Barcelona. My first trip to Europe, and an introduction to Catalan culture. Indeed, Barcelona is quite different from the rest of Spain, but a must-see if you’re planning a trip abroad. It is a tourist-friendly city with simple methods of getting around to see all the sights. Here are 5 things to add to your Barcelona itinerary…
Take a trek to Park Guell
On our third day in Barcelona we headed out with a group from our Hostel to Park Guell. Our hostel guide, Luka, said we would be taken the path less-travelled, bypassing the line ups and costs to see this to instead hike up further than the paths go to the highest point of the park. Along the way we did get to see some of the less-iconic architecture of the park, as well as a flamenco performance. And higher we went. I was hungover and afraid of heights, and almost puked several times, but somehow made it to the top. It was a foggy day which made for a unique view of the city. This point is actually kinda easy to find, but might be intimidating unless you are following someone else up. We saw a lot of other hikers so I’d just ask around or wait until you see someone diverting from the main path.
Marvel at incredible architecture
The Sagrada Familia is by far one of the largest tourist destinations in Barcelona, and guess what? It’s so, so worth it. I’m telling you to pay the 15 euros to get in, because just seeing it from the outside doesn’t do it justice. I suggest buying your tickets ahead of time because then you will be able to bypass a large line.
Really, there are no words or photos that can properly describe this architectural marvel. You will want to allocate at least an hour to wander and to see the museum.
Try regional cuisine on a Foodie Tour
No vacation is complete without a good taste of regional cuisine. We opted for a mini food tour and cooking class with Slow Travel Barcelona, which cost $90. The evening started with a visit to a local market to purchase the ingredients for Paella. After returning to our gracious hosts’ charming apartment, we socialized over wine, cheese and ham before getting to work. You can read Playing Foodie in Barcelona for more information on this tour!
Wander through narrow streets
The best thing to do (for free) in big cities? Wander around. It’s that simple. In Barcelona, we picked out a few areas we wanted to see and got moving. We also planned some stops to restaurants or shops along the way, although Barcelona doesn’t have as many boutiques/shops as one might expect. For example, Barcelona isn’t like NYC where you can wander into just about any neighbourhood and find conveniently placed boutiques and shops. One of my favourites was the Gothic District, or Barri Gotic. I just can’t get over the narrow pedestrian streets with stunning. picturesque balconies. Beautiful.
Relax on a beach day
Barceloneta Beach is right off the city’s downtown and marina, and there’s something about that I find incredibly charming – perhaps because where I’m from, lakes are a drive away. In Barcelona, you can do some morning shopping before walking down to the beach for some sangria and suntanning. Yep, I bought one of those touristy sangrias sold by wandering merchants. The area has a ton of trendy beach bars (probably overpriced) and stores like Roxy. We went to the beach twice – once on a beautiful sunny day (yep, in October) where it was quite crowded and again on a cool day just to chill and read books. The water of the Mediterranean Sea was beautiful and clear, although chilly at this time of the year.
When I went
October , 2015. The temperature during this time is still quite warm but there is some rain, so bring an umbrella.
I paid $1200 for my roundtrip flight to Barcelona from Winnipeg. The flight included a short layover in Toronto and then an overnight flight to Barcelona on Air Canada Rouge.
Where I stayed
Hostel One Sants (10 minute walk to the station then 10 minute metro ride to downtown)
Even though I’m not a solo traveler, I often like to stay in hostels because 1 – they are cheap, 2 – you meet really interesting people, and 3 – there are often added perks like free tours, activities and food (in this case, it was a free vegetarian supper every night, and it was quite delicious!).
How many days
4 days. I could have spent more time in Barcelona exploring the various neighbourhoods and shopping more, but I think 4 days is enough if you want to fit in other cities. If I had gone in the summer, I may have wanted to stay longer as the beach is quite lovely.