A city full of rich culture going all the way back to the Roman empire, Barcelona has a mixture of old and new architecture. Blessed with good weather ranging from 7 to 10 degrees in winter and 22 to 25 degrees in summer, it is great to visit the city any time of the year.
If you are doing a trip in Europe, you must visit Barcelona as one of your pitstops. Here is a guide on how to make the most if you only have 72 hours in this Mediterranean city.
La Rambla and La Boqueria Food Market
Check into your hotel and head straight to La Rambla, one of the most famous streets in the city. Start first at La Boqueria Food Market and grab some fresh fruit juice to quench your thirst as you navigate through the building. It houses stalls selling fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, chocolates, nuts, olive oils, cured meats, among many other items.
There are also several food stalls where you can grab brunch with a glass of Cava, the local version of sparkling wine, or Sangria. One place at the market which many guidebooks recommend was Bar Boqueria with fresh seafood platters and tapas. Unfortunately, the eatery was crowded when I visited, and I didn't have a lot of time, so I had to give it a miss.
When your tummy is filled up, stroll down La Rambla and explore the different shops. There is also a large departmental store, El Corte Inglés, at the Plaça Catalunya Square at the end of the street.
One thing you must look out for is Font de Canaletes, a water fountain that is part of a lamp post. An inscription on the floor says that when one drinks out of the fountain, they will return to Barcelona. I filled up my water bottle, so I would probably be making a few trips back if the legend is true.
Be careful when you are in the area. Our guide warned us as the area can be very crowded and popular with tourists, hence it is also one of the areas where pickpockets frequent. One tip is to keep your bags in front of you, where you can see them.
Passeig de Gràcia
About a five-minute stroll from La Rambla is the "Orchard Road" of Barcelona. Luxury houses and high-street brands dot both sides of the streets. If shopping is not your thing, there are Casa Batllo and La Pedrera, two buildings which are masterpieces of the late architect Antoni Gaudi.
Casa Batllo stands out with its skull-shaped balconies with bone-like supporting pillars. Tickets for adults cost 21.50 euros (about S$37). La Pedrera is a building with wave-like patterns and comprises of two apartment buildings. It was marked as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. Tickets for adults cost 16.50 euros.
You will see several street peddlers, but do not be tempted to buy anything from them as it is illegal to do so, and you will receive a ticket if you're caught.
FC Barcelona match
When in Barcelona, there is nothing more memorable than watching a FC Barcelona match. Camp Nou - home of FC Barcelona - is accessible by train, although it is a bit of a walk. From Passeig de Gràcia, it takes about half an hour, depending on train schedule and your walking speed. Football matches usually start in the evening, so plan your schedule accordingly. The stadium seats about 90,000 people, and it is usually at full capacity every match. It seems like a family affair for the locals that even the babies, dressed in football jerseys, are out to play as parents watch the sport, much loved by the Spaniards. The atmosphere is also very warm and for a non-football fan, I found myself swept up along with the cheering crowd's enthusiasm. Tickets range from 58 to 164 euros.
Dinner at Barcelona starts from 8.30pm. Do try the local Catalan cuisine when you are there. They have their own version of paella, Fideuà, which is made of noodles instead of rice. Of course, there is the famous local dish Iberico ham. The tastiest version are made from Iberico pigs that eat acorns. The ham is sliced into thin slivers that taste a little nutty and savoury without being too salty.
One of the restaurants to try is El Principal. It has a good range of tapas that is done really well. The mini ham croquettes and fried artichokes are also worth a try.