Bewitching Barcelona Top 10

aPlaça Reial pano

I was 22 and backpacking the first time I arrived in Barcelona, groggily pulling into the bus station after an 8(ish) hour overnight ride from Paris. I was flying solo at the the time as my travel partner and I had decided to split ways between the two Spanish cities we had our hearts set on (she Madrid, I Barcelona). It was still dark and the city was sleeping when I stepped off the bus at around 5am. And I had food poisoning.

Badly.

I puked at the bus station. I puked on the metro landing. I puked on the street.

When I arrived at my accommodation, I was informed that check in wasn’t until noon. So then I puked and waited in a nearby park.

And thus began my long term love affair with Spain.

There are not a lot of places in the world where one can start off with their face in a bin and end up deciding to live there for the greater part of the next decade. Spain is one of those places. And Barcelona was the start of my love affair with e-sweet España.

So without further ado (or any more puke stories), read on for my top ten must see, must do, must get lost in spots in bewitching Barcelona:

1. Las Ramblas

a Ramblas Panoramic 2

The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once famously said that Las Ramblas of Barcelona was “the only street in the world which I wish would never end”.

Though it’s undoubtedly aRamblas achanged since his last visit in the early 20th century, it remains true that no trip to Barcelona is complete without a slow and meandering stroll down the world famous pedestrian road which runs from Plaça de Cataluña at the north to Port Vell and the Columbus Monument at the south.

Las Ramblas is a complete sensory overload. Vibrant reds, blues and golds spill out of artwork and flower stalls, aromas of café con leche and churros con chocolate overflow from café terraces, and street musicians pluck and pound their instruments with the chorus of caged birds for sale singing along.

Crowds gather to watch performers juggle on unicycles or laugh along with the mimes. You’ll find locals and tourists alike, and ¡OJO!, pickpockets as well. Always mind your bags and pockets as you ramble along the Ramblas.

2. La Boqueria Market

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One of the more charming parts of Las Ramblas is La Boqueria marketplace. Here you can find fresh fruits and veggies, fish that were swimming that very morning, patas de jamón (whole pork legs), and restaurants who cook all the fresh goodness up for boqueria 2you.

My favourite time to visit the market is midmorning, when the crowds are smaller and the fruit vendors are blending their sweet wares into fresh juices to appease your appetite until the 2pm Spanish lunchtime. When I’m in town, I always grab a juice and a few pieces of fruit to take along for breakfast in one of the many nearby plazas.

3. Barri Gòtic

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To the east end of Las Ramblas (that’s to your right if you’re back is toward the Columbus monument at Las Ramblas) is the Gothic Quarter – a charming, bohemian, antique labyrinth rich with history, artsy cafés, eclectic shops, hidden book stalls and hip restaurants. It also happens to be my personal favourite neighborhood of the city (by far).

Barcelona Hidden Plaza

The Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city of Barcelona, and an ideal place to get lost, stopping to  admire the street art, window shop in the boutiques or for a café con leche (or let’s be honest here, sangria) in any number or tree shaded plazas.

Besides being a charming place to stroll, Barri Gòtic is also home to the enormous gothic Catedral de Barcelona, an excellent collection at the Museu Picasso (including Las Meninas), and Gaudí’s sunny, palm-lined Plaça Reial. In short, this is not an area to explore in a time crunch. Do as the Spanish do – take it slow and soak it up.

4. El Raval

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Located just opposite Barri Gòtic on the other side of Las Ramblas, El Raval has a el ravalsomewhat seedy reputation but has always ranked highly in my appeal.

El Raval is multicultural and constantly buzzing with energy. During daylight hours, Raval boasts plenty of art galleries, independent boutique shopping and lots of tasty, inexpensive cafés.

When the sun goes down, however, you can catch a glimpse of the shadier side. Drug dealing, prostitution and pickpocketing aren’t uncommon in the area, so using your street smarts is your safest bet. Simply be mindful of your belongings, where you are and who’s around.

