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Hi!

I’m Alexandra. An American girl living in Dublin, Ireland. I honestly document my adventures in travel, food, beauty, and expat life on a budget.

Barcelona City Guide

Barcelona City Guide

Candid Alexandra in Barcelona, Spain

I feel like it took me forever to post this guide and I do apologize for that but finally, the Barcelona city guide is here! Barcelona was the second leg of our Spain trip and we arrived by high-speed train. I cannot recommend this mode of transport enough. It was about €50 more than flights would have been but the hassle and time it saved us from flying and wasting a day in airports was more than worth the €50. Now I need to apply this logic to when booking flights that leave at the asscrack of dawn.

The Madrid Atocha Train Station looked like you were in the jungle with so much greenery in the middle. I would have taken a photo, but we were in a hurry to not miss our train! The train was clean, efficient, and there was plenty of leg room. Taking the train was effortless and I would highly recommend spending the extra money (if you have it) to save yourself the time and avoid the annoyance of the airport for a short flight. The train took 2.5 hours, and lucky for us the train station, Barcelona Franca, was right across the road from our hostel so we didn’t have much further to go once we arrived.

Like Madrid I found Barcelona to be affordable in terms of the cost of eating out, drinks, and activities. In Barcelona we did do more tourist activities and spent more on these than other holidays, but I found that each activity we did was well worth the money spent on it.  That said, let’s get into it!

WHEN I WENT: 

4.5 days in April. Each day was super sunny with the temperature staying around 72 F/22 C. It was hot during the day but did get a bit chilly at night, so I always changed into jeans and a jacket before heading out for dinner. If you’re looking to come to Barcelona for the beach I would go in later months in the summer. The temperatures we had were ideal for walking around and doing activities outdoors, so you weren’t too hot to the point that you can’t even enjoy yourself. I found the temperatures in April to be ideal if you need some sun but aren’t looking to roast. 

WHERE (OR MAYBE NOT) TO STAY:

PENSION CIUDADELA - Let me start by saying we had an apartment here, which I was not expecting because I fully thought we would have a private room and a shared bathroom in a hostel. It was an older apartment, but it was surprisingly nicer than what I had seen online. Overall, I can’t really say anything too bad about the accommodation. It provided the basic amenities we wanted; a bed, a shower, and somewhere to safely store our luggage.  The location was unreal, located conveniently in the El Born district. Also, €272 for 4 nights in Barcelona isn’t too shabby either. However, there were a few things that just put me off a bit. The shower was small, which I have no problem with, but there was a decent sized window in the shower facing several apartments who could easily see in. The other situation I did not particularly like was the room being serviced every day and our things being touched/moved when done so. I am not complaining about the room being cleaned (that would be gross if I didn’t like my room to be clean), but I don’t want my room done every single day. Maybe that is just me, but it is what it is. All that said, I would not stay here again because I would prefer to stay in the Gothic Quarter if we return, but it was satisfactory for our first stay and for what we required. 

WHERE TO EAT: 

FOC – I found FOC on TripAdvisor and it did not disappoint. We split the croquettes, sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo, and tacos all from the “To Share” portion of the menu. It did not look like much when it came out, but we were both satisfied by the end. I got a mojito here too and it was the priciest drink I had the whole trip being a little over €8. Was it worth that? No, but on your holidays, it can be justified. Try and get a seat outside if you can!

Chorizo hash at Firebug in Barcelona, Spain
Benedict at Firebug in Barcelona, Spain

MILK BAR & BISTRO – (Firebug) – On nearly every Barcelona city guide I read I saw Milk so I quickly added it to the list of brunch spots to try.  We sat down, and I quickly recognized the menu. Was this not where we ate a couple of days before for brunch? OH, IT WAS, but a different name.  Apparently, there are 3 of these restaurants (Marmalade is the third), each with a different name, just so yah know. Milk definitely had a cooler vibe than Firebug, but at the end of the day, it is the same food. Get the chorizo hash and a mimosa (only €4!) if you go.

