This post is dedicated to one of my best friends, Nicole. She will be traveling to Barcelona for the first time in just a few days. I am so excited for her to visit one of my favorite cities and I promised to provide all of the must-sees and must-dos! As with every place, a day or two is just not enough to see and do everything, so it can be good to make your first trip all about the basics.
Things to know about Barcelona: This city is known for its beautiful art and architecture, it gives you a taste of both city and beach lifestyles, and it thrives through a passionate and vibrant culture.
When it comes to architecture, Barcelona is unlike any other city. The contrast between older, ornate buildings and modern structures is endearing, but the city is best known for the architectural masterpieces conceptualized by Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí's buildings are like a dream. They tell a story. And they catch you off guard if you're not expecting them.
Gaudí is probably best known for La Sagrada Familia, a basilica that is dedicated to the Holy Family. Gaudí took over the project in 1883 and it is not yet complete. Though the project is deeply rooted in Christianity, each tower and façade representing something significant, anyone can enjoy a trip to La Sagrada Familia to marvel at the detail and intricacy in its craftsmanship.
My main tip for visiting La Sagrada Familia - don't wait in the long lines. Purchase a ticket for a designated time slot, and try to find a time around 3 or 4 pm (www.sagradafamilia.org/en/).
Other works by Gaudí in Barcelona include Parc Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà, La Pedrera. Take a stroll down Passeig de Gracia and you can see Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. Parc Güell is a stop on most if not all hop on hop off bus tours as is La Sagrada Familia (www.parkguell.cat/en/). Near Parc Güell is the Gaudí 4D Experience that takes you on a journey through his works and his vision - definitely interesting if you have the time! (www.gaudiexperiencia.com/)
Other things to see + do when you're in Barcelona:
There is so much to see and do in Barca, but these are some of the go-tos. I encourage you to start at one of these suggestions and then wander from there. Barcelona is also unique for having both the city environment and the beach. It's easy to take the metro and then walk to the Barceloneta beach, but it's usually very crowded. If you have time, other nearby beaches you can travel to are Sitges and Calella.
Embedded into all of the sights and sounds in Barcelona is the passionate culture of the Catalonian people. Natives of Barcelona are very proud of their region, and consider themselves very separate from Spain. Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia. For many, their native language is not Spanish - it's Catalan, or both. Both are considered official languages of the region and many people also speak English. The city is a melting pot of people and it's full of energy and life. Dinner is late and people are just going out when others are just waking up. Around every corner you can find an artist, performer, or musician, ready to entertain.
Barcelona offers the perfect mix of the arts, history, leisure, nightlife, and culture. I find myself comfortable, yet curious every time that I return. The warmth and excitement in the air is something that I always look forward to, and something that you should experience, too! Plan your trip. Make it happen! Barcelona is a city that you won't soon forget.
Have other tips for Barca? Leave them in the comments below: