Barcelona is one of my favourite cities; it’s got everything you could ask for – culture, great food, beaches, nightlife, viewpoints… I could go on forever. I’ve visited the place a few times now, so here is my list of the top seven things you should definitely see and do in the Catalan capital.
Ok, you’ve probably seen this on every single blog post there has ever been about Barcelona, but there’s good reason. Still unfinished, Gaudi’s masterpiece is impressive from the outside but incredible on the inside. I was lucky enough to get there at a time when the queue actually wasn’t long which is almost unheard of, so book up your tickets in advance as it’s definitely worth going in.
Camp Nou/FC Barcelona
Camp Nou is home to one of the greatest and most popular clubs in the world, FC Barcelona. The stadium opens up for tours which are interesting whether you’re a massive football fan or not, but if you’re in the city when the team is playing then definitely try and catch a game. Tickets that you can print yourself are sold on the FC Barcelona website, or you can try Ticketmaster (although it wouldn’t accept any of my payment cards which seems to be a widespread issue, so the Barca website may be the best way to go). Tickets for La Liga matches won’t break the bank, although if you go for the El Clasico game like I did you are looking at upwards of 100 euros. Was it worth it though, to see some of the best players in the world? Absolutely…
The club recommends you check back for new tickets if there aren’t any you want – I bought mine the day before the match when a new batch of better seats were added, so don’t panic too much if you forgot to buy them before your trip!
If you thought Montjuic was just a hill that you can get the cable car to and have pretty views over the beach, you are very wrong. Yes there is that option, but in my opinion it certainly wasn’t worth an hour long queue and 11 euros for a cramped, one way trip lasting just five minutes. Instead, head to Montjuic yourself and get the teleferic gondola from the Parc or Mirador up to the Castell where you have views over the working port – you might even see some cruise ships docked on the sides of the harbour. You can also explore the arena from the 1992 Olympics for free, visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, or watch the Magic Fountain light up on certain evenings throughout the summer. Look into the trees every so often to try and spot the parakeets that like to fly around the area…
Now this one isn’t for the faint hearted! I’d been told that I had to visit this market which is full of treats from fresh fruits to tapas, seafood to spices, and it was certainly an experience. You can pick up some cheap eats at this place which is just off the infamous Las Ramblas, and it’s a great opportunity to try different types of tapas from different stalls without blowing the budget – there was certainly lots of delicious savoury snacks to taste, as well as the fresh fruit which lined many of the stalls. It is very popular with tourists though, which means you often find yourself herded along in a mass of people which, after a night on the mojitos, was not overly enjoyable – watch out how much you’re being charged too, as one or two stallholders like to change the prices from what is advertised.
Oh, and the lovely looking fruit juices everywhere? Most of them have no flavour at all, so spend that 1.50 on an extra croqueta.
One of the reasons I love Barcelona so much is because after said heavy night on the mojitos, you haven’t got far to go to reach the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Barceloneta beach is so packed it could give the beaches of Benidorm a run for their money, but keep going and you’ll definitely find a little spot where you can plonk your towel down. The further towards the clubs you go the less you are hassled by people trying to sell you beers and hair braids, which can get a bit tiresome after a while.
Make sure you keep your belongings on you at all times though, even if you venture down to the sea, as Barceloneta is theft-central with official warnings on the loudspeakers reminding you that thieves operate in the area. I invested in a waterproof phone case as I was travelling on my own, which was really useful to keep my money, key and phone safe whilst I spent far too long lounging in the sea.
Bunkers El Carmen
For a stunning view across the city and to the sea beyond, the best place to head for is Bunkers. You can walk up but it is a heck of a trek (especially in the hot Spanish summer), so catching the bus certainly isn’t a bad shout. It’s also the place to go to watch the sunset, and you can easily spend a few hours up there just looking out over the city sprawling below.
As well as Sagrada Familia there’s plenty more of Gaudi’s masterpieces across the city, with multicoloured world heritage site Casa Batllo and modernist Casa Milà (La Pedrera) being two of the most famous. You can also check out the beautiful Parc Guell, and marvel at his monumental zone featuring the caretaker’s house and mosaiced animals.