skip the line. Once you’re there, take the lift up to the terrace (it’s included in your ticket!) and consider getting an audioguide for only a few euros.

Parc Güell in Barcelona

Parc Güell – If you want more Gaudi after La Sagrada Familia, buy an advance ticket for Parc Güell (it comes with shuttle transport!) and spend some time admiring Gaudi’s colorful and unique style. You can also visit Casa Batlló and Casa Mila if you still want more! There are many, many Gaudi sites littered around Barcelona – you can make a whole scavenger hunt out of it!

Parc de la Ciutadella – A great place to have a picnic, take a stroll, or ride bikes on a free afternoon. You can see Barcelona’s Arc de triomf as you exit the park as well.

If you want to visit more museums, there’s the Barcelona History Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the Catalonian Art Museum.

If you need some more guidance, check out my Barcelona itinerary to help you plan your days!

Transportation

If you can find lodging in the Gothic Quarter, you’ll be walking distance to the beach, several museums, and a plethora of food and drink places. You’ll really only need transportation to some sites farther from this area like La Sagrada Familia or Parc Güell.

If you know you’ll be making the trek to those sites or anywhere else that’s not as close, you may want to go ahead and buy a T-10 card for 10 rides on the metro (only 10.20 euro!). You can also buy individual tickets if you don’t anticipate using the metro 10 times.

For getting to and from the airport, there are two cheaper options. The Aerobús, which costs $11 roundtrip, goes from T1 and T2 at the airport to Plaça España and Plaça de Catalunya. You can buy tickets online or at the stop itself. This page has all of the information about the Aerobús in great detail.

The other, even cheaper option is the Barcelona airport bus number 46. This bus takes longer than the Aerobús because it makes more stops, and from my experience, Barcelona buses are not always that reliable. However, the big pro of this option is that you can use your T-10 card if you have rides left to get on this bus. So, it’s cheaper. If you’re worried about reliability or time, the Aerobús is probably a better option.

As always, there are also less frugal options such as taxi’s and even other shuttle transport that may take you to a more convenient location. For budget travel, the two options I’ve presented will definitely be your best bet!

Things to know

People do go topless on the beach! – It’s not as insanely common as you’d think and it’s not a fully nude beach either! Some girls do and some girl’s don’t, but no matter your decision, make sure you don’t stare! This is not only rude but it also can make women feel uncomfortable, targeted, and even unsafe. Go have a great day at the beach and pay no attention whatsoever to anyone’s boobs – whether they’re covered or not!

Tapas are not given out – While in Spanish cities like Madrid tapas are freely given out when you order a drink, the same is not usually true in Barcelona. You can order tapas, but you won’t be getting free tapas everywhere you go!

Less nightlife – This may be misleading. There is nightlife in Barcelona. However, the streets are not filled with people the way they are in some other cities. We went to a salsa club that was packed on a Wednesday night with people drinking and dancing and having a great time. Since Barcelona is a bigger city, you’ll have to seek out specific bars and clubs if that’s what you’re looking for.

Book beforehand – Always buy tickets beforehand! The lines for many of the sights in Barcelona are very long, you will appreciate being able to shorten your wait by any amount of time.

Budgeting

We spent $563 for two people over 5 full days and 2 partial days.

Breakdown:

Museums/Sites : $147 (La Sagrada Familia $76, Picasso $15, Parc Güell $20, Catedral $18)

Food: $380

10 Metro rides: $14

Airport transport: $22

Are you going to Barcelona soon? Share your pictures with me!

Tag me on Instagram (@lotsoflora) or hashtag #lotsofloratravels. I would love to see your travels!

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