1. Go to the Beach!
Barcelona has a wonderful Olympic beach which as was explained to me was not created until the 1992 Olympics’ when the city was attempting to beautify itself. This beach is within walking distance of most of the city and attracts everyone to its side. It is also the location of many of the cities best nightclubs. As a native Floridian I can never resist the lure of a beach, especially one so easily come across. With the outline of the W hotel hovering in the horizon, and the bustle of the walkway behind, the beach seems to hum with the activity of the city while whispering the sweet nothings of the Atlantic.
2. Have a picnic by the beach
I might have mentioned, but, I adore the beach. However, in most instances, food and sand do not mix well. Especially with a riley ocean breeze whipping up particles at the importune moment you take a bite of your sandwich. Luckily, the beach in Barcelona is lined with a sea wall that the architects had the foresight or rather ingenuity to design. This provides the perfect surface to lay out a picnic, with views to rival any beachside villa. In typical French fashion (I do study in France after all) my picnic consisted of meat, cheese and a baguette. It’s the perfect way to end the day and to enjoy the sunset. After the evening cool sets in there are plenty of near by bars to warm up with a sangria in hand in.
3. Go on a free walking tour
Never will I stop touting the praises of walking tours. They are the best way to get acquainted with a new city while also recieveing a real time history lesson. I went on the Free Walking Tour Barcelona and it was wonderful. Our guide not only pointed out the intricacies of Barcelona but impeded plenty of history and commentary along the way. From Roman ruins to the possibility of succession, she went through a lot of material. Do remember to wear good walking shoes as Barcelona has many uneven streets that can get tiring after a while.
4. Admire from the outside
Admiring difference styles of architecture is one of my favorite things to do in a city. Even among the surrounding neighborhoods you can often see different influences and eras. Barcelona is no different and has the unique influence of Gaudi scattered throughout the city. From the famous Sagrada Família to the others including Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, Gaaudi’s works are to be marveled upon. However, they are also extremely expensive (at least to my college cash strapped wallet) to enter. Notwithstanding, it doesn’t cost a dime to gaze upon the enlightening exterior.
5. See the Arc de Triumph
Unlike the Arc de Triumph in Paris, the one in Barcelona is at the beginning of a lovely pedestrian walk way that is perfect for strolling on a sunny day. While walking up to the Arc you can see the mountains in the distance which makes it appear to be a portal to another universe.
6. Go to Park Guell after 7
Guell park is another Gaudi’s masterpiece that usually costs 7 dollars to enter. However contrary to my research of the park it is free after 7 pm. In February this resulted in the sun backlighting the masterpieces and provided a lovely warmth to the surroundings. After darkness had fallen the city lights up below the hill shifting the focus from the stunning picture behind to the soft glow.
7. People watch on La Rambla
La Rambla is a famous pedestrian street, the longest in Europe I believe. It seems everyone is there, from the tourists to the locals. I would not suggest eating at one of the restaurants on the street though because they are touristy and over priced. Grabbing a coffee and sitting on the of the many benches to people watch is a much cheaper option, then you can head to a side street for an affordable meal. Another option would be the La Boqueria Food Market just off La Rambla which has many low priced local options.
8. Just have one Sangria!
I must admit this is one piece of advice I did not take. Totally had at least two glasses per night. But hey, if your going to spurge on something it might as well be a great drink on vacation. Food also works for splurging in my mind. However, if unlike me, you wish to hold back with the drinks, only having a little taste of Sangria can save you a few bucks…which you can then put towards the food budget, obviously.