Barcelona experience: The best activities, accommodation, and food
In the center of the city there is a stone statue which says “Barcelona – inspira!”, something which is of course, very true. For most visitors, Barcelona inspires living to the full and trying all the best it has to offer. Within its 101 km² you can find everything you need for a vacation, from architecture and gourmet restaurants to sun, natural parks, sea, beaches and a vibrant nightlife. Of course you want to try everything, right? So, here are some tips on how to fit it all in during your trip if you are in Barcelona for only few days. Don’t miss them!
Barcelona is a Catalan city that has a history spanning millennia, but as the city we know today it was founded by the Romans around 1 BC as Barcino. Today, Barcelona is the second largest city by number of inhabitants in Spain and the 10th of the European Union.
Like most European cities, Barcelona includes an old town that’s full of history with medieval gothic (and neo-gothic) style structures, in addition ancient buildings of Roman antiquity. Outside this area Art Nouveau monuments flooded in after the turn of the century, especially along Passeig de Gracia where you’ll find masterpieces from Gaudí – like La Pedrera and Casa Batlló – and beautiful street lamps designed by Per Falkesa. If you walk down Carrer de Provença from La Pedrera, you’ll end up at the Sagrada Familia, said by many to be Gaudí’s piece de resistance.
The Sagrada Familia deserves to be mentioned in it’s own right. All the work on this building is paid for by private donations and ticket profits. It’s possible that the construction will be finished within 10 years, despite being started in 1882! A stunning building, both outside and inside. If you plan to visit the cathedral, then it’s highly recommended that you to buy a ticket in advance online to avoid large queues.
And if you want to know a little bit more about Catalan Art Nouveau, you should visit Palau de la Musica Catalana, a concert hall in Barcelona that is located in the center. You can visit all these monuments in a day if you plan well! The best way to end this cultural day out is to see the Magic Fountain in the Plaça d’Espanya area. Make sure to check the schedule in advance here because some nights it does not run. In this same area you can visit “Las Arenas” shopping mall, converted from a bullfighting ring (a practice banned in Catalonia). On the roof you can enjoy an observation deck and get some drinks.
There are of course many other monuments you could see in Barcelona, but you’ll need more than 1 or 2 days to do it!
If you are in Barcelona only for few days, you’ll definitely want to get a feel for the authentic city spirit. The easiest way is to book a vacation apartment in Barcelona, a cheaper and more comfortable type of accommodation – not to mention you will have an entire apartment to yourself with a kitchen and a salon where you can to chill-out after a long day. In Barcelona, it’s also pretty easy to find vacation rentals that include a nice terrace too. There are a lot of options in the center, but if you search even slightly outside of the city centre you can easily find cheaper accommodation in Barcelona, for example on this page.
The Spanish know how to eat well! You’ll find a strong love for bread here. From bocattas and bocadillos to magdalenas, croissants and thousands types of pastries for all times in the day! You can go to any “Panaderia” see for yourself. In Catalonia, one bread dish you should try is ‘pa amb tomàquet‘ – it’s a lightly toasted baguette sliced in half, scrapped with tomato and complimented with olive oil. Simple but delicious.
For lunch, you might also visit one of Barcelona’s markets: La Boqueria, Santa Caterina, Mercat de la Llibertat or the market of Sagrada Familia. Here you can try products from different regions of Spain and of course ‘tapas‘. If you want to try something special, you can go to a little known place hidden from eyes – El Nacional Barcelona on Passeig de Gracia, 24 Bis, where you can enjoy the authentic atmosphere and tasty tapas, as well as small sandwiches with different fillings like squid, octopus, chorizo, and many other things.
For a strong Spanish vibe you may want to dine at a restaurant that offers authentic tapas, like Flauta for example. It’s a place with 25 years of history and there is always a line for entry, so it’s highly recommended to book your visit. Here you’ll enjoy some seafood tapas dishes that are almost legendary amongst residents. You could also try their famous fried Camembert with raspberry jam. For more seafood, you can visit ‘La Paradeta‘, a seafood restaurant where you can choose what kind of fish you want and the way it’s prepared. But you must like a seafood very much, because you will have to adjust to their timetable. This restaurant is closed for siesta.
Barcelona has a good choice of places for vegans too. The hip and vibrant Raval district is where you will find multiple places to grab dishes like vegan hamburgers and fresh juices. Oh… Traveling from one bar to another is a kind of a tradition here in Barcelona, so be ready to get around a few bars per night…
And remember, no matter, how long you are going to stay at the city, don’t panic if you don’t get to see everything! There’s just too much! Simply enjoy the city at your own pace and no matter how much you see -even if you think you’ve seen it all – you’ll always leave Barcelona wanting to come back…