Enjoy, Kevin's take on Barcelona from a college student's perspective. Barcelona is a city of incredible architecture, deep rooted history and amazing food. Salud!
Barcelona is world famous for its beautiful buildings, cathedrals, views, nightlife and football (soccer for you wanks).
The Elysium of Futbol can be found at the Camp Nou, a stadium with a capacity of 98,000 seats that will be filled to see world class stars like Lionel Messi, Neymar and the infamous vampire Luis Suarez. Their season in La Liga and the Champions League is outside of tourist season, and ticket prices will vary depending on the strength/importance of the opponent. Even a stadium tour is worth your money regardless of being a futbol fan. I went with my mom and friends who couldn’t understand why they only use their feet in soccer and they fell in love. For match days, the atmosphere near the venue in bars is electric, and seeing a game is even better.
Plaza Catalunya- city hub, filled with shops and food. Leads to La Rambla. Political demonstrations are held here.
Parque Ciutadella-A long winding park in front of the Arc de Triomf of Barcelona, the original area designated for the Eiffel Tower. Contains a beautiful fountain designed by the man Antoni Gaudi studied under. Many locals hang out here for outdoor activities and there is access to a pond in the central area. The Parliament of Catalonia is in this area as well as an old market and memory to the defenders of Catalonia during the Spanish War of Succession.
Gothic Corridor- Older part of the city, where you will find endless food, bars and entertainment as well as cheap shops and the Cathedral of Barcelona. The government building of Spain and Catalonia reside here.
A famous Catalan architect named Antoni Gaudi resided in Barcelona during the late 1900s and in turn transformed the city into his canvas. His magnum opus is the Sagrada Familia, located in the family friendly suburb of Gracia. This cathedral is still BEING CONSTRUCTED after being started in 1882. The church is to be completed by 2027, but who knows if that is feasible with the silly Spanish economy. The structure will host the tallest cathedral spire in the world, and has beautiful stained glass windows, verses written in various languages throughout the complex and even a “parachute” Jesus above the altar. I have seen many famous cathedrals throughout Europe, but the Sagrada Familia takes the cake. Admittance is cheap but book IN ADVANCE. Depending on your patience you can spend hours in the cathedral with a guided or audio tour, and I must recommend venturing up the Nativity scene. The views will give you a great vantage of Barcelona, and is adjacent to Hospital Sant Pau (UNESCO Heritage Site, now the campus I studied at).
Another Gaudi design lies in Park Guell in the northern part of the city. This park is world renowned but somewhat underwhelming. The design is very unique and pleasant to look at but is concentrated in a seemingly small area. Worth a trip to visit, but should not be a top priority. Has a good view of the city, but is slightly low elevation. Admittance is a small cost during tourist season, but outside of that time it is free, and has free Wifi.
Gaudi designed Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera located on Passeig De Gracia, a world famous shopping street. Casa Batllo is another famous house design of his worth viewing.
Barcelona is one of the party capitals of the world. Clubbing is popular for younger crowds and students and lasts all night. It is common for people to get home as late as 6 or 7 am. Many popular clubs are along the waterfront that many travels venture to. Other clubs are in the Eixample district that many locals go to. Clubs can be costly while inside, but promoters are everywhere and are willing to help you. I do not recommend going to Razzmatazz, I had a delightful night there but 6 of my friends got pickpocketed inside.
My Selection of Favorite Bars.
Le Cyrano- Price: Cheap- A bar favored by the younger generation with unheard of services in most democratic countries. At Le Cyrano, YOU ARE THE BARTENDER. You simply pay for a glass and a mixer ranging from 3 to 7 euro and they HAND YOU the bottle to pour. Also provides popcorn for our poor drunken souls.
Bar Dow Jones- Price: Medium- Popular for advocates and followers of the stock market. Founded by St Louis natives, the bar revolves around the business. There will be stock market “prices” for the quantity of beverages being sold, and will vary based on who is buying what. There is variety of drinks and creative shots. The stock market will “crash” for 5 minutes or so, and all prices are half off like happy hour. There is a Spanish rendition of this bar called La Bolsaria, which has the same drink concepts but for tapas as well. Will show American sports for the homesick.
