As a Middle-Eastern, Barcelona reminded me so much of Beirut. The small streets, the big old buildings, balconies that are too close to one another, faded paint, old posters, relaxed and happy people, let loose and live. Barcelona is a city full of life, laughter and free spirits.
Transportation is very easy, you can walk, take a bicycle, or use public transportation. I went by foot and used the hop on hop off bus for one day, and then i rented a bicycle and used it throughout my visit. It is very easy to go around, and all the areas are connected. Streets are bicycle friendly and the people are great and helpful.
Areas to visit: The Beaches, Parc de Montjuïc, La Rambla,Plaça de Catalunya Square, Sant Antoni , El Raval, Gothic Quarter, El Born, Gràcia, La Sagrada Família, Park Güell , and Tibidabo. For shopping you can try the Avinguda Diagonal street.
The Beaches are divided into small beach squares along the coastline, so you can bicycle starting with La Barceloneta down to La Nova Mar Bella.
**For Food & Drinks: Visit Surf House located around Barceloneta and have a Paella in one of the restaurants.
You can go up the mountain from Port de Olimpica. It is a long walk, but a fun one. You can find buses to take you up as well. Parc Montjuic is magical. It is a get away from the city. A great escape to nature and a great way to reconnect. Spend a day exploring. The sunsets on the other side of the mountain, but you should defiantly try the teleferic and do not miss the Magic Fountain light show at night.
3- Sant Antoni – Within the boarders of Eixample
I love this neighborhood. So much art is in it and so many findings. It is fun to walk anytime during the day, and you will find so many beautiful shops that will call upon you. It is mostly alive on Sundays, and the vibe is very cool. The food is delicious, brunching during the day and tapas during the evening.
**For Food & Drinks: Visit Federal Cafe, Cafe Cometa, La Donuteria, & Taranna Cafe.
4- El Raval
El Raval is a beautiful, full of life area that includes many scattered shops next to one another. You can reach El Ravel by walking from Sant Antoni and you can easily reach the center of Catalunya square and La Rambla that also takes you down to the beach side. El Raval is an area to spend a day in and find exquisite shops in. It is vibrant day and night.
**Recommended: Chok Chocolate Kitchen, Caravelle “the food is great and try their amazing muffin”, Satan’s Coffee Corner.
5- Plaça de Catalunya & La Rambla
Tourists love this area. It is the center of downtown Barcelona. It is where all the touristic transportations start and end from. The street of La Rambla is filled with restaurants, shops and people; day and night. Filled with restaurants and shops. You can find your hop on hop off bus from there, and any other form of transportation to and from anywhere. You can also find one of the biggest museums MACBA “Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art”.
**Recommended: Shop at Natura and Once upon a Time both are my very favorite. Check out one of the biggest open markets La Boqueria, and visit MACBA for art admirers.
The longest stretch from La Rambla, easy to walk to and walk through.It really is the Gothic Quarter, the buildings, the details and everything about this neighborhood take you back to Old Barcelona. This area is so Medieval it feels like theater, tourists love it and it is always packed with people. Scattered with shops, easy to bicycle through and is very loud and busy during the night.
7- El Born
By the end of Gothic Quarter, you will reach El Born, A posh area filled with high fashion brands and local designers. Artistic and edgy, filled with galleries and museums, cocktails and tapas. Enjoy a shopping day and a fancy night out.
Maybe my favorite or second favorite area in Barcelona. This area is the place to hang out during the day and find treasures in local shops. It is bohemian, with lots of shops and restaurants, music and culture. I recommend you start and end with Gracia during your visit.
**Recommended shops: Aska Dinya “for the best Palestinian food and atmosphere”, Bicioci “to work, read or write”, Nabucco Tiramisu “best coffee and dessert”, Kibuka “for great sushi”, and walk Carre de Verdi “a beautiful street for great finds”.
9- La Sagrada Familia
Breathtaking is the least I can say, the closer you get to see it the more astonished you will feel. The architecture is unbeatable, it has been under construction since 1852 that is more than 100 years of construction and still going. Expecting it to be ready by 2028. Designed by the legendary Antoni Gaudi, this is one of the best architecture I have ever seen.
10- Park Güell
A reality escape. It is a little up a steep hill called “Carmel Hill”, a work out if you are going by foot but a fun one if the weather is nice. Parc Guell is located right above Gracia and is in an area that is lavished with old houses built even before the 1900. Worth looking them up if you are into architecture and old houses. The Parc was built between the 1900 and 1914. It was made a public park in 1926 and was constructed by the famous Antoni Gaudi inspired by organic shapes found in nature. Gaudi’s house is also located at Parc Guell and is part of the tour when you visit.
Barcelona Amusement Park, located at one of the top hills of Barcelona, overlooking the best sunset view & Barcelona City. This is not just the perfect place to enjoy the day with your family, friends or self but it is also a park not to be missed. Built in 1905, also over a 100 years old. You can take a bus from Plaça de Catalunya that takes you directly to the park.
Last but not least, Barcelona is best for architectural discovery. From Antoni Gaudi one of the best architects in the world to ancient architects am not familiar with, Barcelona is full of wonders. The history, the creativity, the art, the passion, the details, the love is found in the constructions of their housing.
** Look out for any open houses: Sometimes they open old houses and buildings for visitors to check them out. And make sure you look for the Islamic Art inspired housing. Islamic Architecture used to be fashionable.
Before going to Barcelona 12hrs.net was very helpful as a guide and I have visited most of their recommended shops.