5. The Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia ranks among the top of must-see, best-known works of architecture Europe 2009 Disc Three 492 (2)worldwide. In fact, it’s the most visited monument in all of Spain.  The cathedral is a stunning mixture of modern and gothic architecture, and has been under construction for over 100 years. It’s as unique as it is impressive, and for those travelling on a budget, this is absolutely a place where it’s worth it to pay the entrance fee, and even to spring for the audio guide.

It’s not just the structure. It’s the way the light falls through the crevices, the way it highlights the stained glass windows. It’s poetry in architecture. Though I’ll let your guide book provide the elongated history, know that this is the most important work of Barcelona’s beloved Anton Gaudí, modernist architect extraordinaire.

To save time and avoid the enormous lines, I highly suggest booking online. As an added bonus, one of my favorite restaurants in all of Barcelona is located a short walk away, so if all that art leaves you hungry for more, pop into Tasca i Vins on Calle Diputacion for an arroz negro and a flan Catalán.

6. Gaudí Architecture

#nicecurves #casabatllo #gaudi

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Speaking of Gaudí, he’s pretty much a big deal. Gaudí is a treasure of Cataluña, and an architectural treasure of the world. Even if you’ve never heard of him, and if you know nothing about architecture, you’ll still likely be able to pick out manygaudi of his modernist and art nouveau buildings intuitively – they’re that unique.

There are multiple Gaudí works throughout the center and all are worth a peak. Even if you don’t have the time or funds to enter, you definitely want to have a look at the exteriors (by day or night, and preferably both). Do yourself a favor and make it a point to pass by – and even go inside – as many of these as you can:

7. Parc De La Ciutadella and the Arc de Triomf

#catalan #oasis

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A gorgeous oasis near the center of the city. The grounds are lush green, dotted with marble statues, orange blossomed trees and violet flowered bushes. On any given afternoon, you’ll find older gentlemen sitting on benches, watching the sun cross the sky. Couples leaf through books around the pond or on the lawn in the shade of trees. The park is dotted with cafes, a few lovely buildings and a beautiful fountain designed by (you guessed it) Gaudí. It’s a perfect spot to bring your bocadillo and escape from the crowds near the main tourist hotspots of the city.

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As you exit, make it a point to pass through the palm lined promenade beneath the Arc de Triomf. You’ll likely find groups of skaters and cyclers using the long pedestrian area to practice jumps and tricks.

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8. Parc Güell

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Parc Güell (or Gaudí Park) is without a doubt my favourite part of Barcelona. Designed (of course) by Gaudí with all the whimsy and wonder one can expect of him, the atmosphere gives you the sensation that you’re visiting the setting of a Dr. Seuss book. Archways twist and turn above pathways and benches of brightly colored mosaic tiles add splashes of colors.

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If at all possible, visit on a weekend afternoon, when you’ll be able to soak up the atmosphere at its finest – families picnicking, buskers busking, free spirits playing music and young people dancing and flirting. The main terrace (with the large mosaic lizard) will provide you with enough people watching to keep you entertained all afternoon. It’s a bit far to walk from the center if your time is limited, but you can easily hop on the green line of the metro and take the Parc Güell exit (€7 entrance).

9. Beaches

barcaloneta

It’s true that the best beaches are outside of the city, but let’s face it… you’re on the Mediterranean coast… you can and you will go to the beach. Barcoleneta is the nearest to the touristic part of town, located just behind Port Vell and the Columbus Monument. Gold sand and impressively clean for a city beach, it’s a great place to siesta your way through the little buzz you got off all those lunch time sangrias.

10. FC Barcelona museum & Camp Nou

I mean, it’s the best football (e.g.: soccer) team in the world. The only reason it places down at numero 10 is because, let’s be honest, if you love football it’s already on your list, and if you don’t love it you’d never go anyway. Catch a game if possible, but if you visit off season you can check out the stadium on a guided tourArriba FCB!

What Are Your Barcelona Musts?

