Oh my Gaudí!
Just so you know, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you book something through our link, it won't cost you any more, but we might get a small commission.
Barcelona is a perfect mix between an authentic Spanish city and a beautiful, relaxing holiday destination. If you want to taste some traditional paella and experience working Spanish life, but also want to be close to the beach to just lay out in the sun and relax, Barcelona is a great option. Yes, it’s a touristy city and you won’t always get the most authentic experience, but if you know where to look and avoid those typical tourist traps then you can definitely see some of the traditional Spanish culture!
Foodie paradise - Barcelona has some absolutely incredible food for you to try! It’s renowned for its beautiful markets where you can buy colourful fresh produce, or street food and snacks that are ready to eat! It’s not just Spanish food either, you come across foods from all different cultures in the markets, but also just spread around the streets of Barcelona. If you go to the luxury restaurants that are right by the beach, you’ll often find yourself paying the price for this experience. However, if you go more into the city and a little off from the main streets then you can get some amazingly cheap food. Always look out for a “Menu del día” - this is normally a set 2 or 3 course meal for a really reasonable price.
The main market in Barcelona is Mercado de la Boqueria which is absolutely amazing, but make sure to also explore any other markets you come across whilst wandering the city. Often the smaller, more local markets will be much cheaper and a little more traditional than La Boqueria.
Gaudí - A trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without heading to spot as many of the famous Gaudi buildings as you possibly can! Of course, the most famous and the one you absolutely must see is La Sagrada Familia, the largest church in Barcelona and the largest unfinished Roman Cathedral in the world. This cathedral began construction in 1882 and they are still completing it! Like most of the Gaudí buildings in Barcelona, you can pay to enter and look around the interior, but if you don’t want to pay you should definitely still head there to marvel at the exterior design. These buildings are all so intricately designed and so detailed, they’re not to be missed. We also loved Casa Vincens, Casa Battló and Teresian College!! Even if architecture isn’t your thing, we highly recommend seeing these buildings as they’re such an important part of the culture in this city.
Practicalities - We don’t normally cover the more practical side of destinations in our Inspiration posts, but when we visited Barcelona, we definitely needed this information! Firstly, Barcelona is renowned for its pickpockets, so make sure you keep a tight grip on your valuables. We recommend using a cross-body bag and leaving as many valuables in your accommodation as possible (preferably in a safe or at least hidden away). You’re always in more danger of being pickpocketed or having a phone stolen in the busiest areas, so this is where you need to be most aware. Research what the current scams are at the time of visiting so you’re not conned into giving away your money or distracted while someone takes your phone from your bag! We thought this was important to highlight as some people avoid Barcelona for this reason. Personally, we didn’t notice it being worse than any other major city, and firmly believe you can still visit, as long as you keep your valuables close!
In addition to this, Barcelona is a huge city and often implied to be difficult to get around. Unless you’re pushed for time or struggle with mobility, we think that it’s actually extremely walkable. If you want to get public transport, we would definitely recommend the metro. Grab yourself a T-casual ticket from a machine in any metro station, which gives you 10 journeys, and use google maps to find out which line, direction and stop you need! It’s simpler than you think, we promise.
Barcelona may have a reputation as sometimes being unsafe, but we think as long as you are aware of your surroundings, especially in the busiest areas, it’s just like any other major city. Enjoy the sun, sand, architecture, food and drink and go and experience this amazingly versatile city!!
Getting there: Barcelona is easily accessible by air, with direct flights from many major cities around the UK. It's also accessible by train and even coach from major cities in Spain and surrounding countries.
Visas: Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Spain for a stay of up to 90 days.
Currency: The currency of Spain is the Euro.
Language: The official language of Spain is Spanish, but English is widely spoken.
Time zone: Spain is in the Central European Summer Time, usually an hour ahead of the UK.
Ready to go? - Search for somewhere to stay in Barcelona on Expedia here
- Look for things to do in Barcelona on GetYourGuide here