Four nights, three and a half days of sightseeing in Barcelona and lots of walking were part of our European itinerary over the holidays. This was my third time to Barcelona, a city I could see myself living in, if only I knew how to speak Catalan or Spanish. As I planned our trip I made a list of things I wanted to see but haven’t visited yet, places worth seeing again and also leaving some time to simply wander and get lost. Often times when planning a trip you want to squeeze in as many things as possible but having learned from experience, it’s not worth it to try and cram everything in. I ended up scheduling at least one tour or set thing to see every day just to have a base for what we would do that day. It was always a late morning tour which allowed for us enjoy the morning, finish around lunch time, siesta for a bit and then continue to explore throughout the evening. There was still so much to see but I think we covered a lot in just those few days =o)
1. Get lost in the Gothic Quarter
Both the Airbnb and Hotel we stayed at (post on our stay coming soon!) were in the Gothic Quarter so we spent a lot of time wandering around. This is quite possibly my favorite part of Barcelona because of the unique architecture and meandering streets. As you explore and look up you can see little balconies decorated with plants and lights while at street level you stumble across bakeries, cafes, and shops. Because we were there over the holidays, the streets were lite up with Christmas decorations that created for beautiful lighting each night we strolled around.
2. Walk La Ramblas from top to bottom (Plaza Real, Christopher Columbus Square, Port Vell)
The famous La Ramblas is in the heart of Barcelona and leads you from the top at Plaça de Catalunya for 1.2 km / .75 miles to Port Vell. The first day we arrived we walked from our Airbnb which was just a few steps off the tree lined promenade. We made our way down towards the water, making sure to stop by the Plaza Real to take in the nineteenth century square filled with palm trees. All along La Ramblas are street vendors, restaurants and markets. At the south end of La Ramblas is the Christopher Columbus Monument and Port Vell.
3. La Boqueria Market
About half way up La Ramblas is La Boqueria Market, a colorful and busy market that has the freshest fruits, meats and fish. We stopped in to have a bite to eat and take in the atmosphere of the afternoon rush. I wish I had taken more photos but once inside your attention is taken away by the various fruit stands, a variety of dried meats and the smell of fish caught fresh that day.
4. Cathedral of Barcelona
During our stay this cathedral became the main landmark we used to find our way back to our hotel. We stayed a block away from the stunning Gothic cathedral and each time we passed by we were in awe of its soaring towers. One morning as we waited for our room to be ready, R and I walked up to the cathedral to take a few photos. We slowly made our way around the west side of the cathedral and found an entry into the lush courtyard. Who knew that within the walls we would find such a beautiful courtyard?
5. Watch the sunrise (at least once)
I didn’t even think we would be able to get out of bed the morning of New Year’s Day. The night before we made it back to our hotel around 2 30 am and stayed up for another hour celebrating with room service. But with determination we made sure to set our alarms for 8 am in order to catch the sunrise at 8:17am. Our hotel had a breathtaking view from its rooftop terrace and faces east. This was the perfect spot to watch the first sunrise of the New Year. Of course we went back to bed for a few more hours after to catch up on sleep before more sightseeing later that day.
6. Watch the sunset (almost every night)
Every evening we found a new spot in Barcelona to watch the sunset. Our first night we ended up at Port Vell after walking down La Ramblas. From there we watched the sun disappear behind the hills of the Olympic park. Our second day was Gaudi inspired and we ended up catching the sunset from Park Güell, one of my favorite places in the city to watch the sunset. The only evening we didn’t see the sunet was New Year’s Eve because we took a nap before getting ready for dinner. On the final evening of our stay in Barcelona we caught the sunset from La Barceloneta, the seaside neighborhood full of some of the best restaurants. Walking along the beach toward the W Barcelona Hotel was romantic and the perfect way to end the day and trip.
7. La Barceloneta
I wish we had spent more time in this neighborhood but luckily during our last evening we got to stroll through on our way to the beach. All along Passeig de Joan de Borbo are dozens of restaurants, each one serving amazing dishes. We ended up stopping for a bit to eat at one of the trendiest places referred to us by our concierge. I’ll be sharing the restaurant in an upcoming post =o)
8. Park Güell
Not only is Park Güell one of the best spots to catch a sunset it also provides the most beautiful views of Barcelona, has various gardens and architectonic elements scattered around the grounds. Unfortunately while we were there work was being done on the benches of Nature Square. Until the end of summer 2018 prepare to have to wait in line as they only allow a certain number of people at a time to view the benches. We had no idea about the wait and didn’t bother to get tickets which was fine. The security guard did offer to us that we could stay until 6 pm when the gates open and go view the square without a ticket. But the sunsets before 6 and then it’s dark. We opted out and said we would return to the park another time.
9. Sagrada Família
Mentioned in my last post, Sagrada Família is a must see if you are in Barcelona. Each time you visit the basilica will look different as they are still building it. We booked a tour ahead of time which also got us inside without having to worry about standing in the long line, which I highly recommend doing. Once inside enjoy the soaring columns and stained glass windows that light up the basilica with color. A good spot to take a photo of the entire Sagrada Família is across from the basilica in Placa de Gaudi, from there you can take in the entire structure in all its glory.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Buy tickets here
10. Casa Mila – La Pedrera
Although this time we didn’t go inside of Casa Mila we did get a chance to see it from the street. Another one of Gaudi’s works, the apartment building has a section open to tourists and the roof where you can see stunning views of the city. Usually lines are long so I recommend getting a ticket ahead of time. If you don’t have time to stop in or don’t want to wait in line there is a café on the first level that is open and looks like it has a good menu.
Address: Provença, 261-265, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
Buy tickets here
11. Casa Batlló
My favorite Gaudi building and just a few blocks south of Casa Mila. I wrote about it in my last post. This was my first time going inside the house and it was well worth it. The line to get in was short, thankfully and so we bought our tickets and entered Casa Batlló. Instantly you are immersed in Gaudi’s imagination and follow every curve and detail as you ascend to the roof. Gaudi played with the natural light and color through the use of stained glass windows a blue tiled light well in the center of the house.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Buy tickets here
12. Camp Nou
As I was putting together our plans for the trip I asked R if there was anything specific he wanted to see, he replied with Camp Nou. Not on most people’s Barcelona itinerary, Camp Nou is the home of FC Barcelona and the largest stadium in Europe. We booked our tickets for the Camp Nou experience and ended the last day of 2017 discovering every inch of the stadium. They did not exaggerate when they said that we would get the full experience during our tour. We had the chance to view the field from every level, sit along the side lines like the players, visit the locker room, walk through an exhibit displaying the trophies and history of the team, see the press room and have our photo taken a dozen times. We ended up spending close to three hours but it was worth it and we had a blast. If you are a soccer fan or are visiting Barcelona with a soccer lover, go to Camp Nou.
Address: C. d’Aristides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Buy tickets here
A lot of the sightseeing we did could not have been done without purchasing our Barcelona cards. Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Little Black Shell , I read about the Barcelona card Karen recommends buying in one of her posts. With this card you have free admission and can skip the line to a number of popular museums, receive discounts at a number of tourist spots around the city, can travel for free on public transport (this saved us so much money and we didn’t have to worry about constantly purchasing metro tickets), a map of the metro and a Barcelona shopping card that gives you advantages at more than 80 shops. We were in Barcelona for three full days so we purchased the 96 hours City card for 49.50 euros. It was definitely well worth it and hassle free.
Buy your Barcelona card here
There is so much to see and do in Barcelona, I hope my post helps if you are planning your trip there. Thanks for reading, I know this was a long post =o)
x the Adventurer
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