Barcelona combines everything that is most charming about Mediterranean cities–a relaxed pace, endless sunshine, unbeatable food, and incredible architecture.
As part of a road trip through Spain and France this past July, I was lucky enough to spend two nights in the beautiful city of Barcelona. I arrived by ferry from Alcúdia—a stunning 6.5 hour boat ride through the Balearic Sea. The Port of Barcelona is located just outside of downtown, only a 20 minute drive to La Rambla.
TLW Tip: if you are arriving by plane, there is an affordable shuttle bus that will take you from Barcelona El Prat airport to downtown (Place de Catalunya) for about 6 Euros.
I checked into a hotel near the Contemporary Museum of Art with a functioning AC unit, which was amazing (and essential!) considering it was still 29˚C in the shade at 7:00 p.m.
Once settled, I strolled around the El Raval neighbourhood, which is a must-visit for every art aficionado. The area is not only home to the Palau Güell, it also features several public artworks by Barcelona born and raised artist Joan Miró, a handful of small art installations, and multiple street murals, including one by Keith Haring, a pioneering pop artist.
During my exploration, I stumbled across the Plaça Reial, which at 9:00 p.m. on a Thursday night was still bustling with children running around while their parents were having some drinks, couples enjoying tapas and wine, and travelers from all over the world connecting over dinner and drinks.
After some Barcelona brewed beer, delicious tapas, and a mesmerizing performance by a group of incredibly talented street acrobats, I walked back to the hotel over the tree-lined La Ramblas street, which after midnight was still filled with people. Definitely a sight to see at night, but also during the day.
The next morning I went to a small coffee shop near the hotel to enjoy a café con leche, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a small jam-filled pastry. This is a typical breakfast you will find Barcelonians enjoying at one of the many cafés the city has to offer.
As the morning went on the temperatures went up as well—we’re talking 36˚C—I decided to do some exploring by bike. The city is super bike-friendly and offers tons of wide bike paths to allow for safe riding.
TLW Tip: Get yourself one of the Bolt e-bikes. They are super-affordable and you can drop them off anywhere within the city. It also saves you from being stuck in traffic.
I cruised around the Gàcia neighbourhood and stopped at a little ice cream shop just opposite of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. The church, which was designed by Antoni Gaudí, is definitely one of the most impressive pieces of architecture in the city, despite the fact it remains unfinished to this day due in large part to Gaudí’s death in 1926, when the project was less than a quarter complete.
After the short break, I hopped back on another bike and headed down to the Barcelona city beach at Platja de la Barceloneta. There you can stop by the city’s version of LA’s famed Muscle Beach or find a place at one of the ample beach bars to have some tapas and sangria.
While walking along the water I ended up stumbling across the Chicken Bar in the Olympic Village that served delicious food and even better drinks with ocean views. Perfect for the last sunset in Barcelona.
TLW Tip: If you end up in Barcelona and are in the mood for a drink, definitely give Sangria de Cava a try. It’s a refreshing spin on the classic Sangria.
The next morning, before heading back on the road, I made sure to stroll through the Mercado de La Boqueria. This public market offers everything from freshly squeezed juices to spices and Iberico ham. The colourful ailes are not only pleasing to the eye but the different smells will also get every foodie’s heart rate up. I highly recommend trying some empanadas here, and be sure to ask for them to be heated up.
All in all, Barcelona is always worth a visit—whether you are there for a day, or a few weeks, you’ll find plenty to fill your time. If you’re in town for a long weekend, learn how you can make the most of your 72 hours in Barcelona.