Having visited many amazing places It’s hard to choose an absolute favorite, but Barcelona is definitely near the top of the list! A few summers ago, we spent a month traveling through Europe and when I asked Simon we he liked most, he said, “Living the Barcelona lifestyle!” He loved the late nights, late mornings and naps or rest time in the middle of the day. Geez, who wouldn’t?!
Eating in Barcelona is as much of an attraction as visiting markets and Gaudi buildings! Many places offer tapas, which is purchased by the piece. Perfect if you’re in a hurry, or just looking for a quick snack. Drop in, grab a bite, and you’ll be on your way. Jamon Iberico, is a favorite with my boys, and if they could they’d eat it along with a few slices of manchego day and night.
Bar Mut is One of the coolest tapas places in town. It is hard to get in, but SOOOO worth it! Don’t miss this place! If you’re not sure what to order just ask them to decide for you. Lunch is a good alternative if you find dinner too crowded. Reservations for dinner are a must.
Mercat Princesa is an upscale “food court” of sorts. We LOVED this place, and went almost everyday for lunch, the food was fantastic, the service was excellent and because each station specializes in something different there was something for everyone in our group! There is a lovely atrium in the center where you can sit and enjoy your meal. By the end of our trip Simon had made friends with the man working at the station he liked most even though they didn’t speak each others language.
Chocolate con Churros
No trip to Barcelona would be complete with Chocolate Con Churros! A tradition passed from generation, Tim’s friend took us to the spot he used to go to with his grandparents when he was a small boy. We all loved this and we had chocolate con churros many times!
Tim’s local friend took us to Mundial Bar a tiny little restaurant with excellent food. The place was packed with locals, so we knew we were in the right place!
Cava is the Spanish version of champagne and it’s very popular! We met up with some good friends from the States during our visit and I confess we popped open a few bottles.
While I did enjoy the Cava, my favorite beverage was white sangria. Remember that “Barcelona Lifestyle” I mentioned? Nothing like sitting in the square enjoying sangria, Jamon and manchego, while watching the people and performers go by.
Gin bars were all the rage when we were last there, so of course we had to check one out! We are lucky enough to know a few locals and one graciously offered to watch the boys so we could venture out for a night on the town!
Things To See Around Town
Definitely wander and explore the city aimlessly!! Keep in mind that the shops and restaurants have no rhyme or reason for opening times, so each time you walk down the street it will be a completely different experience! Allow yourself to get lost in the El Born, Barri Gotic and El Raval neighborhoods.
The Cathedral of Barcelona was completed in 1448 and is located in a large square where they sometimes have outdoor markets. It’s a nice place so stroll around and there are many restaurants near by. Keep in mind there are strict dress code policies and no shorts or sleeveless shirts are allowed inside.
The Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar dates back to 1383 and is definitely worth going inside. It’s one of the oldest cathedrals in the city, and it is very beautiful! The boys and I were fascinated by the many stones in the floor with skull and crossbones on them. I did take a few photos of the inside, but honestly I couldn’t do it justice. The outside is tricky too because it’s located in a quaint little square and it’s hard to get far enough away to get a good photo. I hope you’ll trust me on this one and go check it out!
Our room was down a little street about 1/2 a block away and all four of us loved sitting outside in the square. Some combination of the four of us could be found here almost every afternoon while the others took time for siestas in the room. There is just something about this place and part of town that is special to me.
When visiting Barcelona you don’t want to miss taking a look at some of the Gaudi buildings. They are quite spectacular and some are even UNESCO World Heritage Sites. La Pedrera, Casa Batllo and Parc Guell are all worth seeing, however if you have limited time I would choose Casa Batllo or La Pedrera as both are located on the Passeig de Gràcia.
If the other Gaudi buildings are impressive then La Sagrada familia is the pièce de résistance! It literally took my breath away. I highly recommend you get your tickets in advance online as the lines can be very long. We learned this the hard way, but there was as silver lining as Simon and I met some incredibly nice people from SoCal while we were waiting and we are still friends!
This place has been under construction since 1866 and still is!! We chose to do a self guided tour and also decided to go up to the top. I would definitely recommend going up as the views were amazing and you can actually see some of the construction taking place. Keep in mind that the stairways are quite narrow, and it is high so if you’re claustrophobic, afraid of heights or have very small children this might not be the place for you.
If not the most amazing church I’ve ever stepped into, it’s definitely the most unique. According to the official website it should be completed sometime this century. These photos were taken in 2013 during our second visit. Our first visit took place in 2007 when the inside had no windows and was completely unfinished. It was amazing to see how much progress was made in six years time. How special to witness the building of such an amazing place.
Although I do love the side streets, Las Ramblas, one of Barcelona’s main streets is definitely worth walking down. You’ll probably end up here a few times and and there are definitely things to see. There is even a Joan Miro in the middle of the sidewalk!
The La Boqueria located on Las Ramblas has existed in one form or another since 1200. While it is a bit more on the touristy side than some other markets, its definitely fun to wander through. There are stalls selling spices, fruits, vegetables and meats, also TONS of candy and many other items, some of which are unusual to us americans. The kids enjoyed these markets especially the candy!!
El Mercat de Santa Caterina is another market located not far the Cathedral of Barcelona. It has an incredible mosaic tile roof and is more popular with the locals. Wandering through these markets is a nice way to get an idea of what it might be like for the locals. We love this market and have been multiple times!
Tours and Other Attractions
A friend and I went on a Running tour of Barcelona and we loved this! If you have any runners in your group this is a great way to see a lot of the city! A very unique way to see the city and our guide Robin was very knowledgable.
Tim and I enjoyed the Picasso Museum , but my little guy wasn’t a big fan. To avoid the long lines consider arriving right at opening.
Roman Ruins are everywhere in Barcelona and they are definitely worth seeing. We went to quite a few. It’s really quite incredible how they are just “right there” surrounded by everyday life.
This and That…
The boys really enjoyed the Barcelona zoo.
Looks can be Deceiving
I don’t recommend the beach in Barcelona. In fact it was by far the dirtiest beach I’ve ever seen. Absolutely disgusting! It looks beautiful from a distance, but upon closer inspection it was more like a trash dump than a beach. I saw things I don’t even want to mention… If you’re looking for a swimming beach Stiges is the place.
Love the blog 🙂 Wonderful meeting you this weekend too!
So glad you enjoyed it and so fun to meet! Have a wonderful time in Spain!