Whenever I think of Barcelona, I can’t help but think of songs like those of D. Kay & Epsilon and George Ezra. They were pretty much going round and round in my head the whole time I was there. Now I’ve visited Barcelona, however, I can totally see why this stunning, diverse, and utterly phenomenal city receives so much praise and hype. This is thanks to the blend of characters, food, and nightlife, which has inspired so many songs. Jo and I visited to see the best of Barcelona and its many landmarks, from Parc Guell to the Sagrada Familia.
Arriving at Parc Guell, Barcelona
We flew out of Birmingham Airport on a super early flight to make the most out of our long weekend in Barcelona. Arriving at El Prat Airport (great name), I used my rusty Spanish to try and make sure we caught the right train and Metro into the city centre.
Despite it being late October, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-20s. We left our suitcases in the lobby of our hotel (more on that later), and set off in search of Parc Guell and its iconic mosaic tiles. Just check out this escalator – I challenge you to find one with a better view.
We took in the phenomenal views across Barcelona. Parc Guell offers an incredible viewpoint for panoramic vistas across the city. See if you can spot the Sagrada Familia from where we were.
Gaudi House Museum, Parc Guell
We’d made our first rookie error of the trip. Always make sure you book Parc Guell tickets in advance. Although you get sights from afar, you can’t get up and close and personal with the famous mosaic seats or indeed get a better view of Barcelona. So we booked tickets and managed to get a slot for later that evening.
We meandered around the spaces we had access to, and came across the Gaudi House Museum. Antoni Gaudi is the famous architect behind many of Barcelona’s incredible icons, from Park Guell to the Sagrada Familia. The Gaudi House was his home from 1906 to 1925, and is now a public museum where you can learn more about him and his art. We bought our tickets for around 8 Euros and went in to explore.
Contrary to popular belief, Gaudi’s house in Parc Guell wasn’t actually designed by him, but his right hand man, Francesc d’Assis Berenguer i Mestres. Within the house, you can find furniture that was designed under Gaudi’s direction.
The tour is essentially a Cribs for Gaudi, and really cool to get behind of the brain of the famous architect. I love visiting artists’ homes, and it reminded me a little of Frida Kahlo’s home in Mexico City. Gaudi originally settled in his home with his father and niece. It was during this time that critics believe his work truly matured, with the incredible Sagrada Familia beginning construction within this time.
It’s a beautiful, ornate house that evokes its Spanish style, and the gardens are equally as beautiful. All within the splendid setting of Parc Guell. The house was a prototype for the houses that were originally planned here, so it’s interesting to imagine how that may have looked.
We meandered out of the house and into the surroundings of Parc Guell to see what else we could find.
As it was only midday, we looked at a map and sussed out the areas we had to explore over the next few days. We discovered there’s a tram you can catch up to the mountain of Tibidabo, so we headed up to the stop. Little did we know, the tram stops out of season. We hopped on a bus instead, not entirely sure where or what we were heading to.
Thank goodness we did go to Tibidabo. It’s quite a climb up the mountain, and the views are simply magnificent. On the way up to the top, the bus stopped at a restaurant we’d read about called Mirablau, so we jumped off having worked up an appetite. We were overwhelmed when we discovered the restaurant’s huge glass windows boasting these views.
Mirablau prides itself on offering dinner, drinks, and dance with an impressive view of Barcelona’s skyline. It was the perfect stop for wine and our first round of tapas, all for a reasonable price.
We munched our way through croquettes, calamari, and patatas bravas and absorbed the gorgeous views. We left feeling full and a little tipsy, ready to head off for our tour slot in Parc Guell. Regrettably, we didn’t have time to see more of Tibidabo. Standing over 500 metres tall, it offers amazing views over Barcelona and Catalonia. Not only this – it’s home to an amusement park, a telecommunications tower, and a Catholic church, where local legend says Jesus was first tempted by the devil. We trekked down the hill, in fact beating the bus, to find Parc Guell once again.
Parc Guell, Barcelona
Parc Guell is where Gaudi began his foray into landscape gardening. It’s a blend of colour, art, and the bizarre. One of Gaudi’s most famous works, the park represents a desire for the modernization and cultural resurgence of Catalonia.
The park was created in 1900, when Gaudi was commissioned to construct a small city of houses within landscaped grounds for the wealthy. Commercially, the project failed and it was later abandoned in 1914. Gaudi had, however, created 3km of roads, a plaza, steps, and some houses. The city bought the estate in 1922 for use as a public space.
One of the most iconic views of Parc Guell is the Banc de Trencadis, a curved bench that’s tiled in a multitude of colours. Despite being artistic seating, it appears to have the design of catching rainwater before it rushes down the hill. As with most of Gaudi’s work, it often involves more than meets the eye.
We were treated to a view of Barcelona at sunset, and was super special. How beautiful are these tiles? I wanted to pick one off and take it home!
Pol & Grace Hotel, Barcelona
As the sun sank over Parc Guell, it was time to head back to our hotel to properly check it out. We chose an independent boutique hotel called Pol and Grace for our stay.
With the hotel’s quirks, quotes, and super friendly staff, we soon felt very at home. It’s also in the wonderful neighbourhood of Sant Gervasi, which is full of adorable coffee and ice cream shops.
What a welcome! To celebrate the end of Jo’s exams, they treated us to the following some free drinks and relaxing bath salts.
Feeling very much at home, we were to get out and explore the famous Barcelona nightlife. We got dressed and ready and set out to some bars.
An Evening in Barcelona
Despite having been awake since 3am, we were sure enough in the mood to party. First up – Dry Martini.
Dry Martini, Barcelona
Despite having been awake since 3am, we were sure enough in the mood to party. First up – Dry Martini. Located in Barcelona’s Eixample district, it’s a really cool classy-yet-old-school bar. Here, you can expect a comprehensive cocktail menu and bartenders dressed in white coats, treating their cocktails just as seriously as their attire.
Awesome cocktails served with a smile. Give the chocolate orange martini a try, you won’t regret it! We had chatted away to our taxi driver on the way in my best Spanglish. Don’t forget to distinguish between jueves and huevos – one means ‘Thursdays’ and the other ‘balls’ – I learnt the hard way. He recommended a tavern up the street, so we nipped in there next for sangria. There was also plenty of authentic Spanish singing and dancing. Imagine guitars, instruments made from coke cans filled with rice, and songs like Enrique’s Bailando. Quite the experience, but super fun!
Port Olimpic, Barcelona
We left in search of the best of Barcelona’s clubs. Little did we know how seriously they take their nightlife here, seems like we picked the right city to visit. We were recommended to head to Port Olimpic, where you can find a bunch of clubs, including Pacha. Having had a crazy time in Ibiza earlier this year, we didn’t think we could go wrong.
We ended up in Shoko, and had a great night! There’s a slightly odd obsession in Barcelona’s clubs with staff dressing up like the mafia. Not too sure why, do let me know if you know otherwise. We nipped next door to Opium, which was our favourite club of the trip. It’s awesome because even in October, half of the club is outside and you can sit out on the deck and see the beach.
By around 4am, we were very much ready for bed. Looking forward to filling you all in on tomorrow’s adventures.
Have you visited Parc Guell in Barcelona? Have you partied hard in Barcelona? If so, let me know your top tips in the comments below.