Last Friday my roommate and I planned a weekend getaway to Barcelona, Spain! We, of course, could not come to Spain without visiting this incredible city.
If you want a little background on things going on in Barcelona at the moment, I definitely suggest that you take the time to learn more about it. There is a lot going on political wise in the northeastern region of Spain, Catalonia. There is a countrywide debate going on at the moment because there are some in Catalonia who wants the region to declare their independence from Spain. There is a lot more to the situation, but I highly recommend reading up on this if you plan on making a trip to Spain.
If there is one thing I have learned during my time abroad, it is that this world is so much bigger than just America. It is up to us to take initiative to educate ourselves on what is going on in the world around us instead of staying in our own little bubble of the United States. The best way to have an icredible trip is to make sure you are not ignorant when it comes to the history, culture and customs of the places you are going to visit.
With that little rant over, I am excited to share some of my favorite things I experienced and a few helpful tips I learned during my trip to Barcelona.
1. Plan out your trip in advance, but leave space for spontaneous moments.
If you know me, you know I am a planner. I like to know exactly what I am doing 24/7. It is great to have a plan going into a trip so you know exactly where you want to go and exactly when you are going to do it in order to make sure you have time for everything. On the other hand, make sure you leave space for those little spontaneous moments because I promise you, those are the moments you will remember.
One day my roommate and I had some extra time and we were walking around the city. A guy approached us asking if we wanted to take a bike taxi tour. After some thinking and realizing we didn’t have anything better to do, we went for it. Let me tell you, that was one of my favorite moments of our whole trip. Our guide was so nice and gave us a lot of great information about the city. He highlighted some popular tourist spots, but also told us some local delicacies we just had to see. It wasn’t planned, but it was such a fun experience.
2. Visit the Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia is a must see. This beautiful basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí will take your breath away from the first glance.Want to know something crazy? Gaudí did not even get the chance to see the finished product of his design. The current architect does not estimate the Sagrada Familia to be complete until the year 2026. That goes to show you how much thought and detail goes into this building.
When I first got to the Sagrada Familia, I got the chance to go up the Passion Tower. I am huge not a fan of heights, but let me tell you the view was so worth it. It was a gloomy day in Barcelona, but that view and the experience as a whole is something that I will never forget. Going up the tower was easy, but going down was a whole other story. It was pretty terrifying to have to walk down about 400 steps after a short elevator ride to the top on the most narrow and winding staircase I have ever been on in my life. It was quite the experience. I am just glad my little sister was not there because there is no way she would have made it.
After the tower experience, we went on an audio guide tour of the basilica. One of my favorite things about visiting new places is learning the history behind it, and I think that is definitely a must.If you are going to see something so historical, why would you not want to learn the history of it and what everything symbolizes? The designer did not just come up with the Sagrada Familia because it was pretty. He was very purposeful from everything to the statues to the columns on the inside. Finally, we had some time to explore the Sagrada Familia on our own and at our own pace. My favorite thing I discovered was a door that has the Lord’s Prayer in different languages, which signifies that everyone is welcome there. What a beautiful symbol of God’s love for ALL people.
3. Keep a close eye on your belongings.
Well, there will always be lows on a trip and I definitely had my moment (on the very first day of my arrival I might add). Sadly, I ended up getting my phone stolen at a chocolate museum. Theft is a large problem in Barcelona, and it probably did not help my situation that I am a young, American girl. Word of advice, keep a close eye on your belongings. Keep your phone out of your back pocket and keep it put away when you are not using it. Do not let a thief ruin your trip!
4. Go where the locals are.
If you truly want to experience a city, do not limit yourself to the touristy areas. Go where the locals are! My roommate and I ended up booking an Airbnb that was not super close to the city center but in the middle of a local area with the cutest young couple. Due to our location, we ended up mastering the metro station and getting a more local experience. It might not have been the most convenient location, but it was quite the experience. Make sure you take the time to see what it is like to be a local instead of a tourist.
5. Visit Park Güell.
Another masterpiece by the incredible Gaudí. Park Güell was once meant to be a neighborhood for the wealthy, but lucky for us that never worked out. Now we get to enjoy another one of Gaudí’s creations. The day that we went on a tour of the park it was actually snowing! It made for a cold tour, but seeing Park Güell covered in snowflakes was such a dreamy experience. For all of my Cheetah Girls fans out there (I’m the honorary fifth Cheetah Girl), you have to take your “Strut” picture before you leave.
6. Go see the Barcelona Cathedral.
I sadly did not have time to go inside the Barcelona Cathedral, but just getting the opportunity to view the outside was incredible. The architecture is so intricate and beautiful. I love how detail-oriented the building is. It is such a beautiful area and has so many shops and stores around it that you can check out as well.
7. Walk down La Rambla.
Another picture moment here for all of my Cheetah Girls fans out there (just had to throw that out there). La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona with all of the restaurants and shops you could ask for. When we were there on the weekend, there was even a cute little market set up that had incredible handmade jewelry, paintings, and other items. The street leads to a famous monument of Christopher Colombus. There is definitely a lot to see and experience down this street.
8. Take a Spanish cooking class.
My birthday ended up falling on the weekend of this trip and my sweet roommate had such a fun surprise for me: a Spanish cooking class! We learned how to make some tapas, fresh seafood paella and Sangria. It was such a fun experience to learn how to cook from a Spanish chef. I am definitely not worthy of being a chef, but it was sure fun to eat and drink the night away.
Have you ever been to Barcelona? I would love to hear some other fun things that you got to visit, learn about or experience while you were there. Let me know in the comments!
If you need some more helpful tips to navigate the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain, go check out Go Travel Blog’s travel guide. They have some great places featured that you should definitely check out as well.