Barcelona: Basic Must-Sees
This summer I was (finally) able to make it to Barcelona. I say "finally" because I was in Budapest ready to go when it turns out I made the very classic mistake of going 12 hours late to the airport. My friend and I had bought a ticket for 6:35 and we thought PM when in Europe, they generally use the military time, therefore, 6:35 PM = 18:35. You'd think after living in Europe, that on my third fourth there, I would figure out time. After many headaches and attempting to call my mom in the Budapest airport (with terrible wifi), I finally made it to Barcelona, and it was almost worth the very expensive flight the next morning.
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, which is mostly located in Spain. Catalonia is technically a part of Spain, but, they like to think of themselves rather independent and have a long (and bloody) history of fighting for their place. My walking tour guide offered a lot of history and backstory for Barcelona, which I think is imperative to begin to truly understand the city. Make sure to learn at least a bit of history from the experts while you're walking around.
It's a beautiful city, whose main attraction is walking around and seeing the city. I've written a list of the favorite sights and such I saw, but also make sure to just stroll and see the city. Barcelona can be relaxing, so sit on the beach for a while and soak in the Mediterranean sea.
- Sagrada Familia - Absolutely incredible and unique church. Yes, it’s expensive but it is so one of a kind and amazing inside, it is a must-see. I bought entrance with audioguide and a tower tour online before I went. I’d recommend buying before, and the audioguide but the tower tour was not super necessary or see anything cool. It’s mostly walking down stairs and having a vista point. I’d recommend the elevator vista point in the gothic quarter cathedral if you like looking out over the city, and it is cheaper.
- Barcelona Cathedral - I recommend going inside, it’s free and a very classical gothic cathedrals which is always nice. This church is pretty strict about having knees to shoulders covered, so make sure to be property covered or to hand over a couple euros to the people outside selling scarves. I recommend doing all churches in one day when properly covered, then wear whatever you want other days.
- Parc Güell - We didn’t buy tickets to the Gaudi part because we are cheap and already saw a lot of interesting Gaudi work at the Sagrada (and bought an extra plane ticket). But, it’s a cool park regardless and worth checking out. We took a bus to the park, look up google routes and choose the one that is longer because this will help you avoid hiking up the steep hill. We took the 116, and barely had to climb up the hill. If you go to the closest tube station, you’re going to have to hike up to the park.
Sandeman’s free walking tour - very good. You can see places you may want to check out after the tour. I always recommend free walking tours, and this company is one of my favorites.
Sandeman’s bike tour - 16 euro - not a bad price for having a bike for a couple hours. And it shows you other parts of the city not covered on the walking tour.
Make sure to try paellas, sangria and tapas everywhere, use yelp around you and you will find some good eats. Barcelona is a cool city and most of the “attractions” are the city itself, which is why the walking tour is important, and make sure to look up while walking around.
Like Prague, Barcelona is notorious for theft in the street or subway, so always have your purse zipped, and stay aware of your surroundings and people around you. Make sure to recognize when you’re in more touristy areas, and adjust vigilance accordingly. Barcelona is a beautiful city, so you’ll want to spend your euros, not lose them.