Barcelona is a vibrant, energetic city, and as such it has quickly taken a large part of my heart. The Spanish capital, often referred to as The City of Gaudi, is known for its stunning architecture, Tapas, and a neverending night life.
If you want to experience the beauty of Barcelona by day, these are the #mustdo’s on your (imaginary) list:
1. Start Your Day With a Typical Spanish Breakfast
Food in Spain is a chapter for itself – from Paella to Tapas, freshly baked baguettes, tasty (not watery!) tomatoes – the delightful bites are something its capital inherited.
Although it is not hard to find a delicious meal in Barcelona, starting your day with a typical Spanish breakfast will fuel your motivation to further explore the city. These are my favorite picks:
If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t think twice about trying churros. This doughnut type of pastry consists of fried dough, accompanied with a cup of coffee con lecce or hot chocolate.
Perhaps the most common Spanish breakfast (and the most healthy way to start your day) is tostada.
It consists of a piece of toasted bread, which can be topped up either with olive oil and tomato spread, or butter and jam.
- Pincho de Tortilla
It looks like a pie, but it’s not sweet. It is fried and consists of potatoes, but it’s not french fries. What is it?
Pincho de Tortilla is an omelet with potatoes, and a go-to meal for breakfast or mid-day snack. It’s even more tasteful when accompanied by a strong coffee or small servesa (esp. beer).
- Croissant de Almendera
A practical and appetizing breakfast that you can take to-go. You will find croissants with almonds around every corner, and after having a taste, understand why they are so popular.
If you wake up late or skip the morning bites and go directly to lunch, the traditional Spanish dish is something you definitely won’t regret trying. If you are a sea-food lover (like me), try the original version with mussels and shrimps. If not, you can choose between paella with chicken, rabbit, or sometimes even duck meat.
2. Explore at Least One Of Gaudi’s Masterpieces
Gaudi has left a huge mark on Barcelona with his visionary architecture. We might never be able to know, how one man was able to develop his ideas over a large period of time – a period that exceeds his lifetime. Inspired by forms of nature, and guided by his imagination, Gaudi was able to build a house (Gaudi’s house) without any architectural plan, and encourage numerous future generations to continue his work – the most important architectural jewel, Sagrada Familia, is still being built to this day.
His constructive legacy is eye-dazzling, and the only way to understand it is to explore it.
- The Basílica de la Sagrada Família
A definite must, to visit when you’re in Barcelona, is The Basílica de la Sagrada Família – a large Roman Catholic basilica, which is still under construction since 1882. When Gaudi passed away, only about 15 to 25% of the building was finished. But his idea lives on, and the Sagrada Família is presumed to be finished by the end of the year 2026. Although some of the symbols in the cathedral are related to Catholic Christianity (which is the largest religion in Spain), the cathedral does not promote any particular religion at all. Already at the entrance, the guide clearly states:
“This building is dedicated to all religions and believes, it is meant to be the meditative space where each person can get in touch with their definition of spirituality.”
I am not a religious person, but the architecture of its enormous space, the small details, and the way light entered through the gigantic windows, made me feel grateful and reminded me of my small presence in this human world.
Suggestion: For being one of the main attractions of Barcelona, the entrance tickets are not only in high demand but can be unavailable if you decide to buy them on the same day. This is why I recommend to plan your visit ahead and buy the tickets at least one day in advance. I bought the entry ticket in one of the tourist info points on La Rambla, and along with it got suggestions on other sightseeing spots that I should visit.
- Park Güell
Perhaps the most famous park in Barcelona, and rightfully so, is Park Güell. Some people refer to it as Gaudi’s Gardens, since it was designed by Gaudi itself. The beautiful parc, which consists of gardens and artistic architectural constructions, was initially built as a part of a commercial housing territory. The idea was to build a neighborhood of luxury houses, away from the smoggy Barcelona’s city center. Although the original plan of Eusebi Güell was unsuccessful, the parc is recognized worldwide to this day and is one of the spots protected by UNESCO heritage.
