What You Need to Know about Barcelona—The Basics

Barcelona, Cataluña

Disclaimer: We are completely aware that when it comes to a city as big as Barcelona, it is impossible to provide a genuine overview of all it has to offer in just three must-sees. We will be returning to Barcelona in future posts to provide more depth and detail, but until then please bear with us as we present the basics.

view of city from Parc Guell

Transport options to arrive: Train, Plane, Bus, or Car

As Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona is definitely well-connected and reachable by just about every form of transportation. That being said, I highly recommend checking out flight prices. Because of Barcelona’ location, the bus and train routes may be indirect and incredibly long. On the other hand, with its international airport, you can often find really reasonable flights.


Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit: The city offers plenty to see and do year-round and the climate is generally mild, rarely dropping below 9°C (48°F) or rising above 30°C (84°F). You could probably spend week in Barcelona without getting bored, but will need 2-3 days to enjoy the basics.


The Port of Barcelona is a lovely place to hang out year-round.Fun Fact: Barcelona is the capital of Cataluña, which you have likely heard about in the news lately because of the controversy over their push for independence. However, as the capital, Barcelona is actually home to many foreigners (approximately 22.5% of the population) and Spaniards from other comunidades (approx 18.5%), making it one of the most densely-populated cities in Europe. Be sure to check out our article about the situation in Cataluña to understand the political situation better before you go.


Top three must-sees:

If you do but one Gaudí-related thing, PLEASE tour the inside of the Sagrada Familia—it's unlike anything else you've ever seen!1. All of Gaudí’s Architecture: If you don’t take in the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and a few of this renown architect’s other buildings that are sprinkled throughout the city, have you really seen Barcelona? I would argue not. You can go about fitting it all in by taking a Gaudí-specific tour but I would recommend you definitely get a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia, if nowhere else. At 24€ for a tour with a real live guide, this is totally worth it to understand more about this on-going work of art.

2. Montjuïc: Located on a hill overlooking the city, this is a really cute miniature city to walk around! You can take the funicular up to the top from the Paral-lel Metro stop (Lines 2 and 3). My favorite part is that the “mini city” is set up to represent all different parts of Spain, so you get to see architecture and monuments from other cities that you may not have time to visit. If you feel like exploring, it’s also the site of the 1992 Olympic Games, so that’s cool to see too! You could easily spend an afternoon here and take in the beautiful sunset before coming back down.

3. The Gothic Quarter: Also known as the Barri Gòtic in catalán, this area of the city is full of historic remnants of the Roman village that it once was juxtaposed by modern clubs, bars, and restaurants. It’s a great place to take in the vibe of the city by enjoying delicious food and drinks in the many plaças, or squares, people-watching, and shopping. You’re also in walking distance for many of the other gems of the city, such as the beach, Las Ramblas, and El Raval, to name a few.


One thing to eat: Fresh food from Mercado Boquería

Barcelona is known for great food, so I wouldn’t even know where to begin in terms of recommending one dish. However, if you take a stroll through the Boquería market, you are sure to find something delicious that fits your fancy! From fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies, to homemade sweet and savory pastries, to macaroon ice cream sandwiches, this market appeals to all of the senses as well as the appetites of the adventurous and those looking for the familiar…and all that on a budget!

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