In 2018, we met a down-to-earth couple from Spain during our vacation in the Maldives. We’ve kept in touch often since then & continued to get to know each other through the good ole’ Whatsapp until one day they invited us to visit them in Rota. I mean, what could be more exciting than to visit one of your bucket list destinations!?
Our journey started in Portland, OR with a connecting flight out of San Francisco, CA, and flying directly (11.5hrs) into Barcelona. We took Iberia Airlines, which wasn’t the best experience. The seating was old & hard and a bit cramped for the extra price we paid for extra legroom, but I suppose that’s a part of traveling.
Before we headed to southern Spain to see our friends, we spent three days & four nights in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
Hotel Praktik Essens
Hotel Praktik has several hotels in Barcelona, & we chose the Praktik Essens as it is in the heart of the city with easy access to public transportation & iconic attractions. The staff is friendly, helpful, & always greeting you with a warm hello.
Fun Fact & Lovely Bonus: At the time of check-in, the staff has you choose a fragrance for your toiletries — shampoo, lotion, soap. We decided on the “Sea” fragrance as we both love the ocean, & what gave it even more of a unique touch, the bars of soap weren’t pre-packaged like other hotels we’ve stayed at; it’s freshly cut from a big block on a table next to the front desk. (Doesn’t it look like dessert?)
Our room was not only quiet; it was simple, clean & the bed was extremely comfortable! The walk-in shower was THE BEST, almost impossible to get out after a long day exploring.
The lounge area was great! Inside, there was always coffee, tea, and cold beverages stocked. The ambiance and quietness out on their terrace lounge was the perfect place to relax and get some work done before the end of the day. We couldn’t have picked an ideal accommodation for our first time in Barcelona. We highly recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a place to stay.
Here’s a clip of our accommodation on Instagram IGTV
Places to eat
Where to eat? Goodness, Barcelona is full of fantastic food for EVERYONE! So much delicious food and we ate tons, so it was a good thing we walked SO much!
In the first photo where I am standing in the alleyway, the hotel we stayed at was beside El Nacional (directly behind me), which had four bars & four fabulous restaurants in such a lively atmosphere. Of the four, we had dinner at La Paradeta , one night, and La Braseria the other.
At the end of our meal, we couldn’t pass up on the ice cream and gelato bar. Not in Spain! Plus, it’s the first thing you see when you walk in, so the sight of it stays on your mind till after dinner.
In the mornings, for us, we like to find a place that offers a delightful breakfast while enjoying our cup(s) of coffee. Just around the corner from our hotel, we found our go-to spot at the Oassis Natural Cooking Restaurant. Not only did we enjoy their fresh and healthy meals, but we also enjoyed their outside seating as we watched the city move all around us.
As we ventured out into the city to explore, we came across so many potential places to eat at . One day, we came across a cafe called Cappuccino (unfortunately, they don’t have a website to link this to) with a relaxing atmosphere and a wide spread of delicious pastries, sandwiches, and coffee.
The Gothic Quarter, or Barrio Gotico, is at the heart of Barcelona’s old city and has some of the most spectacular historical sights the city has to offer. Just about anywhere you look, you will see Barcelona’s unique, colorful, and distinctive architecture around you. None is more beautiful and visually pleasing than roaming the streets of the Gothic Quarter. A must-see in every sense of the imagination! Its breathtaking architectures, cobble-stone streets, cafes, and photo opportunities around every corner!
The biggest attraction to see while in the Gothic Quarter is the Catedral de Barcelona. A masterpiece and one of the most beautiful cathedrals we have ever seen. We didn’t go inside as the crowd was quite big with a long wait time, but we marveled at its beauty from the outside.
As much walking as we did from our hotel to the Gothic Quarter, we decided to take a 25 minute cab ride to Park Guell, one of Antoni Gaudi’s major works in Barcelona. Park Guell is an expansive park that’s free to the public; however, if you want to capture the gorgeous mosaic tiled backdrop, there is an entrance fee to enter the main area, known as the protected monumental zone. We paid 10 Euros ea ($10.95) and personally, my wife and I could have done without, but as first time visitors, we’re glad that we experienced it.
The park is on a hillside, so wear good walking shoes and be prepared to walk uphill and up plenty of stairs. You’re in for good exercise while enjoying a few hours looking at the captivating architectural designs of Antoni Gaudi.
La Sagrada Familia
Tip: Save & skip the line and purchase tickets.
