Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places

15th Feb 2014
Photo of Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places 1/6 by Alexandra Kovacova
Mammoth at the Cuitadella Park
Photo of Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places 2/6 by Alexandra Kovacova
Chocolates at the La Boqueria Market
Photo of Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places 3/6 by Alexandra Kovacova
View from Tibidabo Amusement Park
Photo of Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places 4/6 by Alexandra Kovacova
Barcelonita Beach at night
Photo of Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places 5/6 by Alexandra Kovacova
Casa Gracia Hostel
Photo of Barcelona: A guide to my favorite places 6/6 by Alexandra Kovacova
Plaza Mayor Bar

What comes to your mind when you hear the word Barcelona? Maybe Gaudí. Maybe La Rambla. Or maybe Sagrada Familia. But, every time I hear Barcelona, I have a bittersweet feeling. On my first trip to Barcelona in 2004, I absolutely hated the city. My first impression of Barcelona was that of traffic jams, bicycles, scooters and motorbikes absolutely everywhere. A very overcrowded and dangerous city (I was even robbed of my wallet, cell phone and debit cards there). But, gradually in my following trips I fell in love with this city.

Barcelona is not just about the art and architecture, although that forms a huge part of it, it is the general atmosphere of the city that tempts me back to it every time.  I realized how beautiful Barcelona is. Now a big part of my heart belongs to this Gaudí’s city. Barcelona has it all. Nice beaches, great history, breath-taking views, tasty food, cheap accommodation, all the shops you can imagine, many parks to relax, pubs and clubs, precisely decorated buildings and many good place for sports. I’m sure everyone can find here what he likes. I’m wondering what exactly makes me so happy every time when I’m in Barcelona. I guess, it’s all the things I mentioned above, together with the atmosphere and having some good friends there. So far it’s the only place I’ve been to, where I could imagine living for a longer time, i.e. more than a year or so. 

Post 2004, I have made it a point to visit Barcelona once every year to be welcomed back to the stunning views of this city.  I have visited this city so many times now that I know the streets by heart. I know where to go shopping and where to relax. I still find it stunning and each time I visit, there is something new to see plus it’s still cool to see everything again doesn’t matter if I’ve seen it 3 or 100 times already. It’s a city of never-ending possibilities. And just to be in Barcelona makes me super happy. 

Here are some of my favorite places to visit in Barcelona, but by all means feel free to go totally offbeat from this itinerary and discover more in the city. It is very difficult to not fall in love with Barcelona. The city will entice you in one way or another.

Barcelona is full of green parks which is a must for me in a big city. One of them I visit very often, Ciutadella, because it has a wonderful fountain and a lake. But what differentiates it from all the other parks is a statue of a life-size mammoth next to the lake. Apart from clicking pictures of this huge mammoth, this park also has a zoo to visit. There are beautiful lakes and museums inside to visit too. A great place to relax and learn!
Photo of Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova
La Boqueria market is my favorite market place in the world. On my many visits to Barcelona I make it a point to never leave out this place. La Boqueria is just a few meters from the Barcelona Metro Station Liceu, the same as from Barcelona bus 14, 59 and 91. It was open for the first time already in 1217 known as Mercat Bornet. Later known as Plaça Nova and Plaça del Pi. It was mostly selling fish and meat until recently adding fruit and vegetables. The metal roof consisting still at the present dates back to 1914. I walked up and down Las Ramblas hundred times. I just love the place and its vivid atmosphere. Never noticed the market in one of the little streets though until a friend of mine invited me for a fresh juice. Fresh meat on the left, different kinds of chocolate on the right, then ice cream place and fresh fruit and vegetables, and fresh fish in the back. All displayed in an unbelievable nice perfect way, one would think the whole fruit pyramid would fall down only if you blew a little there. From small to huge, round to oval, probably all the possible shapes and colours.
Photo of La Boqueria, La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova
How can you leave beaches out of a Barcelona itinerary? So, here it is. One of the most amazing places to warm up and indulge in some sunbathing in Barcelona- Barceloneta Beach. The mediocre tourist spends all day in the sun at crowded Barceloneta Beach finding a square meter to place his towel and always in danger to get robbed. The further you move from the center the less crowded it gets and you will spot more surfers in the water. Dare to hop on a boat yourself? Also there are many other beautiful places to enjoy the sun: On one of the many terraces in the city with a cold beer, grab a bike and climb to the top of Tibidabo to get a great view of the city.
Photo of Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova
La Rambla is the busiest tourist streets of Barcelona and a great place to hunt for some souvenirs. It has little kiosks in the middle and shops and restaurants on the sides. Being a place of many artists, from street traders, pantomime, dancers, break dance guys, painters will keep yourself busy for a while. An interesting note - Want to see a different side to Barcelona? Walk La Rambla after 5am to see all the prostitutes and dangerous homeless people.
Photo of La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova
Barcelona is popular for its notorious and vibrant nightlife. Do not make the mistake to go into one of the big clubs right by the beach. Start of your night with a couple of drinks at one of the many small bars. I find Plaza Mayor or the neighboring Olympic Port, both interesting places to hangout here. Order a gin and tonic and start mingling. Without a doubt you will find out where the night will continue afterwards.
Photo of Bar Plaza Mayor, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova
If you find Barcelona too calming and need some thrill head straight to the Tibidabo Amusement Park. If carrousels and roller coasters are your cup of tea, then take a bus or tram Tramvía Blau to Tibidabo Amusement Park. As a bonus you get an amazing view of the whole Barcelona below.
Photo of Tibidabo Amusement Park, Plaça Tibidabo, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova
I usually like to stay in Apartments in Barcelons, but on one trip I decided to try a hostel. The Casa Gracia was simply perfect. And let me be honest and make you jealous once again here, in which hostel you can get a private jacuzzi hot tub in your room? Along with that it has a fully equipped kitchen, a nice terrace and an amazing view. All this at great rates, I was more than pleased by this place!
Photo of Casa Gracia Barcelona Hostel, Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona, Spain by Alexandra Kovacova