Comfortable footwear, Compeed and Lavender infused foot rub are essential.
If you read my Making Memories V’s Materialism post you will know that my partner in crime, Brigita and I were planning a trip to Barcelona.
There are tonnes of places I would love to visit but I was always intrigued by the vibe of Barcelona and wanted to see for myself if this city was as wonderful as I had dreamed.
Spoiler: it was. It was wonderful.
We booked through Expedia and somehow managed to land ourselves the most wonderful hotel. Well Brigita did anyway – I don’t know quite how she did it, whether it was the sleuth in her or we were just lucky.
We giggled our way through the hotel doors of The Arc and were made-up. The photos online didn’t do the hotel justice. You never know (unless it’s a swanky hotel with an almost guaranteed great stay), what you’re going to end up with. We were blessed with a room with a balcony overlooking La Rambla (the main shopping street). We were at the heart of it and couldn’t wait to get our exploring feet on! Waving at the locals, we were in our element.
Hotel and flights were around £180 per person for 3 nights.
March: The perfect time of year to go
Arriving in Barcelona we couldn’t believe quite how warm it was. We had packed fairly lightweight. T-shirts, jeans and Primark’s finest shirts, however within a couple of hours of being there, we were already scouting for the best pair of denim shorts we could find.
It was 25 degrees and I was thankful I had packed the factor 50!
As with any new destination, I like to know my bearings. To know roughly where the must-sees are and also where base camp lies. If you read my New York First Timer post, you may remember I am a massive – actually make that humongous fan – of the hop-on, hop-off bus.
Narrative all the way, along with a tonne of dodgy, annoying music in-between. Top-deck in the sun with the breeze blowing through your hair and the opportunity to fill the memory up on your iPhone snapping away for hours.
After a quick hop around the city we planned a rough itinerary for the next couple of days.
Things To Do
We woofed down tapas and drank fish-bowls of sangria. The glass size is immense, think mulled wine with fruit. A real heady treat.
Discovered a swanky Vegan restaurant.
Marvelled at, but nearly dozed off to a Flamenco show.
Flew along on a cable car across the city.
Ambled along Barceloneta Beach.
Jaw-dropped over the wonderful buildings. Antoni Gaudi’s many designs and projects are dotted all over the city.
Had a small amount of time to do a little shopping (Sephora you do it to me every time and I finally discovered Massimo Dutti in the flesh).
Getting around, we mainly walked. Our feet fared us well, however be warned we walked a looooooong way. I’m talking marathon distance, over 33 miles in less than 3 days. The weather was beautiful and the city stunning, so it was lovely to see all parts of the big B. Pack your most comfortable, battered trainers and blister plasters! There’s no time for heels in Barcelona.
Without further ado here’s what you must do alongside the bus tour when you visit for the very first time.
The Sagrada Familia
Book tickets before you leave home (the queues can be long) and visit early in the morning. Opposite Gaudi’s stunning masterpiece is a beautiful lake where the locals seem to spend their morning walking their beloved pooches.
We decided to visit on Sunday morning and as far as sight-seeing is concerned, this was the ideal time to go. The atmosphere and vibe was chilled and there were not too many people around. The temple is stunning and amazingly still being built.
Work started in the late 1880’s and the dream is that it will be completed 100 years after Gaudi’s death in 2026, complete with 17 spires. Considering how detailed and ostentatious the exterior is, the inside is understated and the coloured windows provide the most beautiful light show within the walls. Look out for the ‘tree trunks’, all made in different coloured stone.
I’m not speechless very often, however after leaving the Sagrada Familia, it really was a wow moment. I even bought a bookmark from the gift shop (as I now always seem to have a book on the go) and that is unheard of!
Take a Cable Car Ride (‘Barcelona from the sky’)
If my memory serves me right this was around 20 euros for a return ticket. The cable car is situated a 2 minute walk from Barceloneta Beach. Worth the money just to see the attractive views of the city and the long stretch of sand.
After a quick ride across to Montjuic Park, we had a speedy mooch around this rather impressive green area, posed and took photos on a tree branch (they weren’t good enough to publish). Haggled over a hand-carved wooden giraffe and headed back to the beach (complete with said giraffe).
Visit Barceloneta Beach
A stroll/amble/march/power walk/roller-blade along the beach is welcome after the hustle and bustle of the city. Still hectic with tonnes of people it’s a relaxing walk along the seafront.
