Barcelona is an amazing city to visit anytime in the year. It has been for the longest time my go-to-location for a city trip. Here’s what I think you should add to yours when you visit Barcelona for a first time:
Where to Stay in Barcelona?
In the years I came here, I’ve stayed in several hotels in Barcelona. Going from 2-star hotels on the main route towards the airport to some of the more luxury paces. The Meridien on the Ramblas was for the longest time my favorite until the W Hotel in Barcelona on the beach opened.
Depending on the room choice here (SPG takes good care of their ambassadors and top status clients…) you can oversee the ocean, or the beach and the city. Rooms have an unobstructed view with floor-to-ceiling windows. And if you get one of the nicer suites, you’ll appreciate the bathtub facing this amazing view for a relaxed moment after discovering Barcelona.
Getting there & around: Most European and international carriers fly into Barcelona (BCN). Be advised that some low-cost carriers have renamed other airports so it sounds like Barcelona, but you find yourself way outside of the city.
As soon as you arrive at the airport, there are a couple of ways to get to the city of Barcelona. Tons of options in all budgets to get to the city from the airport: airport taxis, the Aerobus, TMB Airport Bus, Airport Night Bus, and the RENFE train. When traveling inside Barcelona, I prefer the bike-sharing system. The bike lanes all over the city make it a pleasure to enjoy getting around. The metro (subway, underground) is a valid alternative and the choice when you are going a bit further.
What to do in Barcelona?
Park Guell is one of the public parks in Barcelona and it opened in 1926. The park has many gardens and architectural elements and is located on Carmel Hill. It is free to walk through the majority of the park. You’ll have to pay a fee to enter the Monumental Zone. This area includes the main entrance, terrace and the area where the mosaics are located. Photographers will find many spots within the park to take pictures of sunrises and sunsets as well as many unique architectural pieces.
The Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church that was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The construction of the church is still incomplete, but the hope is that it will be finished in 2026, which will be a century after Gaudi’s death. Anyone who visits the church is able to see the nave, crypt, museum, shop and the passion and nativity towers. As people are going through the church, they will need to focus on the many details in the architecture. Photographers will be amazed at how many different angles they can find to take a picture of the same area. If you’re here the first time, this is one thing you have to do in Barcelona!
The Ramblas is a mall that is popular for both the locals and tourists. Nice to stroll, but I haven’t had any decent food on the terraces here. Plaça Reial, a block away, has better choices, and the quiet(er) place to sit. Still touristy, but at least less crowded.
At the Harbor, I love to walk down the Moll de Barcelona (pier) towards the modern World Trade Center. Water has this calming effect on me, and this marina is no exception. When you come here, you’ll see the Aduana building with its winged sphinxes on the large towers. The Aduana building is an old customs building.
Barceloneta Beach is one of the oldest beaches in all of Barcelona. Many people go to enjoy the water, sand, and the sun while others go to dine on the fresh seafood at the restaurants. After a fun-filled day at the beach, most people will stop at one of the ice cream kiosks for a refreshing treat. The area next to the beach with the lower houses hosts some hidden gems of restaurants. Or you can go towards that big fish, and eat at Agua, one of my favorites.
The cemetery in Poble Nou is the perfect place for a photographer to discover when you visit Barcelona. There are many mausoleums and some of them are from the 18th century. The area is a wonderful place to get an original picture. Be a respectful photographer, please!
Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean that the fun stops in Barcelona. There are many neighborhoods where the partying and fun continue long into the night. A couple of the more popular neighborhoods to go to are Las Ramblas, Port Olympic, and Life’s A Beach. Don’t forget the camera, the city is awesome in the golden hour and after the sun sets.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.