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Barcelona Ultimate Travel Guide To The Best Attractions

Nov 7, 2020 @
Barcelona ultimate travel guide sagrada familia
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Sagrada Familia Church Barcelona

Here is your Barcelona ultimate travel guide, a city that is always an awesome visit indeed!  This Barcelona visit was surprisingly great. I have to admit l am still a bit ambivalent about the city. The reason being that we are Real Madrid football fans, and we loved our Madrid trip. Barcelona, on the other hand, l do like, but my dislike for the team taints my overall vision.

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Barcelona Ultimate Travel Guide:

I, like every person in this world, knows about the Sagrada Familia, a church l was curious to see. Much to my delight, the city had not only this beautiful masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi, it had really interesting architecture throughout . This time, we spent a total of 4 days wandering and soaking in the beautiful Catalan culture.

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Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel in Barcelona:

Our hotel (Ayre  Rosellon Hotel) was located a stone’s throw away from the Sagrada Familia. Our first day was spent within the walls of the Sagrada. I had purchased our tickets online thankfully, as this saved us hours of standing in a very very long line that wrapped around the building. Upon getting there, we were quickly directed to the other side, our tickets scanned on the phone, and bam… we were in like Flint. Make sure you reserve your tickets on line to save yourself the needless wait.

For luxury travellers, I highly recommend the W hotel Barcelona that is right on the beach and has the most wonderful amenities like a full gym, an amazing Spa, roof top bar and a DJ spinning tunes in the lounge. Curious as to what it looks like, check out the W hotel tour post here.

Getting around Barcelona:

Public transport is the way to go when on a Barcelona holidays. There is a lot of traffic and the center is crammed and full of pedestrian only zones so it is difficult to find parking. Always a good idea to check to see if your hotel offers free parking as that will save you a lot of money. You also have the choice of leaving the car at the hotel and taking public transport which is very efficient. On one of our visits, we stayed at the absolutely fabulous Barcelo Sants hotel which is right on top of the AVE station and metro stop making it really easy to get around.

Barcelona Travel Card:

This travel card allows you unlimited travel on the bus, metro, and tram public transport in addition to the RENFE train from the El Prat airport to the city center. The Barcelona card also includes reduced prices or free entry to some of best Barcelona museums and even restaurants. You can purchase tickets at the tourist booth at the airport.

Barcelona Tourist Travel Pass:

Also known as the HolaBCN card, this is a multi day travel card for tourists only. You can buy it for 2-5 days of all public transport including buses, metro, trams and the train that gets you into the city. There are no other discounts given, it is strictly for travel. The card is valid for travel between 5am and 11pm.

*Tip: If your flight arrives late, you might want to save the card for activation the next day so you don’t waste a full day’s worth of travel.

Language in Barcelona:

While Spanish is spoken in Barcelona, the Catalan language is the dominant one. This is a sore point for some of the locals. There are residents who don’t want to speak Spanish and actually prefer to separate from Spain as a whole and are cold towards other Spanish people who speak the Castilian Spanish. As a tourist, you shouldn’t have any problems. However, you should realise that while English is widely spoken in the centre, you would hear it less often away from there.

Barcelona Attractions: What to do in Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia: a must visit in Barcelona

Barcelona Sagrada ceiling in our Barcelona ultimate travel guide
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The ceiling of the Sagrada Familia..insane right??


Barcelona sagrada familia columns
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How cool is that ceiling in the Sagrada Familia church?

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Barcelona travel guide Sagrada glasswork
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Barcelona travel must see: Wonderful stain glass artwork are plentiful in the Sagrada Familia interior.

 

Travel guide for Barcelona Sagrada familia interior
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You could literally spend hours inside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. And we did!

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Sagrada Familia interior:

Words alone can not describe the beauty of the interior. It was beyond anything l could have imagined. The stained glass works, the altar, the stairs, the details that went into it all. We spent a few hours walking through the bottom floor, seeing how they put the wood pieces together. We learned what inspired him, – nature (honeycomb, tree of life, etc ). We watched the movie about his life, both in Spanish and English. I didn’t even mind waiting till most of the crowds had left (closing time) so we could have people free pictures because it was crowded!

sagrada familia interior
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One of the must visit in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.

