“Let’s pretend we’re dancing in the streets in Barcelona” Ed Sheeran couldn’t have put it better. There isn’t a better feeling in the world than strolling through the aesthetic Callers in Spain’s biggest city for tourism.
Barcelona was my home for four months and I think back about that time often and miss it. I’m sure one day I will move back to there, as I fell in love with it immediately.
Everyone knows about the Barcelona staples: The Sagrada, the beaches, the partying. These are, of course, things I loved about Barcelona but they aren’t the real charm.
The real charm lies in the neighborhoods, in some of the less visited museums, and in the day trips out of the city.
My personal favorite neighborhood was Eixample, beautiful architecture stretches the length of the street, and a beautiful city layout lends itself to the incredible aesthetic of the city.
Other amazing neighborhoods were La Rambla, which is much more well known amongst tourists, and El Barrio Gotico, the old city. And of course, there’s Parc Guell, an iconic Barcelona staple.
One of my favorite places in Barcelona was the view from MNAC, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Looking over Plaça Espanya, incredible landscaping and architecture are in the forefront, but you can see almost all of Barcelona from the top.
If you’re looking for a day at the beach, be sure to skip Barceloneta. The famed beach is beautiful but it is almost always overcrowded with tourists and people selling water and beer. Instead, hit up Montgat. A beautiful beach with very few people, so your day at the beach can be relaxing on Barcelona’s beautiful sand.
Barcelona is a backpacker mecca. There isn’t much more that I can offer that isn’t widely known to the public. One well kept secret is the hidden Roman Ruins at the Barcelona City History Museum, tucked into a small courtyard of someone’s home. Another favorite, but certainly no secret, is going to a Barça game. To keep yourself somewhat in a budget, don’t go to a Real Madrid game, and maybe wait for a lesser known team so you can get tickets for about 25 euros.
If you have enough time in the city, and I recommend spending a lot of time here, I suggest taking day trips out of the city too. Tarragona is a beautiful seaside city with a beautiful Roman amphitheater. Montserrat is an incredible monastery at the top of a mountain.
Granada could easily be a weekend trip from Barcelona (too far for one day), but Granada has the famed Alhambra. The most visited tourist attraction in Spain, East meets West in the city’s Muslim influenced architecture and history. But my favorite part of Granada was the tapas. While you can find tapas anywhere in Spain, Granada is the only city that presents actual authentic tapas, served for free at bars with a drink order.
If you find yourself in Barcelona in September, you could find yourself at the heart of Barcelona’s liveliest festival: La Mercè. With famous fire runs, wine tasting, La Mercè makes the city even livelier than usual.
Barcelona is easily my favorite city in Europe and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been. It’s a great starter city for a new backpacker, or another opportunity for an experienced traveler to dive into Spanish culture.