Spain

Your Barcelona Bucket List

Barcelona's Arc de Triomf

Barcelona and I go way back. Back further than any other foreign city. From my travel beginnings on Carrer de Varsóvia, studying Spanish at the age of 16 with a Spanish family, to Jo and I making our first Shut Up and Go travel video from a bench near Barceloneta at 2:30AM, to this current moment of me chilling out in a Sandwichez at Tarragona. Barcelona is yet another one of those cities I keep coming back to.

And for good reasons. To me, Barcelona really nails it on so many points. You’ve got the beach, and the mountains (ahem, Los Angeles). It’s small enough that you can walk the entire day and see a lot of the city, but big enough to not feel guilty after taking the metro a few stops. The culture is interesting in that it’s a city that siestas until 10:30pm when people finally decide it’s an appropriate time to eat dinner, but wait nope, they decide on patatas bravas, una tortilla, or gazpacho for tapas instead.

Barcelona has really got the makings of a city that almost anyone would fall in love with, but if you need some extra assistance, here’s your Barcelona Bucket List.

Catch the view from Bunkers

Bunkers Barcelona View - an underrated place to catch a unique view of Barça

Day or night, you will have breathtaking 360 degree views from this abandoned/repurposed civil war bunker from the 1930s. I went up at 9:30pm, which was a pretty sketch decision, but then I found students playing cards, locals drinking cava and sangria, and the occasional imposter local/tourist like myself who somehow found out about this more or less undercover hot spot.

Order the Red Curry at Bangkok Café

Bangkok Café - best Thai restaurant in Barcelona

Even after a three week trip gallivanting around Thailand, I must say Bangkok Café has the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten. Located on an unassuming side street, with the entrance in a cute back alley, you’ll find a small restaurant that’s buzzing amongst locals. You might have to dine 2.2 inches away from your fellow patrons, but if you order the vegetarian spring rolls and red curry, it’ll all be worth it. The peanut and coconut curry with tofu (although I had to pretty much force them to add tofu to my dish) from Banna, was also highly, highly, highly recommended.

Sip on a smoothie from Veggie Garden

Veggie Garden Barcelona | Vegetarian Restaurants in Barcelona

If you find yourself eating 65% of your food in purée form (me), get one of the smoothies at one of the two Veggie Garden restaurants near Universitat. They have an €8.50 lunch menu with an entrée like hummus and carrots, a main dish like seitan balls (sounds so appetizing, I know) in a special sauce (ok, sorry, I’m really bad at describing food), and a desert. I then went above and beyond by ordering an avocado and pistachio smoothie for €4. I’ve now had that smoothie three times and the coconut, chocolate, banana smoothie three times. Get. On. This. Level.

Visit La Sagrada Familia, of course

Sagrada Familia - an actual Barcelona must-see

Although I’m almost convinced they’re purposely taking forever to finally top off La Sagrada Familia for marketing purposes (“They’ve been working on it since 1882 and it’s still not finished! It’s amazing! It won’t even be done till 2027!”), I still think it’s totally worth a visit. The cathedral is representative of Spanish culture and the famous architect Gaudi himself, not to mention downright majestic. You put one VSCO filter on this bad boy and it has you feelin’ like you’ve nearly made it to Hogwarts. You can most definitely find better views of Barcelona elsewhere, but this is a Barcelona icon that deserves to be seen up-close and personal.

Take the €4.10 day trip to Sitges

Day trip to Sitges from Barcelona is only 4 euros

Day trip to Sitges from Barcelona is only 4 euros

The quiet Mediterranean town of Sitges is first known for its gay culture, and secondly known as a chilled-out getaway – or maybe that just depends on the time of year you go. On a random Saturday in early December, the city was packed with families, teenagers in groups near the beach, and ok, I did have a small chat with a drag queen at some point. At only €4.10 and one hour to get here, it’s honestly a no-brainer to take a day trip. Café Montroig, a brunch spot, was beautiful, btw.

Chill to R&B music at Hidden Café

Hidden Cafe in Barcelona - the best place to chill with a cup of coffee in Barcelona

While taste is subjective, I can say that this coffee was my favorite in all of Barcelona. And trust me, I’ve been to Satan’s, Somewhere, Werhaus, and Federal Café. And set aside the taste of the coffee, you then add in the ambiance being clean and cool, AND KEEPING THE DOOR OPEN FOR AIR FLOW, and boom. I’m here.

But that’s not all either. Once your other senses have chilled out, your ears perk up and you start to hear…wait, is that Drake playing? Wait, hold up, Jhene Aiko? Stop. Frank Ocean? Yes, even if you don’t like coffee and are looking for a place to catch up with friends, you could make it all happen here.

The runner-up for the Coziest Coffee Shop of Barcelona totally would go to Molika Café.

