Traveling to Spain has been on my radar since The Cheetah Girls 2.
As years passed, I found myself always waiting for the right time. Then, one morning I got a screenshot from my dad showing a Hopper notification for a Barcelona flight deal followed by a flight itinerary. I quickly purchased round trip tickets. I later found out those screenshots were more so FYIs than invitations. As a result, I cancelled my flight. My dad, whose original plan was to fly into Barcelona for a cruise, changed his mind and decided he wanted to explore the city with me instead. So, in under 24 hours, I booked, cancelled, and rebooked my flight to Spain. A few months later, we arrived in Barcelona!
Everyone's travel taste is different and sometimes having less of a plan leads you to where you need to be. In my 3 nights in Barcelona, I explored new neighborhoods, ate amazing food, and took advantage of the city's photo opps. Hopefully my experience helps you plan your time in this amazing city.
The Eixample neighborhood is the perfect place to be if it's your first time in Spain. We chose the Royal Hotel as our base and loved having transportation and things to do close by. Passeig de Gracia is a busy street filled with stores from Spanish chains like Zara and my new fave, Stradivarius. Shopping on an empty stomach got rough so we switched gears and went for tapas at Cerveceria Catalana, a recommendation from our hotel's front desk.
After tapas, we made a few stops to see the work of Antoni Gaudi, the genius architect known for giving Barcelona its colorful mosaic aesthetic. You can't miss Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. Casa Atelier is another great stop, next door to Casa Batllo; this one isn't Gaudi's work but we appreciated it just as much.
Our jet lag started to set in, so we tuned into the culture and paused for siesta. We ended the day with dinner at La Cava and roaming the Eixample neighborhood, finding wine bars and street art along the way.
Photo: Casa Batllo from @casabatllo
We started day two at La boqueria, the colorful food emporium recognized as a Barcelona staple. You walk into a rainbow of smoothies and fruit juices, fun shaped candies, and of course tapas. We ate and then roamed around the Gothic Quarter, making stops into a few souvenir shops and pausing to take pictures of the beautiful buildings lining the street.
From there, we checked out the Barcelona Cathedral and Arc de Triomf. We popped in to Tapeo for lunch—my favorite tapas spot of the entire trip. In the same area is a little bakery called Bubo. I had the best chocolate and macadamia treats here and have been plotting ways to get my hands on them again. Day two also included seeing La Sagrada Familia, eating Thai at Royal Thai, and enjoying the rooftop bar inside our hotel.
Photo: Writer Jovania in the Gothic Quarter
On our last full day in Barcelona, we spent a couple hours wandering Park Guell, a public space filled with gardens and breathtaking architecture. It feels like wonderland. Afterwards, I discovered a less touristy area called Sant Antoni, specifically Carrer de Parliament. The street is made up of cozy coffee shops, juice houses, and couples walking their dogs. We didn't expect to need a break from tapas but we did. We stopped at The Juice House, thinking a little turmeric would offset all the wine and Iberico ham we'd been eating. We followed that up with a delicious grilled chicken and grilled halloumi sandwich from Federal Cafe. I could have easily spent an entire day in the area just eating and drinking.
Barcelona is an ideal destination for anyone who loves sightseeing, shopping, and culinary adventures. Some other good eats we stopped at along the way include Ciudad Condal in Eixample and Bar Lobo in El Raval. In just a few days, I saw so much of the culture here and can't wait to go back.
Photo: Park Guell
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Featured image by Getty Images