Vibrant. Intoxicating. Addictive. Barcelona is a city I will keep going back to. Life energy exudes from every corner, the modern and the classic fused together in one of the most exciting cities in Europe. With so much life, you don’t need to come here to see anything in particular to have a great time, just being here and immersing yourself in the culture is enough! Which is why our Barcelona top 5 has ended up almost entirely focusing on the experience rather than the sights, that is the essence of this great city.1. BEST Attraction/experience no matter the expense!
Getting Lost in the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quater) – details on wikipedia
There are few cities in the world that genuinely have an historic center quite this charismatic. The narrow streets wind in every direction jam packed with tiny restaurants, bars, artwork and then… oh its a cathedral! All in the ambience of the enjoyment of life that is ever present in Spanish culture.
History and fun combine to make this my favourite thing to do in Barcelona, you are always sure to find something new every time you get lost, from Jazz bars, street art and performances to the best calamari in the world! Even better, there are many $free things going on!
2. BEST FFAF (Fun for a Fiver)
Your in Spain, what better to do than grab a quick snack pretty much anywhere! I love tapas, and I love the way you can go on a mini food and drink adventure or “tapas crawl” all over the city. See something you like, stop and eat and then keep going. Let’s be honest though, if you want it to turn into a full crawl its going to end up being quite a few fivers… Its easy for fun for a fiver to become fun for a fifty 🙁 but at least you have the choice when to stop opening your wallet, but with the awesome food here its pretty hard to say no!
– A traditional dish on almost every menu is “Patas Bravas” which is potato in a spicy tomato sauce and it is still very possible to find under $5 as long as you don’t go to the super touristy restaurants, I like mine even better if it has chorizo mixed in!
3. BEST photo op.
The most Iconic building in Barcelona, possibly in Spain. The design was completed by Gaudi in the late 19th C and the building is still under construction with a tentative completion date being around 2028. Any building that is being continuously built for over 100 years has got to be considered a little complex, and this is certainly the case with the Sagrada Familia – do your best to get a photo without scaffolding in, or wait another 20 years and go see it when it is completed.
Read more about the history and construction
4. BEST non-tourist attraction
A traditional Catalan meal
Barcelona central is full of tourists, but in the best possible way, you don’t have the feeling of being engulfed by them, they are just there. It does mean that if you want to get away from the tourists you have to get away from the centre, which we did! Invited by some friends who lived locally, they led us out into the suburbs (still pretty densely populated though) to a restaurant El Disbarat where we were served traditional fare. Take the metro train out to “Fontana” station and its a short walk – plenty of other bars filled with locals in this area too, but not the lively party you’d see in the centre, of course!
Want to really explore local Barcelona – why not take a visit to Barcelona Province?
5. BEST unexpected experience
The “play your own guitar” Bar.
We were lucky enough to have local friends showing us around and taking us to the non-touristy bars. They showed us to a bar that had acoustic guitars all over the walls… These were not display guitars like the ones at hard rock cafe, these were for customer use!
People all around the bar were playing guitar at there respective tables. Being a musician by trade, and having had a few beers, our experience developed into me taking over the entertainment for the night and getting everyone else in the room to sing along with my song selections (including Livin on a Prayer as I recall), which fortunately was well received. Never before or since have I visited a bar where the instruments are multiple and available for public use, and I may never again as I have no idea what the bar was called. All I know is it was in the vicinity of Jaume 1 Metro station, if you find it, please email me the details, I can’t find any leads on google!
We stayed at the Sant Jordi Arago Hostel Aragó 268, Pr. 1º rates from $15 per night for a dorm bed (2012) in low season, up to about $35 in high season. Its Just round the corner from the Casa Batllo, which is a very popular attraction for the art and architecture of Gaudi.
If you are looking for more hotel or hostel options in Barcelona, we prefer to use HotelsCombined. They have a great selection and help you get the best possible price!
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