€1 smoothies from La Boqueria

€1 smoothies from La Boqueria in Barcelona

They’re one euro, questionably healthy, and everywhere you look at La Boqueria. I’m not too sure how natural the natural juices are, since they taste more sugary than Minute Maid mixed with Juicy Juice. A stroll around the La Boqueria is almost a requirement if you’re visiting La Rambla – it’s a third fruit and veggie market, a third meat market, and a third to-go food restaurants.

Spend the day around Port Vell and Barceloneta

Port Vell Marina next to Maremagnum and Barceloneta

Marinas in Barcelona
The main beach in Barcelona

The beach in Barcelona? An obvious choice. Try Barceloneta if you don’t feel like walking far, Nova Marbella for a more local scene, and Marbella for a (gay) nude beach if you’re into trying something new. The area around Port Vell has an aquarium, a mall (Maremagnum), and Plaça de l’Ictineo for picnics.

Bus it up to Tibidabo

Tibidabo Park in Barcelona - mainly for kids, but also for kids at heart

Barcelona Tibidabo Mountain Amusement Park

Mount Tibidabo – that “castle” on top of the mountain overlooking your every move in Barcelona – yeah, did you know there’s also a fully-functioning amusement park up there? The park is mostly for children, but that shouldn’t stop you from going up and admiring the highest viewpoint (and maybe riding a roller coaster) anyway.

Google how to get to the park and you’ll figure out that it’s the most confusing thing ever. From my searches, there was no simple, clear-cut information, so I’m going to give that to you right now. For the quickest and cheapest way to Tibidabo, take the €3 bus from the North part of Plaza Catalunya. It’s a direct bus and drops you off 45 minutes later in front of both the amusement park and SkyWalk viewpoint. You’ll save on time, money, and hassle, and still get some of the view that the famous funicular offers.

Go anywhere in Gràcia

Plaça de la Virreina Swing Show

Plaça de la Virreina Swing Dancing on Sunday

Gràcia and I just vibe it out every time I happen to stroll upon the neighborhood. I recommend going around 8pm and getting off the metro at Fontana and taking Carrer d’Astúries until Plaça del Diamant or Plaça de la Virreina – there will be life in the streets. Maybe get take-away burritos at Teicaway, vegan food at Café Camèlia, or a €7 Asian meal deal at Àsia amb Gràcia. Also, the last Sunday of every month, if you’re anywhere near Gràcia, find your way to Plaça de La Virreina – it should be relatively easy as the swing music reverberates through the alleys. It’s pure magic. Then again, I’m sensitive to movie moments.

Watch the “performers” in Parc de la Ciutadella

Bubble man inParc de la Ciutadella

If you like feeling like you’re at a circus with acrobats and tightrope walkers, without the guilt of potential animal abuse in the back of your mind, you’ll be in for a treat at Parc de la Ciutadella. Total bohemian vibes, where new-age Barcelonian hippies can be found huddled in groups around a picnic blanket and one guy with locks playing a ukelele. Some play frisbee with their German shepherds while others bring their own their stilts and walk around the park like it’s totally normal. Aside from the unexpected performances, the park itself is beautiful.

Barcelona Bucket List | Honorable Mention

  • Watch the Montjuic fountain show
  • Spend a night at the touristy, yet still fun nightclubs near the beach (Shoko, Opium, Pacha, etc.)
  • Find your way out of the maze at Parc del Laberint d’Horta
  • Get a drink at Café Antic Teatre
  • Get lost in Barrio Gótico

What’s on your Barcelona bucket list?

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  • Sianne Powe

    Lived in Barcelona for a few months this past summer and this post totally summed up a lot of my faves from my time there! I wish I found that vegan restaurant in Gracia since that’s the neighborhood I lived in! But who knows, maybe I’ll visit when I return for the *eventual* finishing of La Sagrada Familia! Might I recommend renting some rollerblades for cheap and skating up and down Barceloneta? It’s a lot of fun!

  • Kiki

    I have yet to venture to Barcelona, only just stepped in Madrid for the first time last month and what a treat! Sounds like my kind of place and plenty of beautiful architecture and culture. Thanks for the tips Damon!

  • Leah Smolarek

    Oh my god I can’t believe you guys just posted this!
    I spent this July studying in Barcelona and our organisation gave us a Barcelona Bucket List with 100 things to do in the city during our time there, and made made an Instagram competiton out of it (which I totally won!). There’s lots of little nook and cranny things on in there that were super cute and local, I’m sure you guys would love it!
    I posted all of the things that i did on my instagram- @welcomeabroadleah , and if you shoot me a message I can send you a copy of the full list 🙂
    Thank you guys for being the coolest travel bloggers out there, so much love ❤

  • Maggie Hurlbut

    I was eating at the Bangkok cafe a few weeks ago and could have sworn it was you at the table next to us. As the “fellow patron dining 2.2 inches away” from you, I can confirm it is the best Thai in Barcelona. Wish I had said hello!! Your tips for Barcelona and so many places in Europe guided me through the past four months and made my semester abroad the best it could me. Just finished my semester in Barcelona and already missing it. Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce!

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