Situated in Catalonia Region, on the Eastern Coast of Spain, Barcelona is a vibrant city famed for its exceptional architecture, quirky arts and delicious culinary scene.
For a few years now I’ve been meaning to check out Gaudi’s work, and this year I finally got the chance to travel to Barcelona. I visited during spring, because the weather was already able to offer plenty of sunshine, yet still relatively off season, which meant less tourists and more secluded photographic opportunities.
The first thing I would say about Barcelona, is to forget anything you think you know about this city. When I arrived, I had plenty of ideas of what to expect, based on reviews, travel guides and word to mouth. My experienced proved to be totally different than anything I imagined. There are plenty of good things as well as bad things about Barcelona. As as informed traveler, I believe you should be made aware of all pros and cons about visiting the Catalan Region.
Pros - What I loved about Barcelona
Barcelona's Quirky Architecture
If you too love Gaudi’s extraordinary work then you should most certainly visit Barcelona. There are plenty of beautiful building facades, interiors and decors. I was most impressed with the interior of the Sagrada Familia. If you think it looks amazing from the outside, wait until you go inside and see all the playful colors. Walk around spacious boulevards and feel the french influence on the place, or make your way around the Old Town where you can breathe in Italian love through the small streets. When it comes to architecture, Barcelona just doesn't stop giving.
If you want to escape Barcelona’s agitation, what’s better than a day by the beach? Featuring its own sandy shores, the seaside is almost always busy during the summer months when visitors and locals alike soak up the Spanish sun and sip on cocktail till twilight. Grab a beach towel and forget about the dins of the world.
Barcelona has amazing fresh seafood
Being a seafood lover this was most certainly one of the best things about Barcelona. I enjoyed tons of prawns, fresh lobster, octopus legs and squid ring. The only downside is that Spanish food tends to be a little oiler than I like. That’s ok though, as you can buy lots of food from the supermarket (or seafood market) and cook the best dinner on the planet.
Barcelona's shopping boutiques
It’s been a while since I’ve been seen of shopping boutiques with incredibly decent prices. Although we have plenty of independent shops here, in the UK, the prices are unapproachable and usually the clothes are not well fitted. It was difficult to find my small size in Spain too, but the really low prices were well worth the search. You can find a ton of fashionable dresses, cute accessories and really comfortable shoes. I strongly recommend abandoning the main stream brands and searching for the perfect outfit hidden in a boutique somewhere, through the quaint streets of Barcelona.
With 2,524 hours of sunshine a year, it’s no surprise Barcelona attracts so many tourists from all over the world. Coming from rainy England, seeing the sunshine is one of the great reasons why I love visiting a warm city such as Barcelona. I visited in April, which was perfect weather for walking around in a skirt and t-shirt.
Most people in Barcelona speak English
Although I perfectly understand written and spoken Spanish, I’m not that great at speaking it myself. I can get by, but since I haven’t practiced it much, I don’t feel comfortable having a full on conversation (yet). It most certainly made my life easier knowing I can just speak English. Everyone spoke English and their language skills were really good.
Barcelona is full of pet lovers
I love being in a city where people love pets. I found so many pet friendly establishments, including eateries and hotels. People don’t seem annoyed if you bring your dog in the subway or you allow it to chill with you whilst enjoying a sangria somewhere. I saw a lot of pet owners and all pets look well taken care of. This made Barcelona an awesome place to me.
Can't get bored in Barcelona
There is so much to do in Barcelona, you simply can't get bored around here. Whether you visit a museum, check out an art gallery, shop or just wander around, Barcelona is a great place to be. I really loved seeing so many of Barcelona's dimensions, from the gothic, to the hipster.
Cons - Areas of improvement
For the sensitive, may appear to be quite dusty. If you pay attention, the streets can look a little dirty. Some small streets can get smelly when it’s really hot.
The customer service needs improvement
Comparing to Japan or the UK, Barcelona needs a bit of improvement when it comes to engaging with customers. This applies to hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Barcelona is pricey
The prices in Barcelona are quite high and this can put a lot of people off. This applies to food, accommodation, tickets for tourist attractions and public transport. I actually found Barcelona pretty much as expensive as London. As mentioned before, the only exception are the prices for clothes.
There is a pickpocket problem in Barcelona
This is a serious issue in Barcelona and unfortunately the police doesn’t seem to do much about it. Luckily this wasn’t an issue for us, but we were very vigilant and tried to keep out of small and dark streets as much as humanly possible. Being worried that you might lose your belongings or you can’t set up your tripod for an epic shot, it’s not great whilst on holiday.
Barcelona gets very crowded
I visited during April which is kinda off season, yet Barcelona was already crazy busy and full of tourists. There were long queues for all attractions and plenty of school groups with kids running around everywhere. I expected the city to be a bit slower paced.
In conclusion I think Barcelona is definitely a brilliant city which has to be visited at least once. Understanding its history, admiring its architecture and strolling through its streets can make anyone fall in love with it. I loved Park Guell the most as well as the great variety of fresh seafood available at Marcado de La Boqueria and all local supermarkets.
Tell me about your experiences in Barcelona. What did you like most?