There are a few places to eat and re-fuel. It was an absolute joy sitting on the beachfront and watching the world go by. Munching my way through a goat’s cheese salad and slurping on a fruit concoction, it really was one of those moments I felt appreciative of life and at the world.
Walking from top to bottom along the promenade took around 1 hour and was the perfect way to head towards Barcelona Cathedral and also Farggi (my new favourite cafe – wishing it was based in the UK – along with the weather).
Farrgi is a hip place to go. An extensive menu of pancakes, ice creams, sandwiches and avo dishes. This is the ideal place on the way to the Cathedral for a pit-stop. We had good old pancakes and ice cream with the best seat in the house. This almost open-air cafe is most perfect place to be to, just people-watching in glorious weather. One of those real gems, you just stumble along and don’t ever want to leave.
Great to visit if you have time and are in the area. It’s beautiful and much more like the traditional cathedral we all know and love. Completely different to Sagrada Familia. Complete with pond and resident geese. Light a candle before you leave.
Stroll down La Rambla
A shopping mecca. For the shoppers out there, you could spend a whole day browsing, lusting after and maxing out your VISA.
La Rambla has all the favourites. Zara, Zara Home, Mango and Sephora. There’s a tonne of luxury stores, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. And then there’s the more traditional and rather charming stalls, selling everything from handmade olive wood decorations, jars and mugs and flowers. Churro and Gelato vans feature every so often along the way. It was quite wonderful walking along La Rambla with a waffle cone and homemade dairy ice-cream melting down the side. The most chilled out I had been in ages.
Important: Pickpockets are swarming, seeing tourists as an easy target. Take a cross-body bag which you can keep your eye on and carry minimal cash.
Visit Flax & Kale
If you’re looking for a lightweight uber healthy meal and Vegan food is your bag, then Flax and Kale is a must visit. I love veggies and could eat tomato pasta all day long. Not sure Brigita was convinced, under the impression she would be eating lettuce leaves for lunch.
However we tried a mango/avo starter and had wholemeal pancakes with fruit (not sure what the pancakes were made of), but it was all divine. I bounced out of the restaurant feeling like my body had just eaten the most nutrient dense meal ever. Definitely one for the health conscious, veggie fans and for those wanting to try something a little different.
Another wonder by Gaudi. As you venture your way around Barcelona you soon feel in-the-know. Gaudi’s colours and designs are prevalent around the city and easy to spot. Guell Park is no exception, the actual park is a lovely place to walk around. The highest spot makes for a great view-point of the city. I loved it here!
The park is free and the perfect place for a Spanish picnic with many shady spots. Should you wish to view other, more restricted areas, there is a charge of around 20-30 euros depending on where you wish to go.
Gaudi’s home and garden is also certainly worth a visit.
Guell Park is a real mixed bag of nature, eclectic styles and as I would describe a rather pretty real-life gingerbread house.
Another of Gaudi’s treasures, Casa Battlo is currently under renovation, yet this is still a must-see. Situated in the centre of Barcelona, Casa B is considered another of his great works. Can you tell I’m a bit of a fangirl?
This impressive house is an array of colours and the work is clearly that of the architect. An interesting place to spend free time with an opportunity to try on vintage clothes and get your picture taken 1800’s Spanish style. We handed over 5 euros for said pic and I am as per usual sipping ‘tea’!
Screenshot is available for you to laugh at under my Barcelona IG Stories!
Hire a Rickshaw
From Sagrada Familia we met Yuris and hired a rickshaw for the long ride up the hill to Guell Park. The rickshaw can only go so far. However it was a great way to see the back streets and local life. It took around 40 minutes to get up to the hill and then a 30 minute walk to the park. We took a taxi on the way back to La Rambla to save our (by this point) sore toes.
Barcelona you just rock!
This Spanish city has a chilled out vibe. It’s trendy, clean and attractive with a tonne of things to do.
Brigita and I have already said we will visit in the future again. I would in fact book a flight tomorrow, however I for one, am wanting to see the completion of those 17 spires at the marvellous SG!
Have you been to Barcelona? Do you have heart emojis in your eyes as much as me? Where are you planning on travelling to next?
If you have any tips or places I must visit next time around, please do drop a comment below…