The coolest thing about Spain is that every region is so unique. In the 3 weeks I had there, I visited Basque Country, Madrid, Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, and Catalonia (see regional map for reference). I barely scratched the surface! Each region offers something totally different from the next. If you’re planning a trip to Spain, make sure you do your regional research to see which area(s) might be the best fit for you in terms of things to experience. I will say the one consistent thing you’ll find in all of the regions is delicious food!
This blog is dedicated to Catalonia, and more specifically Barcelona where I had a week to explore. This region is special to me because it was actually my very first trip abroad without my family. I remember feeling so independent! At age 17, I left my small town with some fellow high school students for a study abroad program to explore Spain. After touring parts of the country, I stayed with a host family in Catalonia where I picked up some Catalan. When I went on a walking tour of Barcelona they taught us some key Catalan phrases and I started to flash back to my high school trip! Ah, good times. Anyways, in this post I am sharing recommendations for you on where to STAY, what to EAT and what to DO in and around Barcelona.
Stay Here: Rodamón Hotels & Hostels
Situated in the heart of the city in the Eixample neighborhood, Rodamón Hotels & Hostels is cost-friendly with good vibes offering a relaxing and social atmosphere. Below are a few reasons why I recommend Rodamón:
- The location couldn’t be better, it is about a 2-minute walk from the Diagonal metro station, two metro stops away from Sagrada Familia, a quick bus ride to Parc Guell, and about 5 metro stops away from all the Gothic quarter action.
- The staff working both morning and night shifts are the friendliest, very welcoming and helpful with recommendations in the area.
- There are tons of areas to hang out in including the large outdoor terrace (that has lounge chairs!) or the spacious common area indoors including a dining room and living room area with TV. If you are a solo traveler you can easily make friends here. They also have plans to extend the indoor dining room area.
- The hotel offers private rooms and the hostel has dorm rooms, where each bed is set up with a privacy curtain (win, win)!
See website for latest offers and rates at Rodamón.
Barcelona: Must Eat
My absolute favorite experience in all of Barcelona was with out a doubt eating, my recommendations are listed below:
- Pintxos/Pinchos on Calle Blai – You can’t go wrong around here, there are never ending bars lined back to back on this street, so just head over there and find one you like and enjoy!
- La Bouqueria Market – Large public fish market in the Ciutat Vella district with tons of options.
- Valor Chocolates – YUM! Get the hot chocolate with churros, to die for.
- Favorite Tapas Bar: Cerveseria Catalana, there is going to be a wait here, and it’s so worth it
Barcelona: Must Do
You can’t go to Barcelona and not admire and learn about entrepreneur Eusebi Güell and architect Antoni Gaudí. If you had 24 hours alone in BCN, I would say you need to at LEAST visit the Sagrada Familia. It is absolutely stunning, make sure you order the audio tour and if you can pass as a student get the student ticket because they don’t actually check your ID at the door. I also recommend a visit to Parc Güell and Güell’s House where you can learn more about Gaudi’s buddy Güell. The short version is that Güell was this rich guy and a friend of Gaudí’s who loved his work so employed him to work on his house, Gaudí’s first big project, and the rest is history…
Make sure to fit in a walking tour of Barcelona to explore the old town, Gothic quarters, and learn about the history of the city and of course their favorite architect, Gaudí! Before you head out for late night tapas, don’t forget about sunset! It’s the best time to take photos and let’s face it everyone is just gorgeous during golden hour so you really should be out and about. At sunset, I highly recommend you spend your precious golden hour time in one of these places:
- Watch the sunset at the W Hotel overlooking the ocean and Montjuïc
- Climb or take the bus or cable car up Montjuïc
- Visit the Sagrada Familia during sunset, the inside lights up
For more amazing views and a panoramic one of BCN and the Sagrada Familia from the top, go to the rooftop of The Majestic Hotel. It is not the best for sunset since it’s sort of blocking it – otherwise, great view! If you have more than 4-5 days in BCN, there are fabulous day trips you can take. I had a really hard time selecting which one I wanted to do given I only had a week total. I landed on taking a trip to the Montserrat mountains and I couldn’t recommend it more! It’s about a 1.5-2 hour train journey from BCN and totally worth the trip, especially on a clear day. Check out my photos for more inspiration!