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Spain Travel Guide: What to Do in Barcelona, Spain

Vamos a la Playa! Barcelona

Barcelona is a “holy grail” city. It is the perfect combination of beautiful beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, awe-inspiring architecture and rich culture. You will never experience a dull moment in this Catalan oasis that is home to some of the best nightlife on the planet.

What To Do: Tourist Version

If you only have a few days in the city here are the must-sees! Be warned, super touristy.

  • Take a stroll down Las Ramblas and immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Barcelona complete with parades, street performers and souvenir vendors. (Be careful of your personal belonging though as this is a hub for pick pockets)
  • Visit the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria located in the heart of Las Ramblas to try artisanal, Spanish cuisine such as tapas and churros.
  • Catch some rays at Platja de la Barceloneta, which is home to the W Hotel and amazing restaurants and concerts in the summer.
  • You cannot leave Barcelona without taking in everything Gaudi. Visit Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. Keep in mind that both need tickets and that it is best to purchase them in advance to avoid disappointment as they are always busy with tourists.
  • Visit Placa d’Espanya and Montjuic to see amazing views of the entire city!
  • If you’re a big football fan (soccer for all us North Americans) then you cannot miss Camp Nou, which is home to the very successful FC Barcelona.
  • Stroll down Passeig de Gracia, which is the Fifth Avenue or mink Mile of BCN. Yes there is Chanel and Prada but it is also home to Zara and Mango.
  • Go clubbing at the beach! Home to mega clubs Opium, Pacha and Shoko; the beaches of Barcelona are a playground for those who like to party. Many of these massive venues have steep cover fees however; the cover fees almost never change when the clubs are host to international DJs such as Diplo or Alesso.

What To Do: Locals Do It Better

If you find yourself lucky enough to spend time in beautiful BCN, consider taking the road less traveled and enjoy these local favourites.

  • Visit Parc del Laberint d’Horta (located just off the subway line) to feel like you stepped out of the city and straight into Narnia. With amazing plant mazes, waterfalls and incredible architecture, this park is a steal for a few euros.
  • If you find yourself in Barcelona in the summer (June), attend Sonar Festival. Sonar is one of Europe’s most popular music and arts festivals and draws crowds from all over the world. Previous performers include world famous DJs and high profile pop stars.
  • Barcelona is known as a party capital in Europe. As such, it hosts many Beach Parties to celebrate certain holidays. Grab your friends and a bottle of wine and head to the sprawling shoreline for lightshows and fireworks on the Festival of Sant Joan (Summer Solstice).
  • If you love art, visit the Picasso Museum to see actual masterpieces. Or visit MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) if you are a fan of the modern.
  • Visit surrounding cities such as Sitges, which are only a short train ride away. The perfect day trip!

Useful Tips:

  • Barcelona has THE BEST (an understatement) network of public transit in the world. Buy a metro pass at any subway station located throughout the city. If you plan to travel a lot, opt for more trips over individual rides in order to get the best value for your money.
  • Keep valuables out of sight or safely secured as Barcelona is known for many petty thefts. If you are aware of your surroundings you should be fine.
  • Buy ALL your water in bottled form from convenience stores or restaurants. Tap water is not safe to drink in BCN.
  • Bathrooms are hard to find around the city and if you have to go you might have to pay a fee.
  • Avoid eating or drinking at Las Ramblas if you can. It is overpriced as most locals now it is a hub for tourists. You can get the same authentic cuisines for a fraction of the price a few streets away.
  • There is a metro and Airport bus that connects BCN city centre to El Prat International Airport. The metro takes regular metro tickets, which can save you plenty of money.
  • Museums tend to be free on one day during the first week of every month – do research to save yourself some spending cash.
  • Everything in BCN runs late. Don’t be alarmed if people are out an about into the wee hours of the morning (2am). Clubs don’t even open until 2am and they stay open until sunrise.

What to Eat and Drink:

Barcelona has hundreds of restaurants that can tantalize any discerning palate. From mouthwatering mains to delectable desserts, Barcelona has it all!

  • Txa Pela:
    • A chain of restaurants with a mom and pop feel. The BEST pinxtos in the city and easily found in most tourist centres such as Passeig de Gracia and Placa Catalunya.
  • Marti Café:
    • Amazing baked goods and perhaps the best croissants you will find outside of Paris. Indulge in café con leche while also indulging in the rare but necessary Free Wifi!
  • Cerveseria Catalana:
    • The BEST Tapas bar in Barcelona. The food is absolutely out if this world and will definitely warrant repeat visits. I recommend the jamon and the mushrooms with the pain con tomate!
  • Brunch & Cake:
    • If you prefer more North American fair, this restaurant has wonderful options with very large portions. Try the cronut chicken salad for a taste of New York with a Spanish flair.
  • Chupitos:
    • A must visit shot bar. Plenty of fun to be had here with your friends and a good deal on alcohol. The Monica Lewinsky is famous but very risqué!
  • Drink plenty of Sangria. You can find it almost anywhere and for prices far cheaper than here in North America. Don’t buy it on Las Ramblas or you will be paying upwards of 20 euros on one cup.
  • If you want to buy alcohol you can do so at any convenience store or even at El Cortes Ingles in Placa Cataluyna. A bottle of wine can go for as little as one euro and is often cheaper than water!

Where to Shop:

Barcelona is a fashion city and the prime place to get your daily dose of retail therapy is Passeig de Gracia.

  • ZARA
    • The Zara that we all know and love is actually a beloved brand in Spain and you can find one on literally every corner in downtown BCN. Bonus: Zara is significantly cheaper in Spain than anywhere else of the planet. It is marked up 100% for North America so make sure you make enough room in your suitcases for all the new threads you bring home!
  • & Other Stories:
    • Sorry boys but this one caters to the ladies. A wonderful chain of European designs that are the perfect marriage of contemporary and classic. You can find amazing clothes and accessories at this store in the heart of Passeig the Gracia.

List by: Rochelle Menezes

Living in Toronto has its perks. It is a multicultural utopia of amazing food, incredible people and breathtaking sights. Plus, you are guaranteed to run into Drake at some point. But sometimes, you just need to get away and that’s exactly what I do. I have lived on three continents and traveled to numerous countries but there is still so much of the world I want to see. I am an adventure seeker, a full-time foodie and a student of the                                                     world. 

You can follow me on the pursuit of the perfect Insta @worldofrochelle


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