I have to admit Barcelona wasn’t quite on my travel radar, but when my brother said he wanted to go for his 30th birthday, it was the perfect excuse to make the trip. I’m so glad I did. Barcelona was unlike any other European city I’ve been to, unique in it’s architecture, culture and food, oh my god the food. The four of us (my Mom, brothers and I) had a great week walking around Barcelona, eating tapas, drinking sangria and taking a few day trips outside the city. My brothers also got some climbing in during the trip in Tarragona and Sitges. We also had amazing weather, it was sunny everyday. You needed layers but it was warm in the sun. It was generally very easy to get around, more on that below, we did rent a car for day trips but had no problem finding parking near our Airbnb. We stayed at this apartment in between Eixample and El Born. There are lots of nice hotels that are super affordable in Barcelona so you can’t go wrong either way. If you’re planning a trip or are headed to Barcelona here are some of my favorite things to do, places to eat and general travel tips to help along the way.
To Do and See
There are lots of things to see and do in Barcelona. We walked everywhere, so definitely pack comfortable shoes/sneakers. The architecture in Barcelona is spectacular and the famous architect Antonin Gaudi has several famous projects around the city, his most well known, the Sagrada Familia.
Shopping in El Raval – lots of little boutiques with local goods
– Lantoki: Clothing and jewelry
– Carolina Blue: Home goods, plants
– Nuovum: Jewelry, home goods
Walk around El Born neighborhood
Walk around the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic)
Yurbban Passage Vegan Spa – I had almost a full day by myself since the fam left in the morning on our last day and I had to check out of our Airbnb so I decided to go here before my flight. It was very affordable for treatments, all vegan and you get access to their water therapy area when you book.
Bohl (breakfast/lunch) – vegan
Flax & Kale (brunch)
Molika Cafe (breakfast/coffee) – best pastries, fresh juice, coffee
Surf House (lunch drinks) – sangria on the beach
ElDiset (dinner/tapas) – best dinner we had
El Nacional (dinner/drinks) – upscale food hall, lots of great tapas
La Candela (lunch) – great prix
San Pedritos (lunch/dinner) – Mexican
Petit Brot (lunch) – raw vegan
Sensi Bistro (tapas)
Bar del Pla (tapas)
We did a few day trips which are pretty easy to do from the city. We rented a car, most rental places don’t have many cars that are automatic. I requested automatic and ended up with manual anyway which was fine, but if you can’t drive manual make sure you arrive at your scheduled pick up time or they might rent the car to someone else.
Monsterrat – My brothers went climbing here while my Mom and I explored the monastery and did some easier hiking trails. You could easily get up early and do a half day here.
Sitges – Another spot my brothers went climbing. It’s a little beach town that is absolutely beautiful and an easy drive.
Tarragona – We did a day trip here and walked around exploring the ancient Roman ruins. Also a beautiful town on the Mediterranean. My brother went swimming, the water was FREEZING. We had an amazing lunch at Vergel Veggie a vegan restaurant in town.
Cadaques – We didn’t get here but it was highly recommended. It’s about a 2-2.5 hour drive but looks really incredible.
Travel Tips and Resources
Barcelona doesn’t have Uber or Lyft but they have mytaxi which is an app you can download that works similar to Uber or Lyft. We got cabs most of the time using the app and it was super easy. Cabs take cash and cards.
It’s very much a walking city and comfortable shoes are a must. I wore these sandals for the majority of the trip, they were honestly more comfortable than my sneakers.
There was a lot of mentions/warnings about pickpockets. As with any major city just be mindful and aware, we never had any issues and felt very safe the entire trip.
Generally tipping in Barcelona is not expected but as a tourist coming from a place with tipping culture it’s certainly not frowned upon to leave a tip. We left at least 15% tips for meals and usually around 10% for cab drivers.