Barcelona is one of the most amazing cities in Europe, and certainly falls near the top of the list of places to go in Spain. With a mixture of thriving culture, jaw-dropping architecture, and natural beauty, Barcelona deserves a lifetime to truly get to know. However, many of us only get to experience a taste of this beautiful city. A weekend is just enough time to fall in love with the city and keep you longing to return. Here are some of the can’t miss spots of the city:
La Sagrada Familia
Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece has been in the works for over 100 years. If you look beyond the scaffolding and souvenir shops around the corner, it is easily one of the most astounding churches on Earth. It’s definitely worth it to pay the extra $$ to go inside – and order ahead to avoid the lines! When the sun shines in through either side, it gives life a magical array of colors that light up the entire church.
Pro-Tip: If you go after 6pm, you can get free entrance into the basement of the church, which has its own exhibit honoring the work of Gaudi.
The Old Bull Stadium
Just because you can’t actually see bulls fighting anymore, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the magnificent views from the top of the stadium-turned-mega-mall. Take the escalators all the way up to the top (stopping by a few stores along the way if the temptation is too much to bear), and grab lunch at one of the many restaurants. Sweeping views of the entire city are included with your meal, free of charge.
Being in Barcelona, you have to appreciate the impact the famous Gaudi had on the city. They love him there, and for good reason. Another one of his crowning gems is Park Güell, an architecturally stunning park perched at the top of the city. Don’t be distraught by the barren center or massive amount of tourists, but embrace the park for what it is. Be sure to get some snaps by the mosaic walls!
To truly experience a city, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk around and see where you end up. The best place to do this kind of exploring is Las Ramblas. This is a long stretch that travels from Port Vell on the shoreline (perfect spot for a nice beach walk or lunch on the ocean) up to Plaza Catalunia (ideal for shopping and bar hopping). Las Ramblas is full of culture, beauty, and a perfect mixture of touristy and more low-key attractions.
If you want to party like the Barcelona locals, head down to the beach on Passeo Maritimo. By the shoreline, there are several clubs lined up to offer partiers views, drinks, and dancing all in one place. One of the best spots on the lineup is Opium – a massive nightclub with a mixture of a D.J. and live music. Think house music with live saxophone (you might have to experience that one to realize how great it is). The club also has a tremendous outdoor component with a more relaxed vibe, and even allows guests to step out on to the beach and reenter at their whim.
This one takes up a little more time. But if you have a day to do it, climbing Montserrat Mountain is unquestionably worth it. You can take the train from Plaza España (which is a little bit out of the city) to get there, and then ride a trolley car to the top. To say the views are breathtaking would be a tremendous understatement. At the top, there is also a beautiful monastery fit for exploring.
A Note on Culture – Right now is a very interesting time to visit Barcelona. This part of the country, Catalonia, is in the middle of a movement towards independence, which is quickly gaining traction. In the city, a Spanish flag is virtually unseen, replaced by Catalonian flag. The language is heavily dependent on their Spanish dialect. As a tourist in the city, the situation will not have a large effect on your visit, but it is an important thing to keep in mind throughout your travels. Happy traveling!
- Abby Rasweiler