Barcelona was by far one of my top trips all semester, and is now one of my favorite cities. I’d been to Barcelona (pronounced “Barth-elona” in Spain) before several years ago, so I wasn’t the most enthusiastic about going a second time. I’m so glad I did though, since going back this time was a different experience entirely.
Barcelona has a warm, upbeat vibe and really embodies Spanish culture and lifestyle. It’s obvious that Barcelonans love their city and enjoy life to its fullest. My friend Jamie and I had an amazing time eating delicious food, seeing some incredible architecture, and practicing Spanish for the first time since high school. Barcelona is huge and there’s a lot to do, so you need several days there if you decide to visit (which you obv should). Here are some of our many highlights!
Antoni Gaudí is the famous twentieth-century architect from Barcelona. The man was a genius, and his eccentric, recognizable architecture defines much of the city. If you visit Barcelona, I recommend visiting three of Gaudí’s most famous works, all of which are completely different and unlike you’ve ever seen before.
This park, located on Carmel Hill, is probably one of the cooler parks you’ll ever visit. Park Güell uses many of Gaudí’s characteristic design elements, like his recognizable mosaic style. The park is beautiful and is a great place to go on a nice day. It also has a main terrace where you can see some amazing views of the city. Keep in mind though, it’s pretty far away from literally everything else in the city, so give yourself a lot of time and prepare for an expensive taxi ride.
La Sagrada Familia
The Basilica of La Sagrada Familia is probably Gaudí’s most famous work… and it isn’t even finished. It’s also my favorite basilica/cathedral/church in all of Europe. For one thing, La Sagrada Familia is absolutely massive. Look at this picture of Barcelona from above for an idea of its size. The Basilica is stunning inside and out, too. The front of La Sagrada Familia has intricate designs of the life of Jesus Christ. The back has depictions of The Passion, using a different more angular style. The inside of the Basilica is designed to look like a forest and has rainbow stained glass windows. I loved La Sagrada Familia so much that I promised myself I would return to Barcelona to see it when it’s finished, which is looking like that’ll be in 2026 as of right now.
This house, sometimes called The House of Bones, was built for the Batlló family at the beginning of the twentieth century. Located in the center of Barcelona, the house has a very distinguishable look. The roof of the house is designed like the back of a dragon and the inside has varying designs of bones, scales, and just oceanic animals (it’s kind of hard to describe). If you don’t have time for all three of Gaudí’s masterpieces, Casa Batlló is probably the one to miss. If you do have the time though, it really is a sight to see.
Other Things to See & Do
Las Ramblas & La Boqueria
Las Ramblas is probably the most famous (and touristy) street in Barcelona. It stretches three quarters of a mile and is lined with vendors and food stands. This street has a lot to see and buy. Off of Las Ramblas is La Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous, colorful food market. It’s a lot of fun to walk through and see all the fresh fruit, fish, candy and other kinds of food. Tip: Both Las Ramblas and La Boqueria can get pretty crowded, so it’s easy to get pickpocketed if you’re not careful.
Citadel Park & Arc de Triomf
If you have some free time, Park Citadel is a really nice area to walk through on a nice day. It’s very pretty and has lots of places to sit and walk around. It’s also right next to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. The Barcelona version isn’t as cool as the one in Paris, but still worth seeing I think.
A Fútbol Game!!!
This game was one of the highlights of my entire study abroad. Going to a fútbol game was something Jamie and I knew we wanted to do if we went to Barcelona, so we were pretty upset when we found out the FCBarcelona team wasn’t having any games while we were there. Instead though, I found last minute front-row tickets to a RCD Espanyol vs. Atletico Madrid game. And I just have to say, it blows away American football (sry UGA). The game is so fast-paced and either team can pull ahead at any time. I’ve also never seen so much team spirit in my life; the crowd goes absolutely crazy for everything, yelling obscenities in Spanish and waving around their team’s scarf. If you ever get the chance to go to a professional fútbol game, take it!!!
A topless beach is just your average beach, but with a lot of boobs. I’d never been to a topless beach before, and I was surprised how many people took part and just how casual the whole thing was. While I didn’t participate this time around, I do see the appeal of letting loose and not having any tan lines.
Barcelona, and just Spain in general, has a crazy night life. Spaniards don’t go to the bars until 1 or 2am and don’t come back until 6am. While we were there, we went to a shots bar called Chupitos that had 600+ different shots. To give you an idea of the wide variety of the 600+ shots, some of the shots we ordered were on fire while others were named Osama bin Laden and Harry Potter. On the left is a picture of us roasting a marshmallow over a shot/fire. Barcelona also is known for its huge clubs, with a club called Opium being the most popular.
In addition to all of the other amazing things about Barcelona, it also has great food.
These small plates can add up in cost, but they’re fun to share and let you try lots of different foods!
Located on the coast, Barcelona has some great paella. Paella is a Spanish dish that basically just rice and seafood. It can be expensive but is worth trying at least once.
Barcelonans love their sangria, and they make it strong. You’ve been warned.
Churros & Chocolate
Literally exactly what it sounds like. Churros that you dip in thick, warm chocolate. Death.
Like I said before, this trip Barcelona one of my favorite cities. I know that without a doubt I’ll be going back soon (maybe even before 2026) ~