Espit Chupitos-Price Very Cheap- Popular amongst students and younger crowds, a famous shot bar. The bar has nearly 300 shot selections and house favorites for only 2 euro per shot. Many shots include flames and other sorts of props. If you really want to play a joke on a friend that has no children accompanying them, order the Monica Lewinski, and thank me later. Espit Chupitos is a chain, and has another affiliation called Espit Taverna, an actual bar providing popcorn and offers great liquor pitchers.
Pipperment-Price: Cheap- a bar located near the Camp Nou offers a variety of liquor pitchers for cheap prices. You can split these liquor pitchers with many people buy ordering a fish bowl and plenty of straws to share. The more the merrier right?
Michael Collins-Price-Medium – Need to hear some refreshing English? Attend this authentic Irish pub located directly across from the Sagrada Familia. Serves food as well, and has many TVs so it is great place to go to watch soccer games. Grab a refreshing pint of Guinness or Killian’s and then enjoy the spectacle of the Sagrada Familia waiting outside.
Ovella Negra-Price: Very Cheap- A bar hall with two locations. One is in the Gothic Corridor near La Rambla, the other in a more remote location in the northern part of the city. The one with the random location is more of a beer hall. At both you can buy buckets of cheap beer or sangria with a tap and share at tables with plenty of people. Provides popcorn, pool tables.
George Payne’s-Price: Medium – Another Irish pub near Plaza Catalunya, La Rambla. Hosts a massive Monday Night Beer Pong (Ruit) Tournament, has English speaking bartenders and the most TVs.
Monserrat- Hour train ride outside of the city to the wonderful mountain of Monserrat. There is a beautiful monastary on top of the mountain that you have to take a trolley/incline too. Costs around 40 euros but very worth it. You can hike up into the formations for hours while watching the brave rock climbers from thousands of feet above the ground.
Montjuic- overlooks the southern part of the city/harbor. A former fort, used by both sides during the Spanish Civil War, has a significant history. You can see only a portion of the city from its heights but still worth the hike, not expensive to get to or tour. Overlooks Plaza Espanya. Holds the Olympic Park, Barcelona having been host for the Summer Olympics in 1992.
Parque Labyrinth- A lesser-known part of the city neighboring the Universitat Barcelona has great vantage points and unique green design. A simple metro ride to get to will in turn display beautiful fountains and a complicated maze with statutes throughout.
Parque Bunkers- Another unknown hike in northern Barcelona. Simple metro ride will take you there to begin a 30 minute long hike. Atop the former Civil War Bunker you can see across the city, including sites like the Sagrada Familia and Barceloneta. My personal favorite hike, many people bring snacks and beer.
Mt Tibidabo- The tallest elevation in the city. Has a spectacular view and church atop the mountain. There is also a small amusement park with a ferris wheel up there.
Spain is famous for its tapas and markets. Barcelona has great markets near the waterfront and La Rambla. They serve fresh seafood right from the Mediterranean and splendid Iberico ham and other meats left hanging fresh in front of you. The markets are cheap and you can negotiate prices. Small sandwiches called bocadillo can be sold just about everywhere and are very cheap with good fresh ingredients. Barcelona loves bread, you can find it anywhere. A common snack is a loaf of bread, spread with garlic, olive oil and tomato. The Mediterranean diet is awesome and very affordable. The seafood is awesome, and so are the famous tapas (small, cheap appetizers found anywhere) as well as paella and fideu. If you miss American food, visit Milk for a breakfast in the Gothic Corridor. There is a place nearby where you can get a pedicure massage thing from the flesh eating fish that eat away your dead skin. Never tried it, heard it was cool if that is your thing.
Enjoy the city, it was an awesome experience to live there. I personally recommend visiting during September. It was still very hot, the Mediterranean was warm and there is a huge Independence Day demonstration (September 11) , fascinating to witness. La Merce is a seasonal festival from September 20th-24th, also really fun. Barcelona is inexpensive, safe and has a understandable metro.