Craft beer at Chivuo’s Slow Street Food
Beer Menu at Chivuo’s Slow Street Food

CHIVUO’S SLOW STREET FOOD – This was our post-Park Guell treat and man oh man, was it worth the walk there. Craft beer is served in mason jars at €3.50 a pop but there are several bottles to choose from too. We tried the Chivuo’s Citra & Mosaig Pale Ale and the Catalan Brewery Julian Gorospe IPA. Both were good, but the Julian Gorospe IPA was the winner so check that out if it is on tap. We also had the fritas and tequeños – definetly check out the tequeños!There are 3 to choose from in town and we visited the Chivuo’s Gracia, but I am sure that the others are just as good!

LA SANTA DEL BORN – Another TripAdvisor find that was conveniently located less than a 5 minutes’ walk away from our accommodation. While it is no Bunsen, these burgers hit the spot. I have searched high and low for a menu online but cannot find one, so you’ll have to take my word. 2 burgers, 2 beers, and fries to split was around €30. They also do veggie burgers if that’s your thang!

Selection of tacos at Pikio Taco in Barcelona, Spain

PIKIO TACO – Shoutout to Adilene from Whole and Happy Soul who suggested that I check this out. Across from the Generator Hostel sits the compact Pikio Taco. To order, fill out the sheet on the table and bring it up to the bar. Get the Tijuana if you go and wash it down with frozen mango margarita!

CASA DELFIN – One night we could not decide what we wanted to eat. I was craving one thing while P wanted something else. I remembered The Anna Edit had done a city guide on Barcelona, so I pulled that up and found Casa Delfin. Even it better it was less than a 5 minutes’ walk away from our hostel. Everything from start to finish was amazing here. Order the prawns to start, I promise you will not be disappointed! 

FARGGI BORN – Sorry but this gelato was better than gelato I had in Italy. I got the cheesecake and white chocolate. They were both amazing, but the white chocolate was dreamy. If you like white chocolate, go here and just get 2 scoops of it in a cone. 

SENYOR PARELLADA – Go here and order the lamb. I have eaten a decent amount of lamb in my day and this was some of the best I ever tasted. I got the veal which was also good but after having a bite of P’s lamb I wished I had ordered that. This was good for a nicer meal out and we ate here on our last night. If you are looking for something nicer than tapas, or if you’re just sick of them, give Senyor Parellada a go. 

BUON APPETITO – The calzone here was bigger than my head. I would show you the photo, but I am not looking my cutest and my eyes are all squinty from the sun so, just take my word. The portions here are big and for around €10 for a main you are getting the most bang for your buck. My advice is to split a main because P and I each got something off the menu that easily could be split between 2 people.  

WHERE TO DRINK:

MIRAMAR RESTAURANT – Come here for the views, not the excellent drinks. My sangria was delish but, we only stopped to take in an amazing glimpse of the cityscape. I also think the sangria helped to calm my nerves before doing the cable cars. 

LA DELICIOSA – Like Miramar, stop here for a drink. It was cool to have a drink on the beach, but the drinks were pricey for what they were. We went on a Friday around 4:30pm and were able to find a seat quickly but as soon as it was 5 it became jam packed with a lot of rude people huffing and puffing about there being no seats which ruined the atmosphere, so we left. We got a few beers from a convenience store and sat on the beach instead. Besides the lads yelling on the beach selling drinks, this was a cheaper and nicer alternative to paying high prices for a sour atmosphere. 

ANTIC TEATRE – This bar was cool, and I would say it is even cooler in the summer months. There is a lot of outdoor seating and the beers are super affordable. It is a younger crowd here and seems like somewhere I would have been obsessed with at 21. That said, it is a neat little spot off the beaten track to check out.  Try to get a seat under the tree if you can! 

FLAHERTY’S IRISH PUB – Let me tell you something I’ve noticed Irish people do on holidays – go to Irish pubs. In our defence, P and I only go because you are guaranteed they’ll be playing the Liverpool match and we can’t miss that just because we are abroad! So, I am only recommending you go here to watch a match. Please check out pubs or bars of the place you are visiting and do not default to what you’re used to!

