Are you settled down with a cuppa tea and a biscuit? Because I feel like you’re going to need it for this mammoth Barcelona post! Firstly, let me explain. We love to jet across to US destinations, recently falling in love with San Francisco and Los Angeles. The California sun paired with city exploring is our kinda thing. When it came to celebrating our wedding anniversary this year, we decided to break our European city break virginity, and laze around in Barcelona for a few days. It’s definitely given us an appetite for more short haul breaks (Rome, I am looking at you)! We loved every minute, so here’s a few pointers if you’re looking for things to do in Barcelona.
Travel and accommodation
I was pretty much sold on Barcelona when I found return flights with Easyjet from Gatwick for £46 each. Whattt…I can’t even get a train to London for that little! With 4 days parking just £26, we were onto a winner. I’ve written a whole post about our dreamy accommodation, so have a read of this if you’re after beautiful interiors on a reasonable budget in the best location.
Things to do in Barcelona for couples
Ok, so we got the boy stuff out of the way nice and early in the trip, heading straight over to Camp Nou on our first morning. If you’re into football, you’ll love every second, and if you’re not…well you can wonder at the sheer size and history of this place. It was an easy Metro trip for us, with the stadium just 10 minutes from the Collblanc station. There’s a few spots to eat at the stadium too, though you pay a slight premium for food on site.
Park Guell and the Carmel Bunkers
Eeek, I really don’t want to say this, but we were underwhelmed with Park Guell. There, I said it, it’s out there. I had visions of stunning views, and thought it would be really worthwhile to pay to go into the park. There were good views, and I would recommend a visit but, from my experience, it is really oversubscribed which ruins the paid section a bit. I pre-purchased tickets on their website and picked a time when the attendance was lowest, but there was still lots of people sat around at the top views not even facing the view or taking photos, but getting in the way of anyone else who wanted to do so. Maybe I picked a bad day, but if we went again I would visit the free bit of the park.
The park is beautiful and you can see all of the Gaudi buildings from outside the paid area, so this would still be on my list of things to do in Barcelona. We then had a lovely walk up through to the highest points of the park, leading up to the Carmel Bunkers. Again, another tourist spot that is crowded in places, but a great viewpoint that you can still find a quiet spot in. If you are really committed to experiencing it with less people around, try sunrise! (Lol, I appreciate these photos make it look v v uncrowded, but Ross just learnt to be clever with his snaps!)
Exploring on foot
We really enjoyed wandering the streets, spotting the various Gaudi buildings – Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, Casa Calvet. It’s something that you can spend as much or as little time as you like doing, at your own pace. Much like a lot of my other favourite bits of Barcelona. We loved mooching about the Gothic Quarter, between the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi, Placa de Sant Felip Neri, Placa Sant Jaume, and Placa Reial. Not forgetting the Catedral de Barcelona. Walking with very little aim is one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
Oh, and don’t miss a cheeky little ice cream stop of course!
On the subject of Gaudi, I really would recommend heading up one of the towers at the Sagrada Familia. A stunning building inside and out, you won’t regret gazing at the epic Barcelona views from the top. A word of warning for anyone with a fear of heights or claustraphobia, this could be a challenge for you. You need to use a small lift to the top, and then walk across a (very high!) bridge and down 360 steps. I do suffer from both fears, and I did manage to do everything, but I won’t pretend it was easy. I felt safe because the building is so solid, but I gripped the handrail with my life the whole way down! We visited at around 6pm, and the light flooding in through the stained glass was beautiful. If you want to see the building lit at night, this only happens Thursday – Saturday 8pm-12am.
We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the Magic Fountains whilst the light show was on. It was our first stop straight after landing, and it’s well worth a visit. Check here for the show timetable, as it differs throughout the year. And try not to slip flat on your bum at the top of the escalators like me…that’s definitely not one of the things to do in Barcelona!
Heading to the beach
We loved the balance of exploring the city, and then escaping to the beach. We started out in Port Vell, and took a slow wander along to Barceloneta. These are some of my fave couples weekend memories. Wandering aimlessly chatting about all of the random stuff we never get a chance to in day to day life. If you’re looking for things to do in Barcelona as a couple, this is the easiest!
If you want to really get a leg stretch give our little route a go. We started at Port Vell, and sat on the boardwalk for a little while dangling our feet over the sea. You can also indulge in a little bit of shopping here too, at the Maremagnum shopping mall. From here, you can walk all the way to the beach (avoiding the street sellers if fake Adidas isn’t really your thing), for another little people watching stop off. If you still have a bit of time, take a walk all the way up to Parc Ciutadella, stopping off a the El Born CCM for a bit of history on the way. The park is kind of like Barcelona’s Central Park (ok forgive me for that reference, it is much smaller), housing the zoo at one end and the impressive Arc de Triomphe at the other. It’s a hefty old walk (we racked up 47 miles in total over 4 days!) but taken at your own pace, it’s well worth it.
Navigating Las Ramblas
Ah, Las Ramblas. Firstly, I couldn’t go there without singing that line out of Ed Sheeran’s Barcelona, lol. I knew I wouldn’t love this area, but it’s still a must visit. Watch out for the street sellers, and the dodgy offers you might get from questionable characters along the way, but try to enjoy it too. I know it is renowned for pick pockets, but generally I felt safe, and kept my belongings close. The key here is to wander down the side streets, discovering shops and restaurants along the way.
You definitely need to visit the Mercat de La Boqueria too, we loved it here! We had never experienced the colours, smells and vibrancy before. I also had the best thing to eat here too, and so simple! A 3 euro cone of meats, cheese and breadsticks. I could probably have eaten 10! Stick that straight on your list of things to do in Barcelona.
The places to eat for non-foodies
So that leads me nicely onto food, and I’ve got a confession. We’re not foodies! Truth is, Ross is a v v fussy eater, and I get nervous of dipping into new places where I can’t really understand the menus. And let’s be honest, we’re on a bit of a budget. So yes, I enjoyed my little cone at the market, but other than that, we ate pizza and pastries!
- TGB (The Good Burger) – this place will give Shake Shack a run for it’s money. It was perfect when we needed to fill our bellies after a long old first day of travelling
- You will never be short of a bakery stocked full of pastries and sandwiches in Barcelona. I bloody love a good sandwich and I could probably have eaten at one of these three times a day, lol. There was a “365” bakery just below our accommodation, and we picked up fresh pastries and freshly squeezed orange juice each morning – my fave! I also had the best croque monsieur for lunch too. Not only that, but it was so affordable! One day, 2 of us ate lunch and breakfast for 14 euros!
- Makamaka Beach Burger – a great little spot near the beach for yummy cocktails and a varied menu. I chose a salad, whilst the boy had a burger, and we both indulged in parmesan garlic fries!
- Bellillo – what can I say, literally the freshest pizza I have tasted in a long time. It might be Spain, but you need to try this place! They also have a spot in London too, if you’re desperate…
Woah….I hope you made it to the end of this post and you’ve now got a long old list of things to do in Barcelona! I did a round up before we headed off for all of the resources I used to plan our trip. Have a read of those here, particular shout out to Sam Sparrow for her epic guide that a lot of our trip was based on!
Photography by Ross Richards