Barcelona is one of those places that has almost flown under the radar for several years. When people dream of going to Europe, they imagine Paris! London! Rome! But I believe this inconspicuousness has benefitted Barcelona in a way that only those who visit can experience. Ready to spend a week in Barcelona?
This coastal city is simply magical. From the beach and the quaint Gothic Quarter to the incredible food and warm people, Barcelona provides something for everyone.
This was my first European trip (!) and, I have to say, it was absolutely perfect. That is why I want to share with you my insider’s guide to spending a week in Barcelona. I can’t keep all this to myself any longer! Here is everything to do in Barcelona.
- There are literally hundreds of places you can stay in Barcelona, but I’d recommend staying at an Airbnb. We stayed at the cutest little apartment in the center of the Gothic Quarter, and we walked everywhere within 10 minutes. It was so convenient! And we truly felt like locals.
- If you don’t want to go the Airbnb route, there are plenty of boutique hotels ranging in price. Just a tip: make sure you choose it based off of location. You’ll be going a lot of places, and you don’t want to have to take a taxi or metro to get everywhere.
*I feel like I have to preface this by saying that many of my vacations (read: all) revolve around food. This list is exhaustive, but I promise it will be the best culinary experience of your life!
- Cafes: Most mornings, we would wake up and just run down to the nearest cafe or coffee shop to grab coffee and croissants. The croissants at every single place were far better than any I had ever tasted. This is a nice way to just ease into the day, especially since everyone gets started much later in Barcelona, but if you want a bigger breakfast, there are other places to try.
- Barraca: Next to the beach and the upstairs seating has nice views of it. We got the seafood paella and a lamb-type paella dish to share with five people which was great.
- Bar Mendizabal: The best patatas bravas we had of the whole trip. They had almost a mexican spice to it! Also, they have the best bocadillos (sandwiches). I got a sandwich with their local serrano ham, mozzarella, arugula, mango, avocado and balsamic drizzle. It’s the perfect pit stop for lunch.
- Focacceria Toscana: Let me start off by saying that I am a huge pizza fan. I could eat pizza at least once a week and never tire of it. This pizza place was so fresh and cheap – we just stumbled upon it one afternoon walking around! I got the tomato and pesto pizza that definitely hit the spot.
- Can Paixano: This is a true locals place. The menu is only in Spanish, they only take cash and it’s standing room only against the counter. This is a true hidden gem with delicious tapas for affordable prices.
- Sensi Bistro: This was our FAVORITE restaurant of the whole trip. We loved it so much we went back twice. It’s a small, adorable local bistro, and the food is out of this world. We started with the bread with tomato, then had the ham and cheese croquetas, the patatas bravas and finished with the goat cheese, truffle, parmesan ravioli. Also, bottles of wine or cava are only $10! Treat yo-self. Also, make reservations! This place gets packed and isn’t very big.
- Cometa Pla: Local, organic tapas restaurant. Really cute vibe and good food.
- Market dinner: After a full day of walking and sightseeing, there were some nights we just wanted to stay in. We would go to the market a few minutes away from our Airbnb and grab $4/bottles of wine and local cheeses, meat and bread. It was just the thing we needed to recharge for another day of exploring. I would highly suggest doing this at least once!
- *Insider tip: Bring trail mix and snack bars from home in your suitcase. These will come in handy when you don’t want to go out for breakfast or are hungry when all the restaurants close for a siesta at 3pm.
- Oh and don’t forget the churros! I ate at least three nutella stuffed churros that week… You can find those at Churrería Laietana.
- Places we didn’t go, but were on my list:
- San Pedrito
- El Nacional
- Top of the W hotel: Some of the best views of the city and of the ocean! Head up to their rooftop lounge (it’s inside) and grab a drink with the view.
- La Vinya del Senyor: Extensive wine list, cute little place with spiral staircase, and located right across from the incredible Santa María del Mar Basilica.
- Can Paixano: Their house rose cava is incredible.
- Places we didn’t go, but were on my list:
- Eldiset wine bar
- Bar Brutal
- Dr. Stravinsky’s
- Sagrada Familia: This is the biggest cathedral in the world, and it’s Barcelona’s number one tourist attraction – and for good reason. It’s stunning and historical in the best way. We did a guided tour, which is what I would recommend.
- FC Barcelona futbol game: My first “futbol” game! I have never been into European soccer, but I had a blast at the game. It was a super cool experience.
- Discover the beautiful and historic Gothic Quarter: I could get lost in here forever! The Gothic Quarter was by far my favorite area of Barcelona. Plan to spend at least a full day or two here.
- Cook & Taste cooking school: I can’t say enough good things about my cooking class experience. It was four hours long and there were nine of us plus our local chef (shout out to Chef Carlos!). He chose a starter, two tapas, paella and a dessert for us to cook with him, along with endless, flowing bottles of Spanish wine. The food tasted incredible, and it was really fun to learn how to make it all. We got to take home the recipes, and you better believe I’ve already planned a night to make it here at home!
- Shop on Passieg de Gracia: Beautiful, tree lined roads with lots of shopping and cafes.
- Placa Reial: Walk around or sit and sip a glass of wine!
- Catedral de Barcelona: We stumbled upon a tour here and went up to the rooftop. Inside and out, it was beautiful.
- Arc de Triomf: Walk through the park and get a picture in front of this.
- La Boqueria market: Explore the local market that is filled with vendors and produce and tapas. There’s something for everyone here!
- Build in time to wander around the city! Turn down intriguing little alleyways that wind around the town. This is where I felt the culture the most and found the cutest shops.
Now that you’re ready to book the next flight out of JFK, use this guide to help you plan your vacation spending a week in Barcelona. I hope you can make it there one day — and let me know if you do, I might just jump in your suitcase!