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Barcelona Travel Guide

The Sagrada Familia

Barcelona-I get you!  This European city has everything that I love all in one place: stunning architecture, art, history, delicious food, beaches and shopping.  I knew I would like Barcelona but I “like, like” this city SO much!  I had many friends warn me abut the food being a possible issue on the FODMAP diet but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it actually was!  Not only do I have a full recap of FODMAP friendly restaurants but also our favorite spots as well as places we would go next time around.  Also if you are looking for more Spain travel guides, check out Granada and Malaga.  

STAY:

We prefer staying in Airbnbs over hotels when we travel. Can you blame us when you see this picture of our beautiful Airbnb?  In my opinion, it is the best way to really gain the experience of living as a local.  Not to mention all the extra space, kitchen and amenities you get like this awesome terrace (see below) for usually half the price of a traditional hotel.

Our Beautiful Airbnb

Our Beautiful Airbnb

DO:

There is SO much to do in Barcelona that it can be a bit overwhelming.  Let me preface by saying my husband and I are not museum people so if you are interested in spending time in museums, l would check out other reviews like this one. #dontjudgemeplease

If you visit Barcelona or even read this post, you will see Antoni Gaudi mentioned everywhere!  A quick background on this architectural genius whose work was highly individualized for his time and to this day still is.  His work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature and religion.  These elements are seen throughout all of his creations.  His most famous work, the Sagrada Familia, is still incomplete and the most visited monument in Spain.

  • Walk, walk everywhere!  You will stumble upon so much just by foot.
  • Park Guell – remains of a residential area designed by the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi.  The park has beautiful green spaces and architectural elements that is fun to walk around and explore.  Tickets are easy to buy ahead of time online and I highly recommend doing so to avoid waiting in lines.
  • Barcelona Cooking – This was my husband and I’s first cooking class to take together and it was also our last night in Barcelona.  I have taken many cooking classes before and this was hands down my favorite.  My experience even before taking the class was wonderful.  My husband and I were planning on going in September but due to Hurricane Harvey we had to reschedule as my parents completely lost their home and needed our help.  B.C. was so understanding and more than happy to reschedule us for our later travel date in October.  It sounds silly but just knowing we wouldn’t have to forfeit an experience I was so looking forward to was a huge relief. 
    • As a person with dietary restrictions, I also alerted B.C. ahead of time but was fully prepared not to be able to eat everything.  I was SHOCKED when I showed up to the class that my chef made sure I could eat everything.  I could not believe it!  The entire experience from meeting the wonderful chef and fellow cooking classmates was a wonderful experience.  It may be the last time I see my husband in the kitchen but that is okay!
    • Let’s get to the actual menu. We made many classic Spanish dishes that I had eaten the entire week in Spain.  The recipe list included: gazpacho, Spanish omelette, tomato bread, chicken stock, Catalan cream and paella.  I even was set up to make my own personal paella that was completely garlic and onion free.
  • Mercat de Santa Caterina – this was recommended as a better alternative to the la Boqueria and I can see why.  The exterior of the building itself is worth a visit.  The fresh meats, produce and cheeses were in abundance and it was neat seeing locals buying their groceries here.  This is a great place to stop for a quick bite or lunch.
    • *Note – we did not go to Mercat de la Boqueria as it is a major tourist attraction and I’ve heard can be completely overwhelming and overpriced.
  • Beaches – we were staying in Port Olympia which was right across the street from the beach.  It made it super convenient to come at the end of the day and relax for a few hours on the beach.  We went on a Sunday and Monday and let me tell you the experience was night AND day.  Sunday was absolutely packed with tons of people sunbathing and playing volleyball.  I had been told ahead of time to expect most beaches to be topless.  As strange as it would be to see this in the United States it is the norm here.  I found it refreshing to see women of all ages being comfortable in their own skin.  If you want to know about particular beaches, check out this guide.
  • La Sagradia Familia – Gaudi’s most famous and well known work, this massively constructed place of worship is still currently being constructed.  As of now, 70% has been completed with the remaining projected to be done by 2026.  This is one attraction you do want to purchase tickets ahead of time.  Once you see the the crowds of people, you will be happy to have pre-purchased your tickets.  It was interesting to learn that the architecture was a way for Gaudi to express his Christian belief.  Most people I spoke to said they didn’t go inside as the lines were long and didn’t want to deal with the hassle.  BIG mistake!  The grandness and beauty of the inside is completely breathtaking and cannot be missed.  As my husband said as we entered: WOW.
  • Parc de la Ciutadella – this beautiful park is located in the heart of the city and is filled with beautiful sculptures, fountains and green space.  The Modern Art Museum, the zoo and the Museum of Geology are located here.  After a long day of walking, this is a great place to have a picnic or relax on the benches while people walking.  From the park, take the short walk to the Arc de Triomf.  There are many photo opportunities here so don’t miss out!
  • Casa Mila/Casa Batllo- two more modernist buildings created by Gaudi.  We walked by these buildings but did not have the time to go inside to explore.
  • Montjuic Hill –  We ran out of time to trek to the hilltop neighborhood but it was on my list!   Views of the city, Castell la boude Montjuic (18th century fortress), a Spanish Village, and some Olympic stadiums are supposed to be spectacular here.