 

 

barcelona sagrada with woman posing in our ultimate travel guide
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We waited a really long time for the church to clear out to get these pics because of the crowds.!

 

barcelona sagrada familia front view
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Front view of the Sagrada Familia. It is really a sight to behold.

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It was great looking at old photos of him. They even had some old designs that he had made while at the University of Barcelona that were discovered after his death. He lived a humble life from what l could see.  A single bed! when one would have imagined that a man in his position would have all the trappings of wealth.

barcelona gaudi bed
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Check out his bed! Very tiny for shuch an accomplished person.

Thoughts on the Sagrada Familia:

My first thought had been that this was a Walt Disney gone mad kind of tribute to God. I felt differently after seeing it. I am so glad we toured inside. It is well worth the €15 per entrance fee and l recommend it highly. He died an old man, after getting hit by a train and had a grand funeral. It is hopefully destined for completion  by 2026, exactly 100 years after his death. Purchase your tickets here.

The city of Barcelona as a whole:

It was fun to wander down Las Ramblas and Plaza Catalunya, as well as  the Gothic Quarter. It was also fun to now recognize Gaudi’s other works as we went about the city. A change from my love for Impressionism. I know the locals are getting very tired of the number of tourists that intrude on their space and understandably so, which numbers roughly 20 million and not showing signs of slowing, thanks to the increased number of cruise ships in addition to all the flights

Avenue Diagonal Barcelona:

This big avenue essentially divides the city of Barcelona in tow, west side and east side. I loved the wide streets and loved the Avenue Diagonal Barcelona where there are plenty of designer stores and lots of rich people shopping. Names like Louis Vuitton and Glories. Needless to say, locals don’t really shop there. It’s been taken over by tourists and rich ones that have money to spare.

barcelona vuitton store
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Too bad the Louis Vuitton were closed! I was going to buy a lot! :0)) .. mmm….Yeah

We tried to visit the Picasso museum, but once again, the wait was just too long. It was hot and the line stretched way down that little narrow street. I left the husband in line while l went to see just how long the line was. It took me almost 5 minutes to get to the front. Oh..hell..to the NO! Granted, it was free admission at that time (Sunday after 3), but we tried again the next day, willing to pay,  but it was still long.

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I have an aversion to long lines. I’m the person who used to pay $49 to get into Magic Mountain or $60 for Disneyland, then refused to stand in ridiculously long lines to ride for 20 seconds. I’ve become even fussier with age.. :o)

Plaza Catalunya:

Plaza Catalunya
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Plaza Catalunya Barcelona. A must visit in Barcelona. Boy, were those buses full!!!

 

barcelona plaza catalunya
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Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona – a nice place to people watch. One of my favorite parts of the city.

 

Barcelona ultimate travel guide plaza catalunya fountain with hoho bus
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Lovely vistas in the city, including this fountain with the lovely sorounding houses and plaza. Bet they have good views from the top of the buses.

 

barcelona restaurants and tapas bar in the guide to barcelona travel
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Barcelona travel should definitely involve plenty of tapas and tinto verano, (also called Latin) the Spanish version of sangria. Ask for a Cava in Barcelona to be like the locals. Spanish life is all about working a bit, and relaxing a lot. It was hard to get used to at first, but we are making progress.

 

barcelona our awesome visit government buildings
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Lots of wonderful sights and people watching, not to mention museums to satisfy everyone.

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out travel guide to Barcelona , this is a goth building at plaza catlunya
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Lots of goth inspired buildings. If you’re a Gaudi fan, you will be pleased. Another must visit in Barcelona is the Gaudi park which we only passed, but did not visit this time. Gives us a reason to come back!

