Barcelona is one of the cities that has everything: great climate, sea, excellent cuisine, beautiful architecture, rich history and culture and a friendly people! After I recently spent three days in Barcelona it definitely became one of my favorite European cities.
Here is my travel guide with the best of Barcelona, some recommendations and must see places!
Travel guide to Barcelona
# – Climate
Coming form the Northern Europe this is one of the best things in Barcelona for me – its climate! I was there in the beginning of December and it felt like the late spring in Amsterdam. Check your weather forecast before going (I am founding yr.no to be the most accurate one) and pack appropriately! However, if you’re visiting during the summer, be prepared for a high temperature! It can easily get to the 40 degrees Celsius!
# – Where to stay
With its many hotels and private accommodations, you won’t have any problem in finding the place to stay in Barcelona. And I think you can’t really go wrong with it! We booked a specious apartment through Booking.com and were located in the Eixample neighborhood. It’s such a beautiful historical area and we were just a few steps from some of the most famous Gaudí’s buildings. It’s not far from the city center and it’s filled with many local restaurants and cafés, that were a perfect place for breakfast.
# – Food
This leads us to the next thing on my list: food! Beside climate, the food is something I really love in Spain!
I recently started to have breakfast in the local restaurants when traveling (it really helps you dive into the local culture) and Barcelona has plenty to offer. There are so many small restaurants that serve delicious food. It was really a perfect start of the day!
Barcelona is also a home to the largest food market in Europe – La Boquería. It’s located on La Rambla, so you will pass next to it every now and then. You can find many fresh juices there, different snacks and variety of choice for delicious food. I loved that place!
There are a few cities in the world with so many great restaurants like Barcelona. Of course, avoid obvious tourist traps (I’m always looking if there are some locals in the restaurant and am avoiding ones with the person standing in front of it inviting you to come in). A good thing is also to ask for recommendations from your host, hotel stuff or the tour guide. We did the last thing and got a recommendation for a great restaurant with the most delicious food we ate in Barcelona – La Bona Sort.
# – Architecture
Barcelona is famous for its architecture. I can’t really decide did I liked more the Medieval architecture in its oldest parts or the examples of Modernista’s buildings which made Gaudí world famous. While walking around the city look for small details in the facades of the buildings, entrances of metro stations or even the walking paths.
Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
You’ll find most of the Medieval architecture in the Gothic Quarter, with the Cathedral being the largest building there. Don’t forget to enter Cathedral’s cloister and enjoy the small green oasis with the palm trees in the middle of the busy city. And of course its cute geese. There are 13 of them to mark the 13 years of Santa Eulalia, Patron and martyr saint of the Cathedral.
Get lost in the small streets and you’ll find its hidden gems, like small sculptures, reliefs and window decorations. In the evening neighborhood is becoming even more charming with its many street performers.
Gaudi & Modernista Architecture
Modernista movement in architecture is a Catalan version of Art Nouveau which was popular in the rest of Europe at the same time. Most of the buildings were built between 1885 and 1950 and its most famous member was Antoni Gaudí.
His best known work is definitely La Sagrada Familia, on which he was working during the last years of his life. Church is still under construction, it’s financed by private donations and it’s planned to be finished in 2026. There is a belief that George Lucas was inspired by the sculptures from Sagrada Familia for some of the characters in his Star Wars movies. Well, I’ve definitely found some similarities.
Two residential buildings Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, both located on the fashionable Passeig de Grazia, are masterpieces itself! When looking to them you can’t stop wonder how he constructed them (especially when knowing that he rarely used any sketches), and the longer you are looking to them you are discovering more and more details.
One of his masterpieces, located a bit outside the city centre is the Park Güell. It’s a good idea to book your tickets on line, because queues could be quite big in front of it. But, once you’re in, it is so worth of waiting. Here, his affection to nature is the most prominent, the architecture and the nature are forming the perfect combination. It’s a beautiful tranquil place with a great view to the city of Barcelona and its port.
# – La Rambla
Although often described as a pickpockets’ heaven and an extremely busy street, I wouldn’t skip La Rambla because it has some very nice things to offer. There are a huge Joan Miró’s mosaics on La Rambla walkway, which are a great example of an official street art. La Boquería food market is also there and Placa Reial with a nice cafés, palm trees and lampposts designed by Gaudí.
# Art and Museums
Maybe it’s not the first thing coming in mind when thinking of Barcelona, but the city is one of the Spain’s art centers. However, the fact that some of the best modern masters like Gaudí, Picasso and Miró lived here at some point, definitely marked the city.
Small museum is a home to some very early and late works of Picasso. They don’t have the most famous pieces, but they do have some very unusual ones (like the early realistic portraits he was making). Still, I wouldn’t recommend visiting this museum if you are not really fond of his work.
Opposite to Museu Picasso is this one with a great collection of the pre-Columbian art. Christopher Columbus started his journey from Barcelona, so the museum is showing this side of town’s history.
Museu National d’Art de Catalunya
Showing the history of Catalan art, the museum, amongst the other, hosts the world’s largest collection of Romanesque art. And we are talking about the world’s best known wall paintings here. Definitely a must see!
Barcelona’s maritime museum is telling the story of the city’s reach maritime history and the history of sailing in general. It has some great ship reconstructions!
Fundació Joan Miró
Dedicated to one of the most famous Catalan modern artist, Joan Miró, the museum has a collection of his work and contemporary art as well. And it also has one of the best views to Barcelona.
# – Beach and Port
How many of the big cities in Europe actually have a beautiful beach in them as well? Well, not so many!
Sea is giving the city something which makes it calmer and all the beautiful yachts in the port are giving a bit of luxury and adventure to it! After the whole day of walking and researching Barcelona’s rich history, there is no better way to finish it, then by chilling on its nice sandy beach.
# – Some useful info
* Public transport – Barcelona has a great metro system. It’s cheap, effective, fast and easy to navigate. Definitely one of the best metro’s I ever seen!
* Comparing to another European cities (especially Western Europe) Barcelona is quite cheap.
* Official languages in Barcelona are Catalan and Spanish! However, majority of the people speak English well, but it will be handy if you’ll learn a few words of Spanish, as well (it always works a long way)!
* Barcelona is quite famous for its sweets! I wasn’t aware of it before visiting, but during our tour around the historical part of the city, our guide took us to some sweets tasting. So, take a look in the local bakeries and stores with sweets and get yourself some nice eatable (my favorite) souvenirs!