Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Travel Diary/Travel Guide

I’m so happy to finally get this post up! I apologize for dragging it out so long. It took me quite awhile to narrow down my hundreds of photos and get all of my thoughts together for this. It also gave me major nostalgia. I am still having Spain withdrawals. I spent 6 wonderful days in Barcelona that I will cherish for a lifetime. Out of my entire time in Spain, I feel as though this portion of my solo trip impacted me the most. Maybe it’s because I spent the longest amount of time here or maybe it’s because in some ways, it challenged me the most. It was also the only time during my trip where I truly felt a little bit of loneliness creep in. Whatever the case may be, I definitely left a little piece of my heart in Barcelona. Well who am I kidding, I left pieces of my heart in every city I visited in Spain. I even ended up extending my trip by one day as there was a possibility of my flight getting delayed or cancelled due to heavy rains back in NY. I saw it as an opportunity to live in the moment and I’m so happy that I embraced this.

Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect before arriving in Barcelona. Some people told me that I would fall in love instantly while others warned it was a big tourist trap. I was actually a little nervous and worried because of all the crazy pickpocketing stories I read about. I never felt unsafe though and I was always aware. I kept my crossbody bag in front of me at all times. I walked back to my hotel from a few restaurants at night and there were always tons of people walking around as well as many police officers too. Through out my solo travels, I’ve learned to feel out vibes more than ever before. So if there is ever a time when something doesn’t feel right, I follow that instinct.

Here’s my two cents. Barcelona is a one of a kind cosmopolitan city with so much charm. It has a ton to offer. I never felt underwhelmed here as there was always something to do or to see. It gives you that city life feeling, but it also gives you the mountains and the beach. The people were friendly. The food was amazing. I was swooning over all of the architecture and artwork. Seeing Gaudí’s work in person meant a lot to me. It had been on my bucket list for years. While Barcelona was definitely the most touristy city out of the three, I still don’t think that it took away from my experience. Don’t just do as the tourists do, but do as the locals do too. Keeping that balance is key when traveling. Also, keep an open mind and allow yourself to be immersed in a new country. Embrace it in all aspects. I loved that I was able to get a taste of both the Spanish and Catalan cultures. I didn’t know much about the Catalan culture at all, so I definitely came home with some newfound knowledge.

I would go back to Barcelona in a heartbeat! I definitely recommend coming here for several days whenever you make your way over to Spain. You could probably do most of these things with a 4 night stay, but if you can stay longer then go for it. I’ve put together this travel diary that also serves as a travel guide. I hope it helps and that you find it informative for your travels!

WHERE TO STAY 

There are several different areas where you can stay in Barcelona. Some of them are El Raval, Eixample, El Born, and Barceloneta. To be honest, I struggled to find the best location. I didn’t know much about each neighborhood before arriving, so I relied on recommendations and website reviews. Where you choose to stay should be determined by the kind of experience that you are looking for. When I am traveling solo, I prefer to be in areas where most things are in walking distance. I also want to make sure that I’ll have easy access to the metro stations if needed. I am so happy with my choice as it was the perfect central location for me.

Hotel Curious – (El Raval) If you’re looking for a place that is budget-friendly and in a central location, then I would definitely suggest looking into this hotel. It’s on one of the side streets right off of La Rambla. It’s a 5 minute walk to the Gothic Quarter. Down one end of La Rambla you can stumble upon the main shopping streets, like Passeig de Gràcia. The other end will bring you to La Marina and here you can actually take a 30-40 minute scenic walk down to the beach. It’s also 2-3 blocks away from La Boqueria. There’s plenty of metro stations in this area too and it’s easy to get a cab if needed. The hotel only has one star, but in my opinion it deserves much more. My room was clean and spacious. It had everything that I needed. Everyone at the hotel was extremely friendly and so helpful. They gave me the warmest welcome, including a few little surprises since I had been in contact with them before I arrived. There’s free WiFi and free breakfast. They even give you a Curious Card with discounts to several restaurants in the area- some are on the same street. Out of all three hotels in Spain, this one was my favorite. A huge thank you to the staff at Hotel Curious, especially Laura!

PLACES TO GO 

This is a rundown of all the places that I went to including a few others that I missed out on. I can’t say much about the night life in Barcelona. I don’t do much at night besides dinner when traveling solo. On my last night, I did go to a local bar (Bar 33/45) to meet up with my blogger babe Adriana. She’s the sweetest!

