Happy Friday, friends! Today is my fourth and final (for this trip) Barcelona post. In case you missed them, I've shared where to stay, where to eat and what to pack earlier this week. So today, we're talking about what to do in Barcelona: the cosmopolitan capital of Spain's Catalonian region. Before I begin, let me caveat that there's loads to do here (several boxes I haven't ticked myself). But assuming you only have a few short days to embrace all Barcelona has to offer, here's what I recommend prioritizing:
ALL THINGS GAUDÍ:
If you're not familiar with Antoni Gaudí, let me give you the Reader's Digest: this Spanish Catalan architect is known for some of the most individualized + distinctive structures today. His work is sure to stand out to you compared to any other architecture you've ever seen. He faced lots of criticism for his non-traditional style before he "made it big", but he stayed true to who he was and went on to become a legend (high-five, bro). His work is all over Barcelona and is something you can't leave without seeing.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is a church that was designed by Gaudí. Construction commenced in 1882 and is STILL being build today (although projected to be completed in the next 10 years). Gaudí died prior to the completion, so he devoted his last years to the project, building models for future architects to take over. It is impossible to find any other church building like it in the entire history of art, and has been called the "most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the middle ages." I could spend tons of time writing the significance of various pillars or statues within the edifice, but I would be doing you a disservice from learning on your own when you tour. Trust me when I say it will simply take your breath away and leave you completely + utterly amazed.
Another one of my favorite places in Barcelona (also the work of Gaudí). Park Güell is a public park system composed of gardens + architectonic elements. Gaudí unleashed all his architectural genius by using elements in the park to create symbolic political + religious ideals. Even if you don't take interest in the deeper-rooted meanings of the park, it's located on Carmel Hill (which offers some of the most impressive views of Barcelona) and is definitely worth walking around.
If you find yourself walking along Passeig de Gràcia towards Plaza de Catalunya, you can't miss Casa Batlló- another prominent structure by Gaudí. While I actually have never been inside, It's at the top of my list for the next time I go back. This renowned building is actually a remodel of a previously built house but was re-designed by Gaudií in 1904. Because of it's smaller size in comparison to other works of Gaudí, this is one spot that has always had a line (hence why I haven't been) so be sure to buy tickets online in advance.
Every tourist destination has a main strip where you'll find souvenirs, street performers and other attractions catering to those visiting. In Barcelona, that's La Rambla: a tree-lined pedestrian mall that's worth strolling down during your visit. Since this is heavily-populated tourist area, be mindful of your belongings (pick pocketing is known to happen here). Nevertheless, it's so fun to walk along this buzzing area and soak up all the various sights it has to offer.
You know I really love this place because it's the second time this week that I'm talking about it. I won't bore you with more rambling- just defer to my previous statements from Tuesday's blog.
Eating my way through Boqueria Market is hands down one of my favorite things to do in Barcelona. This bustling attraction has some of the best food I've eaten in Europe: juicy fresh produce, seafood caught that morning, the finest cured meats and everything else you can imagine. I recommend going for lunch and snacking your way through (we actually did that 2 days in a row this past trip because we both loved it so much!)
Known for its sandy beaches, restaurants and nightclubs, La Barceloneta Beach is a waterfront hub you can't miss whilst in Barcelona. Whether you want to bathe in the Spanish sun, drink sangria at a water font restaurant, stroll along the boardwalk, or dance the night away at a club (which Barcelona has plenty of fun options) -- there is truly something for everyone here. I've done almost all of the above and have loved every single one.
BONUS TIPS + TRICKS
- I know the double-decker tour bus is touristy and may seem super cheesy, but it's actually a great way to get a lay of the land and see lots of sights in a short period of time. I did it my first day in Barcelona and I feel like I got to see a lot more of the city than I would have been able to cover on my own by foot. Book tickets here in advance, or you can head to Plaza Catalunya and find a few options if you prefer to wing it.
- I know I already included a "Buy Tickets" button for several attractions above, but if you want to tour anything where you need tickets (especially Gaudí) I strongly advise buying them online in advance. TripAdvisor has great tour options tailored to how much you care about seeing each place, so you're not stuck seeing more than you care to see. Having tickets in advance will save you tons of valuable time so you're not using your time in Barcleona to wait in some long line.
- I've said it before but will say it again- beware of pick pockets in tourist areas (especially during peak season).
That's a wrap, friends! I hope you've found these posts to be helpful as you plan your own Barcelona adventure. Anything else I didn't touch on that you'd like to know? shoot me a note and I'll try to help! firstname.lastname@example.org.