Barcelona exudes all things Spanish! In this not to miss city you will find yourself inspired by wonderful architecture; indulged with its amazing food and drink; amazed at its incredible churches; awed by beautiful works of art; and relaxed by its gorgeous beaches.
If you’re only in this romantic and cosmopolitan city for a short time, then here are the things not to be missed…
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
As you may have figured by now at Expert Traveller we are big fans of city taste tester, hop on hop off bus tours, when we only have a short stay in a new location. They are a little bit like a cruise on land. You get off where you like, bypass what you’re not that interested in, and make the timeframes work for you.
In Barcelona we used the Barcelona bus Turistic company.
We did two of the three lines on offer and enjoyed both of them. However, if your time is really limited then choosing just one line may be better for you. The two routes we chose (red and blue lines, each taking about 2 hours to complete) are quite long and there is a lot to see, so take that into consideration when making your selection.
The green line only takes about 40 minutes to complete. (N.B. route completion times are approximate and don’t include getting off the bus and spending time in the areas of interest to you).
You can buy a one or two day ticket, but we recommend a two day one if you have short amounts of time between other commitments. This way you get the most use out of your free time in Barcelona without the cost being much more.
Buses operate from 9am to 8pm in summer and 9am to 7pm in winter. The buses come every 10 – 25 minutes depending on the season. If you have limited time, like we did, then you won’t be able to see everything the tour has to offer. So here are our must see recommendations.
The Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is home to some of Barcelona’s most beautiful architectural features and is well worth walking around and taking it all in. Here you will also find La Rambla, and Barcelona’s famous food market La Boqueria. This market is an absolute must see! It is noisy, colourful and completely fascinating.
One stop away on the bus tour is Plaça de Catalunya. The plaza is just gorgeous and home to the Gaudi Museum, the Barcelona Cathedral, and some fascinating street performers. Be aware that the street performers can be quite confronting and try to grab cameras and phones, so take care.
Beach and Port Area
If you love azure seas, soft sand and watching boats and ships go by, then the port and beach areas of Barcelona are not to be missed. They are a lovely place to while away a few hours with a camera, a good book, and a Sangria!
The port offers a wonderful maritime museum that is worth spending a few hours in if you have the time. The markets in the area near the port are also worth a look if you like meandering through local markets perusing artisan wares.
If those are not your cup of tea and you just want some sun and sand then head to the nearby beach area where you can catch some rays and soak up the sun with a good book and a cold beverage.
La Sagrada Familia
Gaudi’s work and influence can be seen in much of the architecture that you pass on the routes of the bus tour. None though is more stunning, or more well known, than the basilica La Sagrada Familia. Still being built today, with 30% of the structure left to be completed, this World Heritage listed site cannot be missed. If you only see one thing in Barcelona, make it this.
Food in Barcelona is synonymous with delicious! We recommend reading Bon Appetour’s write up on the eight not to be missed foods when in Barcelona. They are all worth trying! However, if you only have time for one outing, then a paella by the sea is absolutely not to be missed. Take a trip to Restaurant 7 Portes in La Barceloneta and enjoy a to-die-for paella or one of the many other delicious Catalan dishes on their menu.