Barcelona is the perfect destination for anybody looking for a little bit of everything. Great weather, beaches, culture, history and great food can all be found in this charming city. My favourite thing to do is pick a couple of disctricts to walk around for the morning or afternoon and just get lost, for this is a city full of unique neighbourhoods. Pack a comfortable pair of shoes but don’t try to do more than 1 or 2 areas per day. For an utterly relaxing and memorable trip, don’t miss out on any of these highlights.
1. Borne Neighbourhood
This area is full of winding pedestrianised streets full of traditional architecture, boutiques and plazas. Start at Urquinaona station and head towards the seafront. Don’t miss the Palau de Musica Catalana and the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar.
Perfect to walk through after Borne, this area is much quieter with a very different atmosphere. Carrer de la Maquinista has some lovely cafes for lunch. Eat here instead of the sea front for better value and less touristy spots.
3. Gothic Quarter
Start at Placa de Catalunya and walk down the Rambla until you’ve had enough, turn left into the winding streets of the Gothic quarter. Don’t miss Plaza Reial, Plaza de Sant Miquel and the charming architecture in between.
4. Sagrada Familia
One of the most unique things about Barcelona is the architectural legacy of Gaudi, an incredibly progressive artist from the late 1800s/early 1900s. His style is unmistakable and whilst not classically beautiful it’s still a sight to behold. The Sagrada Familia cathedral was his final and largest piece, and he died before it was finished. Although It’s not going to be finished until 2021, it’s still incredible and worth a visit.
5. Park Guëll
This park houses many of Gaudi’s pieces in a lovely setting, with a great view over Barcelona. Wander round, take a picnic and don’t forget the sunscreen. You can visit some of the park for free but must pay €8.50 to access the balcony with the great view. It’s outside of the main area of town so hop on the metro and spend the morning or afternoon wandering around.
Head down Passeig de Gracia if you’re in the mood for some great shopping and a look at two of Gaudi’s most gaudy buildings on the way. There’s some nice places to eat down the side roads but most of the places on the main road probably aren’t worth more than an overpriced coffee.
7. Spend some time at the beach
If you want something close head to Barcelona beach but bear in mind it’s man made and the sand is horrible. It’s a good place for beers with friends. If you’re feeling adventurous head to Sitges half an hour from Passeig de Gracia on the train. It’s a charming old town with a lovely beach.
8. Eat and drink well
Sangria of course, plus plenty of tapas and paella. Parellada restaurant in Borne is a lovely restaurant with a fancy feel. Stay away from the frozen paellas on the Rambla, it’s a mega tourist trap and you’re much better off finding a quieter spot in Borne or the Gothic district to eat lunch. You can still eat outside on the plazas, the Rambla is a no go though.