A city we never wanted to leave! This is the first city we’ve visited that we could see ourselves living in for an extended period of time. Whilst we have thoroughly enjoyed every city we have seen so far; there was something about Barcelona that drew us in. It had an awesome mix of culture, history, beach life, city life and all round was very relaxed.
Accommodation in Barcelona
Unfortunately, we failed to realize that the weekend we were in Barcelona, there were few things going on… a football final that Barcelona’s team was in, a 3-day design conference called OFFF that Jacob was lucky enough to attend and a huge music festival called Primavera Sound. There were only a few hotels & hostels left, and they were asking 80 euro per bed! Quite a rip off for a hostel.
This lack of available accommodation meant that during the 8 days in Barcelona we had to bounce around to a few different places, which had its pros & cons.
We stayed at Free Hostels Barcelona midweek (a clean, new hostel, located far from the centre of town), then moved to an Airbnb private room for another two nights on the weekend (much better location & cheaper), then moved again to another Airbnb apartment when Emily’s brother joined us (right off the main street of La Rambla).
If you love the beach, we recommend staying at La Barceloneta. There are grocery stores, restaurants, clubs, markets, cafes’ and of course the beach right at your doorstep.
If you love to roam around the middle of the city and the oldest areas of Barcelona, then staying in 2 popular areas off of La Rambla are great choices – The Gothic Quarter (Ciutat Gotic) or El Born. Air B n B has some great options or booking.com.
The beach and La Rambla are about a 20-25 minute walk apart from each other, depending on where you stay. Everywhere is very easily accessible via metro/ bus or foot! For a detailed list of what each neighbourhood has to offer, check out this extensive guide.
What To Do in Barcelona
WWII Side Car Tour
For our first day in Barcelona, we decided to do something a little different and take a WWII era sidecar tour around the city. This was run by a local by the name of Barcelona Side Car Tours. We were picked up from our hostel and driven around the city for an hour (options to have longer) gathering our bearings and hearing about the history of Barcelona.
If you opt for seeing Barcelona by public transport, ensure you get a ‘T-10 pass’ from a Tabacco store, as it gives you 10 trips and is half the cost of buying your tickets on the bus/tram/train.
The highlight of the tour was seeing Gaudi’s masterpiece, Sagrada Família, a large Roman Catholic church. It will cost you 15 Euro without a guide and 19.50 Euro with a guide. Do not bother coming here unless you have pre-bought a ticket or you will wait hours in a line! You can pre-buy tickets here. Gaudi has numerous stunning buildings around Barcelona, so if you’re into architecture be sure to check them out. There are ‘Gaudi’ tours available.
Sitges Day Trip
We decided to take the train out to Sitges, a town an hour from Barcelona. Sitges is a small to mid-sized harbour village with a good selection of shops, restaurants and beaches. It makes for a perfect day trip!
You can choose to sit at any of the cafes lining the small streets or a bar along the water. Be wary of the Spanish siesta time here (it doesn’t apply as highly in Barcelona) as from 2-4 most things will be closed & there will be little to do/places to eat. Fortunately, we found a restaurant open right on the beach. We ate at Elysium Bar and the food was of good quality and reasonably priced considering it was on the beach front.
Barcelona Bar Crawl
As per usual in every city (well nearly) we join in on a signature bar crawl (social alcoholic butterflies you may say). We are yet to go on a disappointing crawl as they all have something different about them. This particular one took us to 4 bars and then a club. The crawl included free shots at each entry (mainly sugar water), a free drink, party games (beer bong anyone?) and a free shirt that said “I survived the Barcelona pub crawl. Keep the streets clean & the sex dirty.” This shirt is now being used as a pyjama shirt. Keeping it classy.
La Rambla & Eating Out
La Rambla is the main tourist strip of Barcelona, lined with restaurants & souvenir stores. Like Times Square in New York, locals will try to avoid La Rambla when possible and they definitely wouldn’t eat here. The prices are sky high and the quality is sub-par. Our tour guide told us a good rule of thumb is to avoid a restaurant whenever you see a board out the front with pictures of food, saying that they serve sangria, paella & tapas. A good restaurant doesn’t need to show you photos of their food, nor does it need to tell you there is sangria/tapas inside.
Instead, take a walk around the off-shooting alleyways, find yourself lost in the streets or come across a plaza which has a great atmosphere for a meal or an afternoon drink. This was one of our favourite things to do here. Also, check out the St Josep La Boqueria markets nearby.
La Barceloneta is a very popular and crowded beach area that features a very long stretch of sand, boardwalk, shops, beach bars, musicians playing on the boardwalk and a general all round great place to chill & people watch. The restaurants and bars, not surprisingly, are pricey but it’s a great place to have a drink or two. Also, don’t be afraid to sunbake topless, the Europeans are very open with this!
Blai Tapas Food Crawl
Blai was a really cool street off the beaten path and not very known to tourists. The street boasts a range of pintos restaurants with tapas ranging from 1 to 2 Euro. You simply take a plate, walk to the bar, choose what you like, eat it and then return the toothpicks to the bar and pay for however many toothpicks you have on your plate. Every one of these were served on a sliced baguette. Chicken wing on bread? Why not! We went to 4 or 5 of these in our evening. It’s a great place to create your own tapas food crawl.
The magic fountain in Barcelona is similar to the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where you get a water show over themed music. During the months of May-September, the show happens every Thursday-Sunday, from 9-11 pm, every half an hour and during the winter months, 7 pm-9 pm on Friday and Saturdays.
Once Emily’s brother, Adam, arrived in Barcelona we knew we were in for some fun. Starting with some drinks on the beach, this progressed into a whole lot of fun in the evening. We had met some awesome people on the beach and we decided to have a party at ours before we headed to a huge club called Opium on Barcelona’s beach front. This club is highly recommended for an awesome variety of electro pop and house music! Pacha would have been our second choice, but you’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to nightlife in Barcelona.
We’re Coming Back
We loved Barcelona so much, we’re already trying to figure out a way to go back, before we leave Europe in October… let’s see!
Update: We made it back for another summer!
Marriage days survived: 76