Having made my way around many major cities in Europe — and some smaller ones, too — I feel like I have a pretty well-rounded view of different European cultures. I know what I like when I travel, and I know what to look for whenever I visit a new city. But
visiting Barcelona for the first time truly exceeded my expectations. There were so many things I did in Barcelona as a solo traveler that made it my new favorite European city, and I wish I could have spent longer than four days there.
The architecture — especially Antoni Gaudí's work — is unbelievable. I'm still daydreaming about the food, and of course, I got to live out my Cheetah Girls fantasies while parading around the city. There's so much beautiful culture in Barcelona, and though I knew I wanted to visit, I had no idea that I would fall in love with it the way I did. Now all I want is to become fluent in Spanish so I can explore the city more like a
Although my trip to Barcelona was a short one, the four days I spent there gave me just a taste of how incredible the city is. I truly cannot wait for my next trip back.
The Gaudí Architecture Truly Took My Breath Away
You can't go to Barcelona without visiting some
buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí. He's known for beautifully whimsical sculptures and intricate mosaics, and seven of his most popular works have been classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites. (It's pretty clear to see why.)
When I stepped onto the
rooftop of Casa Milà (pictured above), I audibly gasped. Not many things surprise me anymore, but the towering sculptures he was able to create and put onto a rooftop are truly otherworldly. I had an amazing time taking photos and soaking up the Barcelona sun while I marveled at the pieces. 02
Seriously, I'm Still Not Over It
Aside from Casa Milà, I also visited a number of Gaudí's most famous landmarks,
including Casa Batlló (pictured above) and the unbelievable Sagrada Família church. I don't think I'll ever be able to get over the incredible detail that went into constructing all of his work.
I'll admit that I'm not very educated when it comes to architecture, but Gaudí's pieces truly moved me. Walking into Sagrada Família gave me a feeling I've never had inside a Catholic church before (which is saying a lot considering I grew up Catholic and have been to many churches in my life).
Not only are Gaudí's buildings and sculptures beautiful, but I believe they are able to stir emotion in many people, which made visiting these sites so much more than just touristing.
Park Güell Fulfilled All Of My Cheetah Girls Dreams
Of course, more Gaudí. I loved
visiting Park Güell because the art is incredible, of course, but I had another reason to visit. I have wanted to visit the park — and this exact spot in the picture — since I watched The Cheetah Girls 2 back in 2006.
The girls sang their
classic song "Strut" all around Barcelona and ended it dancing around the beautiful mosaics of the park. In fact, the key change of the song when Raven-Symoné did her epic kick (2:29 in the video, for reference) happened right where I'm standing in this pic.
Although I didn't have a beautiful Spanish man playing guitar next to me — and I didn't dare recreate Raven's kick in this dress — I still felt like I was totally a part of a movie that resonated with me in my childhood.
Walking Around Mercado De La Boqueria And Trying All The Food Was Definitely A Highlight
Trying new food is always an exciting part of traveling for me, and there was truly no better place to do it than at
Mercado de la Boqueria. It's a giant outdoor market in the Las Ramblas area that sells every food product you can imagine. There are dozens of stands full of fresh fruit, candies, chocolates, pastries, and much more.
I spent an entire afternoon wandering around the market and buying snacks, which I ate as I continued walking. It was such a relaxing way to eat, and I got to try some typical Barcelona "snack" food that I wouldn't have otherwise. My absolute favorite were these cones of sliced Jamón Ibérico mixed in with chunks of manchego cheese. So much yum.
It Was Such An Easy City To Walk Around
Barcelona is a big city, and while taking the metro or the buses is convenient when you're trying to pack a lot of activities in, walking was just as fun. I won't lie — it was
unbelievably hot and I easily sweated through all of my clothes, but I feel like walking really gave me a great idea of the geography of the city.
Plus, there are a ton of little stores and hole-in-the-wall restaurants you can only really discover when walking on foot, so though I don't always like to walk when I'm traveling, I definitely enjoyed it in Barcelona. I highly recommend walking through the shopping districts,
Las Ramblas and Passeig de Gràcia. 06
There Are Tons Of Rooftops To Catch Incredible #Views
Based on a few quick searches, I realized that if you stay at a hotel in downtown Barcelona, there's a high likelihood you'll have a rooftop terrace of some sort. I spent part of my stay at
Sir Victor, which is just off Avinguda Diagonal near the Passeig de Gràcia area (a super central part of town).
One of the hotel's coolest features — and it has many, trust me — was its beautiful rooftop terrace. It has an unobstructed view of the Casa Milà rooftop, as well as a beautiful pool, which is perfect for cooling off in. All I needed was a glass of sangria and some sunscreen, and I was good to go.
I Enjoyed So Much Paella
I have many different kinds of foods that I consider "soul food," purely because they fill my soul (and belly) with lots of love. Paella and sangria are true soul foods to me. I loved that Barcelona had many options for paella — even as a solo diner — and that you could pretty much find sangria at any restaurant or bar. I ate and drank my fill of each, and it's safe to say my taste buds were beyond happy.