Barcelona was more touristy and less beach-y than I expected; for example, the famous Las Ramblas street was crowded at all times of day and night. Still, it was a neat place to explore! I personally found Barcelona not as quaint or beautiful as Madrid (
read all about my Madrid trip here), but it is still an amazing city!
If you go to Barcelona, you must see Parc Guell and La Sagrada Familia, both works by famous Barcelonian architect Antoni Gaudi.
At both sites we took guided group tours, which you have to book in advance, but I highly recommend. You’ll learn so much more about the architectural detail and rich history than if you try to tour alone and unaided. Also try to go early in the morning; the crowds are usually tamer and it’s not quite so hot.
La Sagrada Familia is the most-visited attraction in all of Spain, so there’s quite a lot of security and long lines. But the church itself is incredible and has been under construction since 1882. It’s set to be finished by 2026, a hundred years after the architect’s death.
We also did a bike tour with a company called Fat Tire, located in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the oldest part of the city. We biked through the city at night enjoying tapas, sangria and cava along the way. This was incredibly fun!
Another night we took a cooking class where we learned how to make paella, sangria and Catalan cream, a traditional custard-like dessert popular in the region. The instructor started a cooking class business with her sister, and she was straight out of a movie. She offered local history and cooking tips while guiding us in making delicious food.
One of my favorite foods was Spanish ham, often shaved off the leg of the pig right in front of you. It’s similar to prosciutto and popular to eat even at breakfast time.
Another day we visited Parc de la Ciutadella, which included so many other sites: Spain’s Arc de Triomf, the Barcelona Zoo, Palau del Parlament de Catalunya (the Palace of the Parliament of Catalonia), and Cascada Monumental.
We ate lunch and shopped in the nearby El Born district and visited the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. It was yet another beautiful church with many visitors. That afternoon we went to the Picasso Museum, which is smaller than you might expect but nonetheless fascinating.
Our hotel had 360-degree view of the city from its rooftop bar and pool, so we spent a few hours sunbathing and swimming each afternoon.
From Barcelona we took a short flight to Paris, where we spent the last four days of our trip (
read the Paris leg of the journey here)!