Barcelona was the first city I ever visited in Spain and, years later, it remains my favorite. I went for the first time back in 2017 for study abroad spring break and was lucky enough to return this past Spring. March is the perfect time to visit Barcelona, there are less tourists than the summer months and the temperature is warm but not uncomfortably hot. But no matter when you are able to visit, the city will be sure to steal your heart ❤
Barcelona is an enormous city and it can be hard to see in a short amount of time, but better a few days than no days at all! Here are my suggestions on how to see the best of this glorious city with only a weekend of time.
La Sagrada Familia
This is a bit of an obvious one, but you can’t visit Barcelona without experiencing their world famous Sagrada Familia Basilica. Designed by Gaudi, it has been under construction for a whooping 135 years. It’s forecasted to be completed by 2026, but even unfinished the basilica is an absolute masterpiece. I would recommend doing the audio tour as well as paying a bit extra to climb to the top. The views of the city from the middle balcony are unreal!
Make sure to buy tickets in advance, especially in the on season when it’s likely to sell out. You can buy tickets here.
Another masterpiece designed by Gaudi, Park Guell is one of my favorite places in Barcelona. The part filled with colorful benches and mosaics, pictured below, costs 10 EUR for an entrance ticket. Make sure you buy these tickets in advance because the park will sell out, especially in the high season.
If you want to see more of this spectacular park, there is also has a large free area that is open to the public. If you decide to hike to the top you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Barcelona!
Picasso had years of history and a deep love of Barcelona, so it’s fitting that the 4,251 works of his permanent collection ended up in the city that he loved most of all. The museum is very beautiful and his works displayed expertly by time period and style. If you don’t know much about art, like myself, I would strongly suggest investing in the audio tour to learn a bit more about his masterpieces and Picasso himself.
Gaudi’s influence is all over Barcelona, and Casa Batlló is yet another example of his talent. The building was designed by Gaudi for a wealthy aristocrat named Joseph Batlló who lived in the lower two floors with his family. The rest were rented out as apartments. Unfortunately I have not had the chance to go inside as the building was closed for renovations in the Spring.
Another beautiful cathedral dominating the Barcelona skyline, the Barcelona Cathedral is definitely worth a visit. Although it’s not as popular as the Sagrada Familia, the gothic architecture of this 15th century church is stunning and makes a beautiful backdrop below the Hotel Colón rooftop bar. That’s a view that’s hard to beat!
Entrance costs only 7 EUR, or you could spend the same on a cold cerveza across the street…just saying.
Mercado de La Boqueria
No visit to Barcelona is complete without visiting some of the city’s famous outdoor markets! Mercado de La Boqueria, or just “La Boqueria,” is the most popular and one of my personal favorites for a quick bite to eat. Although the market can be a bit crazy and it’s always full of tourists, there is a wide variety of yummy choices ranging from fresh produce and meats to ready-to-eat fried seafood and homemade fruit smoothies.
There are a variety of sit-down restaurants framing the market but, if you’re looking to eat on a budget, the street food is the move.
Arc de Triomf
Built at the end of the 19th century, the Arc de Triomf is one of the iconic symbols of Barcelona. It was originally constructed as the entrance to the Universal Exposition and is a beautiful monument that many say was the gateway to the modernization of Barcelona. Followed by rows of palm trees, it is a beautiful spot to sit and admire the beauty of the city.
Platja de la Barceloneta
Always loving a good day on the beach in Barcelona. No matter how hot the city gets, you’ll always have a place to relax and cool down. Make sure to have some cash on you when the mojito vendor comes around. Priorities amirite.
Barcelona is widely known for its outrageous club scene! Although I was much more interested in this when I visited as a study abroad student than when I returned with my family, there’s no denying that Barcelona is one of the partying capitals of Europe. If you’re in the partying mood, put on your hot girl disguise and pregame your ass off because, trust me, you’re going to need to waiting in a mile-long line for Club Opium.
Go shopping in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is easily, in my opinion, the most charming part of the city. It’s filled with quaint shops and yummy Spanish restaurants and is the best place to sit outside to people watch with a pitcher of red sangria and a few a-la-carte tapas.
In March, I discovered an adorable, little shop selling a great variety of handmade espadrilles. Toni Pons has locations all over Spain and Mexico and is a great place to do a little shoe splurging if you’re in the area!
Restaurants & Bars
Spain has some of the most delicious local cuisine in all of Europe, but a little foodie guidance never hurts. Try out these tasty, and affordable, restaurants and make sure to get your fill of Spanish sangria and tapas while you’re at it. (Side note: I hate sangria but I force myself to drink it in Spain anyway, it’s the principle).
Although heavily frequented by American study abroad students, Rosa Negra remains one of my favorite dinner spots in Barcelona. The Mexican food is phenomenal and they serve a wide variety of fun blended cocktails that make the long wait times easily bearable (and you know I always need a piña colada on vacation).
Brunch & Cake
Looking for a photogenic, Insta-worthy brunch? Look no further than Brunch & Cake. They don’t have a dull item on the menu and a lot of the food is brought to your table in shovels. What more could you want in a food pic?
Do your best to make a reservation, Brunch & Cake is one of the most popular brunch spots in the city and will be sure to have long waits.
La Dentellière Restaurante
It was a happy accident that we stumbled into this restaurant on a hungry night out in the Gothic Quarter. La Dentellière was a bit more expensive than I normally go for, but all bets are off when your parents are in town. We started the meal off with a bottle of Tempranillo, goat cheese, courgette carpaccio, crispy prawn ravioli on top of royal quinoa and Spanish omelette. The seafood paella was incredible and, after the appetizers, plenty big enough for four people.
This restaurant served some of the best tapas I’ve had in my life, but be sure to get there early in the evening. They actually have two locations very close to each other, but both are tiny and don’t have anywhere near enough seating to accommodate all the interested tapas-seekers.
Bodega Biarritz makes tons of different and delicious tapas every night! I would suggest ordering the staff’s choice – that way you get to try a bit of everything. It was plenty to feed all four of us with some left over. The restaurant is cash-only, so make sure to hit the ATM before.
Casa Guinart in the Mercado de La Boqueria
Since I love the Mercado de La Boqueria so much, I was able to convince the fam to stop at one of the sit-down restaurants there for a quick and tasty lunch. Casa Guinart, towards the back of the market, serves delicious sandwiches at an affordable price. My sister and I both ordered the bocadillo de camares, which was basically deep fried calamari smothered in cheese sauce on a black poppy seed bun.
Most of the dishes on the menu besides the sandwiches are a bit pricy, but the food looked amazing and why not splurge on vacation?
Dow Jones Bar
Also know as “The Stock Market Bar,” I first learned about Dow Jones through a travel feature video on my Facebook page and I knew instantly I needed to go there. Online they call in the Barcelona Drink Exchange, if you needed another reason to head there immediately after your plane lands in Spain.
The large monitor on the wall tells you which drinks are being purchased the most and which are being purchased the least at that specific point in time. The drinks that are the most popular go up in price, while the drinks that nobody is ordering become cheaper. Once every hour “the stock market crashes” and all the drinks go on super sale! It’s basically everyone’s cue to make a mad rush to the bar before the crash is over. The bar itself is a blast, with great music, fun people and a pool table in the back.
Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe and is truly impossible to appreciate completely in only one weekend. Although I’ve been lucky enough to have two weekends, I still feel as though I could spend years exploring the cobblestoned streets and eating tapas to my heart’s content.
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