Four jam packed ( and extremely hot) days in Barcelona! Lot’s of cava, Gaudi and incredible food. Part of my two months in Europe series.
We arrived later last night so we took a slow morning and then headed out for a free walking tour at 11am. We did the tour with Free Walking Tours Barcelona ( specifically with Aidan) and it ended up being amazing!! The tour was 2.5 hours and went all through the Gothic Quarter. Our tour guide had a degree in history and was amazing at explaining the history of Barcelona and Catalonia. It is crazy to think of all the different political and economic phases Barcelona has been through. After the tour we settled in for a leisurely paella lunch at a place in the square recommended by our tour guide(Les Quinze Nits). At first we were apprehensive at eating in a square as often these places are tourist traps but between the amazing looking food, surprisingly affordable menu and busyness of the restaurant we were won over. The food was quite good here! The only annoying thing was that they said they couldn’t serve tap water so we subsided off our water bottles.
After lunch we wandered some more through the gothic quarter and then headed to our Airbnb to get a much needed break from the heat.
We then headed out for dinner. We had a couple places in mind but the first ones either looked a) not as good in person or b) had very small, hot restaurants and no outdoor seating. We ended up walking to Tapeo, which I had briefly seen online and had come highly recommended. As soon as we got there and paused to look at the menu, a couple walking by told us to not even look and just go in because it was the best meal they ever had. Apparently, the chef ( Daniel Rueda) had a Michelin star restaurant but then opened this place because he wanted to serve more fun affordable food. OH MY GOD this meal was a spiritual experience. We literally freaked out over every tapa because each one was sooooo good. Even the simplest things like croquettes tasted like heaven. The cava sangria was to die for. And the best part was this meal was still super affordable ( under 20EU per person). I would 100% recommend every person go here- we somehow got in without a recommendation but that seems to be quite rare so book in advance! Step Count: 17,034
After a couple zen hours on the beach, it was food time! Pinxos are a fun Catalonia type of tapas where there is hot and cold food served on sticks that you can help yourself to from the bar. At the end of the meal the waiters tally up your sticks to determine the what you ate. We got everything from roasted veg on toast, iberian ham and octopus. We went to -El Pintxo de Petritxol because it was close to our Airbnb and had great reviews. We ended up going back for a second lunch later in the week as it was great.
After lunch we decided to go into a bunch of the stores around the gothic quarter and Placa Catalunya. There are so many international/European brands that are Barcelona based so have huge flagship stores around this area. Some of our favourites included Mango and Oysho. On the way back we stopped into a cute ice cream sandwich shop (Holly’s Ice Cream) where you can choose your cookies and your ice-cream to make a sandwich. This was a super decadent afternoon snack but super needed in the heat.
After strolling about for another little bit we went back to our place, only to get ready to go out again as we had booked tickets for Park Guell at 8pm. To get to Park Guell we took the metro to Vallcarca and then walked. TIP: Take Baixada de la Gloria street as this is where the escalators are and believe me they make the journey up the mountain SO much easier. Park Guell was beautiful!! It is crazy to think it was supposed to be an entire subdivision. I would definitely recommend going later at night as a) its cooler and b) by 8:30 most people had cleared out so it was easy to get photos without other tourists in them. The park is open until 9:30pm so you still have plenty of time ( note the house on site closes at 9pm though).
After spending just over an hour here we went back to the gothic quarter to grab dinner at another place we found online- Alcoba Azul. This place is super cool and has a super medieval vibe inside with the decor. They serve tapas style and we chose to have an assortment of meats and cheeses, salmon and octopus carpaccio and they even brought us some other tapas on the house. The food was great, the vibe super fun and still again pretty affordable for the quality.
Step Count: 18,764
Today we woke up early to go to Sagrada Familia. I would definitely recommend booking this ahead online as it was all sold out for the previous day and the first opening today (9am) was sold out. We entered at 9:15 on the dot ( you have exactly 15 minutes to enter) and were blown away by the inside. While Sagrada Familia is definitely impressive from the outside, the inside takes your breath away and is very much worth it. Gaudi designed it to connect the church and nature and the huge columns make it feel like an ethereal forest, especially with the green stained glass. The church is HUGE. We got the basic student price tickets and downloaded a free app to save money on the audio guide. I would recommend doing this for Sagrada Familia as Gaudi’s life and inspiring is super interesting but audio guides are expensive. Make sure to check out every nook and cranny of the church as there is so much to see.
