Updated: Mar 4, 2021
As locations around Europe begin to open back up for travel, I find myself reminiscing about my favorite places more than ever. The summer sun brings back especially fond memories of a magical weekend I spent in Barcelona. Beach-goers sunbathing, music playing, and sangria flowing on outdoor patios. From tapas on the beach and french fry buckets the size of your head, to architectural marvels and historic churches, and nightlife that is rivaled by none, Barcelona has a feeling that lights you up inside.
Got the travel itch and thinking about where to go first when the time comes? Read on fellow traveler, and discover the magic of Barcelona.
If you're anything like me, the food of a city has a whole lot to do with the amount of joy you feel while in that place, and I left Barcelona FULL of joy. Pun intended. Food introduces you to the culture of a place. The way it's prepared, how it's served, even how it's eaten. That being said, the very first thing you should do upon arriving in Barcelona is find the nearest patio, order some tapas, and get your glass filled with Sangria.
Not to worry if you are a solo adventurer. You can definitely finish off a couple servings of tapas on your own, and the magic will still be there!
Now back to that line I wrote about the french fry buckets. Don’t ask me the name of the little street shop where we bought these holy grails of french fries, but do your best to locate it. Take an afternoon, wander to the beach and down the main boardwalk, and you just might find a little shop in the strip of buildings leading to the beach that sells french fry buckets the size of your head. You won’t be disappointed. I still dream of the day I blissfully ate my french fries on the warm Barcelona beach. That is all.
Speaking of food, you absolutely can not miss a visit to La Boqueria. This 200 year old urban market will feed your stomach and your soul at the same time. Grab a beverage and some tapas at one of the market’s bars, visit the fishmongers at the center, or just wander and take in all the sights and smells. But don't leave Barcelona without coming here!
As far as the rest of the food goes in Barcelona, everything I tried was amazing. A local and personal favorite is paella, which you should definitely try. I've tried this rice and seafood dish other places, but no one does it better than the Spanish. Paella is traditionally eaten during celebrations and family gatherings, so do as the Spaniards do and find something to celebrate over a plate of paella.
I don't typically go to the beach when I'm traveling because it takes away from time I could be exploring the city; however, if you go to Barcelona you MUST go to the beach. Let the turquoise blue waters and Spanish sun intoxicate you, whether for a full day or even just a few hours!
Take a walk along the water at the harbor. Everywhere you look, Barcelona is alive and bustling. And it's contagious!
If you're short on time but still want to explore as much of Barca as possible, rest your feet and grab a ticket to the HoHo! It's your all-day, all-access pass to the best of Barcelona. A ticket to the Hop-On, Hop-Off (HoHo) bus is the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to get around town. Not only does this system provide you with access to the most popular sights around town, but there is also an audio guide available in 11 different languages, and a free app, which shows bus routes, stops, and sightseeing highlights. Gone are the days when you stood in front of an "important" building and had no idea what you were looking at. For this, we thank you, creator of the HoHo!
If you want to explore Barcelona on your own but are limited on time, focus on the architecture of this amazing city and you will NOT be disappointed. The architectural design of and within this city is breathtaking, and truly deserves an entire article on its own. The Gaudi designs were the highlight of my visit. All of them. The palaces, churches, benches with mosaic tiles, colonnades, fountains and sculptures. There is nothing quite like a structure that was created by the famous Gaudi, and words don't seem to do them justice. You'll just have to experience them for yourself! Until then, here are a few of my favorites.
My personal favorite was without question Park Güell, an exquisitely colorful and funky collection of gardens and other architectural designs on Carmel Hill. I could get lost here!