Europe is one of the greatest continents, often praised for its important cities and historical buildings which give it a fairytale-like feeling. Some people enjoy learning about the past through the many museums and buildings that Europe has to offer, whereas some are interested in checking yet another place off their bucket list, with Spain being one of those countries. When thinking of Spain, two cities come to mind: Madrid, the capital, and Barcelona. In this review, Barcelona is the Spanish city that will be studied.
Barcelona’s greatest attraction by far is its unique architecture, with its leading visionary being the famous Antoni Gaudí who designed buildings such as La Pedrera - a big house - La Sagrada Família - a massive cathedral - and Park Güel - a large park filled with constructions by Gaudí. La Pedrera is known for its peculiar exterior mimicking waves and its sheer size, just like La Sagrada Família. Unlike La Pedrera, however, La Sagrada Família has never finished its construction due to the death of Antoni Gaudí.
La Pedrera has many options for visiting tourists with different prices such as guided and non-guided tour options, night and day options, exclusive spaces option, an audio-guide option, a mixed reality option, an audiovisual screening option, and more. To learn more about these options, visit lapedrera.com/en to browse and book the many variations of tickets.
My family bought the
“La Pedrera Essential” tickets, which means we got to visit the different rooms, attic, and rooftop with an audio guide. The audio guide is a must-have if you do not have a physical guide since it explains everything including history and how Antoni Gaudí designed the house. For some extra fun, the mixed reality experience or night experience are great choices since they have music on the rooftop and serve drinks. La Pedrera is relatively easy to visit and not very crowded since it is less popular when compared to Park Güel and La Sagrada Família which are the two most popular tourist locations in Barcelona.
La Sagrada Familia can only be booked online and will be fully booked for at least two days straight, so it is important to book tickets online as soon as you know you will be visiting, especially if you are only planning to stay 2–3 days. The cathedral is massive, beautiful, and ultimately the main tourist attraction of all of Barcelona. Like La Pedrera, La Sagrada Família has many ticket options to be chosen depending on what you are interested in seeing and willing to spend since each ticket currently ranges from 26 to 40 euros and will increase or decrease depending on whether you go during a season of high or low concentration of tourists.
Park Güel is a park full of small and large structures designed by the architect. Although this attraction is more aimed at people who are willing to get a few hours of exercise in, you can still visit some buildings without walking too much. The most important thing to note is that the tickets must be booked well in advance since it is one of the more popular areas to visit. If you plan to see everything it is necessary to bring a water bottle with you since you will be walking a lot in the heat of Barcelona. The lines to buy water are extremely long and are only found at the very end/beginning of the park depending on where you enter from, and a map will also greatly assist you in finding the locations you most want to visit. If you wish to visit the inside of the houses, you must buy those tickets separately. It is recommended that those who plan to visit all houses buy the pack which gives you a small discount rather than paying more for each house separately. If you only choose to visit one or two houses, then it is better to pay separately.
Barcelona Cathedral (also known as the Gothic Temple)
Although not part of Gaudí’s collection, the Barcelona Cathedral is magnificent and huge. The inside contains all sorts of paintings and beautiful windows and other amazing aspects including an exterior housing geese. Even if you are not Christian, visiting simply for the art and design is highly worth it. It is not as busy as the more popular of Gaudí’s buildings and is so big that you won’t have to run into that many people. You can even go to the rooftop after paying extra (when already inside) and waiting in line to take the elevator. It is better to go during lunchtime, around 1-3 PM, since most people will be eating and the line to visit the rooftop will diminish significantly, as well as the line to go back down. For people who are Christian, you can go to the Barcelona Cathedral to practice Christianity and pray, but make sure to check what time at the information desk.
Spanish food is absolutely delicious, and the restaurants of Barcelona offer lots of restaurants filled with authentic dishes. Many tourists will go looking for paella or tapas, since they are the more well-known foods of Spain, however trying other traditional foods is an adventure that everyone should experience. In order to find good food, it is necessary to find a good restaurant, and more often than not it’s the cheaper and more traditional-looking restaurants that serve the most authentic and flavorful food. As a family, we try our best to avoid tourist restaurants since they adapt the food for tourists and raise prices. Looking for restaurants that are cheaper, have fewer people, and are further away from tourists is the best strategy to eat the best Spanish food. Do not be scared of going up to someone and asking them for restaurant tips. The people of Barcelona are extremely friendly and always willing to help; do not fear if you do not speak nor understand Spanish because many will speak decent English. Do not feel ashamed of going to tourist restaurants because there are many good ones out there, especially those in the Gothic Quarter, another must-visit, but this one is specific to gastronomy.
Barcelona is an excellent city that must be visited by anyone with an interest in architecture, history, or gastronomy. It is a city fit for everyone and ready to welcome all who are curious to see what it has to offer. On top of the places to visit, spend your visiting days walking from one place to another, since you can see so many places that you would not have even expected. Yes, it is tiring, but it will be completely worth it. Enjoy your travels!