When I first traveled to Spain, it was just for a quick few days in Barcelona, and then on to Brussels and back to Dublin. I didn’t know much about the city except that it had beautiful architecture and pickpockets. This may be true, but it’s certainly a lot more. Although I live outside the city, I always feel a sense of joy whenever I venture into it.
Barcelona is many things to many people including somewhat magical. I don’t know if it’s the architecture or endless maze of winding lanes throughout Gracia or the Gothic quarter, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dragon or gargoyle, or some kind of troll-like creature wandering about. The small businesses, the restaurants, and the people local and foreign also make this town enchanting. Whether you love architecture and art, or just like ticking famous landmarks of your travel bucket list, Barcelona is worth a visit at least once in your life.
Along with the bustling city center, there are many beautiful areas outside that are waiting to charm you. Whether you catch a tour, take a train or drive, you could easily spend a month in Barelona and the Catalonia region and feel completely engaged.
There are so many things to see and experience in the city of Barcelona. Even after 5 years of living here, I still have quite a few places on my to-see list. However, below is a first timer, in case you never visit again itinerary for this fine city.
DAY -1 Arrive in Barcelona. Take a bus, shuttle or taxi into the city. Check into accommodation.
Take a walk! If you are staying in the city center, there is plenty for you to see and do within walking distance. Check out happy cow or google to grab a bite to eat, coffee or check out the shops.
DAY – 2 Hop on hop off bus or guided day tour. I have taken both and highly recommend both. The hop on hop off bus is great to see where everything is and get an idea of what you would like to see over the coming days, at your own pace and time. A guided tour is great as you will see all the most popular attractions, with a knowledgeable tour guide by coach bus. The guided tour I took included tickets and skip the line access to Parc Guell and the Spanish village. After the guides gave us some essential knowledge about the location’s history and significance, we were given 40-60 minutes of free time.
Shopping, walk around the city. Check out the beach,
DAY – 3 Museum tours. There are some really great free walking tours or you can book them. One of my favorites is the Picasso tour. First, a guide takes you around the streets of the gothic quarter and explains what Picasso’s life was like when he lived in Barcelona. From the bar he frequented to the bohemian social group he was a part of, one can understand his inspirations and influences. Next, there is a tour of the picasso museum where you can see Picasso’s progression from realism to cubism. Across a narrow laneway is another beautiful museum with contemporary artists and classes. While walking around, enjoying the beautiful oil paintings, a diverse group of painters were hard at work in another room creating their lovely works.
This area has a lot of tasty places.
Teresa Carles, Flax & Kale, Rasoterra, Chok
Las Ramblas. If you haven’t already, be sure to take a stroll on Las Ramblas and check out the Market.
Nautical museum – interesting museum at the bottom of Las Ramblas.
Day – 4 Girona, Figueres, Dali museum – Another amazing day trip to the medieval city of Girona and nearby Figueres and the Dali museum. Salvador Dali was a genius and whether you like art or not, you will marvel at his diversity; sculpture, mixed media installations, photography, jewelery, paintings and drawings that fill this magnificent museum.
Options. A) Although you can stay at your hotel in Barcelona and do day trips, I would recommend taking this day trip and spending the night in the Girona, Costa Brava area. Most tours companies have no problem with that. There are always trains, taxis or buses you can take.
Option B) Driving to Girona and taking walking tours from the city, then carring onto Figueres and taking a tour from the Dali Museum. There is a beautiful vegetarian resaturant at one corner of the museum.
Option C) Spend the night in Girona. There are so many beautiful stores and an incredible restaurant called, Om. After dinner, spend the evening people watching over wine or coffee or shopping at the charming stores. There is a beautiful children’s toy shop that is must if you have any littles on your holiday lists.
Option D) Drive to the Costa Brava and spend the night at one of the many seaside hotels or accommodations.
DAY – 5 Pals medieval city tour and beach. Or L’Escala surf and sea day. Depending on how you want to spend your time. Pals has a beautuful ay. Costa Brava If you travel in the opposite direction towards Girona.
DAY – 6 Tarragona and Sitges – quick stop at the aquaduct. By car, train or tour, this is a great trip to see the bustling upscale town of Sitges and the medieval city of Tarragona. Although there is plenty of great dining in either place, I highly recommend, El Vergel for your meal. It is a very special restaurant where we celebrate many of our important family events.
Day – 7 La Roca Village. I saw this tour offered for ages but didn’t quite understand what it was. Essentially, it’s a bus trip to some discount shopping area outside of Barcelona. I thought it was strange to spend a day shopping for international brands while visiting such a beautiful city like Barcelona. However, one Sunday my husband suggested we go as nothing else is really open. Well, let me tell you, I loved it! Especially on a Sunday. If you end up in Barcelona and have seen all the sites and sounds you can handle, La Roca village is a perfect way to spend a day or evening. As well, the parking is busy so taking a tour bus will make your life easier. This village has so many great shops and a lot of great deals. Some items are still very expensive but there are some shops there I haven’t seen in the Barcelona city centre. As well, there is a Teresa Carles, serving Flexitarian cuisine so there is something for everybody. And…there is a Starbucks!! One of the happiest places on earth. Lol! Starbucks is a treat for me as they don’t have one in my town, so I only have it when I go to the city or another country. Anyway, La Roca Village has become a family favorite and a place we take family or friends who visit often and are not interested in seeing the usual sites again and again.
When I first visited Barcelona, I took a this tour to Tarragona, Sitges and the aquaduct with one other tourist and a tour guide. It was probably one of the best tours I had ever had as the guide told us everything we wanted to know about life in Spain, politics, the economy, the royal family. As well, because there were only three of us total, we had a lot of freedom in each place to roam around and take pictures. I hope one day I will run into that tour guide. He would probably be very surprised that I ended up here!
DAY – 8 Vilanova i la Geltru – Another great coastal city with beautiful beaches and a nice boardwalk. For peeople who value beautiful vegan food, I highly recommend, Bol.
This restaurant is lovely, excellent cuisine and very family friendly. Aside from a nive selection of toys in one corner that can be brought to the table, when we went the owner’s mother was there. She was amazing with children and even offered to babysit our little guy if we lived nearby. We would have taken up her offer in a heartbeat but unfortunately we live over an hour away.
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