WHAT TO DO:

Candid Alexandra at Park Güell
Park Güell
Park Güell

PARK GUELL – This is something I think everyone should do when visiting Barcelona. The park is big but not overwhelming. My one biggest piece of advice I want to give you when visiting here is to take a bus or taxi to the top. We decided we could walk it and it was not a great decision. It was hot and we each had on Adidas that are more fashionable than functional. Once we got inside, I found the trek there to be worth it. I have seen other reviews where people said it wasn’t worth it to them and they were happy to look at it from the outside. I personally would recommend spending the €7.50 per ticket to go in for an up-close look. I have also read others complaining about how busy it is. Duh, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions so of course it is going to have a lot of people, even on the ‘not busy’ hours. Even with all the people around, this is something I would have been upset to have missed when visiting Barcelona. 

Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona, Spain

MONTJUIC CABLE CARS – I will admit I was scared to do this. When having a drink at Miramar we saw carts going by with people stuffed in like sardines. We, thankfully, did not do those cars and ours had seats in them and we got one all to ourselves! I don’t like stuff like this usually, but the views were amazing, and the cars were not rickety at all! Once you reach the top you can walk around the Montjuïc Castle and take in the views. You can go into the castle for €3 I believe it was, but we opted to walk around the outside instead. This was something we decided to do on a whim and it was totally worth it. Like the row boats in Madrid, this was something different but one of the memorable parts of the trip.

Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain
Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain
Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA – For some reason I didn’t care about going in here until P’s mom said it was her favourite thing they did when they visited. I am so pleased we did this because walking around the outside would not have sufficed to see how truly spectacular it is. The architecture, the glass, the utter attention to detail – you must see it for yourself to truly appreciate the magnitude of it! This was our priciest excursion, but it was worth every cent. 

EL BORN – This is the area we stayed in but there is so much going on in it, it is worth a visit even if you are staying somewhere else.  The Born Cultural Centre was right behind our apartment and was one of the free activities we did on the trip. There is an archaeological site inside which delivers an idea of what daily life in 18thcentury Barcelona would have been like. There was also an exhibition on the Spanish writer, Montserrat Roig, that I found incredibly interesting. I had never heard of her or her work and was intrigued to learn about the number of Catalans that were in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The exhibition is done now but you should still visit for the archaeological site!

GOTHIC QUARTER – The Gothic Quarter was one of our favourite places of the entire trip. The narrow, medieval streets are so fun to get lost in. There is an endless amount of choice when it comes to food and drink in this unique neighbourhood. There is also a ton of shopping at local markets and stalls to be done here too. I would suggest going at night when I found it to be livelier. 

La Boqueria in Las Ramblas
La Boqueria in Las Ramblas
La Boqueria in Las Ramblas

LAS RAMBLAS – If you are looking to do a bit of shopping, you must go to Las Ramblas. My favourite part of Las Ramblas was the La Boqueria, a food market where we had some of the freshest juice I have ever had, and all for €1! I did hear to stay away at night due to some not so nice people coming out and read it becomes somewhat of a red-light district. We didn’t go down at night, so I can’t say if this is accurate or not, but I wasn’t in the humour to find out. 

Barcelona has so much going on that you could go and spend 4.5 days there and do an entirely different trip from what I did, which I think is amazing! After visiting both Madrid and Barcelona, I preferred the slower mood of Madrid but would not say no to visiting Barcelona again in the future. If you’ve been to Barcelona and think I missed anything, please let me know so I can try it out if we ever return or anyone thinking of going can check it out! Looks like I need to plan another trip now, so I can write another city guide! But, seriously. 

I love to hear from y’all! If you have any specific questions about Barcelona, please don’t be shy about reaching out. You can leave me a comment below, send me a DM on Instagram, message me on Facebook or send me a tweet on Twitter. Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin' too!

*all images original to Candid Alexandra

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