A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO BARCELONA, SPAIN / BY KAYLA KURIN
Barcelona looks like a city straight out of fairy tale.
You’ll discover many secrets wandering through the streets of this Mediterranean city full of artists, architects, and rebels turned authors who tell its story.
Whether you’re transported to another world walking through Gaudi’s’ architecture or witnessing the surrealist paintings of Dali and Picasso, there’s a little bit of magic wherever you go in Barcelona.
Before you go:
If you’re like me and enjoy reading novels about places you’re traveling to, these reads will give you a glimpse into the city and the heroines of Catalonia:
- Solitud by Victor Catala (ie. Caterina Albert) was published under a male pen name to avoid controversy. And thus enters our first heroine!
- The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron is a novel set in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
- The angst-ridden executive by Manuel Vazquez Montalban is a fun who-dun-it detective story set in the streets of Barcelona!
Start the day with a hearty breakfast as we’ve got a lot of adventure ahead of us!
Like a local grab a pastry and cafe con leche from your local cafe, or if you’re craving something more substantial, find your way to El Petit Princep in El Borne to indulge in a breakfast fit for a little prince (or princess).
Get to know Gaudi.
To kick off our adventures, jump on a bus to Park Guell. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re wandering through your own fairy tale, this is the place.
Gaudi’s stunning and unique architecture gives the place a magical feeling. You can spend an hour or two wandering around this park and taking in views of the city below.
To continue our Gaudi fix, walk or grab a bus to the Sagrada Familia.
You’ll notice the construction amidst the turrets, but don’t feel discouraged, this is part of the attraction! The church has been under construction for over 100 years with no end in (near) site!
The interior is said to resemble a (forbidden) forest, and the outside boasts work from 4 different architects. It’s easy to imagine this giant gothic church as a setting in many a heroine’s tale.
Make a literary break for your cafe con leche.
Stretch your legs by wandering further downhill (all downhill roads lead to the water) until you find yourself at the Pudding Bar. If you’re short on reading material, pop into Laie across the road with a selection of books in different languages.
Then head into the Pudding Bar for a funky Alice in Wonderland themed coffee and reading break. Be inspired to break out the journal and enjoy the surroundings.
Explore the gothic quarter.
Continue down Carrer de Pau Claris into the gothic quarter. Get lost wandering around the narrow streets and enjoy the architecture. Keep an eye out for the Barcelona Cathedral, home to one of the city’s first heroines and Patron Saints, Eulalia.
Eulalia is one of the first Christian martyr’s from the Roman period. At just 13 years old she received such punishments as being rolled around the city in a barrel full of knives for refusing to give up Christianity. She is now the co-Patron saint of Barcelona.
The Rubio bridge next to the Cathedral and settled amongst gargoyles is a beautiful site.
Lunch at Barcelona’s most famous tapas bar in La Boqueria market.
When you’re ready for lunch, cross Las Ramblas to get to La Boqueria, the most famous food market in Barcelona. Enjoy seeing the variety of Catalonian foods, and then find a seat at Bar Pinotoxo for traditional tapas, fresh seafood, and a lunchtime glass of Cava.
If you have the time, wander around hip Raval, or simply follow Ramblas down to the water until you see the giant Columbus statue.
The crafty geographer may notice that Columbus is actually pointing east, the opposite direction of the Americas to which he sailed. Several theories try to explain this, but my favourite is that he’s pointing towards his hometown in Genoa, Italy.
Learn about the history of Catalonia.
Follow the main road next to the water, passing the yachts, and then swing left into the Museum of Catalonian History.
The museum houses 2 floors of exhibits, with stunning visual displays starting from ancient times and leading to the 20th century. It’s fascinating to see the different empires Catalonia passed under, and understand the unique history of the Catalonian people.
The museum also hosts a rooftop patio with great views of Barceloneta and the Mediterranean!
Sunsets, seafood, and sipping on cocktails.
Meander your way among the streets of Barceloneta, and watch the sunset on the beach.
When you’re done enjoying the sand and the waves, make your way to La Bona Sort in Borne for some traditional tapas for dinner. Ask to be seated in the garden (jardin) to feel like you’re sitting in your own secret garden. The grilled calamari and pulpo de Galicia are two of my favourite dishes!
While you may be ready to head home after a long day of sightseeing, the city is just awakening.
If you’re ready for a night fit for a heroine, head to Eldiset or Sub Rosa in Borne for some cocktails in an interesting atmosphere, or if you’re up for it, jump in a cab to Old Fashioned in trendy Gracia to be transported back to the 1920’s while sipping on one of their professionally made cocktails.
If you have more than a day in Barcelona, spend a morning in Babelia cafe, designed specially for the bibliophile. And remember that the best thing one can do in Barcelona is get lost…
Enjoy your journey!
Kayla is a chronic traveler, writer, and flying (yoga) instructor for Lumos Your Life! Currently bunkered up in Europe, but originally from Canada, she’s visited, lived, and worked in over 40 countries. Read more about her adventures working & traveling on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.
Xandra Recommends > try adding Kayla’s 15-minute Yoga for Sleep routine to your evening ritual.
Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.