Today I’m sharing photos from our favorite city during our Spanish adventures—Barcelona! We loved this city for its beautiful architecture, delicious food and drinks, interesting history and warm people. I’m breaking down our full Barcelona travel itinerary, so you can get inspired if you’re traveling to Spain (I also posted a travel guide to Madrid here). There is so much to do and see in Barcelona and it can get a bit overwhelming, so I hope this travel guide is helpful for you! You won’t want to miss anything!
Things to See in Barcelona: Day 1
Check-In. After Madrid, we hopped on the train to Barcelona city (it’s less than 3 hours away) and made it to our hotel, Le Meridien. While it’s on Las Ramblas, which is super touristy and crowded, we appreciated its central location.
Plaça Reial. We walked over to this beautiful plaza for tapas and drinks. It’s a charming spot with a lot of character and tons of restaurant and bar options. You’ll find plenty of entertainment options too, with street performers outside and flamenco and jazz shows inside.
El Bosc de Les Fades. This is kind of a silly bar with odd, themed rooms, but I’m a sucker for a themed bar with good drinks. The main room looks like an enchanted forest, while another room looks like the inside of a clock, and another was a dollhouse. We had fun there, and a bartender I was chatting with in Spanish told me my accent was sexy, which I found hilarious since I was feeling pretty stupid speaking my sad, broken Spanish, and it gave me a little boost in confidence in my Español for the rest of the trip. 😉
Ocaña. We loved this bar in Plaça Reial and it ended up being one of our favorite bars in Barcelona! The food was just ok, but the cocktails were delicious and we loved the ambiance inside. Downstairs, starting around 10:30pm, they have free, live entertainment. The night before we were there they had a flamenco show, and when we stopped by they had an awesome Spanish jazz band. Check their website to see what they have coming up.
Things to See in Barcelona: Day 2
Sagrada Família. If you’re only going to do one sightseeing thing during a trip to Barcelona, make it La Sagrada Familia. It’ll blow your mind. This basilica by Gaudí has been under construction since 1882, with anticipated completion in 2026. Pictures don’t do it justice—you’ll just have to go see it for yourself! Be sure to purchase tickets online ahead of time and show up at your designated time (we saw people being turned away for showing up too early).
Tapas 24. We ate at Tapas 24 for a late lunch and it was delish. Get the McFoie Burger if you’re into foie gras. And try to go during off-peak hours, since it gets really busy but doesn’t take reservations.
Casa Batlló. We had a Gaudí-full day and walked over to Casa Batlló since it’s super close to Tapas 24. While the tour was pretty crowded, this building was awesome and it was so cool to visit. I loved seeing how Gaudí drew so much inspiration from nature and the sea, and the smart guide they give you is pretty fun since it shows how each room would have looked when the Batlló family was living there. Again, book online when it comes to tickets (I’d recommend the FastPass so you skip the line). If you enjoyed Casa Batlló, then you’d love Casa Milà which was also designed by Antoni Gaudí.
Palau de la Música Català. In the evening we went over to the beautiful Palace of Catalan Music. The architecture and interior are stunning and would be worth a visit in itself, but the Flamenco and Spanish guitar show we saw there was one of the highlights of our trip. Tickets start at ~30 Euros, which is such a deal to be able to see such awesome, talented performers.
Onofre. For dinner, we went to this super cute tapas and wine bar called Onofre, and we loved pretty much everything that we ordered. The artichoke heart salad with truffle was wonderful and the veal fillet with the foie gras sauce was sinful and amazing.
La Isabela at Hotel 1898. To finish off the night we had rooftop drinks at La Isabela. The view of Barcelona was beautiful at night, but I’m sure it would have been even more stunning at sunset!
Things to See in Barcelona: Day 3
Park Güell. Park Güell is another awesome Gaudí staple in Barcelona. We started our third day off with a visit to this beautiful park. Entry tickets (which, as with all things Gaudí, you need to buy ahead of time) include a guided tour, which was great because we learned so much about Gaudí and the Güell family. There’s so much detail to explore here, and you’ll recognize a lot of famous spots like views of the gingerbread house and the ceramic benches.
Mercat de la Boqueria. We grabbed lunch at La Boqueria Market on Las Ramblas and strolled through all the stalls picking out snacks while sipping sangria. What a foodie dream.
Picasso Museum. If you’re into art, I’d recommend the Picasso Museum, since it has a lot of Pablo’s early works (kinda depressing to realize that at 14 he was painting large, stunning portraits, while at 14 I was…I don’t even know what I was doing). But if you’re not that interested in Picasso, you’d probably be pretty bored here.
Parc de la Ciutadella. This is definitely the prettiest park in Barcelona, and worth a leisurely stroll. You’ll likely see people playing music, juggling, or making bubbles like we did. Be sure to make your way to the center of the park to see the pretty man-made pond.
Passeig del Born. For dinner, we headed to Passeig del Born, which is a really pretty neighborhood full of cute shops and restaurants. Our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended CactusBar for the best mojitos in Barcelona, and they didn’t disappoint. Head to Bormuth for tapas afterward and you’ll be set for the night.
