I’ve visited Barcelona more than any other city in the world and it’s my ultimate favourite city break! Mainly for its charm and beauty but also because there is so much to explore. You can get a flight to Barcelona from all airports in the UK and it usually costs about £85 from the london ones. If you go out of season it’s even cheaper! It can be a very cheap trip considering the amount of free/ low cost activites there are to do there. Here are some of my favourite things to do:
● Visit La Boqueria
If there’s one reason to return to Las Ramblas, it’s to visit La Boqueria, a huge food market just off Las Ramblas and an amazing place to go for breakfast, beer, pick up snacks, buy fruit and juices. It’s one of the most famous markets in Spain and it reminds me slightly of a small borough market (but Spanish style). It’s wonderful and cheap!
● A lazy summer afternoon on the beach
Though Barcelona’s city beaches do get pretty crowded at the peak of the summer season, there’s no denying that Barceloneta a beautiful place to take in the atmosphere and spanish culture. It’s nice to forget about work and bike down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon of listening to the waves and walking along the seashore.
● Coffee and cake plus a stroll
Barcelona is full of delicious coffee + cake places, Onna Café is one of my favourite coffee bars. Also, Caravelle cake shop makes some fantastic sweet treats! Everyone knows that coffee is even better when paired with a gentle walk around the sights of the old city center. Barcelona becomes more and more charming the more you stroll! (especially down the lanes)
● Biking around
Biking really is a wonderful way of getting round Barcelona. It’s the best way to see the sights and work up an appetite to visit the amazing restaurants dotted around the city.
When it comes to quality of life, being able to bike and take public transportation to get around is one of the biggest differences between Barcelona and most of the UK. You can rent €10 per 24hrs at the ‘Green bike company’ and €15 per 24hrs at ‘Barcelona rent a bike’ – in my opinion that’s a bargain!
● Sit in green spaces
If youre wanting some down time after a long day of exploring, head to one of Barcelona’s green spaces to relax! Barcelona’s not a city of big parks: blame the medieval walls that kept people crammed together, and then developers in the 19th century who screwed with the open areas planned for the new town, the Eixample. However Ciutadella park, just beyond the hustle and bustle of the city, has plenty of grass, shade, fountains and some prime examples of modern buildings. A little known green, yellow, orange, pink and red gem is the Parc de Cervantes rose garden which is free to use. It’s a beautiful little area which is perfect for an afternoon nap!
● Sitting and chatting in one of the squares in Gràcia
Barcelona’s Gràcia neighborhood is so artistic and decorative. The street art is exquisite! No wonder the squares in Barcelona are always full of inquisitive tourists sitting outside at the terrace cafés and bars. Any available surface is fair game for anything from stickers to stencils and flyers to murals. You’ll find plenty of examples just by wandering the streets or join a tour such as the highly-rated Barcelona Street Style Tour (free, donation requested). Competition for seats in the squares can be stiff in the summer months, so once people snag a table they can be reluctant to give it up. Sitting in the sunshine with a beer and a plate of tapas is one of my all time favourite things to do! Day or night, there’s always great people-watching to be done in these squares.
● Bar hopping in the old city center
There’s so many hidden gems in the old cobbled streets of Barcelona whether it be a vintage cocktail bar, such as Boadas Cocteleria, or a luxury drinks lounge, such as Solange Cocktails & Luxury Spirits. – both amazing! There’s something magical about bar hopping in Barcelona’s old city center. Sometimes you can walk down a back alley towards an old pub, and it turns out to be an awesome bar filled with interesting people with the best spanish drinks!
Many a weekend has been spent like this and I cannot wait to do it again soon!
● Visit Sagrada Familia
The undisputed hero of Barcelona! You can and should buy passes online if you don’t include it in a tour to avoid hours in queues and spent some time gawping in awe at the exterior first. Once you’re inside you’ll be amazed at the stained glass designs on every abstract wall of the cathedral, it’s a beautiful sight and one you have to see if you visit the city!
This cathedral was designed by Antoni Gaudi and construction began in 1882. It’s still going! The plan is to have it finished by 2026 to commemorate 100 years since Gaudi’s death. But in 2010 they had only reached midway with some of the more challenging work to come.
● Taking in the architecture
It often seems as though architects, when designing for Barcelona take more risks and use brighter colours than they would when designing for other cities. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being impressed by the amazing architecture that Barcelona has.
You will notice as you walk around that the buildings on corners have a flat edge. This is called the ‘chamfered corner’. It means that crossroads have a more open feel. I must admit, it does feel very open and spacious for a built up city.