Barcelona, Spain | Adventures with Shelby
Europe,  Spain,  Travel

Exploring Barcelona in 72 Hours

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, the Northeastern region in Spain.  This city has so much to offer between the art, architecture, delicious food, and the beach!  To this day, Barcelona is one of my top favorite cities that I have visited.  

Here are the can’t miss spots when visiting Barcelona:

Barri Gòtic - Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is incredibly charming.  The narrow streets are filled with cathedrals, restaurants, and clubs.  It is a stark contrast to La Rambla which is quite open.  The roads make up a myriad and it is fun to guess what is waiting around the next corner.  One of my favorite meals was in Barri Gotic.  When I returned to find the restaurant again (the AMAZING paella was really affordable in this adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurant), I walked around the neighborhood for over 30 minutes before finally stumbling upon it again!  

Museu Picasso is located in the Gothic Quarter and is definitely worth visiting.  They have an extensive collection of his work, including 57 works that he created in interpretation of Las Meninas.  57!!  This is apparently the only series of works painted by Picasso that are on display altogether at the same location.

La Rambla

La Rambla is a well-known lively street lined with trees and filled with tons of little kiosks and cafes.  This street leads straight to the Mirador de Colom, a monument to Christopher Columbus facing Port Vell.  This is also referred to as Las Ramblas, because it is actually a series of walks each with a different name.  Though the kiosks are closed at night, I found that this street is just as full in the evening as it is during the day!  

Port Vell

Port Vell is beautiful during the day, but I personally preferred exploring the port at night.  I highly recommend catching a sunset at Port Vell.  Rambla del Mar is a beautiful place to walk that connects to the mall and aquarium in the middle of the marina.

La Sagrada Família

La Sagrada Família is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of Barcelona.  This is one of the most well-known works by Antoni Gaudí.  Construction began in 1882, and to this day the church is surrounded by cranes and construction.  Despite the fact that it is unfinished, this church is an absolute must-visit.  Not only is the external architecture stunning, but the interior is also one-of-a-kind.  I never made it inside the church, and I regret it massively!  Pro-tip: buy tickets ahead of time to go inside!  The line will take hours if buying the ticket on-site. 

Park Güell

Park Güell is also designed by Antoni Gaudí.  This is such a fun place to explore, with gardens and modern architecture.  Higher on the mountain, there are beautiful views overlooking the coast and the city below.  Casa Museo Gaudí is also worth a visit at the front of the park.  There is a really fun reggae band that tends to be in the park that put on a really great show.


Another stunning view of the city from above can be offered on Montjuïc.  This hill overlooks the harbour and features several attractions including Jardí Botànic de Barcelona, stadiums from the 1992 Olympic Games, and Castle Montjuïc.  Castell de Montjuïc was initially a fortress built in the 1600s and an important battleground between the Spanish and Catalan.  It was later demolished and the current structure was built in the 1700s. The castle boasts a 360 degree view over the city.  

I took my time climbing the hill by foot, exploring the botanic gardens and the fortress, then hopped on a cable car to go straight to the beach!  The Port Cable Car, Transbordador Aeri del Port, runs every ten minutes and is a fun and convenient way to travel up or down the mountain to the beach.  I would not recommend this for anyone who is afraid of heights, but if you can hang (pun intended) the views are amazing!

Font màgica de Montjuïc

If visiting on a weekend, there are fountain shows at night!  The Magical Fountains in front of Palau National light up and dance along with music.  The shows last quite some time, and each show accompanies a different style of music.  The fountains were designed for the Great Universal Exhibition  in 1929.  Music was added in the 1980s, before the fountain was restored in preparation of the 1992 Olympics.

La Barceloneta

La Barceloneta is the neighborhood along the coast, in between Port Vell and Port Olimpic.  You can’t visit Barcelona without at least stopping by Playa de San Sebastián!  There are lots of seafood restaurants and nightclubs in this neighborhood.  The beach is a great place to people watch, and I especially like the sculpture “L’Estel Ferit” (the wounded star) by Rebecca Horn.

Parc de la Ciutadella

Just above La Barceloneta is the Parc de la Ciutadella, a great place for strolling.  This is one of the only green spaces in the center of Barcelona.  There are sculptures scattered throughout the park, along with a museum and a zoo.  The Cascada, or waterfall, facing the park’s lake is an absolute can’t-miss!  

Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog regarding day-trip destinations from Barcelona!


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Exploring Barcelona in 72 Hours | Adventures with Shelby


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