For visitors, the parc is divided into two areas – the parc area, which is free of charge, and the Monumental area, which can only be accessed by 400 people at a time. You can even enter Gaudi’s house, in which he lived until the end of his life, called Casa Rosada (but expect to pay an additional entrance fee for it).
Suggestion: Before taking the metro line to Park Güell, stop at a local bakery and buy your favorite sandwiches and croissants, along with a big bottle of water. Start your visit in the parc area, where you can stop for a small picnic break. To visit the outside area, the approximate time is 1.5 hours. Continue your visit into the Monumental area, where you can admire the terrace, and architectural constructions, covered in colorful mosaics. End your visit of the park with the tour of Gaudi’s House Museum (which also goes by the name Casa Rosada).
- Casa Batlló
Considered one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Batlló will leave you impressed, whether you are an architecture enthusiast or not. In fact, this three-floor house was built without any architectural plan – the only thing Gaudi used for reference when he directed the construction workers, was a model of the house-made out of plasticine, and its drawing. What I personally like the most about the visit to the house, is the AI simulation of its interior. Along with a headset every visitor receives a small device, similar to a smartphone, through which the interiors of the house become alive.
Suggestion: The tickets can be purchased on the spot, but the waiting line for them is usually very long. I suggest you buy your ticket online in advance and save the hour (or more) of waiting, to do other fun things in Barcelona.
3. Walk on La Rambla
It’s considered one of the dangerous places in Barcelona – because of a high chance of getting pickpocketed. But walking through the crowd on La Rambla is at the same time one of the things you should do, if you want to fully experience the colorful Barcelona. A mass of people is filling the space between small stands with food, and a couple of restaurants where guests sit drinking Sangria from 1L jars. Promoters are standing on the side, handling special offers to the curious tourists. Kids are running and playing, street sellers are mixing with the crowd. There is just one thing about La Rambla that stays constant – it is always busy!
Suggestion: Before stepping on one of the most touristic areas of Barcelona, consider, that the area is not popular only among tourists, but also well known among pickpocketers. Therefore prepare – leave all expensive belongings at home or in a safe. Don’t put that expensive watch around your wrist, no need to bring the designer bag with you. Instead, opt for a small bag you can put over your neck and shoulder to have it in front of you, and additionally place a hand on it. It’s even better if you store your valuables somewhere else. There is no need to panic – just be aware of the danger, and you will most possibly avoid it.
4. Visit one of Barcelona’s Food Markets
If you’re a foodie, you probably already know, that one of Barcelona’s attractions are its food markets. Believe it or not – there are 39 of them spread over the different parts of the city. And rightfully so, as the offer of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and even flowers is enormous. In this article, I will name just a few of them.
- Mercat de Santa Caterina
This market is famous not only for the delicious food that is being sold on the stands, but also for it’s exterior. Its eye-catching, wavy rooftop was designed by Enric Miralles, a Catalonian architect. It is a modernistic representation of the colorful (and tasty) fruits, vegetables, sea food, and different types of meat, that a visitor can find once he steps inside it.
- Mercat de la Concepció
Particularly known for offering various kinds of flowers, this market holds another surprising secret. There is a supermarket positioned below it, which you can access only by walking on a bridge. Although it is situated at the back of Barcelona, this market is definitely worth visiting because of the unique interior. And for those who are not flower enthusiasts, it offers a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and wines.
- Mercat de la Boqueria
Probably one of the most famous markets in Barcelona is Mercat de la Boqueria. It is situated directly on La Rambla. It offers a large variety of food, and pre-made snacks, from smoothies to sandwiches, everything between sugary sweets and salads. Because it is a tourist place, it is always busy, and the prices are a bit higher compared to the other markets.
For me there is no such thing as getting tired of Barcelona’s energetic atmosphere. But if you think you have seen it all, after exploring the city by day…wait for the time when the sun starts to set (usually around 20.00-20.30 in the Summer). Only then the real adventure begins!