Hello hello hello. It's been a while. But then again, when has it not? I am coming at you live today, refreshed and returned from my month (although I like to say Summer) in Europe. It was quite the whirlwind of a trip, but I had the best time spent with some amazing people and wouldn't have changed any second of it. I've decided, mainly for my own benefit, to document my thoughts and put together lists of my recommendations for each city. I have never been to any of the cities that I will be making guides for, so these could be pretty amateur, but I think my experience was the perfect mix of tourist and local. So if you are planning to visit any of the cities I went to, I hope these guides will help you in some way, shape, or form. I also found a majority of these places by recommendations from friends so this is not just me. Anyways, enough chit chat. Without further ado, I present to you my guide to Barcelona.
First off, I truly had zero expectations for Barcelona. My friends and I (I will be referring to them a lot so I'll start off with their names: Kate, Eleni, and Jamie), all decided where we wanted to go in Europe and booked both flights and our stays, so we had that part set, but what we didn't have was our itinerary. We were all sort of going to each place blind, minus Greece because my friend Eleni spent half her life there. So when it came to Barcelona, I relied purely on recommendations from friends and planned our entire trip at the gate of the airport at 3am before our flight took off. Pretty organized wouldn't you say? I had two friends (shout out to Alexis & Julia) who sent me documents that I picked and chose from, and I will say, we enjoyed every thing we did that they recommended.
With that being said, I absolutely loved Barcelona. I, again, had no expectations and although I'm sure I've seen tons of photos from there swarm my Instagram feed, I never actually paid attention to what Barcelona was like. So I didn't even know what it looked like to be honest. I didn't realize how amazing the architecture was, the history in it all, as well as the culture. I felt like Barcelona was New York and Paris combined. I could be totally wrong, but from my experience in both of those cities, it felt like it is it's baby or cousin or something. I say that because the architecture reminded me of what I've seen in Paris, and the walkability is similar to that of both cities. Not to mention the Arc de Triomf is similar to that on Champs-Élysées. There were great parks and fountains that you could stroll in and sit down for a picnic, and the fact that a lot of people speak English was very helpful. I absolutely loved Barcelona and even said that I could see myself living there, whether or not that will happen, a city needs to have a lot for me if I ever plan to situate myself there.
WHERE TO STAY
So take what I say with a grain of salt in regards to where to stay, but my friends and I stayed in El Born, which is a neighborhood in the city. It was cute and quaint and there were so many great places to walk to, both food and shopping wise. A majority of the things in Barcelona require either a taxi or public transit, so there isn't necessarily *one* good neighborhood to stay in that will make these places easily accessible. It helped that Alyson and Andrew, our friends who were the ones to tell us to stay in El Born, had their Airbnb coincidentally directly across the way from us. Another note is that all the places in El Born, and I'm sure all over Barcelona, have these cute little balconies where they usually have a table and chairs for you to smoke or drink your morning coffee. That was one of my favorite parts.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Park Güell: This is one of Antoni Gaudí's major works in Barcelona. You've probably seen all your friends that have ever traveled abroad come here and take pictures on the mosaic bench. We came around sunset. You have to buy tickets based on time slots and we got the 8:00 p.m. slot which was perfect since the last one (at least in the summer) was at 8:30 so it wasn't really crowded at all, and we still had light. The sun was just starting to set so we got to see some pretty crazy colors.
La Sagrada Familia: Hands down a MUST while in Barcelona. At first we were just going to get tickets to go inside but last minute decided to go on a tour, which can be found here. I'm glad we did, since it really helped us understand everything about it versus just being told to go and not really knowing what anything was. It was also pretty quick. Once inside, you will see one of the most beautiful churches you will ever see in your life. The architecture was actually insane and the colors from the mosaic was breathtaking.
Parc de la Ciutadella: A beautiful park that I feel like you need to go to when in Barcelona. Definitely explore all that it has to offer, mainly the fountain, it's not too big. This felt very Central Park to me. It may have been because, just like in New York, there was someone making bubbles, but still, it was pretty magical. This is somewhere I would pick up food before, maybe a sandwich at Bo de B, and just sit and hang out. It also basically leads to my next stop below.
