Two Weeks in Barcelona

We recently spent 16 days in beautiful Barcelona, and it already holds a place on our list of favorite cities visited.

Located in the heart of Catalonia, Spain, Barcelona is home to just under 2 million locals and a handful of tourists.  With beautiful coastline and a ton of architectural relics, it's no wonder why people fly from all over the world to explore.

In our two weeks in the city, here are the things we enjoyed most!

Gaudi City Tour and La Sagrada Familia

Antoni Gaudí was a Spanish architect who lived from 1852 to 1926 and practiced what most call "Catalan Modernism."  His designs are both beautiful and over the top.  Known for finding both beautiful and useful ways to reinforce and strengthen buildings, his works are a must-see for anyone visiting Barcelona.

His most important work was La Sagrada Familia, the prominent cathedral in Barcelona's city center that he failed to complete before his death.  His work lives on, and the current architects are aiming to complete the church by 2026 for the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death.

We did a free Gaudí walking tour with Runner Bean Tours and had a great experience with them!

Pinxtos and Tapas

While tapas are a standard across Spain, Catalonia boasts another great tradition: Pinxtos!  Like tapas, pinxtos are little treats to enjoy as you drink, but they're all served on bread.

Most pinxtos places in Barcelona put out trays and trays of yummy treats out on the bar with plates nearby.  Each pinxto has a tooth pick through it with a colored top, and signs are displayed showing the price for each.  

You grab a plate and help yourself, saving your toothpicks until the end so your server can total your tab.

It's a fantastic way to grab a quick bite, and most pinxtos were cheap, between 1 and 2 euros!

My favorite places were Bar Pinoxto in the Boqueria market and Quimet & Quimet in Poble Sec.

Live Jazz at La Pedrera

La Pedrera is another of Gaudí's masterpieces, and its roof provides an incredible view of the city.  

Never one to miss out on an opportunity to embellish necessary architectural features, Gaudí created these interesting chimneys that a certain American film maker saw and liked before making his own masterpiece: Star Wars.  The chimneys were George Lucas's inspiration for the storm trooper helmets in the movies. 

Gaudi's stormtrooper chimneys.

Gaudi's stormtrooper chimneys.

We enjoyed taking in the beautiful architecture with a glass of cava while listening to the live jazz performance offered on the rooftop terrace.

Barceloneta Beach

Prior to hosting the Olympic Games in 1992, the beaches in Barcelona were supposedly not so nice, but now they're clean and beautifully maintained.

We spent an afternoon enjoying the Mediterranean with a lot of great people watching at Barceloneta Beach.  Access is free, and there were tons of changing rooms and bathrooms in the area, not to mention free showers for people coming off the beach!

La Boqueria Market

This bustling food market was one of my favorite parts of Barcelona.  We went a few times eating at Bar Pinotxo and enjoying the chaos that is inherent to people buying and selling mass quantities of meat, fruits and veggies.  

There are lots of great food stalls in the market, so I'd definitely recommend planning a meal there. And get there early! It's overrun with tourists by noon.

Renting Bikes

Barcelona is very bikeable with plenty of protected bike lanes and lots to see.  We rented bikes one day for 6 euros each from our neighborhood in Poble Sec and biked all the way up the coast.  It was a more pleasant way to see the city than taking the metro, although the metro trains are clean, cool and on time!

 

Have you been to Barcelona before? What did you like?