Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, one of the most proud and rich cultures in Europe. It’s one of the liveliest, most unusual, most innovative, artistic, and vibrant cities in the world. Although modern day Barcelona is a mixture of Catalan and Spanish, it hasn’t changed for 500 years. Catalans are extremely proud of their regional identity, culture and language. Catalunya was not part of ‘Spain’ as it is today until Ferdinand of Aragón married Isabel of Castille in the late 15th century. Many Catalonians do not consider themselves Spanish, but Catalan. They have their own language, Catalan, and they are a part of their own autonomous region of the country. Because of the Catalonian and Spanish split, Barcelona is a unique and culturally rich city that takes time to get to know well.

What to Expect

Language: España / Spanish

Currency: Euro (EUR).

Credit Cards & ATMs: Many Barcelona shops, restaurants, and hotels accept credit cards.

Safety: Spain is one of the safer places to visit in Europe. The biggest issue is pickpocketing. Exercise caution with valuables.

Plugs: The plugs in Barcelona are type F, the standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. I recommend buying a universal adapter and using a converter for hairdryers and beard trimmers.

Food and Drinks: Barcelona has superb gastronomy guaranteed to delight your taste buds. Try the famous paella (rice dish with your choice of chicken or seafood and made in a large flat pan with rice, peas, stock, garlic, tomatoes, sherry or white wine and a dash of paprika and saffron) & potato bombas (potato balls, deep-fried in breadcrumbs until golden) as well as sangria. 

The Arts: From literature to architecture, theatre to dance, Portugal has a thriving arts scene offering an insight into Portuguese culture. Whether you are looking for music, a vibrant nightlife scene, museums or exhibitions, you will find plenty of interesting places to visit. Don’t forget all the graffiti, you will be sure to see lots of it!

Must do in Barcelona!

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Família is the single most visited monument in Barcelona, with more than three million visitors a year, and the most important work of the Catalan modernist movement by famous architect Antoni Gaudí.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

BEST VALUEHotel Ciutat de Barcelona, while not directly in the Gothic Quarter, is just a couple blocks East. So, you stay in roughly the same location, but at half the cost. Also, if you fancy a nice little rooftop pool and lounge area, this one is for you. It’s rare to get a rooftop pool in Barcelona. Overall, this hotel is a great value!

CHEAPEST – Just 3 minutes’ walk from Barcelona’s famous Ramblas, Hostal Levante Barcelona offers free WiFi and a 24-hour reception. Air-conditioned and heated rooms have a private bathroom, fan and work desk. Best for backpackers, couples, or group of friends looking to save on their budget.

 

LUXURY – Situated just 650 feet from Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia, this design hotel offers a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Gaudís famous basilica. Rooms at the Sercotel Hotel Rosellon include flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi.

All air-conditioned rooms at Ayre Hotel Rosellón feature stylish, modern design. A free bottle of water is provided in the minibar on arrival.

The Sercotel Hotel Rosellon has an elegant restaurant and a café. A varied buffet breakfast is available each morning.

The hotel is a 3-minute walk from Sagrada Familia Metro Station, which offers direct access to Barcelona city centre. City tour buses stop within 800 feet of the hotel.

Barcelona Neighborhoods

Barcelona is divided into several clearly distinguishable neighborhoods. To really get an idea on where you want to stay, read more about traditional neighborhoods like Gracia, Gothic Quarters, La Barceloneta and others.

El Born Neighborhood of Barcelona, Spain

El Born of Barcelona has all the beauty of the Barri Gotic… but is just far enough removed from the beaten track to maintain a little more calm, charm and dignity. Despite popular tourist attractions like the Picasso Museum and Ciutadella Park (which is also home to the city’s zoo), the area has maintained a high degree of local life. Stay in El Born if you want a little local charm but still near a few tourist attractions. In my opinion, this is the best neighborhood to stay in to maximize your travel dollar. It’s centrally located between Gothic Quarters, La Sagrada Familia and the beach.

Gràcia is where you can find budget accommodations and hostels. You will find mostly locals here, as its the business district of Barcelona. It’s a great value if you’re willing to travel into the city center. The vibe is casual and relaxed. Attractions include: Park Guell, Mt Tibadabo and Casa Vicens. Gracia is a great place to stay but it’s far from the beach.

The Sagrada Familia, is the single most visited monument in Barcelona. The neo-gothic church is jaw-dropping. Inspired by nature, Gaudí created new shapes and structures, which made others see it as a laboratory of constructive experiments. The exterior of the building depicts religious and natural themes while the inside presents awe-inspiring views filled with stained glass windows and colossal columns. Stay in L’Eixample if you want to be as close as possible to this historic

The historic center of Barcelona is Barri Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter, featuring the oldest buildings in the city. Most of the buildings in this area are neo-Gothic, the result of a massive 19th-century restoration project.

Fine examples of original Gothic architecture can be found in the interiors of La Catedral and La Llotja de Mar.

The narrow, winding streets create a labyrinth which means that it may take a while to get your bearings. Don’t forget to look up and around you or you may miss something! The Gothic Quarter is the best neighborhood for history and culture enthusiasts. 

El Raval is a vibrant multi-cultural neighborhood in the heart of Barcelona. The part closest to the old port was also known as Barri Xinès or Barrio Chino (Chinatown). Famous for it’s edgy and bohemian vibe, it has some of the city’s top museums and restaurants. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Sant Antoni, the Gothic Quarter and El Poble Sec. Stay in El Raval if you like street art and the hustle and bustle of Barcelona.

