Let’s get something straight. It is virtually impossible to see and do everything that Barcelona has to offer in the course of a week’s vacation. I know because I tried. That being said, your experience with Barcelona will probably be much different from mine, and that’s okay.
If you have a limited amount of time in the Spanish city, it’s important to choose your battles and have a game plan. Otherwise, you might spend a good amount of your time waiting in lines or wandering around aimlessly, thereby missing the best that this amazing city has to offer.
With that in mind, we chose to break each day into specific categories. On the first day in Barcelona, we decided to walk around and get a feel for the place. We strolled through the crowded walking street called La Rambla and ate some paella at one of the outside restaurants there. We bought some local handmade jewelry in the Bohemian section of town called El Born. At night, we walked along the seafront promenade and looked at the gigantic yachts docked in rows along the port.
On our second day there, we decided to spend the entire day looking at Barcelona’s architecture. The city is famous for its architecture, and there are countless examples of interesting and unique buildings everywhere you turn. Among the most famous of these are those built by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. His use of bold colors and a mixture of modern and Catalan gothic design not only make his own works unique but seem to allow for other architects within the city to take chances with their own designs. The result is a city full of creative, unique, often amusing, and beautiful buildings. Though you may have to pay a fee and are guaranteed to be surrounded by tourists, it is still worth it to visit some of the more notable architectural points of interest. We chose to visit a few of the famous cathedrals, and the garden complex created by Gaudi, called Park Guell.
Our third day was devoted to art. Sculptures, paintings, graffiti, and street performers are littered throughout the city and are highly entertaining. After breakfast, we spent the day visiting the Picasso Museum, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya. Although all of them are praiseworthy in their own right, it should be noted that the last museum mentioned is on a large hill and offers some of the best views of the entire city.
On our fourth and final day, we rented a couple of electric bikes, each of which cost 20 Euros (about $24) for the entire day. Even though the bikes had a small motor to help with the uphill ride, we were exhausted from pedaling up the gigantic hills to get to our final destination. The Parc del Laberint d’Horta is one of Barcelona’s oldest parks and is home to a cypress maze. The thick yet well-manicured foliage was a recreation of the maze in the Greek myth of Theseus destroying the Minotaur. The bike trip up the hill was tough, but the views along the way and the park itself made it worth the burning calf muscles. After the park, we took advantage of the remaining rental time and rode our bikes to the Montjuic Castle and then to the aquarium.
There is so much to see and do in Barcelona that it will make your head spin. Three or four more weeks, and I think I would have been able to accomplish seeing everything I wanted to see. Unfortunately, a week just isn’t enough time to really start to understand the city. The best we could do was to just be tourists and run around seeing as much as possible.
I will definitely return to Barcelona one day. And when that day comes, I won’t focus on art or architecture, but on the food!
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