The Weekender Guide to Barcelona.
For those who have known me since my university days, know that I studied abroad for my Fall Semester in 2014. Being able to study and live in Barcelona for three months was an incredible and life changing experience . I didn’t know anyone that would be in my study abroad program and I had never have been to Europe or Spain before going. To top it off, Jordan and I just started dating that Summer before I left, so I definitely went through waves of emotion being away from all my friends, family, and a new relationship.
Knowing all of what I would go through while being there (being homesick was a real thing), I still would never change my decision. It made me who I am today and made me very grateful to have that opportunity to see the world in such a different way. I lived in an apartment/ flat right in between the Sagrada Família and the Arc De Triomf which are two very touristy areas but were very cool to see everyday.
Being able to return to this place with Jordan was so special to me because he didn’t get to visit me while I was abroad. We were only there for two days and there was SO much I wanted to show him and felt like he had to see. I didn’t know how we would do it all but my old-study-abroad-self kicked in and I was determined to get through my must see list which I will all share with you. The truth is, Barcelona is a very big city with a ton of history like most European cities have. So you might find yourself having to leave some things off your original list if you’re only staying for a short time period of time.
So follow this guide if: you’re staying in an accessible area, like to eat and shop (and consider that getting accustomed to the culture), and like to walk!
Where To Eat:
Cervecería Catalana - my favorite place for traditional tapas and sangria! You must order the sangria by the pitcher so be prepared to sit and hang out. This is the perfect place post shopping on Passeig De Gràcia (that is like their Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive, if you will).
Santa Caterina Market - Barcelona is famous for their food markets, they are literally filled with all the fresh and delicious food you can think of. This one is my particular favorite because it’s not as crowded as the La Boqueria Market in Las Ramblas and it has all the same offerings in my opinion. This also closest to my favorite area in Barcelona, El Born. Perfect for a quick bite while you’re walking around and exploring.
4 Gats - You may have heard of this restaurant before because it is very popular, but it was once a common place for famous artists to meet, like Pablo Picasso and Ramon Casas i Carbó. This restaurant, though a bit touristy, embodies so much of Barcelona’s culture. I would go back again and again if I had the chance. The live music at night mixed with delicious food and great sangria, made it such a special night for Jordan and I.
Xurreria Trebol - One of Barcelona’s oldest churro restaurants. We didn’t get to go here this time around but I was able to go with a friend when I studied abroad. If you happen to be near the Eixample district, go! However, there are MANY delicious churro places to stop for an energy-fueling snack. On our way to the Sagrada Familia, we stopped at Xurreria Sagrada Família and were pleasantly surprised. We sat ate some churros and had cappuccinos, just enough sugar to get us along.
Where To Shop:
Dr. Bloom - First of all let me say that the shopping in Barcelona is very under rated. If you’re going for a quick trip, I would try to buy any made-in-Spain/Barcelona designers that you can and file that under “souvenir” for yourself. I remember the Dr. Bloom boutique from when I studied abroad. I always window shopped here because I tried to save my money mostly for food or trips. Dr. Bloom is designed and manufactured in Barcelona, their pieces feature lots of fun colors and prints. You can find one of their stores in the Born district where there are tons of boutiques to shop from.
Dolores Promesas - This brand has a very unique story that I would suggest you look into before going to visit the store. Yes, you can buy online, but its different being able to experience what the designer has in mind in a physical store. I loved a lot of pieces here and would definitely return here on my next trip. Available all through out Spain, but we went to the shop in, you guessed it, the Born district.
Passeig De Gracia - This is the equivalent of Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive. All the high end designers on one major street in the middle of Barcelona. It’s an exciting place to see even if you’re not in the market for designer shopping. There’s lots of restaurants on the side streets off this road, beautiful hotels and you can walk along to see some of Gaudi’s famous works.
Where To Meet:
El Sueño de Picasso - Hello, beautiful rooftop. You will be surprised to know that Jordan stumbled upon this place when we were walking and too tired to keep going so we needed drinks and more cappuccinos. This is literally rooftop goals. They had small bites, delicious cocktails, and all the views.
Bars on Passeig Del Born - There is a strip in the Born district that gets rowdy (in a good way) at night. Try to remember that in Barcelona, the night life is super late, so if you go out at your normal American time, you’ll find things to be rather slow. This was more than fine for Jordan and I because we spent most of the day walking over 8 miles. We were ready for a drink and then to go back to the Hotel!
Elsa Y Fred - the cutest romantic tapas restaurant. It was made after a movie called “Elsa Y Fred” if you found the name familiar. My roommate and I went to this restaurant on one of our last nights in Barcelona and it always stuck with me. Perfect for drinks and tapas, the Barcelona way.
Historic Stops That Are Worth It:
During a short trip, the urge to fit in a few historic stops is strong. Here are my recommended must-sees so that you can prioritize while you are there:
Casa Mila - One of Gaudi’s work that was made for a prominent family in Barcelona. This is the place where you have seen all those cool rooftop photos. It’s breathtaking and 100% worth doing the full tour.
The Bunkers - This is the best view of Barcelona city. Often people will pay to go to the top of the Sagrada Familia when in fact you can walk up here, bring a bottle of wine, and see the entire city for free.
The World Begins With Every Kiss - I find this to be such a unique piece of street art. Romantic and has a beautiful story behind its meaning. This is right by Plaza Catalunya, so it’s easy to check off your list.
Sagrada Familia (Inside Tour) - The inside of this church is unreal and worth it if you want to pay the entrance fee. I wouldn’t bother doing the climb to the top since the best view of Barcelona is at the Bunkers or you can get a good view of the city going to Parc Güell.
If you have time:
Picasso Museum - My grandparents were very big fans of Picasso and his work. So being able to visit this museum was awesome. If you have extra time, definitely worth checking out.
Parc Güell - Not many people know this, but Parc Güell has entire free section that you can see on your own without waiting in line or paying. In my opinion, not worth paying to get in but if you have time, walk around the free section of the park. The higher you go up, the better view you have of the city.
I hope you found this guide helpful and enjoy every second of this amazing city. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
xox Soho Mini