TIPS:


Make sure you have roaming data, as you’ll probably need Google Maps, or CitiMaps2Go, or something equally navigable to help you out – it’s not the easiest city to get around.

If possible, avoid the very hot summer months and visit between April and May, or perhaps September to November. Whilst lovely in June, July and August, you’ll need to stop often as the humidity and heat make it so tiring! That being said, in the spring and summer months, wear your lightest clothes, and make sure to have SPF and sunglasses on hand.

Whilst I think pick-pocketing in the country in general is a lot better policed now, this is a tourist trap city and, like many others, thieves can be a problem. Be mindful as you would in London or New York, but for us it was nothing out of the ordinary.

Use the metro! A T10 card gives you ten journeys for around 7 euro, which is shockingly good value when you realise how much you need it!

Learn some simple Spanish and Catalan phrases. Because no one wants to be the asshole smiling and nodding when people ask you how you are (I was that asshole).

PACK:

Flats, sunnies, and loose layers. Barcelona is the absolute epitome of laid-back. People here are mostly quite bohemian, and there’s quite a surf-y, beach-y vibe around dressing day-to-day, so you might look a little out of place in some of your COS and Whistles pieces!

Mosquito repellent. If you’re the sort to get bitten, you will be bitten. They are freaking everywhere. And they always seem to get my thighs?

Account for two outfits a day in summer. TMI, but all four of us would come back in the afternoon to our AirBNB and have sweat through our clothes from the morning! We were doing laundry loads every night and changing once a day at least. Sexyyyyy.

Headwear. I freaking love a hat, and Barcelona was a great excuse to bring out my biggest and floppiest one. I felt like J-Lo every bloody day. It was marvellous.


STAY:


I can’t write this post without mentioning Jordi and his amazing flat. Jordi is an interior designer so you can imagine how well thought out everything is, but the flat itself is in a beautiful old protected apartment building which dates to 1906. It is so magical, if a bit of a hike to get to (four steep flights of stairs omg), and was the perfect base for us to come back to throughout our stay. We could do laundry, have drinks and chill out at the apartment if we wanted to, have David Bowie dance parties and card games until the wee hours of the morning with no complaints – just such a great experience. I also love Urgell, the neighbourhood we stayed in – not touristy at all! I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

If I visited again without friends, and J and I decided against the AirBNB route, I love the look of Hotel Brummell, and Praktik Rambla. Barcelona has no end of beautiful buildings and creative designers, so there’s no excuse to head to chains!



SEE:


Out of our little gang of four, the one thing we all agreed on was the most important thing to do while you’re in Barcelona – visit the Sagrada Familia. I don’t really know how to describe this place in words – the feeling I got standing outside, and then the reveal once you step in… It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The closest description I can muster is ‘breath-taking’ but even that doesn’t quite get the spiritual experience across. It is so deeply beautiful, twisted, awesome, intimidating… Every time you turn your head, you see something different. Another amazing thing, if you go in a group or with someone else, or even just listen to others’ conversations, is that everyone sees something different in the architecture. My boyfriend saw the woods, I saw clockwork made out of ice. Don’t miss this and book tickets online in advance to cut the queues. We booked for 4.00 and the queue was so long they were turning people away for the day!

Picasso Museum: This is in SUCH a nice part of town, probably my favourite, as listed below. I missed out on this and I am GUTTED, but it means there’s more fun stuff to do next time! Everyone recommended this to me but said the same thing – GET THERE EARLY. Did I listen? Did I f--…

Barri Gotic: The area of town where the Picasso Museum is, I could have easily whiled a day away wandering through all of the little alleyways and cute shops and cafes here. It also has a nifty roman wall (boyfriend geeked out heavily here) and the Basilica Di Santa Maria Del Mar, which is peaceful, free to visit and absolutely stunning. 

Barceloneta Beach: I think people would have you believe this isn’t a nice beach – let me clear this up right now. This is a nice freaking beach! I’ve been to some beaches in my time and this was not a BAD one. I think it might get a bad rep because it’s often crowded, but I wouldn’t come to Barcelona for a peaceful beachside retreat anyhow, if you see what I mean. This is a great place to lay out and catch a tan but beware – it’s super expensive around here and if you want anything you will PAY for it. My advice? Spend the late afternoon lounging and tanning, paddle your feet in the Med and then change into some nice heels and a cover-up dress (there is a dress code!) and head to the bar at the top of the W Barcelona. The views are meant to be incredible.

SHOP:


WaWas Barcelona: If you are going to buy souvenirs/anything to remember your trip to Barcelona, PLEASE get it from this shop. It’s a tiny little hole-in-the-wall type deal in the Barri Gotic that I wasn’t even going to attempt visiting, but on our last day we had around an hour and one last trip left on our Metro card – it was meant to be. We Google Maps-ed our way here and left with two prints for our home, which we’re delighted with! Everything is so cool, alongside their famous Instagram-style postcards of Barcelona are prints and illustrations from Catalan designers and local artists, quirky little guidebooks and a Barcelona-scented candle. It’s like a little cove of wonders - has to be seen to be believed. I want to go back just to visit this shop one more time!

