Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the world’s leading tourist, economic, and cultural centers. With a population of 1.6 million people, it is an urban kaleidoscope of culture, entertainment, media, food, fashion, and architecture. It also happens to be one of my favorite European cities.
In the last 10 years, I have visited several times and each time have discovered something new to enjoy. There is always plenty to see and do.
Here are ten things to do on your next visit:
Spend some time on Las Ramblas
A tree-lined pedestrian mall that is popular with both tourists and locals. It stretches for 1 mile and both sides of the street are lined with shops, restaurants, tapas bars, and hotels. It is a perfect place to stroll, see and be seen – or just sip a little sangria.
Shop Around La Boqueria
One of Europe’s oldest markets. Since 1217 it has been used to sell meat, fish and many other goods. Although it’s a major tourist attraction, it is also frequented by local residents. It’s easy to find since it’s located right on Las Ramblas. There are so many choices – fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, juices, baked goods, meat (including some of the best ham in the world) that it’s difficult to know where to begin. You can even purchase tapas to eat onsite at one of the many food counters. Everything is artfully displayed, so it is as visually stimulating as it is delicious. Prices are quite reasonable, so it’s a perfect place to eat on the cheap.
Take the hop-on-hop-off bus
Barcelona offers two companies to choose from; Bus Turistic and City Sightseeing. Both have 3 different lines, so they are a perfect (and affordable) way to tour the entire city. It’s easy to purchase tickets online ahead of time, or just get them on the bus.
Get lost in the Gothic Quarter.
The Gothic Quarter is one of the most fascinating areas of the city. It was built primarily in the late 19th and early 20th century, but some buildings date back to medieval times. The area is filled with charming narrow streets and alleyways that open onto plazas. It’s a perfect place to wander around and enjoy the many shops, eateries, and even churches. On a recent visit, our hotel room looked out onto the Church of Santa Anna, a medieval church dating back to 1300.
Eat a sandwich at Conesa Barcelona
Known for its delicious tapas and they can be found everywhere. But there are also other dining choices. I’ve had some scrumptious kebobs at several eateries all over the city. On my most recent visit, I discovered Conesa, a sandwich shop in the Gothic Quarter. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a hot, tasty panini.
Take a day trip to Montserrat
A multi-peaked rocky range located not far from the city, in Catalonia, Spain, so it is a good option for a day trip. It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Located high on a hill, it is impressive, and views of the valley are spectacular.
Tour wineries in the Penedes Wine Region
Located less than an hour from Barcelona, this is another great option for a day trip, especially for wine lovers. It is one of Spain’s best wine-producing regions, particularly known for its Cava production. We spent a day touring the Jean Leon and Torres wineries and the Freixenet Cava caves. At each winery a knowledgeable guide greeted us and each tour ended with plentiful wine tasting and tapas.
Eat tapas – lots of tapas
Tapas are snacks or appetizers that are enjoyed in the early evening. Since dinner is usually served between 9 and 11 pm, Spaniards often go “bar hopping” in the hours between finishing work and having dinner. They can be served hot or cold and can include bread, meat, cheese, shellfish, olives, and other delicious fried delicacies
Street performers on Las Ramblas
They are some of the most imaginative that I have ever seen. Their costumes range from cute, to kitschy to downright scary.
Visit La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona is famous for it’s beautiful and imaginative buildings; many designed by Antoni Gaudi. One of his most famous buildings is La Sagrada Familia, a large Roman Catholic church. Construction began in 1882 and is still ongoing; with a projected completion date of 2026. It is both ancient and futuristic. In a word, it is AMAZING.
These are just a few of the attractions available in this vibrant city where you can get caught up in the energy or just sit in a plaza and relax.