Travel Guide: Three Days in Barcelona
I have now been to Barcelona twice: the first time was a quick (basically rushed) visit of 1.5 days where we saw a few of the major landmarks, experienced a night out, and had one nice Paella meal before we took a bus back to southern France the very next day. This time I stayed in Barcelona for three days and got to do, see, and eat a little bit more. Based on my visits, as well as recommendations/experiences from friends, travelers, and locals, here is an unofficial guide for a weekend visit:
Where We Stayed
We rented an Airbnb located a few blocks away from the Barcelona Nord bus station. I have also stayed at Urbany Hostels (during my time abroad in college), which was fine for a short-term stay. Obviously, I preferred the apartment to the hostel for many reasons. Security, luxury, and location, to name a few. However, there are some benefits to hostels:
Free Breakfast. Free coffee.
A lot of young travelers in one place who are usually open and friendly
Some hostels provide bars with very cheap food/drinks, as well as offer promotions on tours, events, and nightlife
We were lucky to find an apartment with a balcony, which I highly recommend for a sunny and vibrant city such as Barcelona. Good neighborhoods to stay in include: El Born, El Raval, Sant Pere, El Poble-sec, and Eixample.
What We Saw
Arc de Triomf- famous brick & stone arch that leads into Park de la Ciutadella
Park de la Ciutadella- the city’s first official green space featuring a zoo, lake, museum, a large fountain, and Parliament of Catalonia
Sagrada Familia- the icon of the city. A massive, unfinished church designed by Antoni Gaudí
Park Güell - public park system featuring gardens, mosaics and architectural elements. Also designed by Gaudí
Castell de Montjuic- former military fortress turned military museum that overlooks city from atop a hill. Reachable by cable car
Casa Milà- also known as La Pedrera, iconic Gaudí-designed modernist building with billowing facade
Where We Ate
We ate a lot. As you should in Barcelona. Must-haves in the city include tapas, sangria, paella, and pintxos. Here were some memorable spots:
Bornet- quaint coffee shop perfect for getting work done, laptop-friendly and high quality coffee
El Mercader de l'Eixample- great option for tapas, charming vine-covered terrace and good wine list
La Tasqueta de Blai- pintxos heaven, creative combinations and lots of seafood
Ocaña- trendy yet quality restaurant with great seafood, located on the lively Placa Reial
Cervesería Catalana- my favorite culinary experience, amazing food worth the 1-hour wait, best codfish of my life
Alsur Cafe- popular cafe and brunch spot in the heart of El Born
Murivecchi- Italian food with nice ambience and good service
Mercat de la Boqueria- the city’s famous marketplace with an abundance of choice, we had: sangria, vegan empanadas, cod fritters, oysters
Street art- the city has a nice amount of street art. A lot of the art is truly well done, and even the graffiti enhances the vibe of the city. The murals and tags feel authentic, rather than commissioned. Also, you may see spray-painted yellow ribbons tagged on walls and street signs across the city, the official symbol of support for currently imprisoned or exiled Catalonian regional government. In essence, it is a symbol partial to Catalonian independence.
Barcelona is definitely an animated city, and has some great nightlife options. It is less techno-heavy than other European cities, but the club scene is very popular.
Bobby’s Free- speakeasy themed cocktail bar with a password for entry
Jamboree- hip-hop disco club
La Fira- trendy restaurant and nightclub with latin music and quirky decor
Ayre Hotel- gorgeous rooftop bar with stunning view of the Sagrada Familia
OMG BCN- concept store featuring locally-made designs
Loewe- Spanish luxury fashion house known for handbags of quality design and craftsmanship
Casa Mila bookstore- an art, design, fashion, and/or architect lover’s dream. Books on all the aforementioned plus souvenirs and jewelry
About Arianne- ethically made women’s shoes designed in Spain
Chandal- Boutique dedicated to analog photography
Barcelona has earned its spot on my list of favorite cities. The food (especially the seafood) is high-quality, innovative, and unique. The nightlife is energetic. The sights are beautiful and the weather is lovely. The public parks, Gaudí architecture, and breezy atmosphere make the city iconic and memorable.
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Outfit details— Denim Jacket: Madewell, Striped shirt: Mango, Denim skirt: AllSaints, Brown leather belt: vintage, Brown studded booties: Lucky Brand, Striped dress: Zara, Sunglasses: Yves Saint Laurent, Black dress: Urban Outfitters, Black leather booties: J. Crew, Black sweater: Uniqlo, Light wash jeans: Urban Outfitters, Black leather belt: J.Crew