After a very stressful month of traveling, we were ecstatic to be settling down in Barcelona for an entire week. An entire week of not having to pack and lug around our backpacks seemed like a dream!
Everyone that I know who has visited Barcelona absolutely raves about it and Casey visited last summer with his two roommates and loved it too, so I was very excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Our Airbnb was very centrally located in the Sagrada Familia neighborhood. We stayed with a young couple and their two-year old daughter. The apartment itself was small, but our bedroom and bathroom were very private and we didn’t feel cramped at all. The best part of the apartment was the private roof terrace that looked out over the city, and the Sagrada Familia. I could’ve sat on that deck all day and it was the perfect place to drink some wine and relax after exploring the city.
The hosts were former tour guides so they gave us some awesome recommendations of things to do around the city, as well as day trips to nearby towns worth visiting. We were very appreciative of all the advice that they gave us and we probably would’ve missed out on a lot of cool things to do without their help.
Another +1 for Airbnb!
(If you haven’t used Airbnb before and are thinking of trying it on your next vacation, use this link to get a $35 travel credit towards your first booking!)
Barcelona is the perfect mixture of everything that you want in a city. Great public transportation, awesome nightlife, beaches, delicious food and every activity that you could possibly think of to do, all within your reach.
Since we were in Barcelona for twice as long as every other location we’d visited, we took advantage of the time and moved at a much slower pace. Because of this, we were able to enjoy the different neighborhoods and not feel like we had to pack everything into a few days.
The Gracia Festival
While we were there, the Gracia neighborhood was having their annual festival, which is one of the best festivals held in Barcelona. There are 7-8 streets that are blocked off during the festival and throughout the year leading up to the festival, the entire neighborhood saves their trash/recycling and uses it to decorate each street in a different theme. This year there was a street decorated as a pirate ship, one was an “under the sea” theme, and one had a Rocky Horror Picture Show theme, where every night they played the movie out on the street. The festival runs the entire week and on Friday and Saturday night they have bands scattered around the neighborhood, playing live music until 3am. It was awesome and probably the most fun night out that we’d had up to this point.
Park Güell is a must-do when visiting Barcelona. The park is situated North of the Gracia neighborhood and it is quite the hike to get to the top. (My recommendation would be to take the public bus, it’s cheap and takes you right to the entrance!) You can pay to go into the center of the park, where all of the Gaudi houses are located, but we decided that we were really just there for the view so we opted out of this part of the park.
The view from the top of Park Güell is incredible and I honestly could’ve stayed there all day if it wasn’t so hot and so crowded. You get an amazing view of the entire city of Barcelona and the best part is, it’s free.
Barcelona’s beaches are located right off of the Rambala, which is the main street in the city. The beaches are actually manmade (fun fact!) and the sand is somewhat rocky. Pro Tip: Get to the beaches early! They get packed by early afternoon and you’ll have a hard time finding a spot near the water. This also means that if you prefer a more secluded beach atmosphere, these beaches aren’t for you. I personally enjoy people watching when I’m at the beach, so I didn’t mind it too much. However, you will get bothered every 8 seconds by someone trying to sell you something. Beer, water, blankets, massages, hair braids, sunglasses- you name it, it’s being sold on the beach.
As I said before, this is the street in Barcelona with all the action. It is a main strip that extends down the center of the city and is packed with restaurants, shopping and street vendors. This is also the street that holds most of the houses built and decorated by Gaudi. We didn’t go into any of them because they cost money, and well, our budget doesn’t exactly allow for frivolous spending (sorry, Gaudi), but some of the houses are free to go into on Sundays (not the Sagrada Familia, of course). However, like all things that are free they get really crowded, so plan to arrive early if you want to avoid paying to enter!
One last thing about the Rambala to note, is to be vigilant of your personal items. Not that Barcelona is unsafe, and I felt completely safe the entire time we were there, but the Rambala is known to have an issue with pick-pocketing and with people trying to scam you for money. As nice as the lady might seem who is trying to do a palm reading, she is expecting money so don’t do it unless you want to pay up! I learned this the hard way in Seville. She was pissed at me for not having money to pay her for my impromptu palm reading, but apparently I’m going to have two kids! (gulp.)
Barcelona, I love you and I can’t wait to visit you again someday.