Barcelona won my heart, in a single day. It’s nestled cosily up there in my top five cities in the world (also included in this list is Amsterdam, Paris, York and Philadelphia) and I didn’t even spend 12 hours there. Barcelona is everything I expected it to be and more. It was bright, colourful, charming, quaint, chilled and laidback. The sun shone the whole day we there (not too hot which was lush because I would have been chaffing like nobodies business) and the whole city is alight with sounds, sights and smells.
During our seven or so hours in Barcelona, the capital of the Catalan region of Spain and about an hour/an hour and a half by bus from the tourist resort of Salou where we were staying, we checked a few Barcelona “must-sees” off our lists. La Sagrada Familia was just as impressive and imposing as I imagined it would be. I really hope it gets finished in my life time and on my next trip to Barcelona I’m definitely going inside. It really stands out on the skyline and towers above you when you stand at it’s base. For something so huge, the detail you can see with your eyes is insane, so intricate and colourful. I’ve never seen another cathedral like it and whilst it was spectacular, I still think I prefer the gothic architecture of Paris’ Notre Dam. Barcelona’s other cathedral however is equally magnificent in a less brash way. Tucked into quiet little streets with signs on the walls saying not to leave your horse and carriage here, it transports you back to an older and slower pace of life. We couldn’t go in the cathedral as we weren’t dress appropriately which was a shame but I’ll definitely be heading back here on my next trip. At the foot of the cathedral was a flea market decked out with lots of magpie worthy things and it would definitely be the perfect place to pick out an engagement ring and then propose to someone in a quiet corner.
That was another thing about Barcelona which surprised me. Whilst Paris is in no doubt the European capital of love, Barcelona could be second place. Lots of little streets tucked away with beautiful architecture, hundreds of tapas bars perfect for sharing, the beautiful cathedrals, the port and the beach, the sangria, Barcelona is perfect for romance.
I’ve not really ever had that much Spanish cuisine, other than Sangria or calamari so I’m a Spanish food virgin in all intensive purposes. Ali and I had a tiny bit of tapas in Barcelona but it wasn’t the best taster and I’ve never had paella. So next time I got to Barcelona, I’ll definitely be sampling them. But when we were in Barcelona we came across St Joseph’s Market (I can’t remember the name in Spanish) which was AMAZING. I love indoor food markets and this one was bright, colourful and stocked to the ceiling with food so really my kind of place. The meat stalls looked insane and the fruit and veg stalls were practically rainbows. Next time I’m in Barcelona, I’m going to go here for lunch at least twice. Such good quality food and such good value for money!
Shopping was also another a huge plus plus for me. Our bus dropped us right off in front of the flapship Zara and if I hadn’t been about to go back to university and leave my summer job, I could have blown my whole bank account. Mango, Zara and Pull & Bear are all a lot cheaper in Barcelona which would have been amazing if I hadn’t spent all my money by this point. The shops are massive and the clothes just seemed a lot nicer, a lot chicer, crisper, European. Sephora was the swankiest Sephora I have ever seen and after gushing over Elie Saab perfumes, I did treat myself to a Kat Von D eye liner which I’m very pleased with so far.
So the summarise, here’s four reasons why Barcelona will rock your socks off:
- It’s a city break destination but it also has a beach. And a proper one too. So you can do beach and city break holiday all at one location. Saves the pennies that does.
- The food. If you are a fan of Spanish cuisine, Barcelona is your girl. Tapas on every corner, insane food markets, paella practically on tap (and sangria mmm), Barcelona is a queen for food. Plus it’s actually quite cheap as well. Ali and I were surprised how cheap Barcelona was for food in comparison to Salou so decent food won’t even break your bank balance!
- Shopping. Do I need to elaborate? As well as lots and lots of flea markets dotted around the city, Barcelona is a haven for high street too. Zara and Mango are magically cheaper in Spain which is a plus plus from me. And of course, Sephora exists there. And speaking from experience, Barcelona’s one is swanky.
- Culture exists in abundance in Barcelona. Even though we were only there for a few hours, we managed to visit La Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triump and the old Cathedral. All of these are easily within walking distance of each other if you are a keen tourist! Next time I’d love to see some more of the city and see things such as the Font Magica de Montjuic Barcelona (pretty fountain with pretty lights).
So there you go, Barcelona has it all: the sun, the sea, the shops, the food and the atmosphere. I felt welcome in Barcelona, I felt comfortable, at home, at ease. The way of life was effortless, calm, chilled out but at the same time it was vibrant, colourful and fun. Barcelona is a beautiful city and I cannot wait to go back. Everyone go and look up flights on Skyscanner immediately, Barcelona can be your 2017 summer destination too.