Las Ramblas Barcelona:

  • A wide pedestrian street with mature trees
  • Three quarter mile long
  • Between the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and El Raval barrios
  • Visit the Boqueria
  • Ideal melting pot. Spot visitors from all over the world visiting the most famous street in Barcelona
  • Watch the side walk artists – Still statue performance artists and famous movie stars abound
  • *Caution* – watch your pocketbook and wallet. Even with the police presence, there is an awful lot of opportunistic theft.
"Marilyn" in las ramblas barcelona
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“Marilyn” on Las Ramblas, one of the most touristy parts of Barcelona. Definitley lots of eye catching art if you look up while walking on the Barcelona Ramblas. Watch out for pickpockets though as you jostle your way through the crowds.

Camp Nou Barcelona:

Of course we had to go by Camp Nou, the Barcelona football club Stadium. I was quite impressed by their official store, l must say. It was so beautiful, we were almost tempted to buy a jersey or 2! We happily wandered about with the fans and took pictures. It is a mecca for fans and impossible to get lost. Just follow the crowd once you get off the metro stop. There are two lines that take you to Camp Nou.

Line 3: Metro stop Palau Reial or Les Corts

Line 5: Metro stop Collblanc or Badal

barcelona camp nou football entrance - must visit in our Barcelona ultimate travel guide
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Where to go in Barcelona? Football lovers should visit Camp Nou. This is the entrance. Don’t tell them l prefer Real Madrid 🙂

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camp nou store barcelona ultimate travel guide
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One of Barcelona points of interest is the Camp Nou Barcelona team football store. I have to admit that as much as l don’t care for the team, I really, really liked the store and was more than happy to spend lots of time there. It’s set up terrifically.

 

Kubala Stecz statue at camp nou barcelona with man posing. in Barcelona ultimate travel guide
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I did like meandering around Camp Nou Barcelona though, and hearing about their history from Federico who loves everything football! He is a walking encyclopedia.

 

camp nou interior in the Barcelona ultimate travel guide
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Is that impressive or what! Camp Nou interior

Barcelona Travel Guide to the El Born district:

Hip and getting trendier by the minute neighbourhood with unique designer stores and narrow streets. Home to the Picasso museum and El Born cultural center.

Read this dedicated post on El Born to discover more.

El Poblenou Barcelona Guide:

Huge neighbourhood that has been revitalized and is now bustling with hip cafes, tapas bars and restaurants on it’s Rambla de Poblenou boulevard. Don’t miss the Encants flea market, a true one of a kind.

Read our post on the Poblenou neighbourhood here.

National Museum of Art Catalunya:

MNAC Barcelona front view - Barcelona ultimate travel guide
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Barcelona travel guide: The views from the top are gorgeous. It’s a pity that not many tourists visit, it is definitely worth it.

Amazing museum filled with Catalan , Gothic, and Romanesque collections to name a few. Located on Montjuic hill close to Plaza Espanya, it is a definitely must see.

Read all about our fascinating behind the scenes MNAC visit here.

To plan your own awesome visit to Barcelona, start by reserving your hotel here. My best tip for a Barcelona vacation is to have comfortable shoes on, especially on the cobble stones. You do a lot of walking :-).

Find best hotels in Barcelona here

Best places to visit in Barcelona include:

  • Sagrada Familia
  • Camp Nou
  • Plaza Catalunya
  • El Born
  • Poblenou
  • Gothic Quarter
  • Barceloneta and check out the W hotel
  • Park Güell for Gaudi’s work
  • La Rambla
  • Ciutadela Park
  • MNAC Barcelona

 

Barcelona travel guide:

Tips for visiting Barcelona:

