Barcelona is the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. It’s famous for its art and architecture, particularly with it’s statement buildings like the stunning La Sagrada Família church and Park Guell designed by the infamous Antoni Gaudi. Landmarks like this, as well as the delicious food, attract thousands of tourists every year.
Being a Spanish city, you can expect to find delicious tapas on every corner, sangria filled bars and lots and lots of paella. The city has such a vibrant feel to it and is a destination perfect for families.
If you’re a follower of Life Unexpected, you’ll know that we recently toured Europe with our toddler, for a whole month! The first stop on our trip was Venice, followed by Florence, Rome and then the French Riviera.
After a rainy week in the South of France, we flew across to Barcelona, with the hope of some sunshine and lots of delicious Spanish food and drink.
Our beautiful AirBnB apartment had a great location. Just off Sagrada Familia, we found ourselves close to all the big shops, yummy eateries and the metro line. One thing we’re happy to note, is how easy it is to travel around and navigate the city transport. We also found the metro line very pushchair friendly.
On our first day, we were graced with lovely warm Autumn sunshine. We took complete advantage of the lovely long stretches of beach by hiring some bikes. With tapas bars and kids parks along the way, it’s the perfect spot to spend your time all year around. From bike rentals, surf shops and outdoor gyms there is lots of entertainment for you to take your pick from, along the coast line.
We hired bikes from Barcelona Rent A Bike, a little rental shop close the beach. You can hire bikes from as little as four hours, a day, or even for a few days. The city is really bike friendly and they have bikes for all ages, aswell as special seats for little ones.
We rode across the whole seafront and got some great views of the harbours and the docks, with all the super yachts glistening in the water. With a turn of the head you got the magnificent view of the city behind you, with the mountains as a striking backdrop in the distance. Barcelona really is a beautiful and vibrant city.
Evie absolutely loved our bike journey, and managed to see more of Barcelona being high up in her seat. Oh what a life just sitting there and relaxing!
We stopped off at La Guingueta for lunch. The beautiful beach bar serves delicious tapas, cocktails and burgers. I couldn’t resist tucking into an Aperol spritz while enjoying the sunshine from their open beach bar.
Unfortunately, we didn’t capture many photos of our delicious food, mainly because we spent most of our time indulging. We ate tapas everyday, it was hard not to with all the options available for such a great price. The best tapas joints can be found in El Born.
La Bona Sort was our ultimate favourite find. We fell in love with the inside decor, where modern meets old. Beautiful bare lights hang from the ceiling and rustic brick walls are adorned with plants creating a blanket across some of the alcoves. Every seating area felt like it had its own little atmosphere. The tapas were so delicious and the portion sizes were just perfect for four of us to share.
During our five days in Barcelona, we visited Bacoa Kiosko, one of the more famous burger joints in Barcelona. In fact it has become so popular they’ve opened up a few more around the city. I’m not usually a burger eater, but was not disappointed here.
Bacoa offers a unique “build your own” burger, from bun to bun. You can be as creative as you want, and the final result will always be absolutely delicious, with the well cooked meat and fresh ingredients. It’s easily become our favourite burger place…in the world.
Burgers and tapas aside, how can you come to Barcelona without trying Paella? Although the one we had was slightly oily, it was delicious all the same.
We highly recommend you look up the best places for paella before you indulge in this traditional cuisine. Unlike tapas, it varies in style and quality quite a bit. Paella can be found on every corner in Barcelona. We popped into the closest restaurant to us and do wish we’d looked into it a little more. The portion sizes are incredible though. We ordered enough for three of us to share and there were plenty of leftovers.
El Born was our favourite district in Barcelona overall. It’s home to the most vibrant of shops donned with beautiful clothing, quirky homewares and delicious tapas down every street.
Barcelona is jam packed full of shopping districts where you can stock up on the latest designer or high street clothing. Every district hosts a different style and trend. At Paseo de Gracia you will find elegant homeware shops, designer and high street stores, whereas around the Born district you’ll find the more trendy boutiques and chic bars, in the old fashioned streets and alleyways.
We popped into the Paseo de Gracia areas briefly, but quickly left again, much preferring the smaller and more independent stores in the Born district. The atmosphere was brilliant, we just loved it.
Things To Do
You can’t come to Barcelona without visiting La Sagrada Familia church. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, it’s an absolutel spectacle. They started building it 100 years ago and due to its intricate design, it’s still being finished to this day.
Just across the road from the church, there is a park where children can play as you take pictures of this grand building (although I actually forgot to take pictures of the church because I was so busy with Evie). You can also take a guided tour inside, but we’d recommend pre-booking as queues were quite long.
La Boquiera Market
The markets in Barcelona are out of a fantasy and an absolute must see. The most famous of all is La Boquiera, and once entered it is easy to see just why. Packed full to the brim of everything you can imagine, fresh fish, meats, sweets, spices and so on.
The vibrant colours from all the different stalls were surreal. It seemed as though business was going good and the atmosphere definitely showed that with satisfied shoppers all around. La Boquiera feels endless. There is so much choice when it comes to fresh food. The market also offers bars to sit at, so you can take a break from your shopping to enjoy some light bites and a coffee.
The markets in Barcelona are always busy. It’s great to see a city buying such amazing, fresh produce everyday, from independent sellers. I’d be more than happy to use this as my local supermarket if I lived here.
Park Guell is also must visit. We were completely gutted that we didn’t get to see all of it for ourselves. You need to pre-book to go in, but unfortunately we’d left it too late before our flight. Park Guell lies at the edge of Barcelona, so plan for some travelling. It hosts beautiful views over the city and exquisite architecture all designed by Antoni Gaudi.
Cuitadella Park is another must visit. The late 1800’s park is home to a zoo, boating lake, ornate museums and lush walking trails. The park is located just off Passeig de Picasso where you can hire bikes and cycle five minutes down to the coast, or if you’re feeling indulgent, where there lies the most tranquil spa.
There are lots of parks and gardens in Barcelona, for both adults and children to enjoy. Spend the day with a picnic in the warmer months, or simply wrap up warm and escape the bustling city for a peaceful walk in the cooler months.
There are so many more activities to do in Barcelona. For those that are brave enough you can take a cable car to the top of the mountain, which is worth it for the magnificent views over the city. If you have children, then you’ll love how child friendly Barcelona is, with parks dotted around everywhere and lots of outdoor and indoor activities.
My favourite part of the whole week was going to the most tranquil spa. Aire De Barcelona is situated on Passeig de Picasso, right in the heart of the city. The ancient restored baths offers pools of different temperatures, ranging from fiery hot, to icy cold. You can also relax in the steam room and jacuzzis and indulge in some treatments
The setting is truly unique and beautiful. The low candles dance off the rustic brick walls and add to the peaceful environment. Tranquil music is played throughout and the spa has time slots for you to book, so it’s never too crowded.
When you book your spa time, you have the option to add treatments and little extras such as juices or champagne and truffles.
Although I didn’t book a treatment, I did indulge in the champagne and truffles and it was a very delicious end to my morning.
In the central area of the spa, there is a little seated area where there are beautiful pots of the most warming herbal teas. They make your insides feel like they’re being kissed and you feel so refreshed and rejuvenated after. It’s a must visit if you need to unwind during your holiday.
We were sad to say goodbye to Barcelona, but are sure we’re going to return one day. We’d love to see the city again in the summer, and try out some of the more outdoor activities. Keep your eyes peeled for the last week of our holiday, where we headed to the warmer, more tropical Mediterranean island; Mallorca.
Have you ever been to Barcelona? What’s your favourite part? Let us know in the comments below.