Trip Report

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Trip Report

Barcelona Barrios and Architecture Tour

10 days of sight-seeing, museum crawling, and eating your way through three of the greatest cities in Europe

by parkerswhiteAbout Me:I’m an account manager in the healthcare industry from Atlanta, GA who loves music, sports, and spending time in the great outdoors! I’ve traveled much of the US and Europe, and I recently visited South America for the first time as well! ... read more

Spain6 days / April 2018

Highs & Lows

Beautiful architecture around every corner makes walking through these cities' streets an attraction of its own

High-ish prices and pickpocketing experts can take a toll on your bank account

Itinerary Overview

Many cities claim to have "everything," but I'm not sure any of them can back it up as much as Barcelona. Forget the age-old personality test of mountains or beaches; Barcelona has both, as well as all of the culture, architecture, food scene, and nightlife that one could ever want in a city.  

I spent my first day exploring some of the iconic Gaudian architecture in the L'Eixample barrio that characterizes Barcelona for so many of its residents and visitors. The Sagrada Familia needs neither an introduction nor a sales pitch as the most popular attraction in the city, but unlike many of the other fannypack-filled tourist traps that you see on European postcards, you will not be underwhelmed with this stop on your Barcelona tour. It is well worth the price of admission and in fact may be the most uniquely beautiful cathedral that I've seen in all of my European travels. I went in the late afternoon, and I highly recommend other visitors do the same; the way the sun struck the stained glass around 4 PM (in April) filled the space with a breathtaking array of colors.  

The second day I explored the enchanting and historic neighborhoods of El Gotico, El Born, and El Raval. These neighborhoods are clustered near the southern-central part of the city, which was constructed prior to Barcelona's major revitalization around the turn of the 20th century, and they're chock full of restaurants, bars, shops, and yet more beautiful architecture. Walking through El Gotico is a trip through Barcelona's pre-Gaudi past with its gothic cathedrals, narrow streets, and eclectic ornamentations. El Born and El Raval are somewhat an extension of this area, but with a higher concentration of incredible restaurants and hip bars. If you have time after crawling through these areas, head down south just a few blocks to Barceloneta where you relax on the city-side beach and can enjoy gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. If you feel like splurging, pop up to the rooftop of the W hotel and grab a drink - they'll run you about 20 euros but you're paying for the view more so than the beverage.  

On my third day, I headed over to the cozy northside barrio of Gracia. Gracia feels a little more residential/local than the rest of the city in the best way possible. There are no shortage of great bars and restaurants, but everything feels a little bit slower, more relaxed, and more spread out. There's a tapas place in Gracia called Gasterea that was one of my favorite dining experiences in all of my European travels. It's nothing fancy - you'll likely be sitting at a bar or even standing - but *everything* is delicious and you can get out of there for less than 15 euros easily. After tapas, you can head over to Parc Guell to see more iconic Gaudi designs, but I actually recommend skipping it in favor of a different park. Just a bit farther north, you'll find El Parque de Puxtet - I think the views are better, and it's much less crowded.

  • 2 Nights: Eixample
    Stunning sights, awe-inspiring architecture, and a dynamic urban culture
  • 2 Nights: Gothic Quarter
    Awe-inspiring architecture
  • 2 Nights: Gràcia
    Tapas and charming neighborhood walks

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    The only real tourist attraction in Barcelona that I thought was totally worth the time and money was the Sagrada Familia - everything else is skippable in my opinion. Spend more time wandering the streets and popping in and out of every place that looks interesting - Barcelona rewards curiosity.

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    Two of my friends were pickpocketed on two separate occasions. This is a problem everywhere in Europe, but it seems like the petty thieves in Barcelona are particularly skilled. Be extremely careful, especially in the more crowded, touristy areas.

  • How was the food?

    Gasterea in Gracia, Macchina in Gracia/Plaza Catalunya, Koku Ramen neatr Barceloneta.

  • Transportation Tips?

    The metro is fantastic. Get a 10-20 ride pass and you'll save a ton of time without breaking the bank. There's no need to take a taxi unless you're going home late at night.

Lodging

  • I stayed in Sarria near La Bonanova with a Catalonian family that I was connected with through a homestay program. Staying with residents of the city was an excellent choice; there are endless options in this incredible city, and getting a local's perspective on Barcelona was invaluable when trying to condense my itinerary into just three short days. Sarria was an excellent neighborhood to call home during my trip, but it wasn't without its drawbacks. If you're prioritizing safety and proximity to the mountains to the north of the city for hiking or skiing, then Sarria is a perfect fit. However, if you're looking for a more central location for sight-seeing purposes, then I would recommend staying farther south in the Gothic Quarter, El Raval, or El Born.

  • I stayed in Sarria near La Bonanova with a Catalonian family that I was connected with through a homestay program. Staying with residents of the city was an excellent choice; there are endless options in this incredible city, and getting a local's perspective on Barcelona was invaluable when trying to condense my itinerary into just three short days. Sarria was an excellent neighborhood to call home during my trip, but it wasn't without its drawbacks. If you're prioritizing safety and proximity to the mountains to the north of the city for hiking or skiing, then Sarria is a perfect fit. However, if you're looking for a more central location for sight-seeing purposes, then I would recommend staying farther south in the Gothic Quarter, El Raval, or El Born.

  • Sarria is a much better location for exploring Gracia than it is for exploring the other parts of the city. If you wanted to, you could extend the amount of time you spend in Gracia if you're staying in Sarria - there's plenty to do, and it's all walkable.