10 Things Everyone Must Do In Barcelona
If you're ever contemplating a trip to one of Europe's premier cities, then your first port of call should be Barcelona. It has everything. Tawny-sanded beaches. Sprawling mountains. An easy-to-navigate city center. World-class culture. Mouth drawing tapas. A dry climate all-year-round and best of all, the main airport is little more than a 15-minute drive away.
That being said, Spain's second city has experienced an unprecedented amount of tourists in recent years, not to mention a horrific terror attack in Las Ramblas this August, but despite this, the city remains one of Europe's gems, and you shouldn't let these things put you off.
Here, we look at 10 things every tourist should do in Barcelona.
1. Visit the bunkers in El Carmel
Home to a large percentage of the city's working-class population, El Carmel can be found high in the hills, so if you fancy a detour from the more touristy areas and want to soak in a slice of an authentic Barcelona neighborhood, then it's worth going there.
Offering panoramic views of the city, the bunkers were installed during the Spanish Civil War to store anti-aircraft guns but now serve as a popular meeting spot for locals. For the best experience, it's worth going at night to see the city's lights sparkle like the stars. If you have a partner, this is a great experience to soak in, and you could even add a gloss of romance to the occasion by bringing a picnic basket.
Typically, a bus and metro journey will take you there in around 40 minutes if you're traveling from the center.
2. Climb Montjuic
Montjuïc mountain is a great place to take in the awe-inspiring scenery of Barcelona and a quieter alternative to Park Guell due to the legwork that's required.
But if you go in the warmer months and you aren't put off by a bit of steep walking, you'll be in for a treat as you pass through a whole host of verdant landscapes. Of course, the higher you get, the better the views will be, and if you reach the top, you'll arrive at Plaça Espanya, the foot of the mountain. From there you can visit the Pavelló Mies van der Rohe and the CaixaForum cultural center.
3. Visit the museums and galleries
Barcelona is a cultural hub, brimming with the vivid colors of some of the most esteemed painters and visionaries of recent years but two that instantly spring to mind are Antoni Gaudi and Pablo Picasso. So, of course, a trip to Barcelona wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Picasso and the Gaudi House Museums.
However, for art lovers, there is plenty more on offer, but one we recommend most is the lesser-known, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, home to a marvelous array of Catalan art from the Romanesque period.
4. Have a scary day out at the Jigsaw Escape Room
If you want to add a bit of fun to your trip, then it's worth deviating from the traditional attractions and having a scary day out at the Jigsaw Escape Room
A mecca for horror lovers, this ingenious idea offers an immersive experience reminiscent of the gruesome tasks depicted in the Saw horror franchise.
For those unfamiliar with the movies, an evil mastermind called Jigsaw sets near-impossible tasks for people who take their lives for granted to escape from. While every room provides an escape, surviving often means sacrificing a limb or doing something unfathomable. Thankfully, everyone in these escape rooms comes out alive and with all limbs preserved after a series of tasks, but the fear is palpable enough to have you wondering why you paid to put yourself through such an ordeal.
5. Eat loads of tapas
We can't stress just how good the food is in Barcelona. Everywhere you go, you can smell the heady aroma of fresh seafood, and it makes you wish you could live off their cuisine forever and never return home.
For the best tapas bar in Barcelona however (a big claim, we know) we recommend steering away from the center and checking out the more sequestered neighborhood of Nou Barris. Once there, you'll soon come across La Esquinica, an eatery where long queues are guaranteed.
But it's worth the wait because of the sheer quality of food on offer. On weekends, you'll even be issued with a supermarket-style waiting ticket, but once inside you can pick from a variety of foods, though for newbies, waiters will recommend creamy squid rings, patatas bravas with allioli, and stuffed mussels.
6. Take in a match at the Camp Nou
With international soccer superstar Lionel Messi dazzling the sporitng world week-in-week-out, a trip to the Camp Nou is an other-worldly experience, even if you're not the biggest soccer fan.
A club synonymous with greatness as well as history and prestige, Barcelona's near 100,000 capacity stadium reflects that, and it is currently the biggest soccer stadium in the world used solely by one club. It is also one of the few pitches below ground level, making it at times appear more like a raucous cauldron than a soccer stadium.
7. Explore the gardens of Park Guell
A trip to Park Guell is a wondrous experience. It's whimsical and magical and can make you forget you're in one of the most visited cities on Earth. Not only do you have Gaudi's famed mosaic work decorating the terraces, but you also have a plethora of palm trees and flowerbeds to shield you from the nearby urban surroundings
It's a great place, and an idea that was formed after Gaudi fell in love with the rural scenery in England. Being the most popular attraction in Barcelona, queues are inevitable, so it's often best if you book in advance.
8. Get lost in the gothic area of Barri Gotic
Known as Barri Gotic (The Gothic Quarter), it is the oldest area in Barcelona despite being a stone's throw from the city center. Walk down one of the narrow, cobbled walkways, and you'll come across a spellbinding amount of Roman and Medieval-era architecture.
Charming, quaint, and lined with delightful little shops and cafes, a wander through The Gothic Quarter will certainly be time well spent.
9. Soak in the sun on La Barceloneta Beach
Everyone loves the beach, and La Barceloneta Beach is one of the best city beaches in the world. While incredibly busy during the summer months, the coastline is long enough to accommodate everyone, and after spending a whole day topping up your tan and swimming in the warm Medieternain waters, you can head for dinner at one of the many restaurants nearby.
Alternatively, if you fancy venturing further afield to a less populated area of coastline, the stunning Costa Brava is an hour's train journey away.
10. Marvel in the architectural brilliance of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia
Last but by certainly no means least, we get to the architectural behemoth that is Gaudi's LA Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family). Considered not only his most-known work but also his best, the Catalan artist devoted much of his artistic life designing the church, and became famed for telling impatient onlookers, "My client (God) is in no hurry."
Still undergoing restoration, the church isn't expected to be completed until 2026, but the unfinished version is already, in many people's eyes, a masterpiece in architectural ingenuity.