If you’ve been following me on Instagram then you’ll know I just returned from my trip to Spain last week. When my college friend and I hastily planned the trip, we originally were only going to visit Ibiza. Then we decided we might as well do what Spanish locals refer to as the typical American visit. Barcelona, Ibiza, and Madrid. Looking back I wish we would’ve sprung for a few extra days to see Seville and Toledo, but hindsight is always 20/20. Now that I’m finally back on Michigan time, caught up with releasing parts and turning in grad school homework I can share my journey with you!
During our stay in Spain we chose to do Air B&Bs and in Barcelona we found the perfect spot just off La Rambla. Now we didn’t go this route because it was cheaper, although that was a bonus. We went with Air B&B because we wanted to experience each city like locals. To see it from the inside rather than what the tourist industry wants you to believe it is. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like the difference you’d see in Mexico or Jamaica, but if it was, we wanted to see it for what it really was.
The only way I can describe our entire trip is blissful happenstance. Our to do list was filled with vague ideas of things, touristy attractions that we wanted to visit. But we honestly stumbled onto those things and many more by accident rather than on purpose. We would leave to find the Gothic Quarter only to end up in El Born then found ourselves at the Marina. I think that was one of my favorite things about Barcelona. Though the streets were crowded, everything felt accessible. Grocery stores, restaurants, attractions, picking up my whole life to live there, most were less than a mile away. We easily walked over 4 miles each day of our trip, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do it that way. You may be exhausted, but the journey is often one of the best parts. Because my friend was on a budget we stuck to things that didn’t break the bank, actually we only spent money to get there. Here are the 8 free things to do in Barcelona that I recommend:
- La Rambla. This is a major tourist street but still worth seeing. While Spain boasts of its pick pocketers, my friend and I were fortunate to not experience it first hand on our trip. I will say this strip felt a little like New York with everyone trying to sell you things from bootleg movies to fake purses, but the scenery made up for it.
- La Boqueria. Luckily our Air B&B was just blocks away from this major attraction which turned out to be our daily stop for breakfast. With 5 figs costing only 2 euros, how could you pass it up? It was also surrounded with quaint restaurants serving tapas so if nothing in the market catches your eye or you need something more filling you have plenty of options!
- Gothic Quarter. There are actually tons of museums, like Picasso’s, in this area but we just chose to wander the alleyways and enjoy the architecture for free.
- El Born. We meandered into El Born because I had read it was less touristy and more authentic to Spain. It was definitely far less crowded. There was even a free museum were you could check out the ruins and learn some of the history.
- Casa Battlo Gaudi. Now to go inside isn’t free, but sitting back and taking in the beautiful architecture of the building is. For us this was definitely a pit stop but still worth seeing even if you choose not to pay for the tour.
- Park Guell. The great thing about Park Guell is that you can still enjoy so much of the park without having to pay. There are stretches of paths that lead to breath taking views of Barcelona’s skyline and take you around the main structure itself. If you do want to pay to go inside, I suggest buying your ticket in advance because it works like the Smithsonian where you are allowed entry at a specific time.
- La Barceloneta. This little land protrudes into the sea but offers sights of the harbor, shopping and a sandy beach. Unfortunately this was as close as my friend and I came actually being on the sand but we enjoyed the nice cool breeze and tapas in the marina.
- Arc de Triomf. The archway was incredibly breath taking and surprisingly not a far walk from our Air B&B. We also happened upon it on a day they were having some sort of fair so it was a great time to people watch.
Barcelona has so much to offer which is why it’s such a big tourist destination. You can hike around the park then catch the metro to the beach and get delicious tapas or paella for what felt like dirt cheap! I also felt like my style fit right in with the locals. Spain does not get enough credit when it comes to the style game. In general I think majority of European women posses this je ne sais quoi quality that we Americans severely lack. They’ve mastered the art of appearing confident without make-up, bras or suffocating bodycon dresses. But Spain was just the breathe of fresh air that I needed. Keep scrolling to shop my Barcelona travel outfits and to watch my video diary! Also if you have any questions or recommendations for others looking for things to do in Barcelona leave them in the comments.
Check out my video diary of what we did in Barcelona!
Shop my vacation style picks for Spain below: