It’s a little surprising that in the last few years, I haven’t written a “things to do in Barcelona post.”
I’ve been traveling to Barcelona since I was about 6 months old. My mom grew up there so about 2-3 times a year we’d go back and stay for a month at a time with my grandparents. I’ve spent so much time there that it really does feel like I lived half my life there.
Now that I’ve been adulting for a while, it’s just so hard to take off enough time to justify going over to Europe. But, Sam and I were determined to make it happen this year.
What we realized is that we just needed to pull the trigger and just buy the tickets because no time is ever going to be perfect timing…just like anything else in life.
What sealed the deal was Emirates was doing a buy one get one free sale so our flights to Europe came out to about $450 each. CRAZY! So we finally made it to Barcelona in February and I wanted to share with y’all a few things that we enjoyed doing.
P.S. If you want to know where to eat in Barcelona, check out my post here.
Explore the El Born and l’Eixample neighborhoods
for food and shopping
We arrived in Barcelona in the mid-afternoon and we were exhausted, but determined to make the most of the day still (and the help us adjust to jet lag).
We dropped the things off at the apartment after a major ordeal with getting the alarm codes wrong and not being able to figure out which keys were the right ones.
So after that ordeal, we needed food and cocktails. We wanted something super easy so we headed to “el centro” which is where Passeig de Gracia is in the l’Eixample neighborhood. Passeig de Gracia is a beautiful parkway lined with designer stores and plenty of room to walk round. This neighborhood is also super travel-friendly and most restaurants you stumble into will have an English menu.
El Born neighborhood is right in between La Ciutadella and El Barri Gotic. You’re for sure going to be exploring in one of those neighborhoods, so I recommend walking thorugh El Born for some restaurant. They have some really on trend restaurants from cafes to dinner to juice shops.
Placa Real and Las Ramblas
for walking around and a sidewalk cafe
One of the days we were in Barcelona was a little bit overcast so we spent the morning at the aquarium. Afterwards we headed to walk towards Las Ramblas and on the way passed by the giant Christopher Columbus statue pointed towards America.
As we walked up Las Ramblas, we stopped at Placa Real for a snack and some cerveza. This plaza is probably one of our favorites that we stopped in and I highly recommend it.
Rainy Day Activities
Picasso Museum & the aquarium
If you find yourself with an overcast or rainy day in Barcelona, that is your time to hit up the indoor activities like museums. On this most recent trip we visited the Picasso Museum.
Picasso spent a lot of his formative years in Barcelona trying to get a sense of his style. His museum focuses mainly on his earlier pieces. It’s pretty cool to see how his style changed over time!
Another rainy day activity we enjoyed was going to the aquarium. It’s a pretty quick walk through the aquarium, but it never gets old to see the animals, especially the penguin exhibit at the end! There’s also a pretty big mall right next to the aquarium called Maremagnum. It has a pretty big food court too, so you can get a little snack before or after you go in.
La Catedral, Santa Maria del Mar, and La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona is of course filled with churches everywhere. Even the neighborhood churches are stunning. But, some notable ones include La Catedral, Santa Maria del Mar, and of course, La Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia is the church that’s always under construction and is by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Aside from getting to see progress on this church every year for the bast 27 years, I also find it really cool how there’s two sides to it. There’s the old side which is similar to the gothic churches and then the contemporary side.
You can’t miss La Catedral which is a gothic cathedral. With such an impressive size, it has a busy plaza right in front of it. If you’re in Barcelona around Christmas time, you absolutely must stop by here and see the little outdoor market that’s set up. This is where they sell beautiful handmade nativity scenes and is one of my favorite parts of Barcelona. When it’s not the holiday season, you’ll see the market has antiques to check out.
Santa Maria del Mar is close to La Catedral and is worth stopping in if you’re exploring around el Barri Gotic (the gothic quarters). It’s another gothic church and from the outside it’s pretty but the inside is really where it makes a statement. The ceilings and the light that come into the altar are impressive.
for Parc Guell, Parc de la Ciutadella, and Parc de les Aiguas
When it comes to things to do in Barcelona, parks are definitely going to be a part of your trip. There are parks scattered all over the city so no matter where you end up there will be one in your neighborhood. There are two though that are huge parks that you should add to the top of your list: Parc Guell and Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc Guell is a park that was designed by Gaudi. He had originally designed it to be a neighborhood, which if you ask me it would have been the COOLEST. You can see his influences from nature and design all over the park. One of the most exciting parts about the park though are the incredible views of the city and how on a clear day you can see the Mediteranan Sea.
Like I mentioned, there are SO many neighborhood parks in Barcelona. My personal favorite though is the park that a grew up going to in my grandparent’s neighborhood called Parc de les Aiguas. It was pretty incredible being back in the neighborhood and being able to show it to Sam for the first time. The carrosel ride or “los caballitos” that I always loved to ride and have my grandpa take me to were still there. That taxi was my favorite one.
Parc de la Ciutadella is a huge park and this is one of Sam’s favorite places in Barcelona from the last time he was there a few years ago. The 19th-century park combines history with the excitement of today because it is just filled with people hanging out, having picnics and playing games.