18 June 2015

Suitcase. Barcelona, Spain - Travel Guide

Cosmopolitan. Historical. Hot.

If I had to sum up Barcelona in three words that would probably be it, although it doesn’t say nearly enough about this fabulous city. It’s rare that you’ll find a place that has a cultural city and a beach to offer. So Barcelona certainly has a trump card there. I spent three days in the sunshine last weekend and boy was it great. Just a taste of 27 degrees and a beach had me grinning from ear to ear, but the city had so much else to offer.

We based ourselves very centrally at an Air bnb on La Rambla which put us right in the hub and made the perfect look-out point for morning activities.

Playsuit sold out - similar here, here and here

With only 3 days, I was a little daunted by how much there was to see in the city. I’ll tell you now, I didn’t get through it all but I can’t wait to go back. First stop as always was a Free Walking Tour, Max was our guide and he was a fellow Aussie! With a history major at university, he was full of knowledge, and over the course of 2.5 hours I learnt about 2,500 years worth of history! He took us through the Gothic Quarter which had plenty of stories to tell, there is so much to know about this city and its origins. Did you know, Picasso painted his first pictures here, and they were sketches of prostitutes working the street!? Make sure you take the tour for more tidbits like this!

Next I took to wandering the streets to take in some of the incredible architecture. The city is filled with amazing buildings both historic and modern. Gaudi’s architecture is well known in the city, he created some incredible buildings and spaces such as the Casa Mila...

Casa Batllo complete with skeleton-like details

And the stunning Park Guell at the very top of the city. Talk about an amazing view...

Although, the standout for me has to be The Sagrada Familia. This church is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has a gothic design like Notre Dame but the scale of it is just something else. It is huge! And the craft work is incredibly detailed. I struggled to get it all in a photo. You need to see it for yourself. Just. Wow.

Cituadella Park is lovely for a sunny stroll. You can row a boat in the little lake (à la The Notebook), or set up a picnic on one of the many grassy knolls.

And of course, being the Australian I am, I couldn’t forget the beach! Barcelona originally just had a rocky outcrop on the water, but would you believe they shipped in sand from Egypt’s Sahara desert and brought the palm trees from Hawaii? Totally true. It may not be the Greek Islands but it was lovely all the same.

June-September is the time to visit Barcelona because it coincides with the iconic W Hotel’s series of Summer Wet Deck Parties. Basically you rock up at 8pm to party poolside, sip cocktails, listen to some seriously good tunes and dance the night away. The DJ had the music totally on-point. I’m still trying to find out who he was because he played the best mix I think I’ve ever heard. Oh what a night…

Sorry for the lack of dancefloor/party photos, when the tunes came out the camera went away!

Palazzo Pants / Lace Crop Top (a steal at £15!) / Platform Heels

Barcelona is a big city, much larger than I had imagined. So when your legs give out and you can walk no more then their metro/underground makes a great option for getting around. It runs in much the same way as London’s tube, just beware of pick-pocketers, we witnessed it first hand and the sneaky lady was dressed like a tourist to detract attention. Buses are also plentiful and reach most corners of the city. And if you’re in the mood for a little fun, then a pedal cab on the way home after an evening out makes a great midnight chariot!

Tapas. Tapas. Tapas. Oh and some gelato. When in Spain! Undoubtedly the food highlight of my trip was Bar Lobo. Tucked away just off La Rambla in a little square, this modern tapas bar serves up some seriously delightful food. I highly recommend the artichokes with ham, seared tuna, seared squid and their croquettes were the best of my life. I visited twice in the span of three days! If you’re lucky they’ll be some musicians and acrobats on hand in the square to provide entertainment while you munch away.

Breakfast can be a bit of challenge to find in Spain. Since everyone rises so late and eats so late (lunch at 3pm, dinner at 11pm) it’s a bit of a forgotten meal, but never fear because Milk in the Gothic District serves up a mean breakkie.

And if you’re in the mood for something a little sweet then the Escriba Patisserie has some delightful treats. Their carrot cake was totally yummy.

Also be sure to check out St Josep market on La Rambla. It has an amazing selection of food; from fresh fruits to fish to traditional Spanish fare. Be sure to go in the morning and grab a smoothie, the strawberry and coconut is amazingly good.

From the searing heat, to the sights, to the parties and the cocktails, it certainly was a weekend of fun in the sun, and the perfect introduction to Spain. Barcelona, te amo.

Now that you’re inspired, why not book a trip of your own!? Flights from London are available from just £66 return.

Photos by Krissie.