Art thrives and mosaics flow in the city of famous architect, Gaudi. As seen in the Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, it is easy to unleash your inner artist and follow your passions in one of the prettiest and laid back cities in Spain.
What to do
Art thrives in Barcelona, and one of the most famous artists from this area is Gaudi. He hated straight lines, so his works are curvy and flowy. He loved to design around St. John’s tale from the New Testament, which includes St. John fighting a dragon and slaying it. After observing a few of his works, it seemed to me that he was just obsessed with dragons, and wanted to add a little more spark to the contemporary art age. Gaudi might be the star of the show in Barcelona, but there is art from many people. Below is what you should do:
- La Sagrada Familia is the landmark of Barcelona–and for good reason! Designed
by Gaudi, all sides of the Cathedral tell a different story about St. John. Parts of the Basilica look like it is melting, as if fire is melting down the structure, and other parts are clean and structured. Every piece of the Basilica is intricate and expressive. The doors are covered in green leaves with a hole in the middle to peer inside, the ceiling soars high above, and the stained glass plays against the contrast of the white interior. The Basilica is still not finished–it has been under construction since 1882! People (as in donors with LOTS of money) expect it to be finished by 2026. This is really a must-see if you go to Barcelona. Buy your tickets online to avoid waiting for hours. You can choose what time you want to go in. They offer tour guides, audio guides, and no guide. To see more pictures, click here. ($15-$20 per person)
- Park Guell was designed by Gaudi, and you may have seen a lot of pictures of this lizard:
The lizard greets you at the stairs of the park, and if you keep climbing, you will get to a long bench covered in mosaics, overlooking the city. This park is also a must-see, albeit a little underwhelming after the Basilica. Tickets can be purchased online and are for a designated time to enter. (about $4-$7)
- Sandeman’s New Barcelona Free Walking Tour covers the major points of attraction in Barcelona and the history of the city. The tour is about three hours long, and the guides are always knowledgable and passionate. Sandeman’s is a reputable company that has tours in a lot of major cities across Europe. As well as the Free Walking tour, they also offer bike tours and tapas tours. See their website for more information. (Free, tips recommended.)
- Bike tours are great for people who have been on a bike more recently than ten years ago (*cough* not me *cough*). If you are in good shape
and not afraid of imminent death, bike tours are for you! Barcelona is a very flat city, so it is a great place to explore on bike if that is something you want to try. There are loads of different companies that offer bike tours in all languages, you can even request a private one for a similar price to a large group tour. I would recommend going with a tour that is about 5 people, anything above that gets too crazy. Personally, my bike tour was terrifying, but I have not been on a bike in years. If you are like me and would rather not be tortured by a three hour bike tour, you can rent bikes off the street for a day, or even from your hotel or hostel for around $7. (around $7-$18)
- Magic Fountain, or Font Magica, is an incredible water show in this enormous
fountain at the foot of Montjuic and the Olympic Park. In the summer, people crowd around to see the spectacular light and water show at the fountain from 9pm-11pm. There are stairs behind it, and the area surrounding the fountain is wide, so there is no problem seeing the show from wherever you are standing. (Free)
- Montjuic, translated to Jewish Mountain,is home to the Olympic Park of 1992 and a medieval Castle at the top. It is one of the tourist attractions of Barcelona because it is pretty and a great hike. Halfway up, there is an overlook and a few restaurants–great for a photo opportunity and a bathroom break! Take a cable car down and see the beautiful Montjuic from the air.
What to eat
- Pinxtos are a different form of eating tapas that is special to Barcelona. Instead of ordering a lot of little plates and sharing, there is food on toothpicks around the restaurant and on serving trays that you pick up and eat. Your bill at the end of the meal depends on how many toothpicks you have. It is a much easier way to eat if you are keen on splitting the bill! There are pinxto bars all over the city, and they almost all say “Pinxto bar” in the name.
- Pan Catalan is specific to the Catalonia region, with nice soft baguette bread, with a lovely tomato gazpacho spread, drizzled with olive oil.
How to get around
- Bikes are fast and easy to find in Barcelona. You can most likely rent one from your hotel or hostel for a few hours or a whole day, or the city of Barcelona has racks along the streets that you can rent and return at any of these stations.
- Walking is easy in Barcelona because it is not too hilly. There are a few attractions that are close together and easy to walk around.
- Metro is a faster, less energy consuming way of getting around without getting a taxi. Tickets are not that expensive, and you can buy a ten-ride travel card and use it with your friends. Be careful of pickpockets at the metro station, they get you at the machines and at the turnstiles (we know from experience!). Make sure you have your hand on your purse, camera, wallet, and anything else you do not want stolen.
- “I survived Barcelona” bar crawl is one of the best bar crawls in the city. For 15
euros, you get a free tank top, entry to a great club, and free shots in three bars. AND a chance to meet travelers from all over the world! In Spain, clubs close at 7am (if they close at all!) so you can literally party all night. The bar crawl staff herds everyone to bars and ends at a club, so you are in charge of getting home after you are nice and buzzed. The metro in Barcelona is closed from 2am-4am, so leave the club before 2am or stay until after 4am. The only bad thing about being out so late is that there is no 24hour Waffle House, or ANY restaurant open, to satisfy your drunchies (drunk munchies). Buy your tickets at the first bar, or online.