Barcelona has such a fun, youthful vibe. It’s located on the coast of the Balearic Sea and reminds me of California. There’s an abundance of beautiful beaches, palm trees, new-concept restaurants and shopping. Don’t skip out on a personal tour guide—here’s why.
Barcelona has such a fun, youthful vibe. It's located on the coast of the Balearic Sea and reminds me of California. There's an abundance of beautiful beaches, palm trees, new-concept restaurants and shopping.
La Rambla is the major thoroughfare in Barcelona that runs from Plaza de Catalunya and ends at the Mirador de Colom statue near the beach area known as Barceloneta. The four key areas of Barcelona where you’ll spend most of your time include El Born, Barrio Gotico (the Gothic Quarter), Barceloneta and El Eixample.
We stayed at Le Meridien at La Rambla 111. It’s central, yet quiet as long as you ask for a room that does not face the street.
Personal Tour Guides—Well Worth It
Hire a personal guide. It’s an invaluable investment.
Our tour guide (and fast friend) in Barcelona is Mari Carmen Rogriguez. She was born and raised Catalonian and is very knowledgeable about her home city. Get in touch with Mari via email at email@example.com.
Mari suggested we begin our first day in the Gothic Quarter and it didn’t disappoint.
The Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city of Barcelona. It got its name from its origin—it was a Roman village and to this day still holds a few of the architectural features from that era.
The Gothic Quarter is home to some of the most aesthetically pleasing structures such as the Pont del Bisbe and the Caterdal de Barcelona.
Stroll the streets, take in a light bite, a coffee. This neighbourhood is best for getting lost down labyrinthine streets and discovering new treasures in the form of quaint courtyards.
We stopped for lunch at a small cafe that Mari chose, a place off the beaten tourist path. The hub allowed us to get a sense of the local customs. After lunch we took a taxi to Gaudi’s Iconic Cathedral Las Sagrada familia.
One of the most iconic Gaudi pieces of work, the Sagrada Familia, cannot be missed on your trip. The church has consistently been under construction since 1880, and once you see it up close you’ll understand why. All the facades of the church are extremely intricate and symbolize something unique.
Either buy a ticket for early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the busiest times. You can buy a ticket for one or both towers, and buy in advance online. Mari took care of us purchasing us tickets online allowing us to advance the regular queue, and head to the VIP line.
Bonus: Room With a View
Make time to climb one of the towers and enjoy a fresh vantage point.
There’s also a small park across the street, Placa de Gaudi, where you can get an interesting view. Get here early to avoid people in your pictures. Not to mention the reflection off the pond of the church is better in the morning light!
Dining on Night One
Mari recommended a tapas bar (how very Spanish) called Mont Bar. It was so special and creative—like the theatre version of food. Don’t pass on the carrot cake!
We decided to go it alone and stroll the Ramblas towards the beachfront.
La Boqueria Market
We stopped to stroll around the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often referred to as La Boqueria. It’s a large public market in the Ciudad Vieja district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain—and one of the city’s foremost tourist landmarks. We used the entrance from La Rambla, not far from the Liceo, Barcelona’s opera house. Feast your eyes on the variety of delectable meats and fresh fruits available.
Walk the beachfront streets. People watch. Enjoy the sea and sun.
That night our guide Mari suggested we dine at Carballeira Restaurante. Fresh, flavourful, local seafood on a white tablecloth and laden with locals. Savour your meal, unrushed with high quality service—what more could you possibly want?
For our third and final day, Mari reconnected with us and having hired a car and driver in advance we headed to the monastery at Montserrat for the day.
The monastery is 48 kilometres (30 mi) northwest of Barcelona, and can be reached by road, train or cable car. The abbey’s train station, operated by FGC, is the terminus of a rack railway connecting with Monistrol, and two funiculars, one connecting with Santa Cova (a shrine and chapel lower down the mountain) and the other connecting with the upper slopes of the mountain.
At 1,236 metres (4,055 ft) above the valley floor, Montserrat is the highest point of the Catalan lowlands, and stands central to the most populated part of Catalonia. Montserrat’s highest point, Sant Jeroni, can be reached by footpaths leading from the monastery. From Sant Jeroni, almost all of Catalonia can be seen, and on a clear day the island of Mallorca is visible.
A Word of Warning
Whilst the roads out of the city are fine to drive, the closer you get to Montserrat, the roads grow very windy and a bout of motion sickness may hit you.
TLW tip: If you can, stay for the practice of the boys choir at 1 p.m. You won’t regret it and it’s free.
Putting a Bow on Barcelona
We headed back to the city and found a micro brewpub on the same street as our hotel called Chivuos. It’s a great place to hang out. Chat to the server behind the bar and be curious about their lives. Our server was a classically trained drummer who was also working for a Reggae band. His name is Nico—let me know if he’s still there!
On night three we took in a meal at Windsor. It’s a landmark restaurant for genuine catalana food. We loved every minute of the pampering and delicious food and highly recommend it.
Barcelona is on our must see again list and we look forward to being back!