“We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Last weekend, I flew from Santiago to Barcelona to visit my friends. I have visited Barcelona before when I was on a family holiday in Girona – but I was a grumpy 15 year old with sun stroke and to say I didn’t appreciate it is an understatement. This time I saw it through fresh eyes and I fell in love with the quirky but classy city! I know I said Granada was my new favourite Spanish city but I don’t know anymore! When I booked my flights I didn’t think I would see much while I was there because I haven’t seen my friends in 4 months, so I thought it would be filled with catching up and hanging out with the girls – but we got a surprising amount of sightseeing done in the few days, I was obviously over the moon either way! I was visiting Áine and Cliona who just moved there, Lucia and Amanda who have been living there for a couple of months and Ann Marie who came over from Ireland to visit at the same time.
We actually did too much to fit all of the information into this blog post. So, I am going to tell you My Top 5 Favourite Things to do in Barcelona, that way if you have 4 days in BCN, this might help you choose what to do. And in the future I’ll do another post on what to do if you have more time in the Catalunyan city because there is genuinely so much to do, see, eat and drink there that I already want to go back.
1. Bask in the Basilica beams
When you arrive out of the metro stop at the Sagrada Familia you are immediately struck by the astronomical church. The outside is by far the most impressive modern architecture I’ve ever seen. It’s mind-blowing to see the new and the old sides of one building and to think about just how long the construction has been underway. As the girls and I discussed – imagine the generations of men that have worked on the construction site of that one building! Inside, the stain glass windows blew me away. By the time we got there it had actually gotten really sunny and the sunlight was creating the most beautiful hues. The church is unlike any other church I’ve ever been in. There are no large statues or vast amounts of gold details – everything is smooth, round and finished. By far the most impressive thing about it is the detail on the stain glass windows though.
The tickets cost between €13 and €29 – depending on whether or not you want a tour or if you want to go up to the top of the towers.
2. Play in Parc Güell
Parc Güell really cemented my new-found love of Antonio Gaudí. Of course, after a beautiful day of sunshine and socialising in the Plaça Salvador Seguí, it started to rain as we hiked up to the park… It put a downer on the experience while we were making our way there (be prepared for a lot of steps to get there!) but once we got there and saw the magic of the park, our spirits quickly lifted. It also meant we happened to be there to catch a rainbow – which was cool! It’s also one of the many wonderful places in Barcelona that you get panoramic views of the city.
I was dumbfounded by the trendcadís mosaic that Gaudí is famous for, it is ridiculously aesthetically pleasing. And it’s everywhere in the park. As you know from my Porto post, I love spotting pretty tiles.
To see the Monumental Zone (where all of the art is) it cost €7 for a ticket. It was definitely €7 well spent considering you’d pay the same amount getting into an art museum and this is living art. You can get your hands on tickets here.
3. Ramble along La Rambla & be entertained in Plaça Reial
La Rambla is one of the most famous avenues in Europe and it’s also one of the most notorious. La Rambla is known for pick-pocketers, so before I go on, be careful if you are going to go rambling – don’t be too carefree! It’s definitely worth it but keep your hand on your bag at all times, I was overly paranoid but I didn’t get robbed so it paid off! It’s a cool tree-lined avenue with souvenir stalls and food places spotted all the way along. You’ll also get to see Casa dels Paragües – a lot of the sites we saw, we stumbled upon accidentally and I love when that happens!
Also, just off the boulevard, you can find Plaça Reial, which happens to be where an old friend of mine, Shauna lives. So we caught up and got a drink in one of the café’s in the square. The plaça was full of buskers and they put on shows in front of the cafés, so we were actually lucky enough to catch two shows of Brazilian acrobatic dancers while we were there. What a treat! You may have seen it on my snapchat story (imperfectlyfree). I’d definitely recommend going there for a chilled afternoon of being entertained for the price of whatever pocket-change you have! There are also lamposts there designed by Gaudí, if you’ve caught Gaudí fever like we had and are hunting for anything done by him!
4. Burgers at Barceloneta
Aine, Cliona, Ann Marie and I went for a lovely stroll down by the beach at Barceloneta one evening and we spent the afternoon there with Lucia and Amanda on Sunday in the sun. I’d highly recommend going in the evening time if you want to stroll around when it’s not too busy. During the day it was quite packed and difficult to manoeuvre (although I’m not complaining, I loved the atmosphere down there) but it was nice for a stroll in the evening and Ann Marie and I even got to have a quick go on a hoverboard because we happened to get talking to a guy working for the rental company!
Anyway, while you’re at Barceloneta you can hang on the beach, stroll around and look at all of the lovely things street vendors are selling. We did all of that but we also got burgers both times we were there and both times, they were divine.
We went to Makamaka. And just after we sat down, there was a queue for the restaurant for the rest of the night – which is always a good sign. They did the most delicious burgers and we had a jug of sangria and tried some cocktails while sitting under their lovely fairy lights. It was the perfect chilled evening.
After the day at the beach on Sunday, we went to Bacoa. Bacoa was delicious too – they really do do a mean burger. We all commented on the fact that Barca knows how to do burgers after having two such great experiences.
5. Stroll the Passeig de Gràcia
Finally, my last favourite was promenading down Passeig de Gràcia. Passeig de Gràcia is just off Plaça de Catalunya (which is the very city centre and close to La Rambla), and it’s not only a beautiful avenue with floral pattern tiles on the footpath, ornate lamposts and some of the nicest shops in the city but it is also the home of Casa Battlò and La Pedrera or Casa Milà. Both structures were designed by none other than Gaudí himself (shockingly!) and they’re out of this world.
We also happened to be in Barcelona on El Día de San Jordi which is Catalunya’s version of Valentines day – so Casa Battlò was covered in giant red roses, it was absolutely stunning. You might have seen a picture of it on my instagram, I was blown away by them.
As I said at the beginning of the post, I saw so much stuff I could never put it all in one blog post. So I might do another post in the future about what you can see if you have more time in bustling Barcelona.
If you’ve read this far, thanks a million! And if you want me to do another post on all of the other things you can do while in BCN – I will. Let me know on snapchat (imperfectlyfree), facebook, instagram, or tweet me.