As well as reading, cooking and running, I love travelling. We got back from our first trip of the year this week so I thought I’d start a new blog feature to chat about the places I visit – ‘She Roams’.
First up: Barcelona!
It feels like a huge oversight that we haven’t been to Barcelona before. You know those cities that you visit that just seem to…fit? That pull together the good bits of other places you’ve been to before in a way that just makes you feel like you could settle down and live there? Barcelona was one of those for me.
Let’s start with the food (because if there’s one thing that I love about travel, it’s getting to eat new things). There were a lot of restaurants. Even discounting the obvious tourist traps, there were so many restaurants that I wanted to try. Far too many for a four night trip sadly, even allowing for lunch and dinner! We ate some amazing tapas (cod fritters and grilled octopus sitting high on the list of favourites, alongside the solid (and delicious) staple of patatas bravas). Because I’m a geography dunce, I didn’t know that Barcelona was on the coast so was pleasantly surprised about the delicious, abundant fresh sea food – when I found out, I was super keen to find a good paella and had a gorgeous version at a wonderful local restaurant called Bosque Palermo. If you’re a foodie, there’s a lot to get stuck into.
It also has an impressive range of craft beer pubs – Barcelona Beer Company, BierCab and Garage being personal highlights. You can get decent wine all over for a reasonable price and it’s fabulous. The city feels safe and I’d particularly recommend the Eixample district if you want somewhere to stay that has a good range of bars and restaurants, is within comfortable walking distance of most of the main sights of the city and has reasonably priced hotels. We stayed at the Hotel Praktik Vinoteca and it was lovely, with super helpful staff and an excellent wine bar.
Looking at things to do, Barcelona is a great city just to walk around. We tend to walk most places on holiday because you get to see more and Barcelona is a real treat on that front. I won’t pretend to know a lot about architecture but I do know that Barcelona is pretty (see why I haven’t started a travel blog?). There’s a cable car with beautiful views up to Montjuic Castle that I’d recommend – not necessarily for the castle (which is a bit underwhelming) but for the views back over Barcelona. You can also take a trip up to Tibidabo but to be honest, that was disappointing (the views aren’t any better than up at Montjuic but it’s a lot more expensive) and there’s a theme park that’s just a bit odd.
One of the best things about the trip was a guided tour of La Sagrada Familia. We’ve been to a lot of cathedrals in our time and even so this was breathtaking.As in genuinely, emotion-inspiringly breathtaking. I’ve never seen anything like it. Despite having been started in 1882, it remains unfinished. The space, the light and the sculptures were all incredible and I loved it. The photo on the left is one I took when we were there and the coloured light is all natural. It’s due to be finished in 2026 and I will absolutely go back. We spent a little extra (€26 instead of €17 each) on a tour that was absolutely worth it. There are signs around that will give you some information but if you can spare the extra, the guided tour is really great.
My only word of warning (aside from avoiding Tibidabo) – I’ve heard about a lot of cities that there are pick-pockets and have never been pick-pocketed once until Barcelona. Fortunately the person didn’t get anything as I felt my backpack being unzipped and managed to move away but it was a narrow thing. So if you do head to Barcelona (and I’d still recommend that you do), make sure you keep your valuables close to you when you’re in busy tourist areas.
Bottom line: Barcelona is charming, friendly, full of fabulous food and wine and beautiful to look at. Definitely recommended 🙂