Opium. Known for being one of the most popular clubs in Barcelona, dance the night away by the water. Just don’t arrive too early, as things don’t really get going until 1 am.
Things to See in Barcelona: Day 4
Escriba. We started our day off with a visit to this delicious pastry and sweets shop on Las Ramblas. They have the prettiest little cakes, chocolates, and confections. Just follow the mouth-watering smell of chocolates and crepes.
Gothic Quarter. We spent most of our day strolling around the Gothic Quarter. This area of Barcelona instantly transports you to medieval times, and there’s so much to do and see here.
Catedral de Barcelona. Visit the Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. It’s free to enter, but just make sure your shoulders are covered up. Bare shoulders aren’t allowed inside this cathedral and there will be a mean man yelling “chaqueta!” at anyone who tries to enter without covering up. No worries if you forget though; there are plenty of opportunistic gypsies waiting nearby to sell you a scarf to use as a shawl. Also, don’t forget to admire beautiful stained glass windows throughout the Cathedral.
Roman Ruins. It’s free to pop in and see these ancient Roman columns that have been preserved, and it’s pretty amazing to sit in wonder in front of something that was built in the 1st Century, B.C.
Synagogue. One of the oldest synagogues in Europe sits in the Gothic Quarter. It’s a very small space and they do a five-minute presentation about the history of Sephardic Jews in Spain. It was really interesting and only takes 15 – 20 minutes.
Bo de B. Once you’ve made it through the Gothic Quarter, head to this sandwich shop and get a sandwich to go so you can enjoy it while sitting by the water. We did the chicken sandwich with a bunch of the sauces and it totally hit the spot after all of that walking around.
360 terrace at Barceló Raval. We freshened up back at the hotel and then went to catch the sunset at the rooftop bar at the hotel Barceló Raval. The view was so breathtaking and we loved it so much, we actually came back again a second night. It’s pretty easy to find a seat, the views are incredible, and the sangria is strong. Side note: Drinking sangria in Spain is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes the sangria would be super light in alcohol and refreshing and I could have a couple of glasses (since I’m a lightweight, it had me thinking, “This must be what normal people feel like when they have a couple of glasses of wine!”). The glass of sangria at Bar 360, however, had me on the floor.
Arume. This restaurant was recommended to me by a traveler on Instagram who had been living in Spain for the last couple of months. We really liked this spot and we had a delicious dinner there.
Things to See in Barcelona: Day 5
Flax and Kale. Several people recommended this spot to me and I’m so glad we came here for brunch! This place felt so San Francisco. First of all, the interior and decor are gorgeous. The food is all very healthy and organic (with a name like Flax and Kale, you probably didn’t expect otherwise), and I especially loved their smoked salmon toast. Be sure to stop in their restroom—it’s so pretty and perfect for a mirror selfie.
Barcelona Pavilion. I have to admit, I had no idea what the Barcelona Pavilion was or why I should care. But my brilliant architect husband educated me, and I’m actually really glad we visited it. This building was designed by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who is known for coining the term, “Less is more.” As you can imagine, the building was very minimalist, with satisfying, clean lines and a lot of beautiful stone and marble. It’s interesting to see and only a few Euros, and it made for a great outfit shoot backdrop!
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. This museum was actually closed on the day we were over here, but we climbed up the stairs and admired its architecture and the views from it anyways, as it was on our way to our next destination. This museum is said to have gorgeous art from the 19th century through the early 20th century. If you enjoy art, it also recommended making a stop at Fundacio Joan Miró.
Teleferico del Puerto. We continued climbing up the hill past the museum and made our way to the Teleferico del Puerto, a gondola ride that goes out to the port. The views were beautiful and it was fun to ride out over the water (I would take a gondola ride over a metro ride any day).
Eclipse bar at the W. The gondola ride tours drop you just a few blocks away from the W Barcelona, and we had heard that the Eclipse bar at the top was a great spot for drinks with a view. We sipped a few cocktails and soaked up Barcelona’s coast. I’m sure it’d be great to catch the sunset here!
Lo de Flor. We went to this yummy Mediterranean restaurant for dinner and really enjoyed it. The food was great and the staff was super friendly. We also really wanted to try Cera 23, but the wait was crazy long the night that we tried to go. Oh well, just another reason to come back to Barcelona!
Phew! Writing up this post makes me realize how much we packed into five days! We definitely want to come back to Barcelona someday as there were several places on our list that we didn’t get the chance to visit. If you’ve been to Barcelona, I’d love to know (for our future trip!), what are some of your favorite attractions?
It is recommended to spend around a week in Barcelona to see all the famous historical sites and what the city has to offer.
Yes, Barcelona is a very walkable city with plenty of pedestrian boulevards.
The best time to visit Barcelona is from May to June when the temperatures are the coolest and sunny.
Yes, Barcelona is generally safe for tourists. There are occasions of pickpocketing, but as long as you are aware of your surroundings you will be safe.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.