The Mediterranean metropolis of Barcelona is a wonderland for lovers of art, food, and most importantly, The Cheetah Girls 2. It’s the tenth most visited city in the world, and for good reason. Barcelona is the crown jewel of the Catalonia region, which birthed world-famous architect Antoni Gaudi, Salvador Dalí, and was the temporary home of Pablo Picasso. I had come to Barcelona once last October for less than two days, and honestly, I wasn’t a big fan. This time, I set out to explore Barcelona in four days and see its full glory, hoping to see what all the hype was about.
I had the privilege of visiting my friend who lives there to go see Lady Gaga, who was performing at Barcelona’s stadium! Unfortunately, the concert got postponed; I then had the terrible, world-ending issue of spending four whole days in Barcelona, with one more day of free-time than I had anticipated. Here’s what I did to make me fall in love with this city, perhaps a year too late.
Getting There and From the Airport
There are tons of daily direct flights via Vueling Airlines within Europe. If you’re flying from outside Europe, there are direct flights with Norwegian, Finnair, and others. Once you arrive in the Barcelona El Prat Airport, you can take the AeroBus for €5.90 for a single ticket, €10.20 for a return ticket. There’s also a metro to the city centre via Line 9, and taxis for roughly €30.
Where To Stay
Barcelona is a massive city with many neighbourhoods that’ll satisfy anyone. I stayed with my friend in the Vila de Gracia district, which is a prominent area featuring the Casa Batlló. Las Ramblas will put you smack in the middle of Barcelona’s busiest street; the Gothic Quarter will give you a traditional “old European” experience, and Barceloneta will align you with the city beaches.
Barcelona has a clean and efficient metro system that’s easy to use. For €2.15, you can go anywhere you need. For most touristy sights, I used the green Line 3, and it never took more than 20 minutes to get where I wanted to.
Day 1: Classic Barcelona
Capture the classic Catalonian/Spanish vibe of Barcelona by absorbing the hectic energy of Las Ramblas, a 0.75 mile-long street that connects the central Placa Catalunya and the beachside Christopher Columbus Monument. Las Ramblas is basically a massive strip mall, lined with stores, souvenir shops, and street performers. If you head toward the Placa Catalunya, you’ll end up in the Gothic Quarter which contains narrow, carless streets decked out with old architecture and cafes; it provides the most “typical European” feel in Barcelona.
Energised from the food, hike up a few staircases to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya to go see 1000 years of Catalonian art in one place. Or, if you didn’t have enough time like me, don’t go in the building and admire its spectacular architecture, adorned with fountains and gardens.
Day 2: Gaudi Barcelona
Barcelona rocked the architecture world with its famous visionary, Antoni Gaudi. The bourgeoisie of Barcelona were fans of his opulent, bizarre style; as a result, he was often asked to design their homes. Many of the Gaudi-tinged homes exist today as museums or attractions. The most famous one, one you see on postcards and Instagram posts everywhere, is Parc Guell. Situated in the Gracià district, the park itself is free but the paid portion includes Gaudi’s actual home and the unnamed entrance buildings, featured on postcards around the world.
After Parc Guell, stay in Gracia, but go to the world-famous Casa Battló, a massive house Gaudi designed for an industrialist. After Parc Guell, it’s the most famous tourist attraction in all of Barcelona. Just a warning: museums/attractions in Barcelona are expensive, each one costing at least €20. To see the most famous attractions in the city, you’ll need at least €80.
The last major Gaudi-related thing you absolutely must see in Barcelona is none other than the Sagrada Familia. One of the most unique cathedrals on the planet, it’s a magnificent piece that still isn’t finished after 137 years. With elements of fruit, bones, and desert in its architecture, its an seriously massive masterpiece that can’t be missed. Buy admission in advance, the Sagrada Familia sells out super quick.
Day 3: The Hills of Barcelona
Unless you decide to take taxis, this day is going to require lots of walking. Unknown to most tourists, Barcelona is home to a tiny amusement park on one of the tallest mountains in Spain. This park is called Tibidabo, complete with a typically ornate cathedral, vintage Merry-go-Round and Ferris Wheel, and its own mascot! A taxi here will cost €12-18, depending on where you hail it.
After Tibidabo, you’ll need to get to the complete opposite side of town, near the beach. There lies Montjuïc Hill, which actually houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya mentioned above, but also Montjuïc Castle for history lovers. Explore the former protector of Barcelona’s port while admiring the city and seaside views.
Day 4: Beaches!
You’ve done a lot the past three days. Take today to head to Barceloneta and relax at the Platja de la Barceloneta! Take a dip in the warm Mediterranean sea; if you live in Britain like I do, get your yearly dose of Vitamin D with a sun-kissed nap.
After spending four rejuvenating days in Barcelona, my impression of it certainly changed. Last time, I was there for too little, and I hardly saw anything. After really getting to know Barcelona, I saw what the hype was about. I now see why everyone always comes back. It’s an exciting city, bursting with energy, that offers something new every day. This, combined with the Mediterranean climate, incredible food, mind-numbing art and Latin flair made me feel at home.
It’s impossible to truly conquer Barcelona in four days. It’s a city that keeps on giving, one that’s already drawing me back. There’s still the Picasso Museum, the Gaudi Palace, Gaudi Casa Vicens, and so much more.
I can’t recommend it enough to everyone; I can’t wait to go back early next year not only to see my favourite singer but to go further in-depth into a city where I barely scratched the surface.
Have you been to Barcelona? What surprised you the most about it? Let me know in the comments below!