La Sagrada Familia, in its entirety, is the most beautiful building in all of Barcelona. We can see WHY the pride of Barcelona is a must-see for its architectural marvels! It stands tall and magnificent amongst a beautiful city, and to finally see it in person was beyond breathtaking and jaw-dropping! Even unfinished, we were still in complete awe of the intricate details and statues designed on the walls of this stunning cathedral. Tickets for the church costs about $27, but you can also admire it for the outside like we did.
Wow! Once we got here, we were in the middle of everything! It was so busy & crowded, and we realized then why this place is known as Barcelona’s most famous street. Here in La Ramblas, there are so many restaurants and shops, and you can’t help but notice even more beautiful architecture of the surrounding area.
Once we found our way through the busy crowd, we came across the famous La Boqueria, also known as Mercat St. Josep. The oldest marketplace in the city that has more than 300 stalls offering everything you can imagine for eating and drinking. We walked through the super-crowded market a couple of times in amazement. Everywhere we turned, there was FOOD and MORE food, so for all you food lovers who haven’t been here yet, this is the place to be!
Have you ever traveled to Spain? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comment box below.
This post is so informative. When I go to Barcelona these places will definitely be ones on my list. Thank you for sharing. Also what beautiful pictures you have, what kind of camera/lightroom settings do you use?
Anna….So happy to hear our blog helped. It means the world to us when we can help make experiences better! Have a great day..don’t forget to share you trip to Spain with us!
The inside of Sagrada is so amazing!!! Its great from the outside too though. Unfortunately I didnt have time for Parc Guell or El National but they sound like great spots to visit.
Ahhhh, we can’t imagine how much more beautiful it is on the inside if the outside in itself was already jaw-dropping! We originally purchased tickets but one of us ended up not feeling well when we arrived. Yes, hope you check out Parc Guell next time you’re there.
Hi, Anna! Thank you so much! We will be posting more photos on Instagram @lovetolatitude Yes, we use Lightroom. Will be checking your link soon! 🙂
Wow! Sounds like an awesome adventure! I suppose all the walking, stairs, and hills are a suitable offset to the amazing food. The photos look amazing, I only wish they were larger so I could see the detail more clearly. Guess I’ll just have to go and see all these places in person – and because of this blog, I’ll know to stay at Hotel Praktik Essens!
Hi, Gretchen! Thank you so much for stopping by & your feedback. Oh yes, more beautiful in person, but until you go 😉, we will be sharing more photos on Instagram @lovetolatitude
I didn’t get a chance to check out Barcelona when I went to Spain, only had time to see Madrid. Good to see what I missed though! Definitely makes me want to schedule another trip to check out the city. The architecture seems so beautiful and I’m loving all the amazing photos you took.
Thank you, Jess! We only went to Madrid Airport for a layover, but we’d love to go back to Spain and check out Madrid. We’ll be posting more of our trip on Instagram @lovetolatitude 🙂
Thank you for this blog. Love it and especially the pictures. Next time I am in Spain, I will definitely make a stop at some of the places on your list that were not on mine.
You’re welcome, Jean! Ooooo! We’d love to know the places on your list that weren’t on ours for our next visit or visits😉
We loved Barcelona but tourists have to be extra careful and watch for popular scams in busy areas. I escaped a couple of approaches but some of my friends were pick-pocketed
Hello, Michgael! Oh wow! We were told to be very careful with all you mentioned above as they are really good. Just curious , what were the couple approaches that you escaped from? Thank you both for stopping by 🙂
Oh my goodness, you have no idea how timely this article is for me. My husband and I along with my children and grandchildren have booked a cruise departing from Barcelona on May 20th of this year and we have included extra days on the front end to tour Barcelona; now we know what to see, do and where to eat so Thankyou very, very much. Our only concern now is the CoronaVirus and whether it will be safe to travel. My husband had heart surgery last August and his physician is advising us to stay in North America where there is an abundance of health care professionals. I am soooo looking forward to seeing Barcelona NOW 🤗👍
This is great to hear about your family cruise, Iris! We have yet to experience a cruise, so we will look out for your blog post on it 🙂 Oh, yes, that virus is terrible. Staying in North America may have something just for all of you to enjoy until it its safe to go abroad 🙂
Great recs! I visited Barcelona last year with my finacé and it is one of our favorite destinations of all time! Hope to be able to go back one day.
Thank you for stopping by, Natalie! It was our first time in Europe & had a wonderful experience. We fell in love with Southern Spain 🇪🇸