I recently made a summer getaway trip to the Catalonian capital, Barcelona, returning for the first time since 2010! This was in part thanks to Scott Keyes and Scott’s Cheap Flights — we were able to snag round trip tickets on Iberian (thru Level) for ~$330 a piece! I highly recommend you sign up for Scott’s flight deals.
So I did crazy research leading up to the trip, asking for recommendations on Facebook and scouting Yelp/Google, etc. etc… I eventually decided to put together a “Best of Barcelona” Google Places Map with 130+ highly rated/recommended places in the city; which ended up looking like this:
All in all, it was super helpful, hence why I’m sharing it with you today! Whenever we were rerouting from the Airbnb or beach, it was great to see which spots to hit en route to the next destination. So definitely take a look –> Best of Barcelona –> Save it to your phone, Evernote, whatever. It works best on mobile, opening it in your Google Maps app.
Enough self-promotion. Let’s get to it. 🙂
1 – Where to stay.
I highly recommend Airbnb. We opted for three different Airbnbs over the course of 8 nights, to experience different parts of the city and have a nearby proximity // living like a local. This kept us from taking trains and buses, and walking too too far every day. We would hit up the streets, bars, restaurants and sites in each neighborhood, and really live it up there for a few nights. Then after the first ~ night at the following new Airbnb’s neighborhood, we’d know whether or not we wanted to stick around or go explore elsewhere again.
BUT, there’s a caveat here. There’s literally so much going on in Barcelona, so many cobblestone streets, alleys with restaurants and hidden gems, that you can’t go wrong. Be safe, walk around in pairs, look over your shoulder, etc. etc.
Favorite neighborhoods, no particular order:
- El Gotico / Gothic District
- El Born
It would be silly if you stayed at a hotel, in my opinion, or at an Airbnb without a terrace/rooftop. Also, it can get quite hot in the summer, so ask about airflow and fans beforehand.
2 – Where to eat.
- Sensi tapas
- Restaurant Arcano
- La Bombeta*** yes, yes, yes
- Santa Caterina Market
- La Boqueria at La Rambla
- See my Google Places list above, 100+ recommendations on there.
But there’s about as much (if not more) amazing food in Barcelona as here in San Francisco. You can’t go wrong with the cheeses, ham, and bocadillas anywhere. That said, the bombas in Barcelona are probably my new favorite food. Be prepared for cash only.
3 – What to do.
- Hit up Montserrat for a hiking day trip — here’s some train instructions — Don’t buy bus or tour tix, go to Placa Espana in Barcelona and take the regional train R5 to Manresa. I recommend hiking up. 🙂
- Other day trips out of Barcelona (cheap car rentals via Auto Europe) — Girona, Tossa de Mar, Badalona (quiet, locals beach near Barcelona), Cadaques, Sitges, Tarragona, and Ibiza is totally an option, too. You can fly round trip something like $50.
- Grab a T10 pass for the Metro, giving you 10 rides you can use in your stay, a perfect amount (Here’s so more advice on getting from the Airport to the City Center)
- If you’re timing is right, go see Messi and the boys at Camp Nou (FC Barcelona)
- Casa Batlló, an Antoni Gaudí Modernist Museum, for night drinks
- (or) Casa Milla
- Palau Guell
- Miro Foundation at Montjuic
- Sagrada Familia (and it’s totally worth going up in the tower!)
- Park Guell (also worth buying the tickets)
- … along with Bunker del Carmel on the same trip (great views! bring some beers!)
- Tibidabo amusement park, if you have small ones
- Placa Reial for live music (and Jazz at the Jamboree Club)
- Parc de la Ciutadella (beautiful, and awesome alternative to the beach)
- Breweries: Moritz and Estrella.
- Rooftops: W Hotel, Hotel 1898 (on La Rambla, highly recommend), Yurbban Trafalgar, and so many more.
- You might also check out Jauntful and Airbnb Experiences for fun things to do!
- Also, there’s a subreddit for all things Barcelona: http://reddit.com/r/Barcelona/
I highly recommend buying tickets to everything ahead of time. It’ll help you map out your days and set some foundational activities for your trip. Otherwise you could trek all the way to Park Guell and be left with no open time slots, waiting for a few hours…
Something else you can expect, that I found neat, is that you’ll see many flags flying in Barcelona.
Here’s a cool graphic I found via Barcelonas.com depicting what a few of them mean.
Benvinguda a Barcelona!
Grab some cava, vermouth, and pintxo, and you can’t go wrong.
Cheers, Alegres, Salut!