There is so much to do in Barcelona, but I'm going to help you narrow it down by sharing my favorites from my recent trip to Barcelona and a few tips and tricks for travel in Spain! I visited Barcelona with my friend Chandler on our 9 day tour of Spain! We visited Barcelona, Ibiza, Sevilla, and Granada, with separate guides for each!
WHERE TO STAY
We started our trip in Barcelona and we arrived at 9am from the airport and hit the ground running! We slept a little on the flight over from Dallas, but knew that our first day would be a busy one. We freshened up and checked in our luggage at our hotel, Hotel Praktik Rambla, and then started exploring right away! Admittedly, we didn't do a ton of research ahead of time, as I have visited Barcelona a couple times in the past, but we knew that we wanted to stay near Las Ramblas!
"Las Ramblas" or "La Rambla" is a pedestrian street about one mile long from Plaza de Catalunya to the port and the Mirador de Colom (a monument in honor of Columbus). Rambla comes from an Arabic word "ramla" that means dried river bed, which is what that street used to be in medieval times when it was the edge of the city! Now it's in the center of town and is a major hotspot for tourists, shops, and restaurants!
WHAT TO DO
We weren't on a mission to see every tourist attraction in the city during this trip. I had visited the major spots previously and Chandler wasn't too interested in an itinerary full of museums, but we did want to see a few of the architectural attractions! I HIGHLY recommend booking tickets for your tourist attraction visits ahead of time (like, ASAP!) because ticket lines are often long especially in high season; we actually were turned away from Parc Güell and had to come back to the next day after purchasing a ticket for a group tour! If you're on a time crunch, these are my top attractions in Barcelona:
Parc Güell: started as a residential development designed by architect Antoni Gaudí and looks a lot like Dr. Seuss! You can book individual timed entry tickets or group tour tickets. If individual tickets are sold out, you can book a tour and just do your own thing, which is what we did in a pinch.
Sagrada Familia: This is another masterpiece by Antoni Gaudí and it is STILL under construction over 130 years later! The history of the temple is amazing and work is expected to be done in 2026! Grab your tickets ahead of time because the crowd is insane and tickets sell out daily to get inside.
Las Ramblas: This is THE pedestrian area of the city- enjoy shops, restaurants, annnd beware of pickpockets! If you have some time to explore, this is a great place to spend an afternoon watching street performers and shopping!
Picasso Museum: I visited the Picasso Museum 10 years ago so we didn't visit the gallery on this trip, but we did stop into the gift shop...I LOVE a good gift shop! #tourist
If you know you want to visit multiple attractions, you should look into the Barcelona Pass, which is a site seeing card, giving you skip the line access to many top sites and transportation (more on transporation later in this post).
From the airport: I recommend a taxi directly to your hotel. It cost about 30 euros from the airport into the center of town for us. You'll wait in the taxi line outside of baggage claim, but it moves quickly. Do not accept a ride from any drivers outside of the line, trying to pull you away from the general line. NO thanks! Whenever I have luggage in tow, I prefer to pay a little more for a taxi so I don't draw unwanted attention to myself as a tourist on public transportation...aka easy pick pocket target!
Around town: Purchase a T10 metro card to use for transportation via metro and bus around the city in Zone 1 (zone 1 includes the city center and most of the attractions you would want to visit). The card includes 10 rides and the best part is that you can use it for mutliple people. For example, when entering the metro, I would swipe the card and enter, then hand it to Chandler to swipe and enter. It costs 10 euros and a single metro trip is 2.20 euros, so there's a significant savings!
WHAT TO EAT/DRINK
Spanish food includes a LOT of "pan" (bread!), a healthy dose of "jamón," and of course, sangria! We had a few misses before finding what kind of restaurants we love. We ate a lot of bread, tomato, potato, and cheese tapas! I don't recommend any restaurants that advertise "menu del día"...they are usually geared towards tourists and aren't high quality food. After having the best sangria ever at one of our stops on the first day, we set out on a mission to try sangria at as many places as possible to compare... they were all different!
Not all of the places we ate were traditional Spanish cuisine, but here are a few restaurants and sangria stops that you should try!
Brunch & Cake: In grandmothers we trust! This place was the cutest for a colorful brunch! It's not traditional Spanish food but this was our first meal in Barcelona and it was so cute! Definitely #instaworthy
Hotel Colón: We were in search of the most Instagrammable spots in the city, and the terrace on the Hotel Colón rooftop is one of them! The above photo was taken there. The terrace overlooks the Cathedral of Barcelona and golden hour was absolute perfection! THIS IS THE BEST SANGRIA IN SPAIN. PERIOD. Bonus: they have live music on the terrace.
Azimuth Rooftop Bar at Almanac Barcelona Hotel: We love a good rooftop and this one did not disappoint! The rooftop of Hotel Almanac has a fantastic view of the city (photo below) and they even had a DJ playing the night we visited. We were on the roof and actually ran into some new friends from Canada who we met earlier that day at Park Güell- small world! The sangria was fantastic here as well and the roof has a row of small booths available that have a view of Barcelona!
Tis trip was my first trip abroad in about ten years, and I was reminded of so many travel tips and tricks that I have accumulated prior to this trip! I shared a tip in my newsletter a few weeks ago without giving it much thought, but had someone respond to what I wrote and tell me they've never heard that before but it was so smart, so I knew I needed to share a few general travel tips!
First, if you don't have a passport cover, order one now! I love this white one, but there are plenty on Amazon! Passport covers are cute, but they ALSO hide the country your passport is from, which I think is important when traveling! I don't want someone to look at my US passport and immediately assume that I don't understand their language or pin me as an easy pick pocket target! If a cover can add an extra layer of security, I'm all for it!
Second, be aware of pick pockets and the behaviors that might attract them to you! Of course everyone tells you to watch out for them, but a few practical prevention tips are:
-Be mindful of how loud you are speaking. Americans in groups tend to be LOUD and broadcast their destination to everyone while on public transportation. Be discreet!
-Be aware of your surroundings when taking photos. Bloggers especially! We are always looking for a cute photo opp, taking a selfie, or grabbing a quick boomerang as the metro flies into the station. I was waiting for the metro to arrive and asked Chandler to get a boomerang of me as it approached. 20 seconds later, someone tried to pick pocket me as I got onto the metro! BACK UP, SENORA! Luckily, I had my purse zipped and realized what was happening. She was holding a blanket in front of her body and her hands were underneath the blanket, so when she tried to grab my purse, I couldn't see hands, I just saw a blanket very close to me. I gave her a DIRTY look and she got off the metro before the doors closed. She definitely saw me taking a photo and knew that I was a tourist. My matching outfits with Chandler probably didn't help the cause, but still. Be aware. Zip your purse!