  • If booking private accommodation, make sure the unit is approved for rental and has a license. The city is cracking down on unlicensed private AirBnB places. Check before paying. You don’t want to get put out. Don’t mention that you’re staying in one to the locals either. They hate AirBnB.
  • Compare prices between AirBnB and hotels. Sometimes the price difference is so little, or you might be surprised if the hotel comes out cheaper because they are priced competitively, like we discovered on our visit.
  • Watch out for pickpockets. It is a growing problem with the huge influx of visitors to Barcelona. Make sure your purse has a zip across it, hold it firmly and always make sure to have your hand on it, even at restaurants. They are professionals.
  • Make sure you have Xerox copies of your passport and any pertinent ID and credit cards so if they happen to be stolen, you can call the companies to cancel and you will have your passport number to report to the embassy.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable shoes. There is lots of walking in the city. This is not the time for high heels.
  • Take one of the free Barcelona walking tours to familiarise yourself with the city.
  • Get lost on the side streets. Best way to discover the vibrant city
  • Don’t discuss politics with the locals. A definite no no!
  • If you intend on renting a car, remember that you need an international driver license along with your regular one. To find a rental care, use Auto Europe site that will compare prices to get you the cheapest rate.
  • Behave yourself. This should go without saying. I’m not sure what makes people behave so rudely when they travel. No fights, no drunken behaviour and no littering. Simple!
  • While you are not obligated to tip, if you really like the service, you can leave a small tip to show your appreciation, maybe 5-10% of your bill, but it is not compulsory.
  • To look like a local, order a Cava instead of Sangria


Foods to try in Barcelona:

Fideau
Fideua in Barcelona
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Yummy food. Good with rice and good with noodles. Eat some at El Cangrejo Loco restaurant located at Port Olímpic, 30, Moll de Gregal, 29, 08005 Barcelona

The Catalan region is famous for their take on paella. Called Fideua and made with spaghetti like noodles. It’s fantastic and a seafood one is a must try in my opinion.

Calamari a la plancha:

Grilled calamari – a must for seafood lovers

Patatas Brava:

Spicy potatoes

Spanish tortilla:

A very filling Spanish omelette, filled with potatoes and egg. Delicious

Jamon:
jamon plate in barcelona with bread
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Jamon Iberico – just imagine how wonderful that tastes.

Cured ham, it is a staple of Spanish cuisine. Try the Iberico which is made from pigs that are free range and fed only acorns. Insanely good and worth trying. Try it at any one of the Andreu charcuterias in the city.

Is Barcelona worth visiting?

Yes it is. It is a humongous city that has lots to offer everyone. Wonderful sights and history and great beaches, not to mention some of the best day trips from Barcelona to places like Montserrat and Girona. I look forward to visiting the city again. There is always something new to see.

Barcelona Ultimate Travel Guide #barcelona #spain #visitbarcelona #barcelonaitinerary #bestofbarcelona
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Have you been to Barcelona? Is it a place that you would like to visit or is it a must miss for you?

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34 thoughts on “Barcelona Ultimate Travel Guide To The Best Attractions”

  1. Brilliant photos kemkem as usual but Baaaaarcelona! I really love that city. Madrid not so much. If there is any place in Spain that I would live in, it would be Barcelona. Such an amazing place and Gaudi. What a legend.
    In my opinion, La Sagrada Família is one of the best churches in the world! Keep it coming LOL!

    Reply
    • Thank you!! :o) it’s a good thing that there are so many different tastes. I actually preferred Madrid..lol! I am so glad l discovered Gaudi. He is a legend!!!

      Reply
    • Thanks Holly! Sometimes l get mad at him, but hearing things like this, l’m happy he doesn’t listen to me. ;0))

      Reply
    • Yeah..I was surprised l liked it that much. We only went because it was €54 RT, the cheapos that we are!!! ;o)

      Reply
  2. Oooh, thanks so much for sharing. You know this is on my list for next year. Love the pics. The Church is amazing. How was the weather and temperature when you went? Sounds like you liked Madrid better. I’m still on the fence on which city to visit. I’m thinking of traveling in Fall of 2015.

    Reply
  3. The weather was perfect. We really didn’t need the jackets, it was just easier as we stayed out all day, and so it was needed for the evening. I did prefer Madrid, it just seemed “cheerier” to me. Hard to describe, but it’s sort of how l prefer Universal Studios to Disneyland. Both great, but an extra oompf with Uni. That being said, the church alone was worth it. You have a tough decision..lol! But a nice choice to have..

    Reply
    • That’s actually very helpful because I prefer Universal Studios in Florida to Disney World so I know what you mean. Thanks for the insights. I think I might choose Madrid after all. I still have plenty of time to plan it out. Looking forward to seeing your pics of the food. My fave! 🙂

      Reply
      • Oh, l’m glad my comparison made sense! The fun part is planning isn’t i? You will have fun for sure.

