Tuesday, October 17, 2017


For being such a large city, Barcelona still has obtained its authentic culture and atmosphere that will keep us coming back for more. We were in Barcelona for three days and were worried that it would be too long, as we typically get worn down by big cities. However, when the day came to leave this fantastic city, we were still wanting more. When planning to visit, pick out your must sees and try to focus on those, then hopefully you can return and do more!

Where is it: Barcelona is in the northeast part of Spain close to the water.

Bread in Barcelona
Barcelona on a map

Getting there: This is of course dependent on your travel plans, and where you are before arriving in Barcelona. It is an international airport and a popular train station, so you will likely be able to find a way in and out. From the airport there is a bus shuttle that is very easy and convenient to use. If you are staying close to La Rambla, consider taking this and saving on an expensive cab. To figure out how best to arrive in Barcelona, use the always helpful site goeuro.com when trying to figure it out.

Things to do:
Placa de Catalunya: You may end up visiting this site unexpectedly as it is the city's central square and a large transportation hub. In fact, the bus from the airport will drop you off in the square if you have booked a hotel near by. However it has more significance other than being a transportation hub, a larger terminal was built in the late 1800s to be the city's main train station. It was a popular place and had connections to several metropolitan areas. The station has been torn down and the square was built around it with an accompanying metro station. The metro station isn't anything to see specifically, but understanding the history behind this square, you have more appreciation for the fountain now in place. Also if you are here for a Barcelona game, there commonly is viewing and parties in the square; just don't wear a Real Madrid jersey! The location of this is Placa de Catalunya, 08002 Barcelona Spain.

Placa de Catalynya in Barcelona

La Rambla: This pedestrian only street begins at the Placa de Catalunya and ends with the Christopher Columbus Monument at the port. It is a tourist attraction, and a place where you will want to keep an eye on your valuables. Walking the street you can get a feeling of the history here and how people would wonder from store to store purchasing their goods. The street did not always looks as romantic as it does today, as it was a sewage stream and was an area for prostitution. Looking past that, be amazed at how far the street has come as you saunter up and down, taking in the beauty of the storefronts. The street is definitely divided into "sections" where you can see parts of the street for buying flowers, then for birds and other animal products, and finally food.  You will find many restaurants on the street, but I would skips these as they are overpriced and bland. Instead stop in at La Boqueria, which is approximately halfway down La Rambla.

Las Ramblas in Barcelona

La Boqueria: I spent more time here than I care to admit. Since we were staying close, I had breakfast, lunch and a pre-dinner here each day. Even if you are not hungry, the market is filled with beautiful culinary colors that you can spend hours walking and watching the commotion around you. This market has grown through time, and no one is certain to when it officially became a "marketplace;" however, it is believed that from the 1200-1700 it started to gain popularity as the best place to get your household goods. The market has seen several remodels throughout its time and in 1914 it finally received its first metal roof and began to develop into the market we see today.

Seafood in La Boqueria
Spices in La Boqueria

Port Vell: If you have made it here, you most likely have finished walking La Rambla or are about to begin. You might also be wondering what that huge statue is right at the end of La Ramba. That is Christopher Columbus, who is remembered here for reporting back to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand after his first trip to America. Surrounding Christopher Columbus throughout the monument are symbols and people who were influential in his voyage. There is an elevator inside that will take people up for an amazing view of the port and city of Barcelona. The price for the elevator is 6 euros. Past this statue you will find a port with gorgeous boats, a large mall for shopping, and an aquarium.

Christopher Columbus Monument
Port of Barcelona

Sagrada Familia: If you are an Antoni Gaudi fan, this is a must see! Like any good church, this is wrapped around controversy. After his fame from Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, Gaudi undertook the design and construction of the Sagrada Familia in 1883. He worked on this design up to his death on June 10 1926. His funeral procession ended at the Sagrada Familia, where he was buried. But you may ask, how did the funeral end there as I can see the construction is still going on to this day? Well that is where the controversy comes in. At the time of Gaudi's death, 20% of the church as complete; the Nativity Facade and one bell tower. After his death came a storm of arguments over what Gaudi's intent and true vision was for this church. There have been delays for several valid reasons, the Spanish Civil War and as the construction and technology industry developed delays were taken to reassess. But with those breaks comes passionate discussion on whether the design is truly Gaudi's vision. They seem to be on a roll now, and the estimated time of completion is 2026 - 2028.