After the basilica we went to Passieg to Gracia to see some of Gaudi’s other work namely the Casa Batllo. We didn’t make it to La Pedera as one of my friends was feeling quite sick from the heat, so we headed home for a quick break instead.
We continued on to the Barcelona Cathedral and Basilica Del Pi to see the inside of the churches. Both were beautiful in very different ways. The Basilica is done in very the very understated Catalonia gothic style and has a beautiful rose window in the inside. The Cathedral on the other hand is much ornate ( find out why and how on a free walking tour!). Make sure that if you want to go inside the Cathedral you must be covering your knees and shoulders.
After our church adventure we got ready to go out to Blai street on the bottom of El Raval. While El Raval can be known as a rougher neighbourhood this part was very safe and a ton of fun. Plus its nice to see the areas where people actually live and not just the touristy downtown. As long as you stay on main streets and are smart I think journeying here is a must. Blai street in particular is famous for being a street full of tapas and pinxos bars. Is is so fun!! The street is full of patios and people spilling out of restaurants. We started the night at Tasqueta de Blai, which I’m surprised we ever left as it was so good! Besides Tapeo this was my other favourite meal. They were both good in very different ways. Tapeo was a calm, nice restaurant whereas Tasqueta was a loud, fun bar. It is a pinxos bar so you walk to the front to grab your food and then eat and drink at your little table ( or if you’re not lucky, standing up). The staff were incredible here!! They rearranged a table to make space for us when we arrived and were really nice and helpful all night ( they even complimented our, clearly not fluent, Spanish). The food and drinks here were exceptionally cheap (3.8 EU for a HUGE beer). After this bar was really busy and we were pretty full we moved on down the street to find a new place. Later in the night this street is super busy so definitely go early. We finally found a bar with space and grabbed more Estrella beer.
Step Count: 21,201
After a long night last night we let ourselves sleep in and then went back to the market for more fresh juice ( hello coconut mango juice!). Fun tip for the market: journey to the back to find cheaper versions of the same food sold up front.
Next we took the metro to Paral’lel to grab the funicular up to Montjuic, Barcelona’s local (mini) mountain. Montjuic is a very important part of Barcelona’s history, hosting the Montjuic castle ( which is really more of a fort). We walked from the funicular stop to the castle to get views of Barcelona and to see the gardens. The walk isn’t that long and is only at a slight inclination so it was fine even in 30+ heat. Entrance to the castle was only 3EU for students and it ended up being an amazing deal! The grounds are huge and have beautiful views over the entire city and the sea. Also this castle is packed with so much history and provides an amazing backgrounder on Barcelona and Catalonian history. We ended up spending quite a bit of time here before heading back down the mountain. Also tip: Single tickets cannot be transferred between bus and metro so don’t waste your ticket on the short bus ride down and save it for the funicular and metro.
Because we had had a weird eating day from sleeping in we got really hungry around 3:30pm so we just headed back to El Pintxo de Petritxol for an afternoon pick me up. We then went into the huge Zara ( also a Spanish brand) in Placa Catalunya to see the different offerings they had here. Then we returned to our favourite place, Granjala Pallaresa, for one last churros con chocolate ( it was that good!).
All in all our trip, and especially our food tour of Barcelona, was very successful! Barcelona is such a fun city. The people are so nice, the gothic quarter is beautiful, Gaudi’s work and life is so interesting and the food scene here is amazing! It was the perfect transition from the hecticness of Paris to our relaxed vacation along the Mediterranean in Nice and Cinque Terre.
Step Count: 22,827
Sagrada Familia was breathtaking and my favourite Gaudi stop.
Montjuic was incredibly beautiful and historical, plus a nice escape from the city.
Blai street was a super fun experience and great for a more fun tapas night.
Granjala Pallaresa was so great we went three times! Definitely have the churros con chocolate.