Barcelona Travel Tips

sagrada familia
4 Days in Barcelona

Our second stop in our 5th wedding anniversary trip to Europe was the magical city of Barcelona, Spain!! (You can check out a recap of Part I: Paris! on the blog!) Neither of us had ever been to Barcelona (or Spain for that matter!) so we were particularly excited to do all. the. things. Within reason. (Read: over-scheduling trips habit) I had been dreaming of seeing Gaudi architecture in person since I did a report on him back in middle school. I was SO excited to see Park Güell & the Sagrada Familia! Kevin was also pretty excited to go to an FC Barcelona match at Camp Nou, so those activities determined a lot of our itinerary! Tapas are also my FAVORITE way to eat, so I was looking forward to eating my way through the city!!

Above: Perikete tapas bar – look at that beautiful goblet of sangria! 

Where to Stay

We stayed in the El Raval neighborhood right off of La Rambla which made it easy to get around. It’s a pretty central & lively area and we were able to walk most places. The shuttle from the airport as well as the shuttle for our day trip both left from the Placça de Catalunya, and there were many metro/bus lines we took for other activities. It was a little noisy, but the convenience was worth it for us!

Below: Park Güell

Gaudi

Like I mentioned, visiting some Gaudi landmarks were a huge priority for us. We spent our first two days in Barcelona visiting Park Güell (pictured above) & Sagrada Familia (pictured below). I do reccommend splitting them between days if you can, since they’re a lot to take in & not near each other! Another tip is to book your tickets well in advance (we scheduled several weeks out). The entrance is timed, and if you wait until day of, there’s a good chance you won’t get in. I definitely reccommend getting the audio guide tour at the Sagrada Familia – we learned so much about the history & symbolism!

There was so much influence from nature weaved into the design of the Sagrada Familia. The columns inside the sanctuary resembled trees with branches – a very unique concept at the time. The east facing windows (above) feature cool toned stained glass (blues and greens), and the west facing (below) are vibrant reds, oranges & yellows to compliment the sun rise and sun set.

Cooking Class

Another favorite activity for us when we’re traveling is taking a cooking class! We’ve done this in Chaing Mai, Thailand, and also did a food tour in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s a great way to learn more about the culture of the city through food, learn something new, and EAT! We did the traditional Spanish cooking class with Foodie and had an awesome time learning to de-beard muscles, make sangria, paella & Catalan creme! Carmen, our teacher was so passionate, knowledgeable & a true local – sharing about growing up on a farm just outside of Barcelona.

(I was a little hesitant about the caramelizing process)

FC Barcelona

Kevin LOVES soccer (we are Seattle Sounders season ticket holders) – so seeing one of the greatest teams in the world play was high on his bucket list! The stadium is HUGE and there were about 94,000 people there! Crazy!

Tip: there’s no alcohol for sale inside the stadium, so do as the locals do! Buy a can of beer at the convenience store & drink it in a park nearby before you go in. It sounds a little sketch haha but it was so fun to be around all of the excitement! (Plus cost-effective… I’m looking at you, $11 drinks, CenturyLink!) It was easy to take the bus from Placça de Catalunya to the stadium. Again, get tickets ahead of time if you can, and know that if it’s a “big game” (this wasn’t) tickets can be pricey! (i.e. a couple hundred dollars)

Barcelona ended up winning the league with the game we attended (Messi scoring the only goal right in front of our seats!) so it was so fun to celebrate with the supporters! Apparently fans gather at a drinking fountain right by our Airbnb so it was a blast to be a part of the hubbub!

Day Trip: Monastery & Vineyard

We only had time for one day trip from Barcelona & chose a tour of Montserrat and Oller del Mas Winery (check it out on Viator here). It was relaxing to spend a day being shuttled around in a nice bus, and learning more about the history of Barcelona & surrounding area. A few people had recommended this excursion to us and it was definitely worth it! Our tour guide was awesome and actually a big soccer fan – he was one of the supporters waving flags in front of our seats the night before!

Heading out into the mountains was a beautiful break from the city. Montserrat (translates to “serrated mountain”) is a stunning monastery tucked (literally) into the mountains which you can also see from the Oller del Mas Winery. This historic winery has been family owned and run for 36 generations, and was everything you’d want a Spanish countryside winery to be! Not to mention the wine was delicious!

We opted for a little hike/walk to this viewpoint during our tour “free time” – such a gorgeous panorama of the monastery & surrounding area!

Above: Montserrat Monastery // Below: View of Montserrat from Oller del Mas Winery

Where to Eat
  • Mercado de La Boqueria on La Rambla – one of the biggest & oldest markets in the world! Incredible food stalls – but be prepared to wait, or go at an off time to snag a spot!
  • Alcoba Azul – our first meal in Barcelona hit all of my tapas & sangria dreams!
  • El Born – we loved walking around this hip neighborhood – awesome shops & bars lined the tiny streets including one of our favorite restaurant experiencesCal Pep. No menu here, and a line forms before they open! Counter seats let you watch the chefs work their magic, creating classic & inspired Catalan dishes!
  • Cerveseria Catalana – stopped here on our way to Sagrada Familia and it was one of our favorite meals! Delicious tapas – especially thinly sliced & fried artichokes, chili garlic shrimp & warm goat cheese with peppers and zucchini!

Other Highlights

  • Walking along the boardwalk & getting drinks by the beach
  • Visiting the Barcelona Arco de Triunfo & lounging in the central park

Above: Cerveseria Catalana // Below Left: Cal Pep Catalan Creme // Below Right: Aperol Spritz on the beach!

barcelona travel tips

barcelona travel tips

Stay tuned for travel tips from our last stop, Lisbon, Portugal, soon & catch the Paris recap here!

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