        Reply
  4. Barcelona is high on my “to visit” list and I haven’t heard of a single person who visited it and didn’t like it. Also, I consider the Sagrada Familia a must see.

    Reply
    • It was impossible to hate it. Loads of fun, and good food. The Catalan Spanish was a little hard, but not impossible to understand. The Sagrada Familia was very very good. Loved it !!!

      Reply
  5. I cannot wait to visit next month! I absolutely loved this post and your photos. I’m also eagerly awaiting your food post! Also, you answered my question I had about buying tickets online for the Sagrada Familia. I’m so glad that cuts the wait time.

    Happy travels 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Lauren. I am sure you will have a wonderful time. Remember that they need to scan the original PDF file, so make sure you open it already before you get there (I had opened it on the ipad, and not on the phone, and since we had no wifi , we had to run back to the hotel to get the ipad..luckily, it was a 2 minute walk!!

      Reply
    • Yeah! We had a very good time. I wasn’t keen on going at first, but l was glad to be wrong :0) thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  6. In Madrid you can visit some interesting parks and the two museums but there are not so many things to visit more than that and on summer it is too hot to do anything. I don’t understand the people who compare both cities if Barcelona is completely different. Is like comparing Rome with London. There is nothing to compare more than the influence of the spanish dictatorship on both cities, and it had the worst results for Barcelona where many buildings were destroyed because they didn’t have so much spanish influence, like the case of the architect “Puig y Cadafalch”. It is sad that not so many tourists learned about the history of both places and many people just ignore that the responsibles of the spanish dictatorship still have impunity nowadays for all of their crimes.

    Reply
    • I understand what you mean Ron. Looking back, it is hard to compare the two. I think if l were in my 20’s and still like to party, l would have said l preferred Barcelona. Now, l like the calmer things, so maybe that’s why l prefer Madrid. I have also been trying to learn more about places l visit, so l can have more of an insight. I also think part of my preference for Madrid might be because l like the football team more than Barcelona :-). A lot of my family loves Barca, so l always go for the opposite. I am going to discover more of Barcelona in a few more weeks at a conference. I have a feeling l might change my mind by the time l return. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  7. Barcelona – the city that can not be learned in one trip! It’s possible to go back there over and over again and constantly find something new …

    Reply
    • You are right. Impossible to take in in one visit. The truth is l actually liked it better the second time in the later posts l wrote about Barcelona. There is so much to discover still. We still want to go back again 🙂 . Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  8. Barcelona is among my favorites places to visit. (I couldn’t care less about their “football”.( You did miss the trip to the Dali museum that is a short skip away from town.

    Reply
    • I can see why it’s one of your favourites. Oooohhh… it’s all about real football :-). I had a chance to visit the Dali museum while in Girona a while back. I opted for a day on a cruise around Costa Brava. I am more of an “impressionist” art girl.

      Reply
  9. I have been to Barcelona twice, but failed to visit inside the Sagrada Familia. I definitely will go again in the future and will make sure to book the tickets in advance, on both occasions the queue to get in was huge and I just couldn’t face it. I love the photos and your guide 😄

    Reply
    • Yeah.. that queue is quite insane and just can’t understand why people would wait that long in line, but l guess when you go all that way to see something, you have to because for most, it’s once in a lifetime. Worth getting the tickets ahead of time. Thank you :-).

      Reply
  10. What exquisite photos! Such an in-depth tour, it made me feel like I was traveling with you!

    Reply
    • Thanks Martha, I’m glad you feel that way. The sole intent :-).

      Reply
  11. I’ll be in Barcelona in November, nowadays I’m a personal travel consultant and companion – helping women who are scared going solo and unsure how to plan a trip, to see the world 🙂 I love it. It’ll be my first time in Barcelona, thanks for the guide 😊

    Reply
    • Oh nice Paula. That sounds like an awesome job, especially since you love traveling so much. A great fit. I hope you have a great time there, in fact, I’m sure you will, as will the other traveler :-).

      Reply

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