Barcelona is one of those cities that will simply blow you away as soon as you step off the plane and inhale the sweet Mediterranean air. The whole vibe of the place is buzzing, but in a warm, welcoming way that makes you feel as if you’ve just got home after a long day at work rather than the fast paced whir of London or New York. With the city drenched in history and architecture as well as a huge shopping district and party scene there’s something for everyone here and with flights from under £50 Barcelona is fast becoming a top European hot spot for city breaks. I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice with my most recent trip being last February, the weather cool but bright, perfect for a girly weekend of sight seeing and exploring. Here are my top ten picks of things to do if you ever find yourself in the sunkissed city of Barcelona…
1 – Drink a Spanish beer whilst lazing on the grass watching the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. The light show is absolutely amazing, the fountain ‘dances’ along to music and it’s the perfect way to wind down after a day of sightseeing and the best thing is it’s completely free.
2 – Walk the full length of Las Ramblas, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the city. One of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks is the pedestrianized boulevard where everything happens. Stretching from the port all the way to Plaça Catalunya here is where you will find the heart of the city, from the markets and Gothic Quarter to street performers, cafe’s, bars, shops and as the sun sets the southern end of Las Ramblas becomes a low key red light district… If that’s your thing.
3 – Sip Sangria at Port Vell, find a gorgeous rooftop bar in the afternoon and stay to catch the sunset. If it’s one thing the Spanish do well, it’s food and drink. A litre jug of sparkling sangria will set you back around 10 euro’s and teamed with the stunning views, good conversation and the warm afternoon sunshine there’s no better way to wile away a couple of hours.
4 – Buy a delicious porras from one of Barcelona’s many quaint bakeries. Along witth the cronut and churros, porras are a frequent find in the bakeries that are scattered around the city. Most are just hole in the wall type places which charge less than a euro for a cream filled porras and are very delicious and just a little bit addictive… We were having them for breakfast most mornings when we were hungry and hungover. Oops.
5 – Take a dip in the sea and sunbathe on the sandy beaches that fringe the city with an indulgent cocktail. No trip to Barcelona is complete without a swim in the beautiful clear waters! It really is the city that has it all and the gorgeous beaches are the icing on the cake, especially with all the cocktail bars and fabulous cheap eateries that are just a few metres away.
6 – Buy an ice cream from the La Boqueria food market. With every flavour you can think of you’ll be spoilt for choice and there’s also an amazing range of fresh fruit and smoothies for those who prefer a healthier sweet treat. The food market also sells a wide range of meat, cheese, olives, bread and fish and samples are plentiful which is quite handy if you’re hungry but spent all your money on sangria.
7 – Enjoy delicious tapas from a street cafe and watch the world go by. Spicy potatoes, olives, cheese, calamari and cold meats are the most common components of a traditional tapas spread and can be found in the small, quaint restaurants on the outskirts of the city but more contemporary spots in the city will surprise you more exotic choices and of course, accompanying Spanish wine.
8 – Skim the city skyline in a Port Cable Car and see the sights from a different view. Not for the faint hearted, the structures are a bit old and creak like they’re going to break at any moment but no one has died yet and it’ll be worth the mini heart attack for all those fabulous Instagram pictures.
9 – Explore the organic architecture of Anotoni Gaudi by visiting some of his most famous creations, Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. It’s well worth booking an audio tour to learn more about the stunning church and if you’re feeling athletic, the stunning view from the top of the tower are breathtaking.
10 – Make new friends and party the night away at one of the many nightclubs and live music venues in the Gothic Quarter. As the Spanish tend to eat quite late, at around 10pm the clubs and bars don’t tend to be busy until the early hours of the night and tend to go on right up until 6am. Make sure you squeeze in a siesta and fill your tummy with tapas so you can keep up!
Barcelona Zoo and L’Aquarium de Barcelona are well worth a visit too, especially if you’re travelling with children. Avoid expensive taxi’s as the public transport system is great, especially the subway where you can buy a 10 ride ticket for 10 euros and travel the whole city in air conditioned greatness.