Barcelona is one of Spain’s (and Europe’s) most iconic cities.  It’s a great place to experience Catalan culture, beautiful architecture and incredible views.

Obviously, with any visit to a new and exciting city, costs can spiral, especially if you’re wanting to squeeze lots in.

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If you’re anything like me when you travel, you’ll save money in certain ways, while having a well-deserved little treat on a few things you enjoy. I think it’s something we do in life, generally, so why not in travel too? Whether your treat is a hotel you’ve always wanted to stay at, a delicious restaurant to gorge in, or organising yourself a special experience to enjoy… we all deserve a little splurge.

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Thankfully, costs don’t always need to be extortionate and there’s a whole range of ways you can also save a pretty penny during your Barcelona city break. Take a look at some of the very best experiences to have in Barcelona

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How to get there?

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Barcelona is one of Europe’s best-connected cities, served by train, plane, car and boat… it’s one of the most accessible cities to visit (in terms of infrastructure). As with any form of transport, prices can be higher during peak periods or during holiday seasons. Barcelona–El Prat Airport is the closest to the city centre, so plan to fly here if you can.

Where to stay?

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Barcelona is filled with a whole array of amazing places to stay, from period properties, sparkly new hotels to gorgeous Airbnb’s… there’s just so much choice!

If you’re looking for a treat, then you need to check out Barcelona’s most beautiful hotel, El Paulet Living! This gothic building and absolutely stunning suites are a real treat for anyone visiting the city. Honestly, we stayed here and found it really hard to leave…

If you’re looking for a hotel in the Gothic Quarter, make sure to check out The Barcelona Catedral Hotel. This hotel is ideally situated within the hustle and bustle of old Barcelona and is perfect to if you’re looking to explore this stunning part of the city stress-free. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your swimming trunks for the rooftop pool! 🙂

Check availability for Barcelona Catedral Hotel here

Alternatively, If you’re looking for a hotel that’s close to Plaça de Catalunya, make sure you check out the Pulitzer Hotel. With gorgeous rooms and a perfect location, it’s a great place for a few days getaway. Don’t forget to check out their rooftop bar too, on weekends they have DJ’s and cocktails flowing… it’s the perfect way to start (or end) your night. 😉

Check availability for the Pulitzer Hotel here

Where to eat?

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No visit to Barcelona is complete without delving into its delicious foodie scene! With thousands of restaurants and delicious places to eat it can be hard to actually decide where to go! Make sure to visit the Michelin Star awarded restaurant, Roca Moo that is overseen by El Celler de Can Roca.

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Make sure to try their delicious smoked wild Salmon “Carpier” marinated with gin tonic, vodka and beetroot and nori seaweed. We loved it! See more from our evening dining at Roca Moo here.

If you’re spending a few days in the city, then take a look at these 12 yummy restaurants, in our post, here.

For drinks, don’t forget to pop into Le Pop Cocktail Bar, their mix of extravagant cocktails are created in-house by some specially skilled mixologists. Take a gamble and ask to try some recommendations to see what’s new!

What to see?

1.) Stroll around La Rambla

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La Rambla is known for being the most famous street in Barcelona and is packed with shops and boutiques. Also look out for the flower markets and street mosaics. Don’t forget to find the Christopher Columbus Monument at the beginning (or end, depending on your perspective) of La Rambla and make sure to make a visit to Palace of the Virreina.

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If you’re looking for a little lunch, head a few metres off La Rambla to Plaça Reial. A small square that is filled with restaurants and cafes that’s perfect for a relaxing afternoon bite.

Visiting Barcelona? Make sure to include these 22 of the most popular sights that you need to see in the city.

2.) Soak up the rays at Platja de Barceloneta

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If you’re visiting in the warmer, summer months make sure to pack your swimwear and take a stroll to Platja de Barceloneta, Barcelona’s beach. Completely free to visit, it’s the perfect place to soak up some Mediterranean rays and test your skills at creating sand castles. If you’re looking for something even more relaxing, you can rent a small (license-free) boat that allows you to navigate the waters surrounding the beach (approximately 60-80Euro).

For a little grub, make sure to visit one of the seafood restaurants just off the front and away from the ‘tourist traps’.

3.) Explore Montjuïc

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Montjuïc is a beautifully landscaped area of the city that is famous for its gardens, museums, castle and the hill itself.

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Head to the top of Montjuïc Castle in the late afternoon and watch the city sparkle as the day turns to night. Almost 500 years old, this castle (or fortress) is a great little spot to visit (especially via the cable car).

4.) Discover the colourful parks

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There’s a whole array of stunning parks to enjoy in Barcelona, with one of the very best (and most famous) being Park Güell. Designed by the incredible Antoni Gaudí, It’s one beautiful spot you’ve got to experience in the city! Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for ‘El Drac’, the gorgeous terrace and the Gaudi House Museum (all within the park itself).

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This park is a welcome sight in Barcelona and is made up of pretty gardens and glassy lakes. Free to visit, you can bring a picnic here and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

5.) Take a ride at Tibidabo

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Perched overlooking Barcelona is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, Tibidabo. Take a ride on the ‘Red Aeroplane’ that’s almost 100 years old and still one of the most popular rides to experience.

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You can also partner your trip to Tibidabo whilst seeing Sagrat Cor.

6.) Enjoy the Gothic Quarter

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The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is filled with a range of small stores, pretty cafes and small cobbled streets. Make sure to visit Plaça Sant Felip Neri, a public square with a gorgeous fountain and church to explore. This area, in the heart of the city, has seen a turbulent history in times gone by…if you look closely you can still see the scars of the Civil War within the stonework.

