Visiting Barcelona: What to Eat and Do & Where to Stay

Barcelona is a fascinating city, filled with vibrant colors, cuisine and architecture. In this post, I discuss transportation options to and from the airport, my favorite restaurants and sites to see, and tips on how to find affordable accommodations.

When travelling to Barcelona, be extra careful with your belongings, particularly around La Ramblas. Pickpockets are incredibly talented in Barcelona. Phones and cameras are often targeted, so back up your photos everyday.

As always, if you have been to Barcelona and have more suggestions please provide them in the comment section below!


Transportation between BCN Airport <–> Barcelona City Center

I love public transportation, and try to take it whenever possible.

  • Public Transport: Several buses take you from the airport to the city center, but I prefer the Aerobus A1 and A2 bus. This bus is an express bus that takes you to aerobus.pngnumerous locations throughout the city including Placa Catalunya (one of the central squares).  You can purchase tickets on the bus or at a kiosk in front of the bus for for €5.20 one way or €10.20 round-trip. When you’re heading back to your trip, catch the bus where you got off!
    • If you have more time look in to other buses which will run half the price of the A1!
  • Taxi: If you prefer taxi it will run around €40.
  • Rideshare App: As of summer 2018, myTaxi seemed to be the most popular ride-sharing app.

Best Restaurants & Bars in Barcelona

  • The Boqueria Market is a colorful food IMG_3102.JPGmarket off La Ramblas, where you should eat as often as you can! Pinoxto is a famous booth that is worth trying, but it’s also just as fun to walk around the stalls and try the freshly squeezed juice, ceviche (pictured to the right), or jamon & bread!
  • El Nacional is a massive restaurant, located on Passeig de Gracia, that is divided into different sections each offering a variety of cuisine from the Iberian Peninsula. Some of the sections require reservations, but not the tapas section on the right-hand side, which I suggest giving a try. The building alone is a must see, as it reflects 1920s industrial architecture! 
  • Casa  Lolea is a sangria house offering tasty traditional Spanish tapas. You may have seen their sangria in the states it is served in an iconic polka dot bottle. Call to make reservations before you go, otherwise you might not get a seat
  • Restaurant 7 Portes is located close to the water, and offers Catalan cuisine.

Bars

  • Aperol Spritz by the beach is a fun bar that serves aperol spritz!  
  • Tandem – an amazing cocktail bar near Univsitat that doesn’t have a menu, you just go and tell them ingredients you like and voila!

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Best Sites to See in Barcelona

In addition to walking around the city, exploring La Boqueria Market off La Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, and walking down Passeig de Gracia, my favorite things to do in Barcelona are centered around Gaudi’s architecture and are listed below:

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  • Palau Guell is the first piece of architecture Gaudi designed for Guell. The audioguide through the mansion is a great way to start any trip to Barcelona – the guide gives you perspective on the history behind Gaudi and Guell’s relationship, which is fundamental to understanding Gaudi’s other famous works (Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo – all of which are worth seeing).
    • General admission is €12. You can buy tickets ahead of time on their website or at the door. There generally isn’t a huge line.
  • If you’re going to Barcelona, you have to see La Sagrada Familia, and you have to go inside (see pictures below). This large, unfinished Roman Catholic Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the most magnificent basilicas in the world.
    • Purchase tickets ahead of time on their website. I recommend
      the guided tour for €24. Other ticket options exist – audio-guided tours are €22 and basic tickets are €15.

sagrada.png

  • Park Guell is a beautiful public park with gardens and alongside Gaudi’s colorful architecture. Right outside of the park, is also one of the best spots for viewing the city. To get to the viewing spot, stand in front of the entrance and walk left outside of the park along the gate. There will be steps you need to climb to access the viewing spot.
    • IMPORTANT! Buy your tickets ahead of time on the website. If you show up to buy tickets at the door there is a chance the next available viewing time will be on the next day.

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Affordable Accommodations in Downtown Barcelona

Finding affordable accommodations in the center of Barcelona can feel close to impossible! A dear Spanish friend of mine has warned that going “super cheap” with accommodations in Barcelona can be very bad given US standards.

  • If you’re comfortable with taking the subway look for accommodation in the green area. Avoid the gray area for accommodations and avoid the red area when walking by yourself at night. The four markets on the map can be ignored.
  • If you insist on staying downtown (near La Ramblas or around Placa Catalunya) it can be expensive.
    • The only location I can recommend on the border of the green/gray area is Hostal Fontanella. You will have a shared bathroom in a hall, but the facilities are spotless and the staff is kind! You can’t beat the location. One time when I visited we stayed four to one room and paid ~$40/night per person in the summer. This price will be hard to beat!

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