I love tapas. I’d like to say that the main reason we decided to go to Barcelona as the last and longest stop on our Eurotrip honeymoon was solely for the tapas because it seems like an unnecessarily impressive display of dedication to finger food.
However, as you can probably guess, a lot of factors went into this decision. Not only did we want to be somewhere with nice weather and a hoppin’ beach scene, but we also wanted our grand finale to have a good amount of culture. So we said vamos a la playa and booked the last leg of the trip!
Where to Stay in Barcelona
We stayed at the Hotel EuroPark, which we LOVED because it was right in the middle of the city. The room was spacious and we even had two French doors that opened into a courtyard for some fresh air when we wanted it. The best part? The private rooftop pool and patio – we spent a few late afternoons and evenings lounging up here (maybe also with a bottle of wine) when we needed a recharge! This spot does include breakfast, but we opted to save a little, eat at the local bodegas and splurge on dinners. Life pro tip: we also saved a lot on buying bottles of water by bringing these nifty charcoal filtering Bobble water bottles that are small enough to fit in a travel bag!
While we loved this location, we also really loved the Gothic Quarter, the beach (La Barceloneta) and the club area, and we spent a good chunk of our time down there near the water – so it might’ve been better if we considered staying closer However, it was only a 25 minute walk to the Gothic Quarter and a 30 minute walk to the beach from the EuroPark. Plus, while we never tried it, it was very close to public transportation and was an easy trip to any other part you wanted to go. Not to mention we were also close to the shops, restaurants and architecture in the city center!
Things To Do in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia
Whether you are here for a layover or camping out for two weeks, if you see nothing else, at least see La Sagrada Familia. It is a complete 180 from the grand churches and the Duomo of Firenze and it is SO COOL.
I tend to do a lot of research prior to going anywhere and I’m not sure if it was just the craziness of an impending wedding or I was suffering from itinerary fatigue, but weirdly I didn’t really plan out a lot for Barcelona. So little did I know that the architecture was going to be downright futuristic compared to what we had seen in Florence. I have such high regard for the architect, Antoni Gaudí. He brings a lot of nature into his designs, which seems very big-picture and omnipotent to me.
The other thing I didn’t understand until we were actually standing inside is that it’s still being built. Since I had been knee deep in ancient Italian culture prior to this leg of the trip, I literally couldn’t comprehend that a structure of such grandeur and magnitude had been in progress for so long. Not to mention that the architect had had the foresight and project management skills to ensure it would be continued into well over 91 years past his death. When we arrived and I saw all the cranes and scaffolds, I had been bummed that they were doing façade restoration work the one week we were there… but in actuality it’s the construction that is supposed to be finished in 2030. You can bet we’re planning to go back!
Other Hot Spots
Another one of Gaudí’s creations (and home to the Gaudí house museum), this is a gorgeous spot to see some architecture and catch a bird’s eye view of the city. A head’s up – plan ahead because when you get there you’ll need to buy a ticket for a certain entry time (which you can avoid by buying online here) but you can also just opt to walk around the park part up top and not actually enter into the Gaudí area. Depending on how much Gaudí you want to take in, you can decide for yourself.
The Gothic Quarter
It’s no wonder I loved the Gothic Quarter so much, it is very much like Florence with old, winding cobblestone streets and lots of little local shops and vendors. Definitely plan to spend some time wandering through the twists and turns.
The other must-see down this way is the Picasso museum. I love Picasso but was a little worried about how many cubic pieces I could take in without my eyes crossing or having a weird out of body existential crisis. Not to worry, though – most of the collection is actually before that period – it’s more of a look into the full spectrum of his early studies, trials, tribulations and experiments.
Bonus Not-To-Miss Points of Interest
- La Barceloneta – gorgeous beach worth spending the day at, bring cash for “gintonics”!
- Passage de Gracia – this is kind of like the Champs-Elysées of Barcelona. They have amazing shopping and Gaudí’s La Perdera is also on this street.
- Las Ramblas – also has really great shopping, fresh markets and unique vendors – but watch out for pickpockets here – especially in the famous La Boqueria market!
Heads Up: Barcelona is a really cool and different city. So much so that they have their own language, Catalan. So no, Barcelona does not technically speak Spanish. Imagine my surprise when I was all pumped to work on my present and past-tense sophomore year vocab… big nope. However, Spanish will get you far here. And, as anywhere, I’m sure you’ll score major brownie points (I’m all about them brownie points) and the locals will be delighted that you tried. Just be open-minded!
Seeing as you’re only an hour flight away from the party island that is Ibiza, it makes sense that the nightlife in Barcelona is something worth checking out. Here are a few of our favorites!
One of the many clubs in the La Barcelontea area (and one of the most frequently recommended) we opted to head to Opium for a night out and had a great time. Something to know before you go, though – literally no one shows up until 1 AM at the earliest. We looked like total noobs arriving at 12:15 AM – we were actually the only ones out on the patio for almost an hour.
Also, there is pretty much no late-night food in the area. Keep snacks in your room or do what we did and bribe your cab driver to hit up the McDonald’s (it’s the closest one to Opium – you’ll have to tell the driver before you leave the club or he’ll probably pass it by accident) on your way home. You’ll thank us later!
Chupito translates to “sip” – but what they really mean is “shot”. If you’re looking for a unique experience and a little bit of a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride night, you need to hit up Chupitos. Even if you aren’t planning on partying like it’s 1999, you should still pay a visit for the drinks. On the pop culture reference scale of cool, they are a Chuck Norris.
There are two locations – one in the club district and another further north. They specialize in hundreds of different kinds of shots and shooters – try a handful! If you’re a closet pyromaniac (or just looking for a cool Insta), ask for the Campfire and watch out for your eyebrows!
As Always, It’s All About the Food
There will be tapas until they are literally coming out of your nose. My favorite place was Txapela, which is a chain with locations all over, but for being a chain, it’s really good. As far as local places go, one of our favorite spots was Cerveseria Ciutat Comtal – and I’m pretty sure I don’t even have to tell you to order the bacon wrapped dates.
But What About the Paella?
You’re in Barcelona, you order Paella. Simple math. The trick to getting good paella, though, is to find the authentic places. As the tour guidebooks say, “if they have pictures of the food on a menu board outside, run away.” Our personal favorite place (after doing a lot of research on Trip Advisor) was 7 Portes, down in La Barceloneta. We had the seafood paella and it was definitely enough to share between two people with leftovers for good measure.
The Tapas Are Literally Coming Out of My Nose, What Next?
We had so many tapas the unthinkable happened… we got tired of them. So, we went in search of something else. Do yourself a favor and check out Arcano in The Born. It was arguably the best meal we had in Barcelona (it also could have been the fact that we had been tapas-ed out on tapas). But really, you can’t go wrong. The buratta was the best I’ve ever had in my life. Also, the ahi tuna steak was unbelievable. The atmosphere is really cool too – the restaurant is on the site of an old stable and has beautiful stone arches and a charcoal grill. You’ll feel like you are in an old Mediterranean candlelit cavern or catacombs or something.
Barcelona was one of the coolest cities we’ve been to (sure, maybe I say that about ALL the cities we’ve ever been to, but still!) A cool fusion of middle European and western European culture, this city is like a little bubble of a country all by itself (spoiler alert: there have been murmurings of Barcelona leaving Spain to form its own country, but we’ll save that for another time.) Questions? Let us know! Have you been and seen something we missed? Leave a comment!