One of the most lively cities in Europe. You will love its vibe, architecture and its diversity.
From the airport
You have the options of the bus, metro and a taxi. Of course it will depend where you will be staying. By bus you have the options either taking A1 or A2 (just follow the signs at the airport). Usually is my favorite option, since you can already see some of the city. It takes approximately 40 minutes to the Pl. Catalunya, which is very centrally located and easy to go anywhere from there. I'd suggest to search on Google maps for the suggested route and transportation (according to the time).
Where to stay? I do enjoy staying in Eixample neighborhood, which is very central located, tons of shops and restaurants around it. I also feel safe. I usually stay at the Renaissance Barcelona. I like their location, the staff is super nice and accommodating, and I can walk everywhere from there.
Barcelona has a lot to offer, so the suggestions below are the ones not to miss:
Passeig de Gràcia: beautiful avenue with tons of shops, cafes, businesses and the city's most impressive pieces of architecture. Don't miss visiting "El Nacional" with its amazing gastronomic experience, many options for all tastes.
Las Ramblas: a tree-lined pedestrian street to stroll down. It stretches for 1,2 km connecting the Pl. de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus Monument. I'd suggest to be attentive of pickpockets in the area.
When in Las Ramblas, take the Carrer de la Portaferrisa (great options as well if you want to do some shopping), and walk to this beautiful 13th century cathedral, the Cathedral of Barcelona. If have time, take the opportunity to visit this beautiful Gothic cathedral.
From the Catedral de Barcelona, you are now quite close of one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter (Barrio Gotico).
The Gothic Quarter is the oldest area in Barcelona, it has beautiful medieval landmarks and remains of the city Roman wall. It feels like a labyrinth, with narrow streets opening out to squares.
You will also find in this area tons of great restaurants and bars. During one of my visits to Barcelona, I found this fantastic restaurant called Café de l'Acadèmia. It was the best food I have ever had in Spain! Food is delicious and service was very nice as well. You can seat in a cozy atmosphere or enjoy the patio outside. This restaurant is right in front of the Basílica dels Sants Màrtirs Just i Pastor. Every time I'm in Barcelona now, I go back. It never disappoints.
Another option is Gilda Tapas Gourmet, where you can try some Spanish tapas with a Belgian twist. Food was good!
This Neo-Gothic Catholic church is not known by the many tourists, a hidden-gem, and was built in 1342 offering a bell tower with observation deck, with 360 degrees view of Barcelona. It's worth a visit. It's only 2 euros to get one of the best views of the city, besides the staircase alone is such an experience!
Don't miss doing a nice stroll at the Arc de Triomf, which was built in 1888 as the main gate for the first International World Fair in Barcelona. From the Arco de Triunfo, continue walking to the Parc de la Ciutadella. At this park, visit the beautiful Cascade Fountain. From there you are very close to Barceloneta.
La Barceloneta is the seaside neighborhood, where you can take a walk along the beach, where you will enjoy people watching and feeling the Mediterranean Sea breeze. You will also see rich architecture in the area. It's also a great place to jog, bike ride or rollerblade along the beach.
If you are looking for places to eat around this area, there are many options. I really enjoyed the food at FOC BCN, it was delicious!
If you want to enjoy some beach time while in Barcelona, a visit to Badalona is a great option. It's only about 20 minutes from downtown Barcelona. It's also a great option for outdoor activities along the sea front.
While in Barcelona, you can miss the amazing and unique architecture work from Antoni Gaudi. The still-incomplete Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain. I'd highly recommend to purchase tickets online before planning a visit.
If you are around the Sagrada Familia and get a little hungry, pass by "Paisano Cafe", it's an Italian place, very casual, with amazing food. The service is excellent and you will be happy to do a stop here.
You can also experience his unique architecture visiting the Casa Batllo. It's considered his most creative work. Get tickets online to skip the lines. Some of his work that should not be missed when in Barcelona is La Predera and the Parc Güell. The Parc Güell is one of the major works of Gaudí in Barcelona. You will enjoy one of a kind architecture plus amazing views of the city. If you are around Passeig de Gràcia or the Pl de la Catalunya, bus #24 takes your right in front of the Parc.
While in Barcelona, check the Barcelona FC website for their schedule and tours. Barça as known by many football/soccer fans it's one of the best teams in the world with top players. A tour at the stadium, or even better, watching a match is a great experience. If you want to be closer to the real and local Barça fans, I'd suggest to look for seats on the North side of the stadium. The hardcore fans usually seat right behind the goal. For tours, match schedule and tickets, please click here.