i have dreamed of visiting barcelona from the first time i read the shadow of the wind in 2006, so when jeremy announced he had found cheap flights from london to barcelona, i knew we had to do it. we had almost three days to wander and eat and drink to our hearts’ content, and that is exactly what we did.
below are all the details of our trip you never knew you needed.
what we did.
we reached our airbnb around 2pm but she wasn’t quite ready for us, so we dropped our bags, headed out for lunch, came back and took a nap, and then ventured out again for the evening.
restaurant la boquería. not to be confused with the famous market of the same name, we stumbled upon this cute cafe when we were searching for a lunch spot. we liked the atmosphere, and we ordered as many tapas as we could eat without exploding. all were delicious, but the patatas bravas were hands down the star of the day.
carrer de blai. from the moment i mentioned we were going to barcelona, katie russo told me we had to go to carrer de blai, or “pintxos street”, for mini tapas. i was intrigued by the situation and did some research and came to the conclusion myself that it is not to be missed. carrer de blai is a street chock full of bars and cafés selling mini tapas, and you can wander in and out and up and down the street as you wish. in each place you will see an assortment of tapas lined up, and you can fill your plate with as many as you want; each one is pierced through with a toothpick that indicates how much it costs. most cost €1-2 each, so you can fill yourself up fairly inexpensively. all told we spent a total of about $120 total between the two of us for a ton of food and what essentially amounted to a bottle of cava for jeremy and a bottle of red wine for me. pro tips: go early, hop around to a few places, and then find one you’d like to stay at for a while and plop down at one of their outdoor tables to enjoy the weather as well as the food and drink // it’s a lot of bread! by the third place i was mostly skipping the bread and just eating the toppings so i had more space // all of the places accept cards, so you don’t need to worry about cash
during our eating and drinking adventures we stopped in: vi & beers / taberna berri / bota bar / agusto / bota bar [round two]. we liked all of the places, but bota bar was our favorite of the evening. the food was delicious, the drinks were cheap, and we made friends with all the guys who worked there. if i were to go back i would skip agusto and try one or two of the other places around it; it was fine but nothing super special.
plaça reial. we needed to walk off some of our food before heading home, so we enjoyed a nice wander through the alleys of the gothic quarter and just happened to walk into the plaça reial [‘royal’ in catalan]. some of the market stalls were still open, the christmas lights were strung up, and people were walking around or eating on the patios that run the perimeter of the courtyard.
tema tapas. we slept in on saturday and wanted a quick bite to eat before setting out for the day and wandered until we found tema tapas. we actually wanted to eat at the place next door but their outdoor tables were full, so we settled for tema. my jamón was good, but i will agree with most of the online reviews and say it was pricier than most other places. jeremy had an egg and potato dish that he didn’t really love; it wasn’t bad so much as there seem to be a lot of much better options to choose from.
la sagrada familia. i don’t even know where to begin with the sagrada. a basilica designed by gaudí and under construction since 1883, the sagrada is a sight to behold. the detail and intricacy and intentionality that has gone into this structure is incredible, and i loved hearing about the different materials used and different scenes depicted by the sculptures. construction is scheduled to finish in 2026, and i look forward to returning one day to see the finished product. pro tips: if you know the time frame that you will be visiting, buy your ticket online and save a little bit of money // there is a metro stop literally right next to the sagrada, so getting to and from it is very easy // get the audio guide, as it will provide you with so much additional information and context that you won’t get if you wander through on your own
palau nacional. it now houses the catalan art museum, but while we didn’t go inside the museum we had a great time wandering the grounds of the national palace and participating in a lot of self-indulgent photo shoots. the views of the city from the top of the palace steps were beautiful, and i loved getting a glimpse of the barcelona rooftops.
frankie gallo cha cha cha. after a long walk through the city we were both ready for a rest and a drink, so we stopped in frankie gallo cha cha cha. we had noticed it the night before and enjoyed some snacks and a glass of red wine. the pizzas looked and smelled great, but it was too early for dinner; it was definitely a place i would try again.
mercado de la boqueria. well known as one of the most popular markets in the world, la boqueria is famous for its food stalls, cafes, and bars. we kind of almost forgot about it so it was close to closing when we wandered through and we definitely not get the full experience, but it still seemed very cool. it reminded me a lot of the central market hall in budapest and st lawrence market in toronto, and i would love to see it in full swing sometime.
les quinze nits. we were both ready for a good dinner on saturday night, and jeremy had seafood paella on the brain. we decided to find a place in plaça reial and after looking at menus in multiple places we landed on les quinze nits. and let me tell you when i say that paella was delicious. good call, jeremy.
run on the promenade. i needed some exercise, so i got up early-ish on sunday morning and went for a run. i went down la rambla toward the water and then ran along the promenade for a bit. it wasn’t super far or long, but it was great to get my heart rate up and see the city as it woke up.
natura. we had a few gifts we wanted to pick up, and jeremy spotted natura as we were walking around the gothic quarter. they have lovely scarves, sweaters, bags, magnets, and a variety of other gifts, and we both could have easily spent boatloads of money in there.
la alcoba azul. i messaged shannon a few weeks before our trip to see if she would be in town during our visit. as luck would have it she was indeed free, so we made plans to have lunch together on sunday afternoon. shannon suggested la alcoba azul, and it was so good. it was one of those places we probably would never have stumbled upon on our own, so i am very grateful for the suggestion. but mostly, it was great to finally meet shannon in person after ten years of following her blog and five years of online correspondence.
where we stayed.
jeremy found this lovely airbnb as soon as we decided to visit barcelona, and it wound up being exactly what we wanted. it is right in the heart of the gothic quarter and therefore provides easy access to so many corners of the city. the bus from the airport dropped us at plaça catalunya, an easy 7 minute walk away; we were walking distance to almost everything; and there are two metro stops right around the corner. it was perfect.
what we missed / on the list for a future visit.
before our trip i had multiple people tell me there was no way we would be able to see everything in barcelona. the city has so much to see in terms of art, architecture, parks, museums, markets, and more, and that doesn’t even include all the tapas and other food options. we knew this visit would only scratch the surface, and here are a few of the things we have already filed away for future visits.
barcelona is a beautiful city, and i will definitely be returning again in the future to explore some more and continue eating all the jamón i can get my hands on.