I was in Barcelona in August for the first time, and let me tell you I totally fell in love with the city! Everything from Gaudi’s unique creations, the Sagrada Familia, the endless amount of tapas, sangria, and delicious gelato, the characteristic Gothic quarter, and everything else in between, Barcelona is one of my top favorite cities! I spent three days in this wonderful city, and here is my easy and fun Itinerary on the must do’s in Barcelona.
Where To Stay:
We stayed at the centrally located Olivia Balmes Hotel. The rooms were very spacious and clean. There is a roof top pool and the location was perfect! It was an easy walk to Las Ramblas and the nearby metro station.
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Las Ramblas and Gothic Quarter
On our first day in Barcelona we started exploring around noon, since our flight from Lisbon got in around 9:30 AM. We started off by walking through the infamous Las Ramblas to get to the Gothic Quarter. Las Ramblas has many different vendors offering everything from salty to sweet foods and souvenirs. After walking through Las Ramblas we made our way to the Gothic quarter. The Gothic quarter has stunning alleys filled with many little shops and yummy places to eat. You could get lost wandering around the stunning architecture and numerous alleys. The Gothic quarter is actually the center of old Barcelona and one of the best preserved medieval parts in Europe! Make sure to walk around the Barcelona Cathedral and indulge in the stunning Gothic architecture.
Shopping in the Born Neighborhood
The Born neighborhood borders the Gothic quarter and is a fun place to wander around and check out cute and trendy shops. It is less touristy than Las Ramblas with many different shops to let out your inner shopaholic.
Parc de la Ciutadella and Arc de Triomf
After eating some delicious Paella and pintxos (tapas on bread) and feeling quite full, we headed on over to the Parc de la Ciutadella. This park in Barcelona is termed as Barcelona’s Urban “green lung” because there is so much greenery situated in the middle of the city. There is also a beautiful fountain and small booths that serve drinks, ice cream, and fresh fruit! We enjoyed ice cold mojitos in the shade at the park before heading to the Arc de Triomf. The Arc de Triomf actually leads you right to the Parc de la Ciutadella. It was built in 1888 as the entrance to the world fair. After hanging around the park and the Arc, we decided it was too hot to be out so we made it back to the hotel. We literally took a 3-4 hour nap and woke up just in time for dinner!
Gaudi’s Masterpieces: Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, and Sagrada Familia
Our second day in Barcelona started off pretty early since we had a reservation for Park Guell at 8:00 AM. We got up around 6:00 AM and decided to stop by one of Gaudi’s amazing creations, the Casa Batllo. The Casa Batllo was on our way to the metro and luckily for us there was no one there. The Casa Batllo is adorned by so much detail and is so colorful. It really is more beautiful in real life than any photos can do it justice. It usually gets really crowded around 9:00 AM as people are already getting in line to go inside. We did not go inside (which I do regret) because we did not think of purchasing our tickets before hand and they all were sold out. So word to the wise, buy your Park Guell, Casa Batllo, and Sagrada Familia tickets online a few days before to avoid sell out. After taking a few photos outside of Casa Batllo, we made our way to the metro. Right by the metro is the Casa Mila, another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. This house is not nearly as colorful as the Casa Batllo but has the typical style that Gaudi used in his architecture.
We took the metro to the nearest station to Park Guell and climbed (really walked) up a grueling uphill with many many stairs. After we made it up the hill (finally!), I realized there is an escalator that can take you all the way up. Take the escalator, do not even try to climb all those stairs uphill in the heat, totally not worth it! We were in the park by 7:15 AM and to my surprise the place was already packed! This park is probably one of the most photographed spots in Barcelona and is classified as another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Park Guell includes a series of buildings, gardens, and beautiful mosaic tiles.
On our way to the Sagrada Familia we found the cutest little local coffee shop. We ordered two cappuccinos and two pastries, all for 6 Euros! I wish I could remember the name of this little spot because it felt so authentic, and the perfect place to grab a small breakfast. We than proceeded to the Sagrada Familia. I have been waiting to see this unique and one of a kind church for as along as I can remember. There really is no other structure like it, and it is even more amazing to witness in person. The detail is so intricate (no wonder it has been under construction for so long) and unique. The basilica itself is massive! I mean I could not stop looking up at it. We did not buy a ticket to go inside because as with Casa Batllo, the tickets were sold out for a few days. We walked across the street to the little park with the pond, which in my opinion had the best view of the entire basilica.
Our next stop on day two was Barcelonata beach in the afternoon. Barcelonata beach is actually a man made beach with a promenade that runs along the beach. There are various restaurants and bars scattered through out the area to make the beach strip complete! The beach gets very very crowded in the summer, so it is recommended to go earlier in the morning to avoid all the crowds.
Palau Nacional and Camp Nou
On our third day in Barcelona we took the metro to the Palau Nacional early in the morning. The Palau Nacional is a museum of modern art with gorgeous fountain display at night. This museum is also massive and has a very grand entrance. We did not go inside the museum as it was not open yet but did manage to get some pretty shots outside of it.
Next after walking around the Palau Nacional, my husband just had to go see Camp Nou. We walked around the stadium and paid a visit to the Camp Nou official store. Unfortunately Messi was not there to greet us.
Right before lunch we got back on the metro and went back to the Sagrada Familia, because seeing it once is totally not enough! I managed to get a pretty good photo this time around even with the crowds. After indulging in the beauty of the Sagrada Familia one last time, we made our way to a small Tapas restaurant right across the street from the Sagrada. We filled our bellies with patatas bravas and a few other tapas favorites and made our way back to the hotel.
La Boqueria Market
After a nice nap, we made our way back out to Las Ramblas and the Gothic quarter. On the way to the Gothic quarter we caught a glimpse of the La Boqueria market. This market offers a large variety of anything from various meats, to all the candy you could possibly eat, to incredibly fresh fruit. I mean I could go on and on about how much food there is to eat there! La Boqueria is a great place to get some lunch or dinner, and a great way to experience the local cuisine.
The metro is so easy to use in Barcelona and is so cheap! On our first day while checking in to our hotel, the lady at the front desk did a wonderful job explaining the metro and which lines take you where. We bought a 10 Euro metro pass that covered 10 stops and is shareable. It definitely beats paying for taxis as Uber is banned in Barcelona.
Day trips from Barcelona:
There are several day trips out of Barcelona to choose from. We actually spent a total of four days in Barcelona, but did a day trip to the Costa Brava. If you have extra time to spare, a day trip to the northern coast of Spain is a must! I will be writing a blog post soon on our experience while visiting the Costa Brava.
And there you have it, an easy and fun three day itinerary for your first time in Barcelona! Barcelona exceeded our expectations in so many ways. The food, sangria, culture, character, and beautiful architecture left us longing to come back one day.
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