Oh Barcelona, a dreamy city full of gorgeous architecture, delicious food (tapas anyone?!), and rich history. As our Instagram followers may have seen, I (Kathryn) spent all of last week in this wonderful city for work. I just started a new job a month ago for a fully remote tech company and every year the company does a summit to get everyone together in person, meet about key topics, and do team building. And this year’s summit took us all to Barcelona!
When I found out that I was going to Barcelona I screamed and then almost cried (tears of joy). The trip was during our 4 year wedding anniversary and we immediately started plotting how to fly Adam there so we could spend the weekend together. Unfortunately it didn’t work out due to his work schedule and we were SO bummed. 🙁
So alone I went! It was my first solo trip abroad (minus a trip to Toronto years ago, but I’m not sure if that counts!) and I was a tad nervous going into it. But the trip went really smoothly and although it was nowhere near as fun traveling without Adam (shout-out to people who love solo travel—I envy your abilities!) and I got a tad lonely and sad at times, I still had a wonderful and fun trip!
Typically after a trip we would write a blog and create a travel guide, but we are going to do things a little differently this time. Since we didn’t go together and I didn’t get tons of free time to explore, I didn’t feel like I got the full experience in Barcelona to write a full travel guide. So instead, our blog is going to be a mini travel guide, with a list of spots I went to (or want to go to next time) instead of a detailed itinerary, which will hopefully still help you plan a trip to Barcelona! Enjoy!
Tips for visiting Barcelona
Before I dive into everything I did in Barcelona, I wanted to share some tips that helped make my time in Barcelona successful.
The public transportation in Barcelona is great! I took the bus, train, or my two feet to every single spot in this blog. I never had to call a taxi due to something being inaccessible. And getting to and from the airport is easy as well! I took a combination of the A1 bus + a bus or train from the airport to my hotel and it was a very cost effective way to go.
As for getting around the city, I bought a T-10 pass, which covers 10 rides on any public transportation (minus the airport bus). Google Maps was my go-to to figure out what transportation to take and it never steered me wrong!
Speaking the language
Technically Barcelona is in Catalonia, which has its own language that is similar, but different to Spanish. I was able to speak English with most people, but some places I had to attempt Spanish/Catalan, so make sure you have Google Translate downloaded!
How to Avoid Pickpockets in Barcelona
There’s a good chance that when googling Barcelona you’ll discover that it’s one of the top pickpocketing cities in Europe. Not going to lie, this scared me a bit, especially being alone. In London, we staggered ourselves a little bit when we walked so one of us could keep an eye on the backpack, but this obviously wasn’t doable by myself.
However, I am happy to report that I wasn’t pickpocketed! WOO! I took a lot of precautions and I think they really paid off. It kind of sucks to be on such high alert when on a vacation, but nothing would put a bigger damper on a vacation than getting your stuff stolen. Here are my main tips to avoid getting pickpocketed:
Buy a money belt. These things are SO NERDY and I didn’t want to buy one originally, but I am so glad I did. I bought this one and used it to store cash, a credit card, my ID, bus/train pass, gum, and chapstick. You wear it in your pants and under your shirt and I’d advise wearing a flowier top if you don’t want people to see that you have one on.
It was a huge relief to know that my most important items were safe and no one could easily access them. It also was really nice to not carry a backpack, but if you’d rather do that, our friends recently bought this backpack for Italy and had good things to say!
Get an anti-theft camera strap. If you plan on taking a nicer camera (which you should if you have one! Barcelona is very photogenic!), I highly recommend buying an anti-theft camera strap so no one can slash it off of you. This gave me a huge piece of mind as I walked around with my DSLR. I also always kept my hand on the strap or on the camera for extra security.
Hold your phone tightly. One of my coworkers almost had her phone snatched out of her hand as she was using it! I recommend getting a pop socket, which I use daily and LOVE, as it gives you a much better grip on your phone when you have it out. For when your phone is not in your hand, make sure it’s in your front pocket.
If my phone was in my front pocket, I would walk with my hand on top of the pocket to make sure I still had control over the phone. Also, please don’t put anything in your back pockets as this is the easiest way to get pickpocketed!
Pay attention to your surroundings. This seems obvious, but when you’re a tourist you can easily be distracted by looking at Google Maps on your phone or stopping to take photos. Although I did both of those things, I tried to keep my head on a swivel and always look confident and alert. I also would stare at people if I caught them scoping me out to show them I was onto them.
Be careful on public transportation. From what I had heard, that’s where they get ya! When on a bus or train, make sure to have your items in sight and hold onto them. Some people move their backpack to the front of their body on public transportation so they can keep an eye on it.
Now that we have the less fun part covered, let’s talk about the good stuff: where I ate, where I drank coffee, and what sights I saw in Barcelona!
Where to eat
Roast Club Cafe—I got their açaí bowl and it was full of fresh and delicious fruit. Highly recommend! The space is tiny, but super cute and the staff was great.
Bo de B—This tiny spot is a gem in the Gothic Quarter. The chicken + steak salad was sooo good and tons of food for only €7! It’s cash only FYI!
