We visited Barcelona on our (now annual) Eurotrip in 2016. Here is the quick take!
Visited: May, 2016
Days in Barcelona: 4
Travelled to Barcelona by: Plane from Amsterdam
Stayed at: NH Barcelona Centro
Favourite site: La Boqueria Market and the Sagrada Familia
Favourite restaurants: La Rita and Sagardi
Favourite Squares: Placa de Catalunya
Tours: Hop on, hop off bus
Must Do: Visit the Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and La Boqueria Market. We loved the hop on, hop off bus because we got to see so much of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise known about or made time for.
If you have time: Spend a day on the beach but beware of a ton of people selling things.
Day trips: None.
I was raised with religion and believe in some higher power but, truthfully, haven’t practiced religion in a long time.
Walking up to and into La Sagrada Familia, though, was a spiritual experience. I’m going to be completely honest, the place was packed with individuals and groups visiting – great for the church because that’s how they’re funding the completion. Not great because, I feel that it took away from the experience a little.
Outside La Sagrada Familia
The detail and work that went into the facades of the church are jaw dropping and stunning – no wonder it’s taking so long to complete. There is still a lot of work to be done, though, and they’re hoping for completion in 2026.
Inside La Sagrada Familia
Once inside, the church comes to life! Gaudi was influenced by the natural world, as you can see from the tree-like pillars inside. An incredible amount of stained glass and natural light illuminate the entire church. It is so easy to feel at peace here.
As we were walking around (and waiting for our time to go up the tower) Ave Maria started to play through the speakers. I sat down on one of the side benches and started to cry. Experiencing one of the most unique churches in existence with a stunning rendition of Ave Maria playing, I was genuinely moved to tears.
The View from the Tower
We paid for the trip up the tower. Though it wasn’t worth the money, we did get a great view of Barcelona.
- Buy your tickets online. Even with these tickets you will have to stand in a line.
- Get the audioguide with your ticket online. Note: this is a second line you must get into, after you pass into the gates.
- The trip up the tower extra was not worth the extra money, in my opinion. You got one or two good views and then basically walk down a stairwell.
- Plan for an hour to an hour and a half maximum. Unless you’d like to hang out in the church for longer.
- Consider buying a hop on hop off bus tour for two days and have this and the Parc Guell be one of your two days. The hop on hop off tour we did stopped at both of those right after each other.
We landed in Barcelona, excited for warm weather after our relatively cold and rainy time in Amsterdam, and headed to our hotel in the centre of the city. We dropped our bags and went for a walk. What a great location – perfect for site seeing!
I’m going to be real here. We didn’t love Barcelona. It might be one of our least favourite European cities that we have visited. We came to the conclusion that it’s a combination of Lisbon and Rome. Not a ton to see (like Lisbon) but huge and more gritty (like Rome).
Here’s what we didn’t like…
- I didn’t feel particularly safe in parts of the city, especially while on Las Ramblas. I took off my wedding rings for the first time while travelling, in fear of having them be taken off me.
- There were a ton of street and beach pedlars. They were everywhere and very persistent.
- The majority of the sites are Gaudi. Don’t get me wrong, he was a genius, but it felt like the tourism industry lives and dies on this guy’s creations. Twenty Euro to go into a building seems a bit steep. We did pay to get into the Monumental Zone at the Park Guell and neither of us felt it was worth the money.
- Like Paris, we had mixed reactions to the food. Some places were reasonably priced and fabulous. Others were reasonably priced and not good. We did splurge one night and loved that dinner.
It wasn’t all bad. Here are the parts I loved…
- The weather was perfect for strolling and lounging in parks (like Park Guell) and on the beach.
- La Boqueria Market was so much fun.
- Gin and Tonics (which is one of my favourite drinks) are everywhere! I tried a Bombay Sapphire gin with Hibiscus Schweppes tonic water drink and I will forever dream of that combination.
- While in Barcelona, we did something for the first time – a hop on, hop off tour bus. It was perfect to see parts of the city we would never have otherwise, like Camp Nou (the Barcelona FC team stadium), the Olympic stadium and the Forum. It also brought us up to the Park Guell and down to the water.
- Sagrada Familia is something you must see in your lifetime. Hopefully it’ll be completed in your lifetime!
We absolutely loved La Boqueria Market, just off Las Ramblas, in Barcelona.
We loved grabbing a fresh juice and strolling the aisles checking out what the vendors had to offer.
They sell almost everything you can think of…
Fresh bread and pastry
Cured Meats and Cheese
Seafood – raw and cooked
Candy and Nuts
…and SO much more! We walked around for ages. We actually visited twice – once around 4pm just to see what to expect, and the second around 9am for breakfast. There were much less shoppers early in the morning, which made shopping easier. Both experiences were wonderful, though.
My only regret is that we didn’t make it back for a proper meal. The seafood was so fresh and cooked right there in small bar-style restaurants.
I know I mentioned going on vacation a while back and it’s finally here!
I have a few posts scheduled while we’re gone, but I’ll be posting on Instagram if you’re interested.
Be back in a few weeks with more stories, tips and photos!