It’s no surprise Barcelona is one of Europe’s top visited cities, according to multiple travel articles, web searches and city statistics. Undeniably, the city has a lot to offer. However, when you’re pushed for time the very size of Barcelona can be overwhelming. Plenty to see and do but where do you start? Luckily, Barcelona is a place I know like the back of my hand. That’s why I’m going to lead you through some hidden gems in the city during a day of exploring. If you want more information on general living costs in Barcelona, click the link to my previous post. Think of it as some post-reading, or a part 2 to this post.
Let’s Start Off At Plaza Espanya
I say this because Plaza Espanya is transport central. You’ll find trains here, buses, airport services and plenty of rental bikes. This makes the area a good place to stay when you’re visiting for a short while. Not only is convenience a major factor, you’ll also find things to keep you entertained until afternoon. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. You’ll probably want breakfast, so walk over to ‘Arenas De Barcelona’, an old bull-fighting location renovated into a shopping centre, cinema, food court and supermarket, to choose from endless breakfast spots surrounding the mall. ‘Morrow Coffee’ is a personal favourite, as the hip interior and affordably-priced goods will have you hooked. If you’re gluten-free, there’s a fully gluten-free bakery located 5 minutes walking distance called ‘Amiette’. I can’t praise this bakery more highly if I tried. The service is exceptional, the products taste sensational to the extent most people won’t notice they are GF, and the extensive range will leave you speechless. Although, get the chocolate croissant. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Once you’re done fuelling yourself with food, and have checked out the inside of ‘Arenas’, stroll over to ‘MontJuic’. I mean, you won’t be able to miss the castle and fountain. For a small fee, you’ll be able to wander inside and soak up the history of it all (I won’t give any spoilers!), but if that doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll still witness an incredible view of the city from the stairs. A little tip: In the evening, you can see the ‘Changing Of Lights’ celebration at the fountain. Not many visitors know about it so let this be your sign to go, as it’s truly something.
All that sightseeing and walking is probably going to make you peckish so let’s grab lunch. In the direction of ‘Rocafort’ station (which legend says is haunted by the way), you’ll find ‘Copasetic’. This place is phenomenal for so many reasons. Family-friendly, organic produce, affordable prices and plenty of allergen-friendly options for anyone who needs it. You’ll typically find sandwiches, waffles, pancakes and burgers, so even the fussiest of eaters will be pleased here. Admittedly, the restaurant is small but don’t let that put you off, as ‘Copasetic’ is a real hidden-gem despite its central location. I would suggest booking a table in advance though. If you’re craving something different, head to ‘Ziqi’, which is a ramen and sushi spot hidden in the residential side of ‘Sant Antoni’. You’ll feel like you’re slurping ramen in Japan due to the traditional interior. Without a doubt, ‘Ziqi’ offers one of the best price-quantity-quality ratio points in the city. It’s my go-to location. For more food spots, I’ll link you to my post on some of the best restaurants in Barcelona.
Grab The Metro To The Gothic Quarter
Sure, the most obvious choice would be to head straight to ‘El Raval’ which is home to street-stalls, a HUGE food market at ‘Boqueria’ and a harbour, but the gothic quarter is majorly underrated. It’s the best place to find quirky little boutiques and street-art, not to mention a show-stopping cathedral. I’d really suggest participating in a walking tour, as you’ll be taken down all the cobbled streets and stop at some hidden spots even Google won’t always pick up. If walking tours aren’t your thing, then at least walk down ‘Carrer Petritxol’. Home to art and chocolate shops, it’s a smart choice for purchasing souvenirs. Be careful not to get scammed in this zone though. I recently wrote a post about the topic so I’ll add it for you here: How To Avoid Tourist Scams When Traveling or Backpacking
Make Your Way To La Sagrada Familia
If you’re going to see only one of the typical tourist landmarks, let it be ‘La Sagrada Familia’. Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece is visited by thousands, but upon arrival it’s easy to see why. Is it worth paying a visit inside to see the architectural designs of the church? YES. Check it out for yourself! The reason why I suggest going to Sagrada Familia over another tourist landmark, such as ‘Park Güell’, is because ‘Sagrada Familia’ is more accessible to visit, meaning less time lost travelling to the location. If you’re really pushed for time, skip the queues to go inside and simply admire from the outside as it’s a landmark that you’ll want to see, regardless of whether you enter or not.
Football Fan? Off To Camp Nou We Go
A short 20 minute metro ride will get you pretty close to the notorious FC Barcelona Football Stadium. The nice thing about this place is that if football isn’t for you, you can easily head to ‘Les Corts’ to explore central Barcelona’s best shopping mall, L’illa Diagonal. It’s only a short distance walking.
I personally took the tour at the stadium because I was intrigued by what could be found inside. Essentially, the tour is a trip into FC Barcelona’s museum, with plenty of memorabilia, trophies and interesting revelations around every corner. You’ll also be able to walk into the stadium grounds and see the football pitch from up above. At the end of your tour, head straight into the gift shop. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s pretty cool seeing the different types of merchandise up for sale.
Walk Over To Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is one of the more affluent and residential areas of Barcelona. As a result, the area is often overlooked by tourists. It’s definitely a step away from the hustle and bustle Barcelona brings. From ‘Les Corts’, you’ll be able to go by foot to try one of the best ‘Patatas Bravas’ in the city at ‘Bar El Tomas’. Don’t just take my word for it though, listen to the hundreds of positive reviews this place has gained. Locals even visit here on a regular basis. Yes, the bar is not the most luxurious but that’s because the food does all the talking. Once you’ve tried the goods, have a walk around the area as you’ll find plenty of green spaces to unwind from a day jam-packed with activities.
Head Back To Plaza Espanya
Whether you’re now making your way to the airport to finish up your time in Barcelona or simply calling it a day and checking into your hotel, going back to ‘Plaza Espanya’ will re-align your focus and give you the options you need. You could even check out that fountain event I was telling you about earlier…
I was inspired to write this post as quite a few people message me for Barcelona recommendations, which I’m always more than happy to give out! There are plenty of search results which come up by typing ‘Where to go in Barcelona’ or ‘What to see in Barcelona’, but this post is from the perspective of someone who stays in the city and enjoys maximising time to the fullest. If you’ve ever been to Barcelona let me know what your favourite part or location was!
Until then, see you in the next post!