Arc de Triomf: If you look in the above image, you can see the Arc in the background, which is just steps away from the Parc de la Ciutadella. Just another stop to add on your list.
Boating: One thing me and my friends did was get on a boat courtesy of Airbnb Experiences. Sergio, our host, took us on his sailboat where we took to the Mediterranean and got to see Barcelona from a different perspective. We sailed for a bit then we stopped and got to jump in the water. It was a hot day so it was refreshing to get in the water. Sergio provided snacks, water, and alcohol. We had a whole bottle of champagne to ourselves, it was great! If this is something you are interested in, you can check out the experience here. We all highly recommend it!
WHERE TO SHOP
I didn't do much shopping in Barcelona, shockingly enough, but that didn't mean it wasn't good. If you are looking to shop, definitely walk down Passeig de Gràcia and you'll get everything from Zara to Chanel. Other than that, I don't have many suggestions other than popping into the small little stores, that sell cool and unique trinkets, whenever you are out and about. I think that is the best way to shop in cities like Barcelona.
WHAT TO EAT
Ok so this is where we get down to business. I didn't have a single bad meal.. well, there was one, but that was because we were dying of hunger and went to the first thing in sight. So lesson learned. Other than that, every place that was recommended to us and that we actually went to was unreal. Almost like I couldn't believe what I was eating and that it was as good as it was.
Rosa Negra: Everyone will tell you to go here, and trust them, it's the bomb. The best Mexican food ever. And so cheap! For a party of 7, we all paid around 24 euro each. Mind you, that included two appetizers, our meals (we each got our own), two rounds of drinks each, one round of shots, and water. For drinks, I died over the guava margarita, blended of course. So. Good.
Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha: This was actually recommended to us by our Airbnb host and he told us it was the best pizza in Barcelona. It was our first night at the place and it was in walking distance, which we liked, so we took his word for it and tried it. Ok, let me tell you, all the pizzas were amazing but by far the best was the truffle. I don't even remember what it was called, but ask for the truffle on their signature side and you will not be disappointed.
Bo de B: Unreal sandwiches. I got the chicken. I'm sure all the other meats are good but I was told to get the chicken and I was not disappointed.
Milk: A great brunch spot. The majority of us got the Chorizo Hash which was unreal. I also loved how the menu said "Recovery Brunch" since that was absolutely true considering our night before.
Brunch & Cake: Probably the most interesting meal I've ever eaten. This was a staple on everyone's list of places to go to, so there we went. The food was unique. Like actually. I got the eggs benedict and not only was my poached egg pink, but my waffle was black. It was delicious but be prepared for the most unique looking food you'll probably ever eat for brunch. Below is the avocado toast.
Tosca: Tapas in El Born which were LIFE. CHANGING. Honestly you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Our favorites were: Goat Cheese Salad, Meatballs with Almond Sauce, Garlic Prawns, Empanadas, and the Pork and Bean Tacos.
Bar del Pla: Another great tapas place right in El Born. I personally loved the Crispy Oxtail with Foie Gras and the Crispy Pork Tacos. Delicious. Also doesn't the font remind you of Baron Von Fancy?
Demasié: We stumbled upon this cute little cafe while walking home and I wanted to stop in since I needed some caffeine in my body. While the lattes weren't the best, the cinnamon rolls were. The most delicious cinnamon roll I've ever eaten, and I eat a lot of cinnamon rolls. I got it out of pure curiosity and by the end of the trip, everyone else had gone off on their own and gotten it as well. You need to get one here if you find yourself in El Born.
WHERE TO GO OUT
Dow Jones Bar: This is a stock market based bar. Drinks are priced based on what everyone is ordering and every so often, the stock market "crashes" and all drinks are half off. Definitely an experience and a cool bar in general.
Opium: Say "Aashi List" at the door before a certain time and get in for free.
Razzmatazz: Five clubs in one! Each one plays different music.
Catwalk: Just another club we went to that had a cool terrace and played good music.
That concludes my travel guide for Barcelona! I really had an amazing experience here and look forward to going back. I would definitely spend longer than I did there. We stayed for around 5 full days and I could have easily spent maybe 3-4 more. There is just so much to see and we definitely did not see it all. We had to pick and choose what we did but we still felt like we got a good amount out of it. Stay tuned for the next guide.