Updated: Mar 4
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!
Once you've taken in the sights, shared your tapas, and taken a siesta, get ready for the night of your life. Like, seriously, get ready. Because Barcelona after dark is ready for you! No matter what your taste in music is, they've got you covered. From R&B and Hip Hop to Rock, Pop or Jazz. Nightclubs can be found throughout the city; however, the ones along the beach are my personal favorite.
Not feeling adventurous enough to party on your own? You can also book an organized tour like a Pub Crawl, Boat Party, Nightlife Tour, or a Night Show. Organized events like these can sometimes be a bit touristy, but will definitely give you a good time and leave you with a few stories to tell! Looking for a unique experience that you won't find anywhere else? Check out a Flamenco Show for a true taste of Spanish culture!
While the budding warmth of Spring or the heat of Summer in Barcelona are definitely appealing, the people of Barcelona love a celebration so this is a location that will not disappoint no matter what time of year you go. There's always a party in Barcelona! Check out the list of events below that take place throughout the year.
● Dia de los Reyes Magos (beginning of January) to celebrate the Three Kings who
arrived in Bethlehem to shower baby Jesus with gifts. Locals are typically exchanging
gifts around this time as a celebration.
● Barcelona Carnival (beginning of March) is a street festival that boasts many parades,
dancing, costumes, floats, and even a firework show!
● Feria de Abril is a two day flamenco festival at Parc del Forum.
● Pride Barcelona will take place throughout the city and typically includes parties, concerts, activities, and a large parade. Check each year for specific dates.
● Musica als Parcs (runs through August) is a series of free concerts in the parks of
Barcelona (jazz musicians play Wednesdays and Fridays at 10pm in Ciutadella Park,
along with young musicians performing classical music from Thursday to Saturday in
various other parks throughout the city).
● Sonar Festival is a three day electronic arts music festival and is one of the biggest of its' kind in the world.
● Festival del Grec (throughout July and around the city) is one of the largest cultural
festivals of the year, highlighting dance, music, theatre, and the circus.
● La Merce Festival (end of September) in honor of Mare de Deu de la Merce, who is the
patron saint of Barcelona. You can find events, parades, and dances that are celebrating
the beauty of life during this time.
I hope you have begun to understand the love that many have for Barcelona. The sights, the tastes, and the experiences are truly once in a lifetime, and you won’t soon forget the memories you make in this magical city.