Barcelona is one of my all time favorite cities. Anytime that I am in Europe, I somehow end up making a side trip to Barcelona. There is just something magical and warm about the city that can’t keep me away. It is a city different from any other Spanish city, because the region of Catalunya has a very distinct character – they have their own language, flag and customs. In fact, many Catalonians want Barcelona to be it’s own country entirely. I could talk endlessly about my love for Barcelona, so you can imagine that this top 5 list was REALLY hard for me to make.
- Rent a bike
Renting a bike is sooo cheap and such a good way to get around the city. What a thrill it is zig-zagging through pedestrians as you race past them! On a bike you can move at your own pace, and cover a lot of ground. (They will give you a bike lock when you rent so that you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen and losing your deposit). One of my favorite places to bike is along the beaches on the east side of the city. If you feel like stopping, there are a few of them to choose from each with a different vibe. Parc de la Ciutadella is also a great place to bike. It’s a beautiful green park where people young and old hang out. (When not preggo) grabbing a couple of beers, and sitting in the grass playing cards is my kind of afternoon. Do be careful though, at 8 months pregnant I am biking, having the time of my life, when I turn up a street only to find out that it is a ONE WAY… and the street narrows! Me and my unborn child almost got smushed!… AND people were yelling out their car windows at me – embarrassing!!
- See the Sagrada Familia
The first time I went to this church, both the interior and exterior were hugely under construction. It was still amazing, and is part of the reason I want to keep coming back to Barça – to check on the progress of this church. As of today, it has been under construction for over 130 years, and still has about 10 years to go (if their goal completion date is reached). The length of construction on this church should tell you just how intricately Guadí designed it.
The outside features massive towering spires and 3 facades that are dedicated to Christ’s Nativity, Passion & Glory. The Nativity façade was the only one that had a section completed while Guadí was alive, so it is believed that this is the best example of his true vision. The interior of the church is nothing like you would expect from the outside. It is wildly modern and models a rainforest bursting with a rainbow of color. It is truly one of a kind.
- Walk Las Ramblas to the Riverfront
Las Ramblas is probably one of the most famous and one of the most tourist things that you could do while in Barcelona, but I think that it is something that you HAVE to do at least once in your life. It starts at Plaça de Catalunya (the center of Barcelona) and ends at the Port Vell waterfront. You will see many street performers (I’ve been face to face with a pirate and mistaken a human for a statue), little cafés (good for an espresso pick me up), flower stands (bright and colorful) and newsstands (where you can get tickets to a soccer match, buy a postcard, or get a trinket).
A little bit before half way down, you will find La Boqueria on the right-hand side. It is a market where you can get fresh meats, fish and produce. I recommend venturing deep inside to find the best non-tourist vendors.
At the end of the Ramblas, you’ll find yourself on the boardwalk surrounded by water. It is a great place to stop and take in the sun, even in the winter.
- Stroll through the Barri Gòtic
This area is where Barcelona started and it will show you different parts of Barcelona’s history. This area was the original Roman city, and used to be walled in. Now it is like a labyrinth of streets where you can find hidden gems all around.
At Plaça Nova you’ll see two Roman towers bordering the street and big letters spelling ‘BARCINO’ which was once the name of the city. The Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona is also in this area which is worth seeing from the outside, but I’d skip going in. Just down from the Cathedral is an old house, Casa de’Ardiaca, which is cool to peak in for a couple minutes. The ground floor has a pretty fountain, and from the balcony above you can get a different view of the Cathedral’s steeple.
- Watch FC Barcelona play at Camp Nou
Even if you are not a sports fan at all, experiencing a soccer match at Camp Nou is an unforgettable cultural experience and one of the best ways to experience the passion of the Barcelona people (it’s unreal). Watching soccer with my husband on TV can sometimes be pretty mind-numbing for me, so I was nervous that it would be a waste of my money going in, but when you are there in person it is like you suddenly turn into a die hard fan of your own. Time flies by when you are experiencing it in person and it is a lot of fun (especially when you have spent some time in Parc de la Ciutadella with a couple of beers beforehand). I’ve been lucky enough to see a couple games here, and my favorite was when I got the cheapest tickets I could find which were in the fan section – It’s loud, rowdy, and you can’t help but get excited and join in on the chants. If I still haven’t convinced you – right now, the best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi (arguably the best that will ever play), is playing for Barcelona, so it’s something that you can brag about for decades.
I hope that this top 5 list has inspired to you to go to Barcelona and see/do them for yourself. If you want more to know more of my top sights, subscribe to my blog!