In November 2015 I was lucky enough to travel to Barcelona to attend the IBTM conference. While I had to work some of the days I was there, I made sure to save some time for sightseeing (and eating lots of paella). These are my recommendations.

Plaza d'Espanya

Stay

Catalonia Barcelona Plaza Hotel – due to the fact that I was attending a conference, I chose a hotel that was in relative close proximity to the convention center, but also not so far away from some of the other neighborhoods I wanted to check out. That being said, I’m not sure I would choose this specific location would I have just been going on vacation, but the hotel was very nice regardless and I’d definitely recommend it.

Things to Do

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus – I had never done one of these before, but since I was by myself at the beginning of the trip and Barcelona is a relatively spread out city, I decided to give it a whirl. I really enjoyed it and think whether you are alone or not it’s an easy way to see a lot of sights – and of course you can hop off and spend as much time as you want at any of the sights! In Barcelona there were two main routes I was able to choose from. The bus actually picked up from the plaza my hotel was in and I was able to see FC Barcelona’s stadium, multiple Gaudi masterpieces, the beach, Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter and so much more.

Las Ramblas – although a bit touristy, this treelined street is filled with shops and restaurants and is worth wandering down at least once during your stay.

La Boqueria – while you’re wandering down Las Ramblas, make sure you stop in La Boqueria – grab a bite, buy some snacks, gifts, whatever you’re feeling as you wander through the market.

La Sagrada Familia – buy your tickets ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about waiting any longer to get in when you arrive. We picked later in the afternoon so we had time to sightsee during the day and ended up seeing the most amazing colors coming through the stained glass as the sun was setting! If you can by chance make this happen I recommend it. Unfortunately it was windy the day we went so we weren’t able to go up the tower (I am not sure if this happens often, but it happened to us!)

El Born – if you want to get away from the more touristy parts of Barcelona, I highly suggest El Born. We had a great time checking out restaurants and the bar scene there (multiple nights).

Day Trip to Sitges – need a break from the city? Since it was November it wasn’t exactly beach weather so we decided to escape and check out the small town of Sitges. We took an easy 45 minute train and wandered around the town, stopping in shops and having our fair share of food and paella.

Eat

Unfortunately and fortunately for me, I had a friend who was living in Barcelona at the time and I lived off his recommendations and didn’t take great notes, but here are some places I do remember!

7 Portes – come here for an old school dinner. No reservations and no bar to grab a drink at while you wait, so we sat outside for 20 minutes before we feasted on one of our many delicious paellas.

El Salon – a yummy, cozy restaurant in Barrio Gotic with authentic Spanish food. We didn’t get any paella here but everything was delicious!

Absenta Bar – close to the beach and Barrio Gotic, this bar was cozy and eclectic. Have some absinthe, wine, whatever you wish!

Bar Hop in El Born! I’ll say it again, this was a great place to bounce around after dinner any night.

While Toby lived in Madrid (and thus traveled all over Spain) for two years, this was my first time visiting this amazing country. I can’t wait to get back there and explore more cities and towns. What are your favorite parts of Spain? Comment below and tell me where I should go next time!

 

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Jocelyn
I've had a love for writing pretty much since I learned to write. My love for travel grew once I visited Europe in High School, lived in Italy in college, and really took off after a trip to Bali in 2009. Since then I've made it a goal to visit at least one country per year - sometimes a challenging feat when you have limited vacation time, income, and you want to see your family on the other side of the country. But, I've made it happen (in 2015 I visited 5 new countries!) so hopefully I can inspire you to get out there and travel too!