For this last weekend getaway, I was able to fly down south to the beautiful yet historic coastal city of Barcelona, Spain. Now that the cold months are creeping upon us, the decision to begin visiting more Southern European destinations has been such an easy one. Living in London has really been fantastic, don’t get me wrong… but this time of year I’m starting to get all too familiar with overcast skies and rainy days! Barcelona has been at the top my list for quite some time now, and the fact that they speak Spanish (my husband is fluent) and have great sunny beaches was more than enough to convince my husband to take me there to visit.
When we arrived at the airport late our first night all we wanted to do was find some good authentic grub to eat. Normally finding great late night food can be challenging in any city, but thanks to some previous research we found the super trendy eatery of Ciudad Condal. We always look up good restaurants before we travel, and seeing that Anthony Bourdain himself had given this place his stamp of approval we figured that we should give it a go. We were completely blown away with our dining experience here. Unlike the States, Spanish people have a love for small bites and portions called “tapas”. This trend is catching on quickly around Europe, but originates from Spain and can be found all over the country especially in Barcelona. Throughout our meal, the small dishes were brought to our table and we licked off every inch of our plates! Our favorite Tapas had to be the mini hamburgers, crispy camembert, and prawn skewers. The deserts were also outstanding, and the service and price of the meal was superb. As we were leaving the restaurant we decided that we would again be returning to dine the following evening as it has been one of the best restaurants we have encountered in Europe thus far.
The following day in Barcelona was absolutely gorgeous! We were greeted with blue skies and calm breezes, so we knew that we needed to take advantage and head to the beach to start our day. We had heard that fall is a perfect time to visit the Barcelona beaches because they are not as crowded as they are in the summer months. We took the city metro (so easy to use here) and got out at the La Vila Olympica stop to walk along the coastline all the way down to Barceloneta Beach. Words cannot express how amazing it felt to soak up the sunshine, and to dip our feet into the Mediterranean for the first time. The only thing that caught us off guard at the European beaches here was the “clothing optional” policy (yikes!). Don’t worry its nothing horrible, but just be aware to steer clear of some of the sunbathers and you will be good to go.
As lunchtime hit we finally were able to take ourselves away from the beautiful scenery and over to Bo de B for some food. It’s a fun little walk to get from Barceloneta through the bustling Spanish streets to Bo de B for the perfect after-beach lunch. This is a small little sandwich shop that is home to some incredibly cheap 3 euro sandwiches. They are piled high with all the meat, toppings, and sauces you could want… really affordable and really delicious! We like to look for inexpensive options for lunchtime when traveling and Bo de B was quite the winner.
One of the main things we wanted to do while in Barcelona was to explore the famous architectural work done by artist Antoni Gaudi. Evidence of Gaudi’s whimsical and modern-styled designs can been seen in countless areas all over Barcelona. Our first Gaudi stop was to visit Park Guell (free admission), which is located just a few minutes by metro out of the city center. The Park sits up on a hill which gives you the absolute best views of the city with plenty of intriguing architecture to observe. Half of the fun is actually getting to the park where you get to ride up an outdoor escalator all the way to the top. I loved going through the different sections and getting to see incredible views of Barcelona. This place almost felt like going through a Dr. Seuss like theme park! There was so much to do and see here, and it was just an amazing area of the city to be in. Be sure not to leave before trying out the little gelato shop located by the main entrance of the park.. we had the raspberry and it was divine!
To top off a fun-filled day we then went down to Las Ramblas to check out some shopping on Barcelona’s famous central street. Here on Las Ramblas you can find really any store including a very impressive Zara, which is a must to visit when going down this street (Zara is Spanish in case you didn’t already know). We found that the shopping in Barcelona is a lot more affordable than in other big European cities which we really loved. It is also worth making a stop to see Casa Batllo which is another building of Gaudi’s that has been turned into a museum and can be toured by the public. A visit to Barcelona just would not be complete without a stroll down Las Ramblas to shop. Our favorite restaurant Ciudad Condal that I mentioned earlier is also located in this area.. and yes, we did eat there again! 🙂
For our final day in Spain we saved the best for last… La Sagrada Familia. Oh where do I even begin?? This enormous cathedral is the highlight of Barcelona, and the crowning jewel to Antoni Gaudi’s Career and legacy. The masterpiece was started clear back and 1882 and is still undergoing construction to this day! Gaudi devoted his life to building this church and his design on both the inside and outside of the structure is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. The detail put into this landmark is deeply inspiring, and waiting in an hour plus line just to get in is completely worth it. I feel that everyone needs to see this magnificent cathedral at some point in their life, because seeing it for myself was something I’ll never forget. La Sagrada Familia was simply stunning.
There’s just nothing like it.
Overall I felt like Barcelona has been one of the most well-rounded European destinations that we have been to yet. Not only are the beaches and scenery beautiful, but the history and architecture makes it so unique. There is so much to do here with all the great food, shopping, and attractions. My husband and I hope to return for at least a week next time to explore many of the other things we wanted to do and see, and lay on the beach some more (of course). Choosing my top 3 this time was a little more difficult but here is the list:
The Savvy Suitcase Top 3 Picks:
1. La Sagrada Familia. YOU MUST DO THIS
2. Park Guell. Whimsical architecture with fabulous city views
3. Ciudad Condal. Yeah, it was that good
Thank you so much for stopping by!
*We are venturing out to Eastern Europe next!