Our first stop in Spain, after a nice long 12.5 hour flight, was Barcelona. Up to this point we had been in South America and if you have been following, you know we were always on the go. From here on, we’ll probably be slowing things down and staying in one place for longer than just a couple of days. There were some other major changes when moving to this new continent: weather (just went from about 60ºF to 85ºF), the time (added five hours, so we're seven hours ahead of home) and unfortunately prices (we're now on the Euro). In this post, we are going to give our highlights and suggestions for the Barcelona, where we spent the last seven days.
Do’s, Maybe Do’s if time permits, and Don’t Do:
- DO Gaudi Tour: We did a walking Gaudi tour through the Runner Bean Tour company, which offers a couple of FREE walking tours. Tipping the guide, at your own discretion, is the only cost. The tour takes people to three of his residential buildings and then his crowning achievement, Sagrada Familia. On this tour, you don't go into any of the buildings because that's a separate experience/cost. But having someone tell you facts about them while you snap pictures was definitely worth the trip.
- DO Sagrada Familia: It probably goes without saying, but visiting the Sagrada Familia is a must. The entrance fee may be a bit steep, we recommend paying a bit more and getting the audio guide (we also paid to go up into the towers of the Nativity facade). Make sure to do this at least a few days in advance because chances are you won’t be able to walk up and enter the same day.
We have said this a lot—but it’s the best part of traveling when you see something and you look at each other and just say, “Pictures won’t do this justice.” The size and detail will take your breath away and the craziest part is that it’s not even done! As a matter of fact, the main entrance and tallest tower aren’t even close to being completed. They are hoping to have it done in 2026 to celebrate 100 years since Gaudi passed. But seeing as it’s taken almost 140 years to get to this point, I’m not sure that deadline will be met.
- DO Parc de Guell - This massive park in the middle of Barcelona was also designed by Gaudi and where his house of 20 years still stands. We went a little later in the day, didn’t have a lot of time to explore every inch of the park, but the parts we saw were very impressive (primarily the houses and gardens).
- DO the Beaches: We went to a couple of beaches in Barcelona. We went to a smaller one by our AirBnb on a weekday and this was a lot more relaxed when it came to the number of people and also the attire or lack thereof ;). On the weekend we checked out one of the more popular beaches in Barcelona and it was a totally different scene with loads of people. And as long as you constantly re-apply sunscreen you can stay there all day because vendors are constantly selling food, water and alcohol.
- DO Picasso Museum - Caitlin definitely has a bigger appreciation for art than I do, but I was pleasantly surprised with the Picasso museum. I just knew him as the dude that painted the pictures of messed up faces, but learning about his life and all of his works was fascinating. We would also highly suggest getting the audio guide to follow along.
- Maybe Do Montserrat: This is about an hour train ride outside of Barcelona, so if you have time, we suggest trying to make it out here. Montserrat is a monastery that is built in the mountains. We decided to hike up, which was about 1 ½ hours. Being in the dead of summer, the hike was a bit grueling. Your other option is taking a cable car or train up.
- Maybe Do Parc del Laberint & Horta - Another cool park that is a little outside the city center. The main attraction is the maze in the middle of the park that was actually a little more difficult than we had imagined. It also didn’t help we were doing it in 90 degree weather so felt like we were trapped in an oven.
- Maybe Do Castell de Montjuic - The castle itself isn’t necessarily the most exciting structure you can visit but the views of the city and ocean made this trip worthwhile for us. There aren’t a lot of “lookouts” over such a large city so that’s what makes this so cool and (in the past) strategic.
- Maybe Do Magic Fountain - For us, this was one of the highlights but that’s because there was a MASSIVE Pride parade and concert going on when we decided to go. As a result, the crowds were huge, lively, and the beer was flowing. If this weren’t the case, then the magic fountain is just water coming out of the fountain in different ways with music in the background (similar to Caesars Palace in Vegas).
- EATING - We had two favorite eating experiences in Barcelona. Can Paixano is a very inexpensive but awesome sandwich shop by the beach. We were told there are always lines here and we were able to confirm this. When you walk in you try and find a place to stand in this crowded space that surrounds their deli counter. You tell one of the 10 or so guys behind this small counter what you want off their list that is impossible to read (it’s in Catalan, not Spanish) and they slice it up in front of you. EVERYONE in the restaurant was also drinking their 1 euro cups of cava (similar to a pink champagne) or just skipped the one glass and had a whole bottle.
Our other favorite place is on the little avenue of Calle Blai. If you go to this district there are a bunch of different options for pinchos, which are like tapas but on little tostados. If the tostado has a big stick in it then it is 1.50 Euro and if it has a small stick then it is 1 Euro. They have whole chicken wings, shrimp, full prawns, and then smaller things such as slices of cheese and meat.
DON’T DO - We made the classic mistake on Day 1 of not doing research and just settling for a tapas restaurant in the main tourist area of Barcelona because someone was getting a little hangry. The food was nothing to write home about and the prices are way too high for what you get. So our main suggestion is, do your research. It takes time and sometimes gets kind of frustrating but it will be worth it in the end in terms of quality and price.
Overall, we had a fantastic time in Barcelona. If you want to sightsee then you can. If you want to just hang out, you can go to the beach. If you want to hike, head out of the city not that far. The only downside was that our AirBnb didn’t have air conditioning and for some reason the airflow was non-existent. I think because of this we probably stayed out longer, because we tried avoiding our accommodation as much as possible. So one suggestion would be to try and get a place with AC if you are going in July.
SEE ALL OF OUR PICTURES FROM BARCELONA HERE! https://doshobos.com/barcelona-photos