Barcelona has taken pride of place in the top three cities I have ever visited. It is quite simply stunning. It combines traditional architecture with bustling beaches, narrow atmospheric streets with delicious local food. I just loved the vibe. It was bursting with culture and character and I left wanting more.
If you’re planning a city break in Barcelona, then don’t miss these six fun activities!
1. Rent A GoCar
GoCars are yellow "cars" which are fitted with GPS systems which guide you around the city, dropping knowledge bombs along the way. These little yellow nuggets of joy are not to be missed. On our first day in Barcelona we hired one out for 3 hours and used the "Barcelona experience tour" to explore the city. You are able to park it almost anywhere and hop out at each stop. However, we were having so much fun in ours that we only got out once, at the Museum of Catalunya National Art which gives some of the best views over the city. Honestly though, we were laughing and smiling the whole time we drove around in our little car. It is by far the most fun way I have ever explored a city and I will be hiring one later this year when I visit San francisco!
2. See Gaudi’s Work
I have to admit I was ignorant to the work of the world famous architect, Gaudi, until I visited Barcelona; and I am so glad that my eyes have been opened. He is a true creative genius. He seamlessly merges art with architecture, functionality with beauty. His focus was incorporating elements of nature into his work, and I have never seen buildings like it. It honestly takes your breath away.
In Barcelona there are a series of Gaudi buildings you can visit. The most popular being La Sagrada Familia, which you simply cannot miss. I also enjoyed exploring Park Guell, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. I would recommend visiting them all if you can as they are each unique in their own way. Be sure to get an audio-tour to learn as much as possible, and also book tickets in advance for the earliest slot of the day to avoid the crowds.
3. Wine & Dine
Barcelona is a hub of incredible cafes and restaurants. It has it all; traditional tapas restaurants, popular brunch spots, hidden coffee shops and indulgent bakeries.
- Caffeinate: Don’t miss Satan’s Coffee Corner and Black Remedy Coffee for the highest quality coffee in town.
- Indulge: Check out the Marscapone and fig ice cream at Swiit (mind = blown) as well as the chocolate and doughnuts at Chok. Top tip: Get chatting to the sales assistant at Chok and ask if you can go into the kitchen. If you work your charm, they will allow you to taste whatever they are creating!
- Dine: Our favourite tapas spots included Alcoba Azul (the best atmosphere!), Tapeo (I ordered three plates of the aubergine, it was pure wizardry), and Sensi Gourmet Tapas.
- Brunch: Check out my full Barcelona brunch guide!
One of my favourite activities when visiting a new city is wandering the streets with no intention except to explore and see what I stumble upon. I had two favourite areas to do this in Barcelona:
- The Gothic Quarter: Think narrow streets packed full of character opening up onto expansive squares surrounded by stunning architecture, interwoven with traditional churches and cathedrals.
- El Born: This slightly less touristy area of Barcelona is crammed with independent eateries and is home to Parc de la Ciutadella. This was my favourite park in the city. Once you wander past the initial touristy area packed full of shopping stalls you will find the most gorgeous statues and fountain. Pop yourself on a bench and enjoy the view.
- It may also be worth paying a visit to Las Ramblas, which is the busiest street in Barcelona and the definition of a tourist trap. I only went there briefly, to visit the popular La Boqueria market which is a haven for fresh local produce.
If you’re a fan of people watching, one of my favourite things, then I highly recommend sitting on the steps near to the gorgeous Barcelona Cathedral and watching the world go by. There is also a nearby antiques market which is worth a browse.
5. Get Cultured
Barcelona is a cultural hub and packed full of museums and galleries. These include Fundacio Joan Miro, The Museum of Contemporary Art and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. I only got to visit a handful, but one of my favourites was the Picasso Museum which is free to access on Sundays. It is important to note that it gets extremely busy. And I mean extremely busy. So get there at opening time to avoid a very long queue!
6. Enjoy Sunset
There are a couple of ways to enjoy sunset in Barcelona which you can’t miss.
- Cocktails at the W hotel. Their Eclipse bar has an unbeatable view over the coastline of Barcelona which you can enjoy while sipping on a margarita.
- Up High. One of my favourite things we did in Barcelona was getting the cable car up to Montjuic at dusk. This gives gorgeous views over the city in the privacy of your own little carriage. A little moment of peace in a manic city. You can then walk 30 minutes down to the "Magic Fountain" to watch sunset over an incredible light and water show. I warn you though, this spot again gets very busy. Arrive early to get a good spot with a clear view.
One Last Barcelona Travel Tip:
I am someone who enjoys "living like a local" and often finds tourist attractions quite suffocating due to the crowds. However, I think that when you first visit a new city it is essential to see these sights. They are popular for a reason and give you a a valuable insight into the cities history and culture. I just recommend booking in advance into the earliest slots each day to avoid crazy crowds, so you can experience the city in all its beauty.
If you want to see more of my Barcelona adventures then check out my youtube videos here, here and here, as well as my Barcelona Brunch Guide.