A Guide to Barcelona, Spain

After my first few attempts to get to Barcelona were thwarted, first by an injury then, of course, by the pandemic, I was anxious to finally experience one of the world’s great cities. It did not disappoint, but how could it? Barcelona’s appeal is undeniable – beautiful weather year-round, its coast dotted with beaches, a tantalizing urban interior, full of great art, architecture and food. But there’s something more indefinable in the city’s allure. It’s a mood of ease and surrender but also possibility. It’s the kind of feeling that makes you want to stay somewhere, and while I can’t exactly find the word for it, I can say that I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to leave a place behind.


I stayed in Eixample, a popular and busy neighbourhood in the city centre that is an ideal and comfortable area for tourists. In addition to the vicinity’s many shops, cafes and restaurants, Eixample is also home to three of the city’s biggest architectural attractions, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila La-Pedrera and Barcelona’s crown jewel, Sagrada Familia – all designed by legendary Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi.  Eixample is a large neighbourhood, with several micro neighbourhoods contained within, so you should have no problems finding something in all price ranges. My Airbnb was right on C/d’Arago, and despite it being one of the busiest streets in the city, I found it to be quite peaceful. Multiple metro lines also converge in Eixample, so it’s a good spot for accessing the rest of the city, as well as the train station and airport.

Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is a building designed by celebrated architect, Antoni Gaudi, between 1904 and 1906.  It is one of his most famous works and displays many of the unique modernist flourishes that defined his career.  The drawback here is that the popular attraction consists of mostly small corridors, and with the amount of people shuffling through, it can sometimes be difficult to pause and enjoy the space and its many nuances. Nevertheless, the house is an interesting piece of architectural wizardry. Ticket prices are steep (starting at 35 Euros). Based on my experience, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to purchase one of the more expensive tickets, and the extras you get don’t really justify the extra cost.

Park Guell
Another Gaudi masterpiece, Park Guell is a green space in the Gracia neighbourhood that amid it’s verdant 17 acres contains multiple iconic and unique structures. The Dragon’s Staircase, The Greek Square, The Porch of the Laundry are some of the most recognizable monuments of Barcelona, and while the park’s popularity means that these spots are often intensely crowded, there is also a lot of quiet, peaceful alcoves to discover.

Mt. Tibidabo
Mt. Tibidabo is several attractions rolled into one. The first and most obvious is that its summit provides spectacular sweeping views of Barcelona, the coastline and surrounding mountain ranges. The funicular ride to the top, while brief, alone merits a visit. The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a late 19th Catholic church, is another significant monument to visit, and there are also multiple walking trails leading around its perimeter.  What most people come to Tibidabo for, however, is the amusement park, which is one of the oldest in Europe. Admission price for the amusement park is 35 euros, however, you can access some parts of the park without having to buy a ticket.

Monjuic is another expansive urban park area that encompasses several popular attractions and sites including The Magic Fountain, The Barcelona Botanical Gardens, The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, The Montjuic Castle, and numerous notable gardens. The star attraction for me was the Teleferic de Monjuic, a 750-meter cable car route that takes you up to the Monjuic summit.  There is a lot of nice walking trails in the area, though the view from the peak is a bit industrial, as it overlooks the busy Barcelona port lands.  A round trip ticket for the cable car cost 15 Euros.

Sagrada Familia
Barcelona most iconic building, the Sagrada Familia is a must-visit regardless of whether you’re interested in architecture. A hyperbolic fusion of Art Nouveau, Modernism and Gothic styles, the church, though still unfinished, is a testament to the vision, skill, and audacity of Antoni Gaudi. Is it also a tourist trap? Yes, probably – it has that air – but you also can’t deny or ignore the building’s allure and significant presence. A basic entry ticket cost 26 Euros, but for another 10 Euros you can also tour one of the towers, and, in my opinion, it is worth the extra money.

Gothic Quarter 
The Gothic Quarter is the historic centre of Barcelona. The labyrinth of narrow streets, the busy plazas, packed corridors and medieval architecture, is, in many ways, the heart of the city, and where the character and vibrant pulse of Barcelona is most felt. It’s a great area to just wander around, and shop and eat and people watch, especially in the evening.

Parc de la Ciutadella
Barcelona has many green spaces and parks, but Parc de la Ciutadella may be the most idyllic of them all. It’s sort of the equivalent of Central Park, though significantly less crowded and lined with lemon and palm trees. It’s a good place to lay out on the grass and relax in the sun with a good book, or you can rent a rowboat and cruise the lake.

Vegan Junk Food Bar vgjunkfoodbar
The popular Danish vegan restaurant chain has expanded into Spain, and opened a large location in central Barcelona, in the El Born neighbourhood. Though the menu does consist mostly of burgers, fries, nachos etc., calling it junk food might be misleading – this is high-quality food with unique flavours and made with fresh ingredients. The cocktails are also dynamite, and how can you possibly resist a drink called Tipsy Unicorn. Service is very friendly, the atmosphere is hip and inviting, and there is plenty of seating.

Monchito has the distinction of being the first vegan taqueria in Europe and also has distinction of being one of my favourite restaurants in Barcelona. The menu features all the taqueria classics like tacos, refried beans, and quesadillas, along with a small but stellar selection of beers and cocktails, with mezcal and tequila obviously heavily featured. I can personally vouch for the Mojitos! Seating is limited, but the warm and inviting atmosphere makes dining-in an enticing alternative to take-out.

Bubita Sangria Bar
Bubita is a tapas restaurant in El Born that, as its name suggests, also specializes in Sangria. If you’re like me, and have a deep abiding love for sangria, then this is the perfect place for you. They have eight different sangrias, with each being entirely unique and featuring innovative ingredients and flavours. The Salome for example is a mix of rose wine, limoncello, berries, Mezcla de vino rosado, limoncello, and frutos rojos.  If that weren’t enough, the food is also excellent! The substantial menu consists of tapas, paellas, salads, and desserts.

Areca Bakery
Areca Bakery is a vegan bakery in Eixample the specializes in low sugar sweets, specifically donuts. Their emphasis is using all natural ingredients and no preservatives.  Despite the healthier angle, the quality and flavour of their donuts remains decadent and delicious.

Cactus Cat Bar
Cactus Cat Bar is a quaint, friendly restaurant and bar in El Raval that serves a diverse menu that can be best described as global comfort food that incorporates Catalan and British influences. They have several different types of burgers but are also known for their Lasagna and British breakfasts, which I’m fan of if for no other reason than it includes a generous portion of baked beans – one of my favourite dishes.

Santa Vegana
If you’re need of a quick recharge after wandering around the Gothic Quarter, Santa Vegan is the perfect spot for a peaceful pit stop. The bright, centrally located cafe has an incredible selection of sweet and savory nibbles, as well as some more substantial items like quiches and burgers. The coffee is warm, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is charming.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s