If you’ve made it off the plane and already managed to arrive into town without a tortilla, a.k.a a Spanish omelette or as they say in Spain a tortilla de patatas, in your hand then you need to locate the nearest one (I suggest the gothic quarter for an authentic one) and start enjoying it before you start your visit off on the wrong foot.
Go ahead and spend your first day walking around. There’s plenty of neat shops and cafes to acquaint yourself with and have fun without having a real agenda. There are a few famous cathedrals (beyond the famous Gaudí one) that are more gothic in style, such as the Cathedral of Barcelona, and that are easy to get to when you’re hanging around the gothic quarter.
Barcelona is divided up into a few different sections, and you can plan to be doing a lot of walking if you want to get to them all. My personal favorite was the old quarter and around the beach.
If you don’t have any concrete plans the next day, I suggest a Sandeman free walking tour. They have them in a lot of major European cities. The tours really offer a “different” view of a city and the guides usually offer some great tips and advice on less touristy things to do — so you can feel like a real local! You’ll notice on your walk that Barcelona is full of history, however, this history tends to blend in sometimes. Taking a little tour like a walking tour here will definitely open your eyes to what’s actually around you!
Art is all around. Picasso and Dalí, beyond their respective museums in town, can be found all throughout the city. As well as beautiful tile work. If any city makes tile work look good, Barcelona is up there in the running for number one (granted, Spain, in general, is known for its tile).
There are a few really cool bars to enjoy around town, so make sure you make it out to at least one of them during your time there. A bar you might want to check out is Bar Marsella, a famous absinthe bar said to be a favorite of Hemingway and Picasso. Why not sit where the greats sat for an evening.
It is as worth it as all the travel magazines and articles make it out to be; set a day aside to visit La Sagrada Familia. It truly is a one-of-a-kind design. You’ll walk out of the grand structure feeling a sense of peace. And since you’re on this side of town and now most likely in a Gaudí admiring mood, I suggest taking a taxi up to Park Guell. A lot of people don’t make it to the park (maybe because of its distance from the main city), and that is a real shame. It really is one of the more beautiful displays of Gaudí’s work. And you get one of the MOST beautiful views of the whole city. Gaudí gets a day of his own on your adventure, and you won’t be regretting it. His work truly is unique.
Your final day? We wanted to take it easy, yet we still felt there was a lot we didn’t get to see of the city. We came across an electric scooter place on one of the side alleys (like this one), and it turns out it might’ve been one of the best discoveries for seeing the city on a tight schedule. I would never in my life do a Segway tour (you would probably literally have to twist my arm)— the scooters, however, were different. You got around 3 times as fast and certainly didn’t look silly doing it (sorry Segway lovers). We managed to re-visit many of the places from earlier in the week and zig-zag down side streets and on sidewalks. We got to ride all along the beaches with a nice salty breeze in our faces and still have plenty of time before leaving to catch our flight. The best part? We weren’t one bit tired. Honestly, it really optimized the trip and what we got to see of the city at a reasonable cost. You didn’t even have to follow a guide, so the freedom of where you wanted to go was refreshing.
Throughout the whole trip, you’ll be eating plenty of tapas and tortillas! Barcelona really is a huge city, so take advantage and try to see as much of it as possible. 4 days was plenty of time to see most of it (there’s still always more to see) and still be able to pace yourself to enjoy wandering around and snacking at your own leisure.
Favorite Sights/Activities: Park Guell, The Old Quarter
Favorite Food/Drinks: Any tortilla de patata from a hole in the wall restaurant in the Old Town.
Transportation: Taxi (to and from the airport), Walking, Electric Scooter
Secret Suggestions: Have a drink at a local bar Hemingway and Picasso were rather fond of, Bar Marsella.
Travel Tips: Take a Sandeman Walking Tour to see a more local side of the city.