  • Barceloneta Beach – This was a highlight for me. I came here twice during my stay and honestly just wanted to hang around here forever. There’s so many cute restaurants on the beach. I just sat here for hours on the sand or with a glass of wine and soaked it all in. Heads up that this is a topless beach. I actually did not know this before arriving, but soon realized. lol
  • Gothic Quarter – Allow yourself to get lost in these alleyways. These cobblestone streets are filled with tons of shops, tapas spots, and other little surprises.
  • La Marina – I sort of found this by accident, but so happy that I did. I spent a few hours here too just hanging around and relaxing. I met a lovely older couple here from Florida and the wife was trying to play match maker with me and her son. LOL! They were so cute and I enjoyed chatting with them.
  • La Rambla – It’s basically one long tourist street filled with tons of vendors and outdoor restaurants. There are several metro stations. I came here a lot during my stay, but it was mostly to walk to other areas. I did get some yummy gelato here and also bought a dainty “love” ring at one of the vendors. There’s a ton of side streets here that you can explore, especially in the Gothic Quarter.
  • Montjuic – It’s a hill located near the central of Barcelona. It has several different attractions, including the Magic Fountain that was highly recommended. With being out and about all day, I never made my way over here. Definitely regret not going, but there’s always next time!
  • Montserrat – It’s a mountain and it’s beautiful. I would recommend a tour/day trip for this. Initially I planned to book a tour, but with all the other attractions and food tour that I had scheduled, this is another place I missed.
  • Passeig de Gràcia – One of the main shopping streets. Here you can find my favorite store, Bershka! There’s also tons of restaurants here and also Casa Batlló.
  • Plaça de Catalunya – Another popular shopping area.
  • Maremagnum – This is an indoor shopping mall at the end of La Marina. It also has restaurants with a great view.

ATTRACTIONS TO SEE

There is seriously so much to see, but these are some of the top attractions that I knew of. I went to as many as I could and fell in love a bit more each time.

  • Sagrada Familia – It’s so stunning, words can’t even describe it. You must get tickets to go inside. You can either check it out on your own or do one of the audio or guided tours. There’s also an option to tour the towers of the church. I just purchased the regular admission so that I could go at my own pace. Gaudí’s work is on a whole other level here. Pay attention to the detailing when you get closer and go inside. My photos don’t even do it justice. Also, across the street is a little area where you can hang out and take photos of the outside.
  • Park Güell – Another can’t miss and more of Gaudís incredible work. I envisioned myself sitting on the tile benches and looking out into the Barcelona view for YEARS. It was an amazing feeling to check this off my bucket list. Make sure to get tickets in advance for this too. There is a free area that you can explore, but it won’t include the best part which are the benches! The park is so beautiful and you could totally spend several hours here just wandering around.
  • Casa Batlló & Casa Milà – These are two famous houses in Barcelona designed by Gaudí. I only made it to Casa Batlló and didn’t go inside, but you can get tickets to take a tour in the house. I was in awe of his work through out my whole trip.
  • Barcelona Cathedral – I loved this beautiful cathedral and loved the area it’s in. It’s so lively here with tons of vendors, restaurants and street performers. I can’t remember the name, but there’s a restaurant directly across the street where I ate the most delicious pasta. Just a great spot to people watch too.
  • Santa Anna de Barcelona – Another beautiful church. I love seeing as many of these as I can while traveling.
  • Picasso Museum – I didn’t come here, but this would be fun for you art lovers!

 

WHERE TO EAT 

You will not run out of options! I did spend more money here on food/drinks than I did in Madrid and Sevilla. I can’t remember the names of every place I went to, but here are some to take note of.