See more from our visit to the Gothic Quarter, right here.

7.) See Gaudi’s creations

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Home to Gaudi’s most prized buildings and parks, Barcelona is the perfect place to experience some of his world-renowned works. From Park Güell, Casa Milà to Sagrada Família, there’s a whole array of beautiful places to enjoy. Make sure to plan in advance as some sites are ticketed.

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See the very best Gaudi sights to see in Barcelona, in our post, right here.

8.) Find the Carmel Bunkers

Barcelona, Spain

The Carmel Bunkers sit on a hillside and are free to view. Dating from the Civil War, they still stand today and you will also get great vistas over the city at the same time. It’s a place that many visitors don’t think of seeing and perfect for a relax and photo opportunity.

9.) See the city like a local

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No visit to Barcelona will be complete without immersing yourself within the things that local’s like to do, after all, that’s one of the many joys of travelling. Keep an open mind, try something new and really lend yourself to a local’s perspective. During or visit earlier in the year, we were lucky enough to meet two amazing locals that showed us around.

If you’re looking for some of their very best tips, then take a look at our local’s guide:

The Definitive local’s guide to Barcelona: 27 Things You Need To Know About Visiting

10.) Spot some Picasso works of art

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If you’re a lover of art, then make sure to look out for the Picasso Museum within Barcelona itself. Free to enter on Sunday afternoons, you can see some of this artist’s best works without having to pay a dime! A perfect place to see some of his most famous works.

11.) Old Fisherman’s Quarter

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The Old Fisherman’s Quarter of the city is known for being full of seafood restaurants and vibrant bars where local’s and visitors enjoy! Head here on a Friday evening for long dinners and drinks.

12.) National Museum of Art of Catalonia

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If you are interested in everything from medieval to modernist art, then you can see it at the National Museum of Art (free on the first Sunday of every month). Make sure to see some of their temporary collections too… even if you’ve been before, it’s likely you will see many new artefacts.

13.) Stroll through La Boqueria

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La Boqueria is the largest food market in Europe. Yes, the whole of Europe! Work up an appetite and grab some local cheeses, ham and delicious sweets that local stalls sell.

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Items change depending on the season, which always means you’ll find something new.. maybe even some antiques on the outside!

14.) Watch the sunset at Sagrat Cor

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One of the prettiest hilltop churches, Sagrat Cor is an iconic sight you can’t miss whilst in Barcelona.  Head here around sunset and watch the city transform into a twinkling delight.

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15.) See the incredible Santa Maria del Mar

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This incredible church is well loved in the city thanks to its gorgeous interior which, I guarantee, will take your breath away. Expect rose windows, imposing pillars, and gothic touches throughout – it’s one awe-inspiring spot, steep in over 700 years of history.

Visiting Barcelona? Make sure to check out all our posts on where to go, see and eat, right here

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  • Want to go there!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It’s such an incredible city, Emma – you’ll love it!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I’d avoid staying in airbnb’s in Barcelona – there is so much anti-airbnb posters & graffiti there and a general anti-tourist sentiment. Hotels are the way to go!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh really, wow… we didn’t spot those during our stay (then again, our Spanish and Catalan is regrettably terrible). You’re so right about the hotels in Barcelona too… they’re gorgeous!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Taste of France

    Be very aware of your surroundings in Barcelona. It’s the only city in the world (and I have been around the world) where somebody tried to steal my bag. He grabbed it and actually dragged me down the street (not wanting to spend my stay trying to replace my passport, I held on for dear life). Plenty of people stopped and watched, but nobody tried to stop him, until finally one person did and he let go and disappeared. It was in Born–not even in the touristy Ramblas. That said, I have been back many times, with my passport and credit card safely hidden and always a crossbody bag, never one on my shoulder or in my hand. Re AirBnB: rents in Barcelona already were very high and, like Manhattan, people are making even more money by renting to tourists rather than to residents, making the situation worse.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh no, that sounds awful 🙁 Yikes, can totally understand about holding onto your passport for dear life. I’m shocked about people just watching 🙁 Oh, we’d be the same on future visits too!

      So glad you went back and had a better time! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I reaally need to go to Barcelona!
    One of the trip I hope to do this year. It’s funny how I live in the country next door, Portugal, and I never been there – Madrid included. I guess it’s because I always think I can go there anytime and ended up never doing.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      This happens to us too! We get like that in London… ‘oh, will do it another time’ then you realises 5 years down the line that the thing still hasn’t been seen or done. Haha! So glad it’s not just us! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

      PS >>> You’re going to LOVE Barcelona, Filipa 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It’s such a diverse city, especially with the Gothic Quarter and then the stunning works of Gaudi. Loved it here.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • We LOVED Barcelona when we visited for a long weekend last summer! Beautiful city full of life! An easy day trip is to head out to Montserrat in the mountains (?). It’s a completely different experience than the city and only take about a hour to get there on public transit.

    Word of warning though: AirBnB is illegal in Barcelona. We had booked one, but then it was canceled by our host because he heard there would be raids the weekend we we visiting. I’m not sure what would happen to visitors who had rented an AirBnB, but I wasn’t all that ready to find out!

    http://www.submergedoaks.com/blog/2015/8/5/monserrat-the-mountain-side-monastery

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Us too, Meghan – It’s such an amazing amazing city, isn’t it!

      Whhhhhhhhatttttt – that sounds awful! RAIDED?!? Yikes, how is Airbnb allowing people to book. We would have done the exact same thing as you – I would not want to find out! Yikes.

      So glad you enjoyed the city though! It really is a special place 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

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