La Barceloneta is a triangular piece of land that cuts into the sea boats in the old harbor. Barcelona’s Port Vell, on one side, and sandy beaches on the other. The neighborhood, with its narrow, rectilinear streets, was built on a military grid structure to provide accommodation for the former inhabitants of La Ribera who had lost their homes due to the construction of the citadel. The houses were low-rise and small in scale so as not to obstruct views of the city. Barceloneta is the best neighborhood for visiting the beach.

Can't Miss in Barcelona!

Park Güell

Park Güell is the famous stop you see on all the Barcelona postcards. But it’s not just a pretty view, it has an enormous garden. The Park is named after Eusebi Güell, a rich entrepreneur and count that had a great passion for Gaudí’s work and who became his patron,

What to Eat & Drink in Barcelona

Barcelona Food

Spain has some of the greatest food in the world—you’ve just got to know where to look! As discussed earlier, Mercado de La Boqueria is one of the top spots to grab a bit on the go or for cheap. I’d highly recommend getting over to Mercat de Santa Caterina or Mercat de Sant Antoni as well to shop like a local.

 

Traveler Tip: Some of the stalls are cash only or have a surcharge for using cards. Be sure to arrive with at least a few euros in your pocket.

 

The big thing in Spain is Menu del Dia or Menu of the Day! Every day from roughly 1pm to 4 pm, you’ll find deals on lunch from 9€ – 14€. We are talking about a three course meal. That means you can save or skip dinner and snack on some tapas later that evening, making is a “cheap eats”.

 

Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day in Spain so you are probably looking at a three-course meal with wine.

 

Usually the lunch consists of soup or salad, bread, main course with a side dish, dessert, and coffee. Wine or water is normally included as well. The Menu del Dia was invested to help the hard working and local people but its a saint for travelers too!

Paella Cooking Class

A unique Barcelona experience!

Learn how to cook a traditional Spanish seafood paella. Visit La Boqueria with the chef to buy ingredients, and take a walk through the old town. Sample some tasty tapas, make sangria, and watch as the chef prepares a paella de marisco for you to enjoy.

Barcelona Beer, Wine & Sangria

Most drinks are cheap in Spain compared to the rest of the world. Wine, especially is very cheap. Spain is one of the biggest wine-producing countries on earth. That means the wine is not only world-class, but cheap! Cava and vermut are the typical drinks of choice. While you will find sangria, it’s better and more popular in the Andalucia region and southern Spain.

 

Traveler Tip: You can bring along an empty water bottle (they charge by the liter so make sure it’s at least that size) or you can grab a refillable bottle for a small price. More often than not, they are happy to give you samples directly from the barrel so you can get an ultra-affordable wine tasting on the fly.

 

If wine is not your thing, have a locally brewed cerveza (beer) for a few euros or less. Salud!

Barcelona Bucket List Worthy Attractions

1

La Sagrada Famila

2

Park Güell

3

The Gothic Quarter

4

The Magic Fountain

5

Mercado de La Boqueria

1. La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Família is the single most visited monument in Barcelona, with more than three million visitors a year, and the most important work of the Catalan modernist movement.

Since 1882, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been under construction. When Francisco de Paula del Villar resigned from the project in 1883, Gaudí stepped in to take over as chief architect. Gaudi transformed Villar’s vision in his own way that combined the Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt inside. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

2. Park Güell

Park Güell is not in the city center, but just outside of the hustle and bustle. So, if you want to get a glimpse of the famous mosaic tile wall overlooking the city, you had better get there early. Park Güell is one of the most popular attractions that Barcelona has to offer. Many postcards and beautiful desktop backgrounds have the image as the poster-child of what one thinks, when one thinks of Barcelona. You may recognize it?

Park Güell is one of the masterpieces of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who projected it in 1900. Inaugurated as a public park in 1926, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, recognizing its patrimonial and cultural value as a symbol of modern architecture, being one of the biggest exponents of Gaudi’s modernism. This playful urban park features peaceful greens, winding paths and many sculptures and mosaics designed by Gaudi himself.

3. The Gothic Quarter

The charming Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gòtic, has narrow medieval streets filled with trendy bars, clubs and Catalan restaurants. The Museu d’Història de Barcelona shows remains of the Roman city. Artisans sell leather and jewelry near the Cathedral of Barcelona, while flower stalls and street-food vendors line busy avenue La Rambla. The Plaça del Pi, named after the adjacent Gothic church, hosts a weekend art market.

No stroll through the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona would be complete without visiting the Cathedral of Barcelona and making your way to the rooftop. This gorgeous church has architectural detail like you’ve never seen before, a must stop!

4. The Magic Fountain

The fountain is much more than just a fountain, its a must-stop area when in Barcelona, in my opinion. The first performance of the magic fountain was on May 19, 1929 during the Great International Exhibition. We arrived mid-afternoon and while it was very hot, we were glad we stopped, it was spectacular. The amount of water that shot like a canyon through the air and the ambiance or the area, I quickly understood where the fountain got its name. It’s said that the color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics – if you mix these elements together in just the right combinations, you end up with pure magic at night!

5. Mercado de La Boqueria

La Boqueria is the most famous market in Barcelona. It is located in the center of the city of Barcelona (Las Ramblas).

The market was beautiful. In a way, it was a little bit of organized chaos. It was filled with locals and tourists alike. Some hunting for a bargain on breakfast and some just browsing before the lunch rush. It was mid-morning now and after about 30 minutes of looking at all of our options, we settled on a couple of bacon and cheesy-biscuit croissants, a chicken empanada and a fruit smoothie.

How about trying your skills at a cooking class?

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