Sephora: The Sephora in Barcelona is BIG and bountiful – I had a quick run inside to remove some nail varnish on the fly so I didn’t get to look as fully as I would have liked, but you can pick up some gems here (whilst not ALL Sephora US products) like Sephora’s own line of brushes, the Sephora lip creams which receive so much attention, and Formula X nail polish. All well worth a look!

Pharmacie: Plenty of French pharmacy brands to be found over here (La Roche Posay, Bioderma etc.), and with the Euro to pounds conversion rate at the moment you could probably save some money! 



EAT:


Bar Lobo: My review is here in case you missed it, but this was one of our favourite spots we had dinner at – a great menu and phenomenal tapas, please don’t miss out on the Patatas Bravas! So yum! It’s also really centrally located which means afterward you can bar-hop around a little or just take a long evening walk on La Rambla, but it doesn’t follow the pattern of being extortionate just because it’s in the tourist centre. Also – dem interiors tho.

Brunch and Cake: We waited around 45 minutes for a table here, and when you have three super hungry travel companions all trusting your recommendation, THAT can be nervy. Luckily, everyone loved their food and agreed it was well worth the wait, and this was really conveniently located for our flat in Urgell. The nearest metro is Universitat and go early and HUNGRY. The menu is awesome and the French toast was CRAZY good.

La Boqueria: This amazing market could sit under the 'see' category, but damn, come here with an empty stomach and head straight for the middle of the market - you'll miss out on tourist prices and, if you're lucky, grab a slice of wood-fired oven fresh pizza (SO GOOD), some of the freshest fruit you'll ever taste, or maybe a little kebab stick of cured meats! The options are endless here but PLEASE try a fresh juice. My favourite was lemon-mint, J's was kiwi banana. Go find yours!

In general I’d say stay away from anywhere that charges over around 5 euro for most of its tapas – you’re being ripped off. You can get a great meal for two for around 30 euro, or that was what we found, including drinks. Also! Don’t use ‘bill’ at the end of your meal, always ‘cheque’! And don’t say ‘pay’, as my friend Nathan did this and the waitress brought him some bread. It was adorable, but also a little embarrassing for him and the waitress!

You can save money by only eating out once or twice a day – there are Carrefours and Bonpreus everywhere and you’ll see a ton of people picking up pastries and big bottles of water to eat and drink on the go.  In general, we found Barcelona really well-priced and only took £120 each for four days three nights (eating out often and doing excursions, shopping, etc.) – much more reasonable than London can be!

I hope this is useful and if you want to see any more about our trip, do watch the vlog on my YT channel! 

6 comments

  1. Ooooh your guide is so cool! Very detailed. I remember quite liking Barcelona, but couldn't remember much to tell you before you left! But I was a backpacker anyway, so I would have been pretty useless! We were also incredibly unwell at the time so I didn't do as much as you did! I just remember doing an epic bike ride of the city, going to the beach, and going up that huge mountain behind the city?? Annnnnd we stayed right next to a brothel. Good times!

    Funnily enough, I hated the beach...the sand was just, dirty. BUT, it was a very pretty beach to look at. I can't believe it was created for the Olympics, how cool is that!
    I wish i got to go to all the shops you mentioned and eat all the yummy food! We didn't get tapas until Madrid (but we got them for FREE there, yesss), but we ate some decent (cheap) food regardless. Not as good as yours though - omg. Nom.

    Sounds like you had a pretty fab trip, gal friend! What a lovely way to spend a few days!!

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    1. Thanks lady! Oh, so you went to Montjuic - that's cool! My best friend and her boyfriend did that on their last day and said it was fun :) I think they must have really cleaned up the beach because when we went it was awesome, and so alive - so much to see and do! You should go back ;) Take my list and go for longer! It was SO much fun, the best pre-birthday ever! T xx

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  2. Love this Barcelona guide, I'm heading there this September and will definitely use this for your recommendations :) There's so much to see and do, and I'm so excited to nerd out over all of the architecture there.

    Cindy // www.cindyhyue.com

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    1. Thanks so much Cindy, I'm so glad this is going to be useful! You'll LOVE the architecture, one of my favourite things about being there. I wish I could go back right now - you're going to have such an amazing time! T xx

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  3. I'd love to go back to Barcelona one day. I was only there for a couple of days back in 2010 and I don't think I got to look around enough. But I did manage to get to La Boqueria & Sagrada Familia! Also you seriously can't beat AirBNB these days. When I went overseas last year I almost exclusively stayed in hostels and in AirBNB accommodation because you just get so much more out of it than a hotel, i.e. the facilities to wash your clothes or cook yourself dinner and a living room/area to hang out in which is especially important when you're travelling with friends.

    jessica - littlehenrylee.com

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    1. I totally agree Jessica - my boyfriend and I are totally converted and will be using AirBNB exclusively for our trip to Scandinavia I think :) I think Barcelona is just one of those cities where you always feel like you haven't seen enough - there are so many little pockets of awesomeness - all the more reason for both of us to go back, eh? ;) T xx

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