Barcelona is a beautiful seaside city located in the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. If you are looking for sunshine, cheap wine, amazing architecture, and mouth watering tapas then you must visit Barcelona. We spent four days in the city and these are our top tips when visiting Barcelona.
When to go
Peak tourist season in the city is July and August. We learnt this the hard way. If you travel during this time be prepared for long lines at tourist attractions. This is also the peak of summer and it does get really warm. With this in mind the end of May/June is probably the best time to visit Barcelona. We chose to fly with Monarch Airlines because we found an amazing deal through one of their regular promotions.
Where to stay
There are so many hotels to choose from covering a range of budgets. We stayed at the Silken Gran Hotel Havana. It was close to a metro station which made getting around Barcelona so much easier. It was also close to Placa De Catalunya which is the main square in Barcelona and also conveniently where the airport transfer bus drops you off. The hotel was magnificent and had a rooftop bar and pool, and we actually managed to nab a sweet deal on hotels.com and got it for a really decent price.
What to do
There is no shortage of things to see and do in Barcelona. I should stress though if you are visiting in peak season like us, then plan what you want to see and book things in advance.
Park Guell is located on Carmel Hill, and after climbing what felt like an endlessly steep road in the scorching heat we reached the entrance. I should add that we live in the UK so climbing any sort of slope in over 20 degree heat is not good for us. I was desperate to get that beautiful shot of the Barcelona skyline with the Park in the foreground, so was more than happy to line up for this.
When we finally made it to the front of the queue we were told that the next available entrance time for the monumental zone was 3 hours away. Due to time constraints
and admittedly the thought of walking up the hill in the heat again we had to miss out on this. We did get to check out the free part of the park which was beautiful, but I did feel really disappointed to have missed out on seeing Gaudi’s masterpiece up close.To avoid missing out you can book tickets via the following link Guided Tour Park Güell
La Rambla is a pedestrianised street in the centre of Barcelona filled with markets stalls, cafes, and restaurants (although I should point out overpriced ones at that). It gets super busy as well especially during peak holiday season. It is a really vibrant bustling stretch and definitely worth a visit. That being said it wasn’t my favourite part of the city and we literally only did walk through it once to see it. It felt way too touristy.
Mercat de la Boqueria
Off La Rambla, was actually one of my favourite places in Barcelona, the Mercat de la Boqueria. The market is a real treat for the senses with bursts of bright colours at the fruit stands, smells of hot food cooking or fish chilling in ice ready to be sold. There are also chocolate shops with treats your tastebuds will thank you for. It can get really chaotic in here and is really popular among tourists.
La Sagrada Familia
Arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona this church was designed by Anton Gaudi. It is actually still being constructed so it is usual to see a lot of cranes and scaffolding. You really should try and book this in advance. We turned up and waited in line for over an hour only to be told that we would have to come back the next day for admission. We couldn’t visit Barcelona without going inside so we had to come back but this severely impacted our other plans. It was worth it however, as the interior of the church is just breathtaking. If you are looking to book in advance click the following link to Barcelona Tourism. Tour Sagrada Familia
Home to one of the world’s best football teams, Camp Nou is a must see for football fans. I am not a football fan but Dave is. I was a little bit bored but Dave loved it. The tour starts in the club museum and then gets more exciting when you can explore parts of the stadium itself. It is the biggest football stadium in Europe, a fact which provided little solace when we had to march up staircase after staircase during the tour. If you are a football or even a sports fan I can imagine that this would be quite an incredible experience. At least that is what Dave tells me.
Another Gaudi masterpiece, La Pedrera was a private residence built from 1905 – 1910. The roof is definitely the coolest bit. It is filled with giant chimney pots and you also get a really nice view of Barcelona. Another highlight is that you get to explore an apartment which has been done up as if a rich family from the early 20th century still lived there. It really is an architectural wonder and a highlight in Barcelona. TO book tickets click the following link La Pedrera
This museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of works by none other than Pablo Picasso. For people not overly familiar with art, Picasso is one of the most famous painters in the world. He was also known for co-founding the cubist movement. I’m not even going to pretend that I know anything about art or even what that last sentence means. But I still found the museum enjoyable and it was a nice escape from the midday sun.
This gothic style cathedral is worth a visit. The interior of the cathedral is really spectacular and in the cloister you will spot 13 white geese. What is also really cool is that you can get a lift to the roof and bask in some amazing views of Barcelona. It is worth noting there are times when entry into the cathedral is free when it can get congested.
Food and Drink
One of the best things about Barcelona for us had to be the food and drink. There are so many amazing tapas restaurants and bars to sit in and drink sangria. Try to avoid heading to the tourist traps particularly around La Rambla. That being said we did enjoy a few pitchers of sangria around the waterfront and lapped it up even though it was expensive.
Looking for more destination inspiration check out our blog post on another sunny destination Australia’s sunshine coast.