Barcelona: a city full of rich culture, color, and creative architecture. Basically since seeing the Cheetah Girls movie as a kid, I’ve always dreamed of making my own journey across the unique city. Here, I’ll break down my three days in Barcelona, the main sights to see, and my methods of travel.
Since Barcelona is widely known for its Gaudi architecture, I began my exploration with all things Gaudi. My best friend and I decided to start with Parc Guell, home of the famous tile bench and tiled dragon. Parc Guell opens at 8:00 AM but if you arrive before then there are way less people and you can get in for free. We took the metro and walked the rest of the way and arrived about 7:00 AM. There were some people already there, but we were able to get all the photos we wanted within twenty minutes. Parc Guell is beautiful and you could honestly spend at least two hours in there just wandering the gardens and enjoying the scenery. While we were there, we stopped in the Gaudi House Museum which costs about five euros to get in. It is not an overly exciting site; Gaudi’s home in the Parc is pretty empty and was only occupied by Gaudi for about fifteen years before he moved to the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.
After playing around in the Parc for awhile, we headed to Sagrada Familia. In order to help with crowd control, when you buy your tickets you’ll be given a certain time to enter the Basilica. I would definitely recommend buying tickets ahead of time to save valuable time that you don’t have to spend standing in line. We opted to take a guided tour since the Basilica is still under construction and so much is constantly changing. This is an option you have when you buy tickets which cost about thirty-five euros.
After our tour we took a break for lunch at a near by restaurant called Cheese and Cake that specializes in breakfast food presentation and very large glasses of Sangria. I ordered the goat cheese bagel—definitely worth the stop!
The rest of our day was spent touring the two houses designed by Gaudi. Casa Batllo, the recognizable blue tiled house, was a very neat site that took a good hour to get through. Complementary audio tours are provided as you walk in, so you get to hear about the history of the house and the inspiration that encouraged Gaudi’s creativity. The second house, Casa Mila (more famously known as La Pedrera) was a quicker visit. This house is notable for its wavy design on the front and its tall tower like structures along the roof. La Pedrera also comes as part of the Barcelona at Night tour if you wish to see the monuments all lit up. Both of these cost around twenty five euros.
Along the street that Casa Batllo and Casa Mila occupy, there are tons of restaurants lining the street. We stopped for dinner to sample some tapas, and of course another round of Sangria. I’ve since decided Sangria filled with all kinds of berries is one of my very favorites! If you choose to do all the Gaudi stuff in a day be prepared; my best friend and I ended the day after about 27,000 steps.
Our second day of Spanish adventures took us outside the city to Girona. If you’re looking for an old Spanish city that feels very Italian, Girona is your place. From Barcelona, Girona is about an hour long train ride, depending on if you’re taking the fast or regular train. We opted for the fast train to save on time, which cost around sixty euros to get there and back.
Our first stop in Girona was the cathedral, which has attracted a lot of visitors after serving briefly as a Game of Thrones set. We got in early and went to the cathedral first to hopefully avoid tons of tourists, which we were mostly successful in doing. Since we were already there, we decided to go inside the cathedral as well. The tickets where cheap and the cathedral is very ancient and worth the time to explore. The rest of the morning was spent walking through Girona’s Old Town, walking down the city gate, and stopping for brunch. While you could spend a whole day in Girona, I would recommend it as a half day trip.
After returning to the city for a brief siesta, we ventured down to Passeig de Gracia for dinner at Artespanol Paellas Y Tapas. I found this place through a quick Google search of the best paella in town, and this place was well known. Made custom to order, your wait time is about twenty-five to thirty minutes as they make each paella specifically for you. It was well worth the wait! A delicious dish served with sparkling Sangria left me very full and happy!
Our final day in Barcelona brought us back to the heart of the city. My best friend and I both decided after visiting the Sagrada Familia that we would come back later on to get pictures. We started our day off early (around 7:00 AM again) in front of the Basilica to get shots with less people. If these shots are important to you, definitely plan on getting there before opening hours.
After securing our Basilica pictures, we headed into Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter Here, you’ll find the Barcelona Cathedral, old historic streets, and the famous kissing mural. This is a place to get lost in. When I come to Europe, I always gravitate toward the ancient and rich in history, and Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is definitely where you’ll find the city’s rich culture.
After a few hours in the Gothic Quarter, we headed down to Parc de la Ciutadella. This is a place to hang out for awhile. Parc Ciutadella has it all: greenhouses, a zoo, and of course the famous Cascada Monumental. We found several spots to sit and relax and hung out here for quite awhile. If the weather is nice, take a book (or lunch) and plan to spend a few hours here. On your way out, you can spot the Arc de Triomf.
Our lunch spot was the Insta famous Brunch and Cake. Known for its dream worthy exterior and quirky menu, this place does come with a bit of a wait time, but I can assure you you’ll enjoy the view.
We finished up our afternoon exploration by strutting down Las Ramblas in honor of the Cheetah Girls, then stopping at Barcelona’s famous Music Hall, Palau de la Musica Catalana. It costs twenty euros to get in, but this music venue is well worth it. Famous for its lack of speakers and full acoustics, this place will take any music lovers breath away.
Our trip to Barcelona concluded with dinner at Restaurante Tragaluz off of Passaig de Gracia. Here we were treated to wine recommendations, some incredible fresh seafood, and melt in your mouth desserts.
Barcelona is hard to describe. It is a city full of pride for its culture, history, and authenticity. Rather than visit, you really feel like you’re there for an experience. I encourage anyone who visits to venture off the beaten path, find something unexpected, and soak up all the city has to offer.
General Barcelona Tips:
The metro is very easy to use in Barcelona so take advantage of it. We purchased a 70/30 ride ticket at the airport that allows seventy rides in thirty days AND can be used between multiple people. Definitely worth it because you can split the cost and save yourself a ton of walking (the touristy stops are NOT close to each other).
Barcelona falls in the region of Spain known as Catalonia, which actually has it’s own language, culture, and traditions. Most people in Barcelona speak Catalan, not Spanish, although they will understand Spanish if you use it.
Food to try: Tapas, paella, sangria, and all the seafood.
The Spanish eat very late. Dinner typically begins around 8:00 and can take awhile. Prepare to take your time and enjoy it!