Hi friends! It’s been a hot minute, but if you follow my Instagram, you’ll know my husband and I spent a little over a week traveling to Spain and Portugal. I wanted to be able to fully enjoy our time together while we were away and spend quality time with the kids when we returned, which is why I’ve only posted once since we’ve been back. I’ve missed you all, but it was so nice spending that time with my husband and I’m so grateful to have had the experience of traveling to several new places while we were in Europe. We had the time of our lives and I’m so excited to share the places we visited.
Today, I’m kicking it off with Barcelona and the reasons we fell in love with the city. Barcelona is an incredible city filled with art, history and all of the tapas restaurants. It’s got an old, European feel, with tall intricate buildings and terraces, statues and structures, and many traces of Gaudi’s whimsical architecture.
When we first arrived in Barcelona, I’ll admit, I was a little bit overwhelmed because it is a pretty big city with so many pockets and different sights to see, but as time went on, I fell in love with the fact that one city could have so many aspects and layers that make it unique.
I am a huge planner, and spend A LOT of time putting together our itinerary for the trip. Gimme Some Oven’s Barcelona Guide was extremely helpful and my go-to guide throughout the trip. You’ll notice a lot of what we did below came straight from Ali’s guide. If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona, you must use her guide!! I’d recommend planning, but also keeping some time free to do some stuff on a whim. Get familiar with the areas you have things planned and have a list of places to eat or things to do if needed. Ask your tour guides or any locals for recommendations on places to eat/things to stay! They know all the cool places and it never hurts to ask for their favorite restaurant or spot.
Where We Stayed
Hotel Praktik Bakery is quaint boutique hotel located in between the Gracia and Gothic Quarter neighborhoods. Hands down, the best part about this hotel is the fact that the first floor is a bakery filled with the most delicious baked goods and sweet treats. If you end up staying here, be sure to include breakfast with your accommodation. It was so nice being able to start the day with the most delicious croissants, fresh fruit and several other baked items. Our room was tiny, but the view was beautiful. We’d highly recommend staying here for the baked goods and stellar location.
What We Did
- Park Güell – a beautiful public park with great views of the city and ocean. You will need tickets to enter, but I don’t think it’s necessary to buy tickets in advance just because you have to pick a time slot, but if you’d like to plan your visit, there are ways to purchase tickets in advance. We purchased our through Get Your Guide and actually had trouble getting in, so I wouldn’t necessarily booking through them.
- Sagrada Familia – an incredible cathedral initially designed by Gaudi that is still in the process of being built. We did the audio tour and loved it because we were able to explore at our own pace and learned a lot about the cathedral through the tour. I definitely recommend getting tickets beforehand and going right when it opens. Lines get long very quickly.
- Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona (first picture in the post) – a great structure to pass by while walking through the city.
- Walked through the Gothic Quarter – this was my favorite area of Barcelona because it consisted of older architecture, little alleyways and delicious spots to grab a bites to eat. We spent a couple of hours just walking, roaming and eating. It was the best.
- Picasso Museum – I’ll be honest, we were a little bit underwhelmed by the museum, but it was still a great place to visit and I feel is a must if you have time. We did the audio guide and learned a lot about Picasso’s early life and the stories behind his paintings which was really neat. We purchased tickets beforehand through the site.
- Mercado La Boqueria – the coolest public market to visit. I wish we had time to go back a second time because it was filled with so many different places and different foods. I ate from a couple of vendors, but read that Bar Pinoxto or El Quim are great places to get food. If you can, visit the market multiple times!
- Cathedral de Barcelona – we simply passed by this on our way to Mercado La Boqueria and it was stunning.
- Paella Cooking Class at The Paella Club – one of the best experiences we had our entire trip. If you’re going to Barcelona, book this now!! We learned how to make paella (and ended up eating several different types, plus an appetizer and dessert), drank lots of wine and met some great people. Seriously, a wonderful couple of hours spent. We actually booked this through Airbnb experiences, but you can also book on their site.
- Private Tour with Adler & Marlow – I plan on writing a post dedicated to our experience on the tour, but it was incredible. It was a one-on-one tour with the founder of Adler & Marlow. Our time with Danny allowed us to see a completely different side of Barcelona and immerse ourselves in the Catalan culture. We learned so much and felt like locals towards the end of our time! We visited a small town outside of Barcelona called Alella where we toured a winery, participated in vermouth hour and ate delicious tapas. Adler & Marlow offers a wide range of experiences, just check out their website.
Where We Ate
Obviously the most important part of the trip!! We definitely had our fair share of feasting on baked goods on the first floor of our hotel (Hotel Praktik Bakery), so we’d highly recommend giving the hotel a visit to eat their pastries and sip their delicious coffee. Here are some of the other places we ate at:
- El Xampanyet – an old, small tapas bar in the Gothic Quarter with the most delicious bites. We loved everything about this place from the display of tapas at the front of the restaurant, to the tight and cozy atmosphere and did I mention cheap cava?? We would highly recommend visiting and going right when it opens because it fills up quickly. They do not take reservations and it is near the Picasso Museum so we stopped in as they opened the doors and got right in.
- Bodega 1900 – I booked this after our paella class, so we were pretty stuffed, but I couldn’t pass up going to one of Albert Adrià’s restaurants. The service seemed to be a bit off, but the food was fantastic. The menu is full of very unique spins on classic and not-so-classic tapas.
- Tostaderos Bon Mercat – ALL the coffee. They had iced espresso too, which is what drew us inside. We’re so American – ha!
- La Pallaresa – an older spot in the Gothic Quarter for churros and other desserts
- La Fábrica – we stumbled upon this place while walking through the Gothic Quarter and they had the most delicious empanadas
- Bormuth – really delicious tapas with a great atmosphere. We are here on our last night and really enjoyed it.
And here are some other places we wanted to check out, but didn’t have time to. Most are recommended by locals, so I would absolutely visit some of them if you have time!
- Cerveceria Catalana (recommended by one of our friends)
- Teoric (recommended by one of the owners of The Paella Club)
- Satan’s Coffee Co (recommended by one of the owners of The Paella Club)
- Natas for ice cream (recommended by one of the owners of The Paella Club)
- Bar del Pla (recommended by one of the owners of The Paella Club)
- Etapes (recommended by the founder of Adler & Marlow)
- Restaurant Estrella (recommended by the founder of Adler & Marlow)
That about sums up everything we experienced in Barcelona. Writing this pretty much made me want to cry because I miss it so much. If you’re planning a trip, I hope you have the best time – feel free to reach out with any questions in the comments below.