There are many, many wonderful things to do and places to explore in Barcelona, Spain. But if forced to choose just 5 of the most impressive highlights, these are the ones I’d recommend:
1) Gaudi’s Beauties
Antoni Gaudí designed an impressive number of buildings and structures throughout Barcelona, with most showcasing a vivid imagination and a strong influence from the curves and organic shapes found in nature.
All are wonderful, but I especially loved Barcelona’s #1 tourist destination, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, as well as La Pedrera (and its wavy roof-top with intricately shaped chimneys) and the colorful and highly textured Casa Batlló.
2) The Gaudi-designed Park Güell
This magical, fairly-tale-like park offers incredible city views from atop its main terrace, which includes a wrap-around mosaic bench that is a stunning piece of artwork itself.
Tip: Be sure to also check out the Gaudi House Museum, while there. Although Gaudi didn’t actually design this structure, he lived here for 20 years and the house showcases several pieces of hand-crafted furniture he did design.
3) The Gothic Quarter
This winding district is the center of old Barcelona City and features many distinct buildings dating back to when Rome occupied the town. The jewel of the area, however, is the majestic Cathedral of Barcelona – and its secluded cloister of 13 (always 13!) white geese
4) Hidden History Spots
With such an old city, it shouldn’t be surprising to stumble upon hidden historic treasures – but it is! For example, we had no idea the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat (City Museum of History) lets visitors go underground and then walk along catwalks above and next to archeological remains of an ancient laundry, dye shop, salted fish and garum factory, and even a winery. Fascinating!
5) The Food AND The Drinks
Barcelona is rightly known for its tapas and its Paella. Although the latter is traditionally made with a variety of seafood, including shrimp, scallops, and calamari, I can also recommend the version made with chicken. Delicious!
And, believe it or not, the pizza was also very good at every place we tried. However, I was most impressed with the Pizza Emporio Restaurant. It’s located right across from Sagrada Familia, yet offered very reasonable prices for its sangria and wonderfully crispy and flavorful pizza. Yum!
As for drinks… Spanish-made Cava, a sparkling wine that would be called champagne if was made in France, is huge in Barcelona and very, very tasty — as is the above-mentioned sangria, which is served everywhere with a variety of fresh fruit.
But rum also makes an appearance, especially in the nearby sea-side city of Sitges. That’s the hometown of the Bacardi company’s founder, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó. Tip: Tours are offered at the Casa Bacardí de Sitges visitor center, including a lounge area where guests can sample different rum-infused cocktails.
And Just One Bad Point…
The only bad thing I found about Barcelona was the never-ending, terribly frustrating traffic. The folks I met in town were very nice and had a wonderfully laid back attitude that makes you relax right with them… unless there’s a traffic situation, which there almost always is! I’m seen all types of crazy driving and traffic jams before, but this is its own little nightmare. So make sure you book at least 1 day trip that gets you out of the city during your own stay there. Or take the metro. Or just take a deep breath, settle back, and realize you’ll get to your destination sooner or later.
After all, in such a fascinating place, why stress??