You can buy your tickets on the official website for the church and there are different options ranging from a single ticket to a guided tour. A single ticket is 15 euros, but that is only to see the Sagrada Familia and not the view towers or the Gaudi House Museum. Visit the website and see which is best for you. The hours depend based on the time of year, but during peak tourist season (April to September) the hours are 9 am - 8 pm. I would suggest visiting in the late afternoon, as this site is commonly packed in the mornings. The church is located at Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia in BarcelonaTop of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Parc Guell: This was one of my favorite sites in Barcelona because I didn't really now what to expect and then the views took me away. It is a bit far out from the city, so plan accordingly by taking transportation if you are going to visit. This park originally began as a housing development for wealthy families, but it was a bit of a flop. The idea didn't take off and it transitioned into a park that is enjoyed by all now. The park itself is free; however, a ticket is needed to visit the Monumental Zone. A ticket costs 7 euros for general admission and can be purchased online. Visiting the Monumental Zone isn't necessary, and you can assess when on site if this is something you want to do. Tickets can be purchased at the door as well; however, there is typically a line you don't have to deal with when having a printed ticket.

Parc Guell in BarcelonaCasa Batllo in Barcelona

Casa Batllo: If you are not a Gaudi fan and are debating to visit this site, I would recommend seeing the Casa Mila and skipping this. Casa Mila is cheaper and has a better rooftop. However if you are a Gaudi fanatic, you will not be disappointed as Batllo shows more of the architecture and work of Gaudi. There was previously a home here, and Gaudi was hired to take on the remodel. If just looking from the outside, take in the roof. It was designed to look like a dragon's back and has four chimneys, which were designed to prevent drafts. As your eyes go down the building, notice the three distinct sections of the home which show the separate floors in the home. If you choose to enter, you can buy tickets on the official website and skip the line.

Casa Mila: This home, also known has La Pedrera (open quarry) is Gaudi's take on a modern design. It still dawns the gingerbread style, while using a modern stone facade. This made it very unpopular with the public and controversial. However, Gaudi wasn't a stranger to controversy and continued on with his plans. In spite of all this it was claimed a World Heritage Site in 1984, and became the headquarters for the "Fundacio Catalunya La Pedrera" in 2013, who manages the visits and exhibitions to the home.

Gaudi Decoration
Casa Mila in Barcelona

Cathedral de Barcelona: Had enough Gaudi? While it is in the Gothic style and could look familiar, it is indeed a break from all of Gaudi's popular works. The church's construction began in the 13th century, and did not finished until the 15th century. It wasn't until the 19th century where the neo-Gothic facade we see today was done to cover the original characterless exterior of the church. Inside you will find the burial place of Eulalia of Barcelona, the Saint of Barcelona. It is believed that in 303 AD this 13 year old girl was persecuted in Barcelona by the Romans, who were targeting Christians at that time. Due to her refusal to recant Christianity, the Romans threw her in a barrel with knives and glass and rolled her down the street. Surprisingly enough this did not kill her, and allegedly a dove flew from her neck when she was beheaded and killed. The 13 white geese you see inside are to resemble the age of Eulalia when she was martyred. Also inside are the crypts of other famous saints, bishops, and rulers of Spain.

Cathedral in Barcelona
Top of Cathedral in Barcelona

Camp Nou: If you are a soccer fan, regardless of the team you support, I feel like this is a must see. The best way to visit this site is of course by a game; however, not all can afford the steep prices for tickets. When I was there in 2012, Barcelona was playing Real Madrid and tickets for the nose bleeds were in the $1,000s. If going to a game isn't an option, you can take a tour of the site which includes walking out on the pitch. Every football fan can close their eyes' and pretend that they are scoring the game winning goal. Tours leave every 30 minutes; however, this can be altered on game day. General admission tickets are 25 euros for a once in a lifetime experience.

Must Eat:

  • Restaurant Can Sole: Close to the port and a great option for paella! 
  • Bodega Biarritz 1881: Great tapa bar just off La Rambla.
  • Guell Tapas Restaurant: Great tapas right off La Rambla
  • 9 Nine: A little out of the main drag but worth it.
Suggested Place to Stay: For your first visit, it is probably best to stay close to La Rambla as that is central and walkable to most tourist attractions. We stayed at Hotel Denit. It was small, and we had to be strategic about where we put our suitcases, but it was clean and the reception was very friendly. They even left us a sweet note as we were travelling to Barcelona for our honeymoon.

Note from Hotel Denit in Barcelona



  1. I want to visit for the food and the architecture!

    1. It is such a great city for both food and architecture, especially if you are a Gaudi fan! Hope you get to make it there soon.

  2. We're hoping to go back in 2030 once they complete the Segrada Familia.

    1. That would be amazing! That is on my wish list as well :)

  3. I've wanted to visit Barcelona for years - my whole family has been separately, but I never have and have sat through enough of their photos that I know I really would love it! The Park Guell and Sagrada Familia look just stunning.

    1. I had some friends go recently and I had to hide my jealousy a bit! I hope you make it there soon!