There are a million + 1 reasons to fall in love with Barcelona, so rather than simply ticking off the list, make sure to take some time to get lost!

Have I left any of your favorites off the list? I’d love to hear about them below! Drop a line in the comments below 👇 And don’t forget to follow me for more on teaching English abroad📚 , and for adventures ✈ in the Canary Islands, Spain and the world 🌍!

✌💙, Erica

Bewitching Barcelona

© Erica Edwards and getupgetoutgetlost.com, 2016-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Erica Edwards and getupgetoutgetlost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. I do love Barcelona, especially the Gaudi stuff. As you say, it’s so whimiscal…and just different. In this global economy it’s hard to be different, so I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I agree! As awful and spoiled as it sounds, sometimes cathedral after cathedral or museum after museum in Europe can all start blurring together. It’s so refreshing when you have something completely unique, like Guadi’s architecture!

      Like

  2. Jem says:

    What a great list! So many things to do and places to see. I would love to visit the Parc De La Ciutadella and the Arc de Triomf and the beaches most of all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Parc de la Ciutadella is gorgeous, but Parque Guell is my absolute favorite part of the city. I hope you make it for a visit soon!

      Like

  3. AmyEA says:

    What a start to your time in Barcelona, but I’m glad you enjoyed it despite that. I went on a high school trip to Spain, and although we made it to many cities, we didn’t get to Barcelona. Shocking, I know. Definitely next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I hope you make it soon! Which parts of Spain did you get to visit on your trip?

      Like

      1. AmyEA says:

        Madrid, Seville, Malaga.

        Like

  4. Barcelona is indeed bewitching. Have not visited Spain, but your post presents Barcelona like never before and we would love to get there and start with a leisurely stroll. A stroll down the famous Las Ramblas would make our day. So many sights and experiences to be experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I’ve never met anyone who didn’t adore Barcelona. I hope you make it here soon!

      Like

  5. Kerri says:

    I went to Barcelona again recently, having not been since 2004 and was glad I did. I loved re-acquainting myself with the main market off las ramblas. The Gaudi architecture is just so unusual. Would love to go back to get inside La Sagrada Familia again….so much better now than it would have been back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      The Sagrada Familia has changed SO MUCH since the first time I visited in 2009, it’s definitely worth going back in for a look! I’ve yet to visit Gaudi’s Casa Battlo, but I’ve heard from more than one source that they prefer it to the Sag Fam. Seems like there’s always a reason to keep going back to Barcelona!

      Like

  6. Jithin says:

    Beautifully written post. Loved reading it. Glad that you had many nice memories in Barcelona. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. Erica says:

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  7. Yukti says:

    You are absolutely correct that Barcelona is bewitching and not only Barcelona, whole Spain is bewitching. Barcelona is magical with all those positiveness and liveliness. La Ramlas is my favorite part of this city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Spain really is magical! I’ve been living here and exploring for the last 6 years and I STILL have so many more places I want to see and experience!

      Like

  8. Your experience reminds me of many I’ve had in Europe – getting off a bus feeling terrible, but still having to walk/wait for another few hours. Not fun but part of the reality. Sadly I haven’t seen too much of Spain, but it’s on the list. Back home in the UK, Spain’s mainly about beach holidays. A real pity as I know there’s so much more to it than that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I’m sure we’ve all had those travel experiences, but it’s up to us to make the most of it! Spain’s beaches are (of course) amazing, but there’s so much more to see and do here! My favourite city in Spain (perhaps the world?!) is Granada, an hour from the coast. I hope you make it over here to explore soon! 🙂

      Like

  9. I loved Barcelona! Loved reading this as it reminded me of my trip! My favorite parts of Barcelona were Gaudi’s architectural works, they are so amazing and there’s nothing else in the world quite like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I LOVE Guadi, such an incredible artist. Every time I visit Barcelona I try to visit another one of his buildings 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Stephanie says:

    This brings back such great memories of my trip to Barcelona! You definitely were spot on the top things to in the city 🙂

    Like

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