Barcelona is a city that almost everyone falls in love with, and I was not an exception. The first time I went to Barcelona was with my friend Melissa, otherwise known as Girleatworld. Travel noobs that we were, we did not fully research the city and had only budgeted ourselves 1.5 days in Barcelona. We also happened to land on a national holiday so almost everything was closed. Talking about epic fails… But because of this, I made a mental note to myself to visit Barcelona again someday.
That day came after I finished studying abroad and traveling in Asia. I had the option of going back to London and pay 250GBP per week for a tiny apartment, or I could spend a month ANYWHERE in Europe before classes started. So I chose the latter, hoping to take advantage of my gap month to explore Barcelona, learn some Spanish (ha!), and not pay the crazy rent in London.
I spent about a month in Barcelona while taking Spanish classes for 4 hours each day, 5 days a week. It’s probably best not to focus on my Spanish skills as I realized that people in Barcelona don’t even speak Spanish on a daily basis….and they automatically spoke English to me when they saw me (I must really look like a tourist).
It’s ok if learning Spanish is not your goal for coming to Barcelona, because there are so many other things that will make you fall in love with the city.
Reason 1: Beautiful Architectures Everywhere
Barcelona is known for beautiful architectures by Gaudi, Jean Nouvel, etc. Take a walk around the Eixample District, El Raval Neighbourhood and the Gothic Quarter and you will undoubtedly stumble upon some of the famous buildings in Barcelona.
Reason 2: Most Impressive Churches
You will find some of the world’s most impressive churches here in Barcelona.
REASON 3: Amazing Parks
Barcelona is just…..so pretty! Besides the nice houses and churches, there are so many nice parks around too!
REASON 4: Beach at Your Door Step
Barcelona has its own beach (although man made). But the entire area of Barceloneta is super cute with tons of shops, bars, restaurants, and ice cream carts! Besides, who doesn’t want a beach at their own door step? It’s so convenient to get to Barceloneta by both subway and bus.
REASON 5: Vibrant Night Life
Barcelona is known to be one of the most exciting cities in Spain, partially due to its vibrant night life. Here, you can party by the beach at some of the best known clubs such as Opium and Pacha. You can go to a local bar, enjoy football and a beer. Another option is to find a flamenco bar and enjoy some great performances and music. I’ve done all 3 and I loved all of them.
What I didn’t know about partying in Spain is that in the VIP section (table service) of the clubs, they even provide you with massage services o_O. I was so surprised to see that at Opium! Also, unlike the US and Asia, parties in Spain start really late and ends really late. When we got there around midnight, the place was near empty on a Thursday night. But when we left around 2:30am, people were waiting in line to come in. I guess that’s why those siestas are needed during the day.
*image from Google
REASON 6: FOOOOOOOOOOD!
Spain is known for its food, and Barcelona is no exception. I think I gained 5lb living there eating all the great food around the city. My favorite place was the La Boqueria market on La Rambla.
REASON 7: Football games
Even though you may not be a soccer/football fan, but it’s still very entertaining to go to a FC Barcelona game. The team spirit and enthusiasm alone will get you energized the entire time even if you don’t know what’s going on in the field! I was really lucky to be able to catch the Champions League semi-final game between FC Barcelona and Bayer Munich last May.
REASON 8: Mountains and Views
When people think of Barcelona, few realize that Barcelona is great for hiking and panorama views. It’s not hiking in complete nature but it’s more walking up and down the hill while exploring the area and enjoying the views.
REASON 9: Museum
If you are an art person, then Barcelona is definitely for you.
The most famous museum in Barcelona would have to be the Picasso Museum. I used to never be a Picasso fan because I never understood anything, but after visiting that museum (for free), I got to learn a lot more about his styles and the changes in his art work.
Another museum that looks nice on both the outside and the inside is the MNCA: Museum Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. The highlight of the museum is the Romanesque collection and the Gothic collection.
There are many more museums that I didn’t get to visit, but if you are interested in contemporary art, there is CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona) and Fundacio Sunol.
REASON 10: Catalan Culture
As I mentioned earlier, People in Barcelona don’t speak Spanish on a daily basis. That’s because Barcelona is in Catalonia, one of the Spain’s autonomous communities that has its own distinct language and culture. People in Barcelona tend to believe they are not Spanish and some called for independence. Politics aside, you will feel the cultural differences here compare to Madrid.
A big difference is the language. Another big difference is food. You may think of Spanish food as tapas and paellas, but in Barcelona, the food has its own twist to it. There are a lot of seafood and meat dishes, due to its proximity to both the ocean and mountains. People love eating bread toasted with tomato and olive oil and their own version of paella called Fideua, which uses noodles instead of rice. Catalans also have their won fiestas and parties and even their own emblem (a donkey).
For all these differences, next time you go to Barcelona, do not call them Spanish and do not wear a Real Madrid jersey!
Barcelona is an exciting and vibrant city and it’s nice to visit any time of the year. I hope to go back to visit someday soon!
If you are interested in going to visit Barcelona for 3 days, be sure to check out these great blogs for potential itineraries:
Andrea’s Travels blog post on her 3 day Barcelona Itinerary