SAFETY TIPS:

  • I was warned by EVERYONE to be careful of pickpocketers as they are more prevalent in Spain than anywhere else in Europe.  Be especially careful in crowded areas like the Las Ramblas.
  • Be mindful of where you leave your shopping bags, camera, purse, etc.  Do not leave these easy to grab objects on a chair next to you.  This is one of the easiest ways for your belongings to be stolen.
  • I travel with a bag similar to this that is slash proof and also lays in front of you.  It’s not the most fashionable but it does the job!
Produce in local market

Produce in local market

Produce found in Santa Caterina Market

Produce found in Santa Caterina Market

Park Guell

Park Guell

Park Guell

Park Guell

The Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia

Inside the Sagrada Familia

Inside the Sagrada Familia

EAT:

I was warned by so many people before our trip about their concerns if I would be able to eat while in Spain.  I was prepared (click here for list of travel snacks I pack) but rarely had to pull anything out.

  • Cerveceria Catalana – highly recommended by multiple friends and after reading the thousands (literally over 2,900) of reviews I can understand why.  This restaurant is famous for their beautiful tapas and you will not leave disappointed.  You can’t make reservations but we came for lunch a little before 1 PM and were seated right away. By the time we left, there was a long line.   This was my husband’s favorite restaurant in Barcelona!
Spanish Omlette with potato (didn't eat tomato bread)

Spanish Omelette with potato (didn’t eat tomato bread)

Eggplant chips with a drizzle of honey

Eggplant chips with a drizzle of honey

Spanish peppers

Spanish peppers

  • Flax & Kale – This restaurant was high up on my list to try before heading to Barcelona.  We came here for a light bite and to take a break on our day of exploring.  The atmosphere and vibe of the restaurant is super hip.  A few of the menu items that I wanted had garlic and onion so I didn’t get to try as much as I hoped.  What we did have was really good but the portions were small.  As my husband said afterwards, “where are we going to lunch” was a fair point.
Flax & Kale

Flax & Kale

Tuna Taco from Flax & Kale

Tuna Taco from Flax & Kale

Fruit Plate from Flax & Kale

Fruit Plate from Flax & Kale

  • Alsur Cafe – This adorable cafe is located in El Born (a super trendy and cool area) with not only a great patio outside but the inside is just as charming.  Come here for a snack, brunch or lunch and I promise you’ll leave happy.  The waitress was also super accommodating with my garlic and onion allergy.
Potato & Egg from Alsur Cafe

Potato & Egg from Alsur Cafe

my hubby's egg & waffle sandwich (not FODMAP safe)

my hubby’s egg & waffle sandwich (not FODMAP safe)

  • Copasetic – This restaurant was high up on my list but was closed the entire week we were in town.  The menu looks to be extremely allergy friendly.
  • Conesa –  This sandwich shop has been around since 1951 and offers gluten free bread.  We did not have time to try it but it was on my list as well.
  • La Luna – We stumbled upon this restaurant and it was one of the most enjoyable and romantic dining experiences we had.  The room had an intimate feel with the dark lighting and comfortable chairs that you just melted into.  The restaurant looks much more expensive than it actually is and the food came out quickly.  My husband also LOVED the sangria & the nachos.  The dark space made it hard to take pictures but I highly recommend the Fried Bravas Potatoes, Tuna Tataki and Grilled Salmon.  
La Luna Restaurant

La Luna Restaurant

  • Shanti Gelato – We stumbled upon this gelato shop after dinner at La Luna.  The owner was wonderful and the vegan dark chocolate made out of rice milk was so rich and decadent.  It completely hit the spot!
Shanti Gelato

Shanti Gelato

Gelato Dino – This place saved my husband after he picked a TERRIBLE Italian restaurant for dinner.  The food I’m sure was fine if you had no food allergies but I said multiple times about my garlic allergy and 2 garlic cloves showed up in my vegetables.  Anyways, back to this gelato shop which was absolutely delicious and the best part was they had GLUTEN FREE CONES!!!

Gluten Free Cone & Vegan Gelato from Dino Gelato

Gluten Free Cone & Vegan Gelato from Dino Gelato

SHOPPING:

  • Galeria Maxo – I love buying art when we travel as it makes for awesome souvenirs.  This gallery we walked past by accident and my husband and I both fell in love with everything inside.  You won’t regret checking out this quirky and eclectic spot for some unique and affordable pieces.
  • Art Montfalcon – this had the best collection of gifts that were more special than a traditional tourist gift.  I found local jewelry that was reasonably priced for myself as well as our moms.  This is a must stop if you’re looking to get a thoughtful gift for yourself or someone else.
  • Las Ramblas – this packed street located in the Gothic Quarter where you will find street performers, restaurants, street art, tourist shops and international as well as boutique shopping.  We bought some awesome street art that is one of a kind.  *Note: You have to be extra cautious of pickpocketers here as it’s easy to get distracted. 
  • Walk around the Born, the Barri Gotic and the Eixample neighborhoods for international retail stores, unique gift shops, restaurants and coffee shops.

Besos! 

 

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