Barcelona is definitely one of the greatest cities in the world. I moved here 10 years ago and I was only planning on staying for two years.
The city captivated me in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s the perfect travel destination for all kinds of travellers. Let me tell you why in this travel guide to Barcelona.
Anyone who loves architecture, food and parties will love Barcelona. What I love most about this city is its different faces. Every neighborhood has its own story, own personality and own secrets. Everywhere you go there’s a shot to take and a story to discover.
I was born in Bogotá – Colombia. I come from a family that loved to travel. My parents used to take three to four vacations a year. I was on an airplane before I could even walk at one years old! My grandparents were quite the world travellers too. So I feel I inherited their wanderlust.
Photography has been in my life since a young age. I purchased my first camera at the age of 15. I was the typical kid who would bring my camera with me everywhere and take photos of everything. Then when I purchased my first DSLR, I started taking it more seriously.
I watched countless tutorials online and started to develop a photographer’s eye. Now I see the beauty in everything and couldn’t imagine my life without my camera. Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world for photography as its bursting with culture and class.
The Boundless Vibrancy and Culture of Barcelona
Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city. I would say even more so than Madrid. It’s a technological hub and there are tons of start-ups and tech companies here. This innovation attracts a lot of expats. On the other hand, Barcelona is also laid-back and bohemian at the same time.
No other city that I’ve visited in Spain compares to Barcelona. I once read a book called “The Shadow of the Wind” which was based in Barcelona back in the 1940’s.
The book describes the city as an “enchantress” which is a term I totally agree with. I know very few people who have come here and haven’t fallen for her charms.
One of my best memories in Barcelona was definitely one summer when me and some friends rented a Catamaran and sailed along the coast with a private DJ, drinks and food. This time no camera, no photos or videos and just enjoying life to the fullest. Barcelona at its best!
Shooting Sunrises on the Bunkers of Barcelona
Barcelona is the type of city where you are constantly discovering amazing new places. I loved shooting in the Bunkers at sunrise. The Bunkers del Carmel has an amazing view of the whole city. It tends to get quite busy at sunset, however nothing beats the peace and serenity of the early morning.
The Bunkers del Carmel is located at the top of the Turó de la Rovira in the Carmel neighborhood standing at a height of 262 meters. During the Spanish Civil War, anti-aircraft guns were installed here.
Watching the sunrise on the horizon gives you an amazing array of colours in the sky and stunning light perfect for photography.
9 Best Things To Do in Barcelona
1. Watch the Sunrise from Bunkers del Carmel
As mentioned above, the Bunkers del Carmel of Barcelona is an absolute gem of a place to visit. Known as Bunkers del Carmel, El Turó de la Rovira or simply The Bunker – this hilltop hideaway offers the best sunrise view in all of Barcelona.
Sunset is packed with tourists so sunrise is definitely your best option. Enjoy stunning views of terracotta rooftops, the Sagrada Familia, the Palace of Montjuic and the Mediterranean coastline.
2. Rent a Catamaran with Friends and Sail along the Coast
My favourite memory in Barcelona was when me and some friends rented a Catamaran and sailed along the coast with a private DJ, drinks and food. This experience is all about creating unforgettably fun memories.
Barcelona’s coastline is stunning and it’s perfect for swimming in the Mediterranean. Grab some mates and book this as soon as you get to Barcelona! There are plenty of catamaran rental companies in the city.
3. Visit the Magnificent La Sagrada Familia
You simply can’t come to Barcelona without visiting the masterpiece called La Sagrada Familia. The construction of this church took over a century to complete and was spearheaded by Antoni Gaudí at one point who was famous for his unique take on the Modernista movement.
The church is still being worked on until today with some projections having the completion date as late as the 2040’s. La Sagrada Familia is the main attraction of Barcelona and you have to visit at least once in your life.
Although, you’ll be competing with around 2.8 million visitors each year who visit this magnificent church all vying for a spot. By purchasing Sagrada Familia tickets in advance you can enjoy fast-track entry.
4. Eat Tapas at La Flauta or Ciudad Condal
Famous with locals for their quality tapas and great prices, La Flauta and Ciudad Condal are a must-do for foodies!