  • El National – (Passeig de Gràcia) This was a highly recommended place and I actually went for dinner twice! It’s basically a multi space restaurant. So think several different restaurants inside one big one. Loved the vibe and the atmosphere here. The first night I went it was so packed I had to eat at the bar. There was not much on that menu though, so I went back again and got a table at La Taperia. I LOVED it! You can order from the menu or servers come around with tapas a la carte style. Here I tried the mini paella. (so delicious)
  • Mercado de La Boqueria – (La Rambla) This was located just two blocks from my hotel so I came here several times. Here you can find tons of fresh food from fruits to cheese to fish and meat. You MUST get the Manchego cheese! There’s also little tapas restaurants and bars inside the market. El Quim is super popular. You will not run out of options here. Great to come for lunch as it is not open at night.
  • El Tabarlot – (Carrer de Sant Pau) This was the first restaurant that I came to. It’s located several blocks away from my hotel and it’s on a side street off of La Rambla. I ordered Grandma’s Bomb (a Catalan dish) and ate the most amazing tiramisu of my life. It’s also the first time I tried Cava in Spain. Cava is similar to prosecco!
  • Julivert Meu – (Carrer del Bonsuccés) This is a Catalonian restaurant with more of a local vibe, which I loved. I wandered here for dinner on my first night as I just wanted something that was close by my hotel. It’s on a side street off of La Rambla.
  • Flax & Kale – (Carrer dels Tallers) So sad I didn’t come here, but it was recommended. It’s a super trendy spot that offers healthier food options. I heard they have great options for breakfast/brunch.
  • Granja Vader – (Carrer d’en Xuclà) Cute little café with great café con leche and churros con chocolate!
  • Miño – (Carrer del Carme) This is a small, but cozy spot located a few doors down from my hotel. I got the arroz con verduras. They also have paella.
  • La Mar Salada – (Passeig de Joan de Borbó) Located in the harbour area of Barceloneta, they serve seafood and paella.
  • Food Tour – I highly recommend doing a food tour if you are ever in Barcelona. This will give you the opportunity to eat like the locals and truly experience the culture in a different way. You can check out more about that here.

QUICK TIPS

  • Pickpocketing is extremely common in Barcelona. Don’t keep anything in your pockets and always wear a crossbody bag in front of you. I personally didn’t have any close encounters, but it’s always good to be extra cautious. 
  • Purchase your tickets for Sagrada Familia and Park Güell online in advance. You have to select a specific time slot and that is the only time they will let you in. I got there super early for Sagrada and had to wait two hours. 
  • I would recommend to not eat on La Rambla as these places are very touristy and more expensive. Venture out of this area a bit to get a better experience. 
  • If you plan on taking the metro a lot, make sure to purchase the T-10 pass which will give you 10 rides for about 10 euro. It’s a better deal.
  • Save Sagrada Familia and Park Güell for different days. These are things that you don’t want to rush and they are in different locations.
  • They speak both Catalan and Spanish in Barcelona.  
  • The hop on hop off bus can easily take you to all the top sights. 

I hope that you enjoyed viewing Barcelona through my lens! I loved sharing this experience with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions on topics that I did not cover here. Make sure to check out my Solo Travel Q&A as well as my Madrid and Sevilla posts too! Thanks so much for taking the time to look through this and I can’t wait to share the next adventure. Where to?! ✈️

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  1. Shirley Dutan

    Hello Naty Michele! Thank you for this very informative and detailed guide. I have booked my trip to Barcelona and I am planning my days there. The Sagrada Familia is #1 on my list but I’m not sure if I should book a tour for that or buy a regular pass? Did you have to wait a really long time to go inside?

    • Naty

      Hi Shirley! So happy you enjoyed the post. You will love Barcelona! I booked a regular pass, but had to choose a specific time slot. So let’s say you book the 12pm time slot, only those with a 12pm ticket can enter at that time. I only waited on line for about 5 minutes. They have it so that each time slot allows for a certain number of tickets. I actually got there 2 hours before my ticket time and they would not let me in yet so they’re very strict about entering only at the time your ticket says. Hope this helps!

  2. Richelle

    Hi Naty! Headed to Madrid & Barcelona in a couple days form Portugal and reading your blog posts had really helped my boyfriend and I do our planning! Park Guel & Sagrada Familia is on our bucket list for sure! Question, if we buy tickets online ahead of time, do the tickets need to be printed out or can you show them on your phone? Also, any good day trips that you went on outside of Madrid/Barcelona? Thanks in advance and love your blog posts!

    • Naty

      Hi Richelle! Oh yay, that makes me so happy! Love that my post was helpful for you. When you purchase tickets, a link to download them will be emailed to you so you can just keep the ticket on your phone and show when you get there. Just make sure that you only go at the times you select as they are very strict at both places. I didn’t take any day trips out of Madrid, but would recommend going to Toledo or Segovia. They’re both a close train ride away. I believe under an hour. I didn’t do day trips from Barcelona either, but would recommend Montserrat!Hope you have an amazing time xo

  3. Loveddddd this post! I’m leaving for Spain in two days and this really helped!

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