I’ve been known to spontaneously buy plane tickets when things align just right. Visiting Barcelona was one of those just-right things. What started with a casual “Hey…what if we went to Spain?” comment turned into one of my favorite (and most relaxing) trips yet.
Life’s been a little crazy lately – moving into a new apartment, new work situation, and a new addition to my little family. Usually, my trips involve several destinations and more time, but for this one….I just needed a break. Barcelona is a cool little beach city (with plenty of history), and happened to be the perfect location for just such a break.
I won’t tell you about La Sagrada Familia or the many other amazing sites and museums you can find via Trip Advisor – but I love sharing the hidden gems.
You probably already have a few dishes in mind when you think of Spanish food: paella, tapas, and sangria? Sure, you can find those – but don’t be lured into the tourist traps offering them on every corner. My rule for traveling: don’t eat anywhere with photos on the menu. Never. Just don’t.
In the bustling Passeig de Joan de Borbo area, one of my favorite meals was at FOC BCN. The crowd was young and fun, and the atmosphere totally relaxed. (Plus, I love a cheeky straw)
If you’re looking for coffee, Satan’s Coffee Corner (again, love a cheeky name) and Nomad Coffee were two great stops.
Some of my favorite meals in Barcelona weren’t very Spanish, actually. Rangoli had an amazing vegetarian tasting menu, and N.A.P was the best pizza I’ve had outside of Italy. Rangoli is well suited for a nice dinner out, while N.A.P is more of a casual, late night option.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat by the beach, Vioko is the spot. Their rose + strawberry flavor was worth every last calorie.
Surrounded by gelato and sangria, I needed some healthy options. The Green Spot and Fit Bar saved me from slipping into a dark pit of drunken, caloric debauchery. Bonus: Fit Bar is run entirely by attractive Brazilians. Just saying.
This gem isn’t so hidden. The W Barcelona is pretty iconic, with its unique shape and waterfront location. I cannot say enough good things about this hotel – the space is gorgeous, with views for days. Our last day was spent entirely in a cabana (with a few pitchers of cava sangria).
I always fit in a few workouts when I travel, and the W made it easy. The hotel gym is great, plus there is a deck where you can practice yoga. They also offer group fitness and SUP classes!
What to Do
The tourist attractions in Barcelona? They’re actually pretty good. The Gaudi architecture is gorgeous, whether you choose to see it by walking around the buildings or buying a ticket to go inside.
Park Guell was a another favorite – even without the special “viewing deck” pass, it provides a serious hike and beautiful views of the city.
My preferred way to see a new destination is to highlight some must-sees, but also just spend time wandering key areas. For Barcelona, those areas (for me) were the Gothic Quarter, Port Vell, and Passeig de Joan de Borbo. Parc de la Ciutadella and the area around Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and Montjuic Castle are other great options! You could spend a couple hours in any of these neighborhoods – and we did.
This was my first trip trying AirBnB experiences (sign up here). Barcelona has lots of tourist activity options, but waiting in a line and dodging a thousand cameras so I don’t end up in some nice family’s vacation photos isn’t really my thing. For something different, we did a bike tour of the city with guys who run a local cycling shop, with stops along the way for wine tasting. There are tons of other options for Barcelona experiences too!
If you’re planning a trip soon, I hope this little guide to Barcelona helped! Feel free to ask any questions.