Welcome to the Barri Gotic
I didn’t go all the way to Spain in August just for La Tomatina (although you can read all about that here). That was a highlight of my trip, but there’s a lot more to Spain than a bunch of smooshed produce.
I spent three days in Barcelona and could have used 30 more. It’s a beautiful city full of art and history and travellers looking to have a good time. You can sleep late, hit the beach, check out some museums, have a nap, grab a late dinner and then stay out all night drinking and dancing, then do it all again the next day. It’s fantastic.
Here are a few suggestions on making the most of a short trip:
The Sagrada Familia: Heavy on the outside, heavenly on the inside.
Walk it: Barcelona is very walkable. The Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) in particular is a neighborhood of windy cobblestone streets that can provide you with hours of trendy shopping, eating and drinking. There’s gelato every few feet plus pubs, tapas bars, bakeries and hostels. The Museu Picasso is here, too, along with a tourist office that offers affordable walking tours if you want to learn more about what you’re seeing.
La Rambla is the main thoroughfare, full of outdoor eateries and souvenir shopping, but because it’s so touristy it’s also a great place to be pickpocketed. Hold your purse or backpack in front of you and stay very aware of your surroundings at all times.
Construction started on the Sagrada Familia in 1882 and *might* be finished in about 15 years.
Ride it: There’s a clean, quick, inexpensive subway system that can get you to most of the places you’ll want to visit in Barcelona. If time is your main concern, this is the way to go.
If you want to see more of what’s above ground than under it though, try one of the hop-on-hop-off buses that goes around town. They’re double deckers with open tops, so even if you don’t have a chance to get out at all the stops, at least you’ll get a good look at the city.
Gawk at it: I’ve seen a lot of art and architecture in my travels, but I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed anything as much as I loved all of the buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi that are scattered around Barcelona. The outside of the Sagrada Familia looks like it was built by orcs with too much mud on their hands while the inside is light and airy.
Parc Guell is very popular with tourists. Bring a picnic and spend a few hours wandering around.
Gaudi’s Parc Güell looks like a child’s drawing done in melted crayon. I’m not sure how all the structures stay standing but I’m glad they do. And Casa Batlló is the crazy wavy house I want to live in when I grow up.
Eat and drink it: The Barri Gotic and El Raval both have lots of small cafes where you can get tapas or paella. Try some famous Spanish ham, croquetas, chorizo or patatas bravas, and save room for dessert. Churros y chocolate are popular, but other pastries and gelato are everywhere.
Bars and pubs are everywhere, although the backpacker scene is centered around La Rambla. You’ll find Irish pubs mixed in with more traditional Spanish bars, so have a wander and see what crowd and music call out to you (sometimes literally).
How many millions would it cost me to build my own Casa Batllo?
Shop it: I read all about Carrer de la Riera Baixa before I left and it didn’t disappoint. This one small street houses several small retro boutiques and second-hand stores. If you want vintage goods at reasonable prices, you’ll go crazy here.
Have any other tips on Barcelona? Leave a comment so I’ll know what to see on my next trip.
And if you’re thinking about a trip to Spain or anywhere else in Europe, talk to a Travel CUTS student travel expert about the best rail pass for the countries you’re visiting.
Inside the fun, curvy Casa Batllo. You won't find any right angles here.