Amazing architecture and delicious food are two things that come to mind when I think about Barcelona. Oh, and Cava too! Barcelona was our first stop on our 11-day Spanish adventure to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. We flew Norwegian Airlines directly from Ft. Lauderdale. The overnight flight was great (especially since we decided to splurge and fly first class). After landing, we breezed through security, grabbed a taxi and headed straight to our hotel, H10 Urquinaona Plaza where we were greeted with a glass of Cava. Our room wasn’t quite ready so we dropped off our luggage and headed out for some sight-seeing.
First up was the Arc de Triomf. The Arc, while beautiful, certainly left something to be desired when comparted to the Arc in Paris. It is still of course worth a visit. If nothing else, to people watch as it is one of the most bustling areas of the city. Next, we visited the other end of the park where Castell de Tres Dragons and the Cascada Monumental are located. The Castle was unfortunately under construction but the water fountain more than made of up for it.
Next, we headed back towards the city center which was also quite busy. The square was full of people and news stations setting up for Sant Jordi, or in English, Saint George’s Day. Sometimes referred to as the Spanish Valentine’s Day, Saint George’s Day is a day when lovers swap books and roses. We managed to see the Monumento Francesc Masia but of course with loads of people in the background.
We stopped at an awesome shop before making our way to Firebug café to grab a bite to eat but learned very quickly about tapa hour which typically starts at 7:00 p.m. We were of course a little bit early so enjoyed another Cava (and cervesa for David) before heading back to our hotel to settle into our room and get ready for the evening.
We embraced the tapas tradition for dinner making our first stop Crudo Bar where we were introduced to tomato bread for the first time. I must say, this was hands down the best place we had it throughout our entire trip. And, the grilled octopus was absolutely delicious.
Next, we may our way to the El Born neighborhood for more tapas at Toscal Palau which was directly across the street from the beautiful Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catala.
We stopped in an Irish Pub on our way back to the hotel. It was karaoke night and there was no question, each singer put on a performance. After a couple of beers, we turned in for the night.
We purchased tickets for the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia before leaving the U.S. as we knew we wanted to visit this place first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds. This attraction is on every Barcelona visitors ‘must see’ list and for good reason. This place is stunning. Designed by the world-famous Antonio Gaudi, construction began in 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026. David and I were both in awe of the stained glass inside the church. The colors were put together so thoughtfully. Not to mention, the sun cast a beautiful kaleidoscope effect on the white interior.
We grabbed a cappuccino and baguette from a Citizen Café before heading into the city center and Las Ramblas to take in all of the St. George’s Day festivities including a stop at the famed Mercat de la Boqueria.
We walked around the Gothic Quarter before visiting one of Gaudi’s residences, Palau Guell.
We were feeling adventurous so we decided to walk to the Barceloneta Beach. The walk was quite nice. There was a boat show into town so the harbor was filled with amazing yachts. We were even treated to some Picasso street art along the way. We stopped at one of the beachside cafes and enjoyed a drink and the fantastic weather.
Next, we visited another Gaudi creation, Casa Mila or La Pedrera. The crown jewel of this property is the army that guards the rooftop. After a quick stroll on the roof, we headed to the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar.
We walked the nearby streets for a while before heading to dinner at The City Bar and Restaurant. We called it an early night as we had a full day tour to Monserrat the next day.
We headed to the El Born area and visited the Picasso Museum when we returned to Barcelona from our Monserrat daytrip. We walked around cobblestone streets, grabbed a drink at an outdoor café and then headed to Cera 23 for dinner. Cera 23 was hands down our favorite restaurant in Barcelona. The food was incredible, the service was stellar and the wine was quite good. After dinner, we spent an hour or so at Brewdog before heading to La Taverna de Barcelona to catch some of the soccer game.
The next morning, we moved to Room Mate Anna for the remainder of our stay. We got a late start and decided to head straight to Xiloka for some lunch. From there, we took the cable car up to Montjuic Castle which was a great way to see the city. The view was fantastic. We didn’t go into the castle but spent some time exploring Parc de Montjic before heading to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, or MNAC for short.
MNAC was one of my favorite museums in Barcelona. Before heading it to see the exhibits, we sat outside listing to live music and watching the Magic Fountain put on a display. This a great place to relax and take in one of the most special places in the city.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Josephine before heading to Park Guell. Park Guell, the failed residential community designed by Guadi, was a very interesting place to visit. I couldn’t help but think of gingerbread houses.
Our final stop of the day was Coco Vail Beer Hall. This place was really fun –a great American and Spanish vibe. There were a ton of people there to watch the soccer game. We grabbed some super spicy wings and a few beers before heading to our hotel room across the street.
The next morning, we headed to Girona and Figures for most of the day. The MACBA, or Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, didn’t close for a few hours so we headed over as soon as we got back. The highlight of this museum was the Keith Herring exhibit that’s actually outside of the museum.
For dinner, we decided to try out paella for the first time since arriving in Spain. We heard great things about Arume so we figured we’d check out the duck paella that they are known for – the recommendations were spot on! We grabbed a cocktail at Hemmingway – Gin and Cocktails calling it an early night after one cocktail.
The next day, David had to get some work done in the morning so I grabbed a coffee and walked to Casa Batllo and Casa Amatller. This is an interesting block. There are three outstanding displays of architecture designed by three different architects. The rumor is that they were in competition with each other to see who could create the most beautiful residence on the block. It was also fun to see the LOVE sign being installed.
I was feeling adventurous so I decided to make the trek on foot to the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. The Art Nouveau complex was built by Domènech i Montaner between 1901 and 1930 and you can instantly see why it is considered his most important work.
After a little shopping, I met David back at the room. It was lunch time so we decided to head back to Mercat de la Boqueria for a few snacks. After several days of nonstop sightseeing, we decided to treat ourselves to a couple’s massage at Urban Spa Barcelona. We grabbed a beer at Olgod and then headed to Bodega Biarritz for dinner. This place was so delicious. And what made it even better was the fact that we didn’t even have to order. We just received a steady serving of tapas until we were completely stuffed.
Our last stop was Bullocks Rock Bar before heading out the next morning on a train to Madrid.
April is a fantastic time to visit Barcelona. The weather is sunny but not too hot. Plus, there is almost 14 hours of daylight which means you can see so much in a day.