Although it was a struggle, we always like to try and get up early even after a long day exploring Parc Guell and a big night out. This is to try and make the most of our time away, particularly when in beautiful Barcelona. While pretty painful to start with, we jumped on the strong coffee served in our hotel. Soon enough, we felt human again and hopped on the Metro off to the iconic Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
La Sagrada Família is one of Gaudí’s most famous works in Barcelona. It’s a huge Basilica that, incredibly, is still being built. Despite construction beginning in 1882, it’s only predicted to be finished in 2026. This means it will have taken a whopping 144 years to complete. If you look closely at the impressive elaborate details, you’ll perhaps see why.
The ongoing construction of La Segrada Familia has, however, attracted some controversy. Some say that the construction materials being used nowadays would never have been chosen by Gaudí himself.
Make sure you learn from our mistakes – we didn’t think to book tickets to see inside La Sagrada Familia before our trip. Naively, we thought we’d be able to buy them once we got there. The answer was no, we couldn’t, as it was devastatingly booked out. This meant we couldn’t see the impressive architecture up close, or the incredible stained glass windows from the interior.
Passeig de Gràcia
Onwards and upwards – time for a bite to eat and then to head off to the city’s famous shopping district, the Passeig de Gràcia, for more Gaudí spotting. Even the street paving is pretty and artistic in Barcelona.
We came across more Gaudí creations on our journey along the Passeig de Gràcia. La Predrera is the larger Gaudí building on the street. Although it’s not as colourful as Casa Batlló, the interior is said to be incredible. It has a marine theme, with octopus themed tiles, and a spiral staircase that looks like the interior of a shell from above. From the top, you also get an amazing view across the city.
While there’s plenty of Gaudí scattered across Barcelona, arguably his most impressive creation is Casa Batlló. It’s got a mythical style, with pastel colours across the front and mosaics. The balconies look like masks, and the roof is like a dragon’s tail.
Just along from Casa Batlló, you’ll discover the most beautiful chocolate shop, Faborit Casa Amatller. Make sure you discover this little treasure. They serve incredibly rich hot chocolate and the most adorable tins of chocolates, perfect for gifts for loved ones back home.
The chocolate shop is located within Casa Amatller. This impressive building is the creation of Puig i Cadaflach, one of Gaudí’s contemporaries. It’s a wonderful blend of neo-Gothic style with modernism. Together with Casa Batlló, it forms the ‘mansana de la discòrdia’, or ‘block of discord’. This is because of all the amazing buildings in different styles. Even just wondering round, you discover beautiful architecture. We were nosy and popped into this place.
Check out the gorgeous details and the colourful stained glass ceiling. Everywhere you look, from floor to ceiling the details are beautiful.
We stopped off for a truly European coffee – served extra strong, al fresco (of course), and with a shimmering of sunshine. Barcelona has a great cafe culture, and even in October to be sat outside is a real treat.
La Boqueria, Barcelona
Both Jo and I are huge foodies, so there was one place on our Barcelona bucket list we simply had to visit. Introducing La Boqueria, the city’s most famous food market, serving up platters of delicious Spanish food. I headed straight to the meat stalls, naturally.
Just off the Ramblas, La Boquerie is one of Europe’s largest and most celebrated food markets. There are so many delicious things to see and try. Head through the grand iron gates to the bustling market, which is full of colours, smells, and noises. You’ll find all kinds of food and drink being sold, and you can pull up a high stool for some fresh snacks.
Conveniently – perhaps a little too conveniently – the market is surrounded by bars serving up icy jugs of sangria to enjoy in the sun along with ultra friendly bar staff.
These bars make perfect stops for tasting treats from the market, sipping a glass of your favourite poison, then heading back to the market to sample the fruits of another stall. And repeat. You get the drift.
Make sure you stop by the fish restaurant just near the exit onto La Rambla. You can pick your own fish to be cooked in front of you, or go for the fish platter which was divine.
An Evening in Barcelona
With the sun setting on La Rambla, we caught the Metro back to our hotel to get ready for the evening ahead.
We heard about a little tavern where locals take part in authentic flamenco and thought it might be a laugh to go along. Yet, upon arrival it was one of those taverns where tourists stick out like a sore thumb. It was, therefore, a little awkward so we headed across the road to a restaurant and bar.
Jo’s a sucker for paella, so went for that, while I went for steak. Unfortunately, I regretted it. It was covered in olive oil and super chewy. Thank goodness I’d eaten my body weight in market goodies earlier on.
We returned to La Rambla to see what the nightlife was like, but discovered it was much like our student days on Broad Street in Birmingham. It’s packed full of promo staff promising free shots. Feeling pretty tired, we caught one of the craziest taxi rides back to the hotel we’d ever experienced. The taxi driver seemed completely undeterred by pedestrians or pavements, but thankfully we made it back alive.
Time for an early night before our final full day in Barcelona.
That’s our first full day in Barcelona, and I love the city so much already. What are your favourite things to see and do in Barcelona?