I have been to Barcelona four times now and fall in love with the city more and more each time!
With so much to do and see; not to mention the spectacular architecture surrounding you 24/7, its impossible to be bored in this city – which is a must on a short city break holiday.
I personally think a spontaneous ‘city break’ style visit is the best way to experience this city; cram it all in, give yourself a max of five days to explore all it has to offer.
If you don’t tick everything off the list…no worries, it leaves you with an excuse to re-visit (I have yet to take the cable car to Montjuïc, visit the cactus park or jump in the Olympic pool and that’s after four getaways here).
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Have a good old look on Airbnb, amongst all of the swanky, expensive apartments there are some cheap gems.
Me and three friends stayed in a two-bedroom apartment for £80 a night.
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Hostels here are relatively cheap – I found that Airbnb was still cheaper though – surprisingly!
I have stayed in a lovely hostel before: Paraiso TravellersHostel if you’re unable to find an alternative.
It is an unusual hostel, as the rooms are more like apartments, with a shared kitchen in between 3/4 rooms.
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In terms of where to stay, I cannot recommend Poble Sec and Sant Antoni enough!
Both of these areas are within walking distance to the centre, and pretty much all of the sightseeing spots I mentioned previously. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, both Poble Sec and Sant Antoni have their own metro stations.
The areas are jam-packed with cute, quirky cafes and eateries dotted on every corner. Carrer De Blai is probably the most well-known street here; lined with tapas bars upon tapas bars on a pedestrianised street – pure bliss…
Calling all coffee fans – make sure you take a stroll around Carrer del Parlament, there are cafes on every corner…and cute plant shops too…
There is also great access to Parc De Montjuïc, situated just behind Poble Sec. It has it all really! And best of all, these areas are not overly crowded with tourists and crowds.
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Ok… let’s get down to the basics. You have just touched down in this amazing, bustling city. You hop off the airport bus and treck to your accommodation…now what?
There is sooooo much to see and do, so I have split this up into sections – where to stay, what to do and most importantly, where to eat – psst, we found THE best paella restaurant, so stay tuned…
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I must admit, I had a bit of a wimp moment when we got here – hence why there are no photos that feature me posing on the edge, on a tiny platform, above a huge drop…pretty self-explanatory I think…
This spot is a bit of a hidden gem of Barcelona, so that’s why I decided to give it star treatment and place it at the top of my list of places to go. Its covert past is up – sorry – but more people need to know about this incredible, remote viewing platform.
As you can imagine, it is a bit of a treck to reach and requires quite a few stops, sit-downs and drink breaks but believe me, it is worth it – you can do it!
If you’re planning on heading to Park Güell, combine these two stops into one day, as the bunkers are just a hill across from the park so it’ll save you hiking to these extreme heights more than you need to – and believe me, once is quite enough…
Once you get to the top, it is pretty much one big ol’ photoshoot, which is quite hilarious to watch, but once you get there, you just can’t resist a quick Instagram; no one can!
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[Important] make sure to book online – the ques look horrendous and I’m confident in saying that no one reading this would be happy to stand around for two or more hours with the sun beaming down on their heads, with no shade…
This is though, of course, one of the must-see sights Barcelona has to offer. The architecture is insane; even for someone with no interest in the art, would appreciate this incredible masterpiece by Gaudí.
We just go the ‘basic ticket’ (link here), which gave you a choice of time slot with direct entry into the cathedral (so no queuing).
TOP TIP: There is a student reduced price ticket option, which I was extremely pleased about, before realising you had to have a Spanish student ID – so don’t be fooled by this, just opt for the under 30 ticket which is still slightly cheaper than the standard.
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Next on the list, the green oasis that is Parc de la Ciutadella. I have been to Barcelona four times now, and only on my last trip did I ever come across this parks existence…so here’s another hidden gem for ya!
Set back just behind the marina, is where you’ll find it, along with the Arc de Triomf.
The main reason we came to this park was to hire a rowing boat splash around on the lake for half an hour – which was actually so much fun – but there is more to do here. You’ll come across the Catalan Parliament, the Museu d’Art Modern, the Zoological Museum, the Museu de Geologia and even a zoo, yep, right in the centre of the city! The park has everything!!
If you’re on a budget, this is the perfect picnic opportunity! Grab yourself a baguette, a couple of fillings, maybe even a beverage then sit back, relax and wind down in Barcelona’s secret garden.
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There is so much to see at Parc De Montjuïc. Although it is right in the city, it feels like you have been transported away to a beautiful deserted garden, on the top of a hill.
Enter into the park at Plaça de Catalunya, where you begin at the Magic Fountain – plus, if you go up this way, there are escalators by the side to help you up the steep ascent.
My personal fave, Teatre Grec – an open-air theatre – out of nowhere – who’d expect to stumble across this in a park? Not me? Buuuutt, it’s a fab place to take a seat and have a drink or some lunch (whilst of course, taking to the stage and pretend you are performing to a packed amphitheatre).
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I am gutted that this is the third time I have visited Barcelona out of season, so the pool has not been open to swimming! So, it’ll have to remain on my Barcelona bucket list for another few years…
For all of you wondering, the pool is open to the public in July and August.
If you go outside of then, you can still enter the pool area, and admire the view from the spectator seats and grab a drink from the pop-up bar – so still worth a visit. Plus, it rounds of the Montjuïc park walk pretty nicely!
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The question on everyone’s lips: where to indulge in the delicious Spanish cuisine that Barcelona has to offer?
A holiday isn’t a holiday without stuffing yourself full to the brim with food at any given moment – it’s as if meals and calories don’t count abroad!? Well, that’s how I see it anyway…
Cometa Cafe – scandi inspired
Federal Cafe – amazing smoothies
Taranna Cafe – brunch brunch brunch
Surf House – burgers and burritos on the beach
Port Vell – 1/2 litre of sangria + a side salad + a huge paella = €18
7 Portes – tapas place highly recommended to us, but we did not make it
Carrer de Blai – street full of tapas restaurants (try Esquinta de Blai and Calle Blai)
La donuteria (Carrer del Parlement) – massive doughnuts
La Pala – pizza by the slice
Macchina pasta bar
Bar Calders – don’t bother with the food here but, a great atmosphere for a drink