It’s that time of year again when I start to wonder about my summer plans. There’s that usual question that comes up: should I visit a place I already know and love or should I visit a new destination? The answer is always hard, especially because these places I know are so full of memories. Some places are impossible to discover in one visit. And if these gray clouds don’t soon boycott the Berlin weather, I may just find myself with a last-minute holiday to Barcelona (sort of like last summer).
As that song by Rufus Wainwright says: Nothing really does compare to Barcelona. You have to be there to experience all the beauty of the architecture, not only the magnificent works of Gaudí, but also streets like Passeig de Gracia. You can get lost inside the little streets of the Gothic neighborhood and at the same time enjoy the sun in the Barceloneta.
Barcelona offers you everything you need for a perfect summer vacation: amazing food like churros or xocolata in Dulcinea, the colorful street life in Park Güell and Montjuic. You can take a day trip to Tibidabo mountain and discover the church at the top of the hill, offering a great panoramic view of the city and the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.
Tired of the tourist crowds in Barcelona during summer? Take a day trip out of the city for some wine and cava tasting!
In Barcelona though, it’s not all about beauty. There’s also culture. You’ll find it everywhere. You have museums that are a MUST: like the one dedicated to Miró or Picasso. You can experience modern art, theater, music. Food is certainly another form of art in this city. In the Barceloneta you can get the fresh products of a bakery, or try some delicious fish in one of the local restaurants and markets. I love to recommend visiting the Mercado de la Barceloneta, and then walk along the beach, watching people playing chess or tablero, exercising on the beach, enjoying an ice cream (seriously: go for ice scream at Eyescream and Friends) or just contemplating the sea.
For the night, you have the amazing nightlife of the clubs and also in the streets. If you’re lucky, you might also be in town for a classic football match at Camp Nou—the most exciting being a match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Football (ie, soccer) also means lots of tapas, beer and a lot of rambunctious cheering. This country gets crazy about football and there is no denying that it’s contagious. The game is also politics, though, because many in Barcelona want to claim independence from Spain.
Shopping is also an experience in Barcelona. Spain is one of my favorite countries for fashion and with their sales and discount prices, there are just so many different options available. Like several other places in Spain, some former plaza de toros have been adapted to be shopping malls, such as Las Arenas. Closer to the city center, however, you’ll find the more popular and commercial shops. In the area around La Rambla and Plaza Catalunya are a mix of independent and chain stores.
TRAVEL TIP: Right at the end of the Ramblas is the Maremagnum shopping mall. It’s easily reached with the metro (which is weird, because I don’t know how the metro could be so close to the sea). It’s a nice area for a summertime stroll. From the mall, you can easily reach the harbor where I recommend taking a coffee or beer while watching time go by. The Maremagnum shopping mall also offers events and even a vintage market, which is worth checking out. Visit Maremagnum.es for the full list of their summer events.
If you decide to visit Barcelona this summer, remember to practice your Spanish. Most of the people in Barcelona speak Spanish, even when the official language is Catalán. However, English, German and French are also spoken in many places. Take time to walk around the Rambla, because the area is full of life and energy. Sometimes too much life and energy. Barcelona, like many cities, also has its’ problems. Pickpocketing is quite common here and I’ve even had a few close calls. I wouldn’t describe Barcelona as a dangerous city, but just be on your guard.
With three days in Barcelona you can accomplish a lot, even if traveling on a budget. Go visit the markets, get local snacks and fruit, experience the city’s café culture. But you will have to shell out some Euros for a few of the most important sites, namely Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Familia. And make sure you enjoy at least one delicious Catalan Cream—probably the most delicious dessert in the world. Nothing really compares.
This couldn’t have come at a better time . We are headed there in 10 days! I can’t wait. The mercardo sounds like the one in Madrid. I’m so looking forward to the food, especially this cream you mentioned! Thanks for the post.
Oh you will love love LOVE Catalan Cream!! Be prepared for a sugar overload. There are lots of other Catalan foods I like, pan con tomate is especially good in the region (bread slathered with oil, garlic and fresh tomato).
I’ve never been to Barcelona but somehow I feel like a small part of me belongs there already.
I also really really want churros now.
Barcelona does have that universal appeal, doesn’t it, Nick?! Hope you make it someday – it’s a fantastic city great for tourism!
You are truly right that Barcelona is an amazing city! I have been there for the last 3 years every summer because I visited friends. They showed my around and I have to say that it never gets boring. The only bad thing is that Barcelona has a very lively nightlife and therefore the days are very short. ;-)
Haha, way to find the negative in the positive there! Nightlife in Barcelona is definitely an experience. I love how much there is to see and do in Barcelona – I never get bored there.
I so love Barcelona but its gonna wait for a while since I’m on my way to a grand time in Aruba but someday I’m gonna invade that city.
Great suggestions all round. I’ve been five times now and there’s always things to see. I would recommend, if you have the time to visit Montserrat Monastery for the day; beautiful beautiful mountain location that’s easily reached.
Thanks for the tip Julie. Barcelona has so many great things to do and it seems like there is always more! Plus it’s so close to other cities nearby – definitely a lot to see in the region.
Looks awesome. Barcelona is definitely at the top of my list (after Iceland) for my next trip. I love that I can enjoy some days at the beach combined with lots of city exploration.
Yep, Erin – I’m a big fan of cities on the beach as well. They’re great for the excitement of a big city, but with the beach they’re also perfect for relaxation. Cities like Barcelona usually have such a great atmosphere – perfect for summertime!
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I completely understand you being torn between going somewhere you love and trying somewhere knew! I’ve been to Barcelona 3 times and I’m still dreaming of moving there at some point!
Valencia will always be my perfect beach city though.
Ahh, I really enjoyed Valencia the one time I visited as well. I loved it so much I actually stayed for almost a full week rather than the 2 days I originally planned for. Spain will always draw me back again and again!