La Flauta is considered to be the best restaurant in Barcelona when it comes to tapas. As well as being an amazing tapas restaurant, La Flauta is also famous for its incredible selection of sandwiches. The sandwiches are called “Flautas” – delicious!
5. Go to the Greek Theatre and Watch the Summer Performances
The Greek Theatre is not very well known amongst tourists but it’s such a nice activity for a warm summer’s evening. Located on the slopes of Montjuïc Hill, the Greek Theatre is an open-air amphitheatre which hosts an array of festivals and performances throughout the year.
6. Explore the Five Districts of Ciutat Vella in Barcelona
Explore the five districts of Ciutat Vella (Raval, Barri Gotic, El Born, La Ribera and Barceloneta) by foot and get lost in the streets full of history and amazing photography spots!
Each neighbourhood has its own character. The Barrio Gotic, for example, is home to many popular spots like the Barcelona Cathedral, Plaza Reial and La Rambla. While El Born is a great place to hang out at the many trendy tapas and cocktail bars.
7. Enjoy a Jazz Concert at the Rooftop of La Pedrera
La Pedrera or “the stone quarry” is a modernist building in Barcelona famous for its unconventional rough-hewn appearance. The building was designed by the one and only Antoni Gaudí between 1906 and 1912.
Going to a jazz concert on the rooftop of La Pedrera in summertime with a few close friends and enjoying a couple of drinks is always a good time!
8. Party at a Music Festival in Summer
If you’re a music lover, there are tons of music festivals happening from May to October by the beach, at parks and on rooftops. The sunny neighbourhoods of Barcelona come alive during summer and there’s so much atmosphere to enjoy.
Primavera Sound is the main festival which runs from June 4-6, 2020. But the city boasts all sorts of festivals of all sizes.
9. Take a Helicopter Ride around Barcelona
Fly above beautiful Barcelona with stunning panoramic views of the city. The most impressive views can be found over the iconic Eixample district – an area with symmetrical modernista building grids.
If you’re a passionate photographer then this is your chance to capture Barcelona at its most awe-inspiring and share a viral photo on Instagram!
The Ultimate 3 Day Itinerary in Barcelona
Barcelona is the type of city you could spend weeks on end just relaxing, taking in the beautiful architecture and eating and drinking yourself silly everyday. Of course, this isn’t practical for most travellers. So a perfect 3 day itinerary would look something like this:
Day 1: Discover Ciutat Vella by foot (old town) that is comprised of Raval, Barri Gotic, El Born, La Ribera and Barceloneta. Each neighborhood has its own story to tell and delicious local restaurants to try.
Day 2: This is the day to experience all the modernist architecture of the city in the Eixample neighbourhood. Places like the Sant Pau Hospital, La Sagrada Familia, Casa de les Punxes, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.
Day 3: Sunrise at the Bunkers del Carmen. It’s such a magical experience. Then head to Park Güell (with Park Guell tickets purchased in advance) and tour around Gràcia, a neighbourhood with a local feel boasting history and tradition.
The Best of Barcelona’s Cuisine
The gastronomy in Barcelona is one of the best in the world. Mediterranean cuisine is incredibly fresh and healthy. Lots of fish, seafood and vegetables. Of course, there are amazing paella restaurants (never eat paella in Las Ramblas) and the tapas restaurants.
Tapas are mini dishes or appetizers to share. They’re usually comprised of fish, vegetables or carbs and most of the time they’re fried. Tapas are extremely delicious but probably not the healthiest food in the world. It’s common in Barcelona to go with friends for tapas and drinks.
I’ve been a vegetarian for several months now. There are tons of amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city. So if you’re not a meat eater, don’t stress! You’ll be fine.
Tips for your Visit to Barcelona
Be prepared to walk a lot in Barcelona. Something I love about this city is just how close everything is located to each other. While the public transport is great, walking is still the best way to encounter hidden gems, gorgeous buildings and the real essence of the city.
You do have to be a little bit careful because crime rates have increased considerably in Barcelona in the last five years. Make sure you’re not carrying anything of value with you and be constantly checking your pockets and be aware of pick-pockets.
There are plenty of lovely boutique hotels with a very personalized service and beautiful amenities and designs. I definitely recommend trying these smaller, family owned hotels.
I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read my Barcelona travel guide. If you have any more questions about the city feel free to send me a DM on Instagram. I’d be happy to help!