La Tasqueta de Blai—This is a cheap pintxos spot in a more local area. All of the pintxos are on bread, which makes it harder for gluten free folks, but I picked everything off the bread and still enjoyed it.
Tapeo—The pork ribs here were one of the most delicious things I ate on the trip. I also really loved the skirt fillet steak.
Gelaaati Di Marco—Amazing gelato! They have vegan flavors too!
Taco Alto—Solid tacos! I got the pork, beef, and lamb tacos and loved them all.
Teresa Carles—An incredible vegan spot that even meat lovers will love! They have tons of gluten free options as well. Get the jackfruit carnitas and the patatas bravas.
Can Cortada—An old farmhouse a little bit out of the main part of town. The outdoor patio that we reserved for our company was gorgeous!
Makamaka–A burger spot by the beach with an awesome outdoor patio space. Their garlic parmesan fries were super tasty!
La Cala Barceloneta—A cute spot near the beach with awesome açaí bowls and other food. The outdoor patio is adorable too!
Arume—The duck paella is amazing! Make a reservation, as they fill up fast.
Mercat de la Boqueria—I could write a whole blog on what I ate here, but the highlights included prosciutto in a cone, massive slices of fruit, coconut and pineapple juice, candied nuts, and potato chips on a stick.
Pinotxo Bar—this bar is inside the market and has amazing food! I got the chickpeas with blood sausage and oxtail, both of which were newer food items for me and they were probably the best things I ate in Barcelona!
Where to drink coffee
Roast Club Cafe—As mentioned above, this is a nice little cafe with açaí bowls (and other breakfast items) and delicious coffee! They have Oatly too, which has become a criteria for me when finding coffee shops.
Spice Cafe–This spot was close to my hotel and not only had Oatly (yay!), but also had some amazing looking desserts!
Nomad Coffee—I went to their smaller location in El Raval and only got to stay for a minute, as I had to run back to work, but it was a nice spot and I’d love to go back!
Espai Joliu—This is the coffee shop OF MY DREAMS!!! It’s a plant store + coffee shop and is by far the cutest coffee shop I have ever been to! Their coffee was delicious and so was their yogurt bowl. It’s a little far from the main tourist areas, but definitely worth the trek!
La Cala Barceloneta—This super cute spot that I mentioned above not only has açaí bowls, but great coffee too!
Satan’s Coffee—This no BS coffee shop has a lot of intense rules (like no strollers), but they make a mean flat white.
Black Remedy—This is a cool, modern spot in the Gothic Quarter with lots of seating. This would be a great remote work spot!
What to do and see
Park Guell—This Gaudi installation is so colorful and had great views! Go before 8 AM to get in for free. Sunrise is also absolutely gorgeous!
Basilica de Sagrada Familia—I didn’t go inside because I wanted to save this for when Adam and I go. But the outside is STUNNING! This cathedral was designed by Gaudi and has been in the process of being built since 1882 and it won’t be done until 2026!!! WOW!
Casa Batllo—Another Gaudi masterpiece! I didn’t go inside, but the outside is beautiful and unique.
Mercat de la Boqueria—A huge market off of La Rambla with lots of delicious food stalls (see above for where I ate here). It’s really fun to walk around, but definitely arrive early as it gets super busy!
Gothic Quarter—Wow, the architecture here is so old and magical! I loved walking around the alleyways over here. They were significantly less crowded (and usually empty) compared to the main streets. I took about 1,000 alley photos during my trip! Make sure to stop by Pone del Bisbe, a cool bridge in an alleyway!
Catedral de Barcelona—This cathedral is stunning! The detailed architecture blew me away. I visited this spot twice, once around sunset and it was breathtaking!
El Born—This was another charming and fun neighborhood to explore. I loved walking around here and wished I could’ve spent more time in this area!
Las Ramblas—This is the most touristy street in Barcelona, but you still have to experience it! I loved the architecture and the tree lined walkway.
Ciutadella Park—This large park in the city is a great way to get a dose of nature in a busy city. I loved visiting the fountain here!
Arc de Triomf—There was an electric car event happening when I was there, so I didn’t get the full experience, but the arch is cool!
Castell De Montjuic—Free on the first Sunday of the month and free every Sunday after 3 PM. This is a fun spot to walk around and soak up the scenery. You can also take a gondola to the top which has nice city views.
Bunker del Carmel—This was a last minute add to my itinerary and I am so glad I went! The 360 views from the bunkers of the city and sea is beautiful.
La Barceloneta + beach—Warning: full nudity is allowed here!
Places I’d like to check out next time: Tibidabo Amusement Park, take a day trip to the Montserrat Monastery, see a FC Barcelona game at Camp Nou, Font Magica, Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catala, and take a cooking class
Wow, reliving everything I did is making me want to plan a trip back ASAP! As you can hopefully see, Barcelona is an incredible city full of ornate architecture, breathtaking views, and delicious food. I cannot wait to go back with Adam and experience it together and discover new spots. 🙂
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