We visited Spain for the first time this March and fell in love! In fact, I think it is safe to say that Spain is my favorite country I have visited in Europe thus far. The food, the wine, the architecture, the people...all of it was top-notch!
Barcelona in particular is a must-see! There is nothing not to like about Barcelona - it has it all! It's a big city, but not overwhelming. It has mountains and it has the sea. It has a rich history along with a vibrant modern feel. And the architecture will, quite simply, blow your mind. I have compiled a list of my top 8 things you absolutely must do if you visit, but bear in mind there is so much more! *I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Picasso Museum, which I didn't make it to see.
This should be number one on everyone's list. If you go to Barcelona, you must visit Sagrada Familia. Construction on the cathedral began in 1882, is still underway and will remain that way until 2026-ish. It is considered to be the crowning achievement of architect Antoni Gaudi. Love it or hate it, its worth going for a visit.
*Pro-tip: Go for a drink at the rooftop bar at Ayre Hotel Rosellon for the best views.
Another Gaudi masterpiece, Casa Mila, also knows and La Pedrera or The Stone Quarry, was originally on the "if-we-have-time" section of my Barcelona itinerary, but it quickly became one of the coolest spots we saw. The interior of the house is incredible, especially looking up from the center of the ground floor, but the real show stopper is the roof-top walkway with panoramic views of the city.
3. La Boqueria Market and Las Ramblas
La Boqueria is a large open air market in the center of Barcelona. Located on Las Ramblas, go in and snack on some jamon and fresh fruit juice, wander through, buy lots of chocolates and continue on to explore Las Ramblas, a large pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes and so much more.
4. Casa Batllo
Another Gaudi house, Casa Batllo is another stunning Barcelona home. Even if you aren't into architecture the audio tours are interesting and the rooftop views are great! We took the evening tour and would definitely recommend so you can get that golden hour light!
5. Parc Guell
"More Gaudi!" you say?! Yes, but this time its in the form of a park and it offers up the best views of the city all the way out to the sea! You do have to pay to enter unless you arrive early before the ticket takers set up (its allowed, trust me). If you are really prepared you could take some coffee and croissants and enjoy breakfast with a view! If you aren't an early bird like us, I would recommend buying tickets/reserving a time in advance to avoid long lines -- only 400 people are allowed to enter the Park's core every 30 minutes.
6. Gothic Quarter, including Barcelona Cathedral
You can (and should) get lost here! Once you find Barcelona Cathedral, and take that in, continue walking past to explore the gothic quarter. This is the center of old city Barcelona and one of the best neighborhoods to explore. You can get lost along all the tiny back streets, wandering amongst the art galleries, boutique shops and cafes. Here are some great tips I found for exploring this neighborhood!
Tours of this concert hall are a little on the pricey side, but the interior views are worth it. Considered an icon of modernist architecture, the main concert hall is can't miss.
Tucked off of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it alley on the Passeig de Gracia, El Nacional is Barcelona's first food hall-type dining experience. Located in a masterfully renovated industrial building, this restaurant is filled with unique spots to try all the best recipes from the Iberian Peninsula. Consider a progressive dinner through the hall or park it and gorge on tapas and sangria 'til your heart's content. You will not be disappointed.