What to See
One of Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces sits on top of el Carmel. You will recognize the park as soon as you see the mosaic iguana fountain, the mandatory photo everyone takes here. It's nice to stroll around the park and admire the gardens and architecture, but what I enjoyed most were the live music performances under the terrace. Oftentimes, the performers are street musicians but good nonetheless.
What to Do
Renting bikes is a common tourist move, sure. But travelers should be well-informed on how bike-friendly a town truly is. For example, London- bad idea; horrible drivers, skinny streets and crowded side walks. Barcelona, however, is PERFECT; cars seldom grace the streets of the majestic El Born. It's easy to get lost in this area of Barca, then haphazardly stumble upon the beautiful Park Ciutadella. Take a picture in front of the "Cascada" Fountain and find a cozy, grassy spot of shade to basque in the eclectic beauty of the town. Just south, Port Olimpica's sidewalks along the coastline invite your way to Barceloneta. Take snapshots at the iconic W Hotel (with the crystal blue coastline backdrop), ride north to grab the most fresh, cheap sandwich you'll ever taste at Bo De Bi. "Get lost" a smidgen more among the dark, medieval, windy streets of the Gothic Quarter until you find yourself, eventually, at the Bike Rental Shop. A simplistic way to explore the city for less than 10 euro.
Where to Stay
I've never written a review before but I feel obligated to tell you guys about this hostel because it was that awesome. I stayed at about 5 hostels during my trip Barcelona, but I have to say, HelloBCN was by far the best place I stayed. Just the social atmosphere is reason enough to stay, and they do great free tours. They have a giant common room, and a bar that serves ridiculously cheap beer and sangria. I think it was 3 euro for a giant liter of Heiniken. Everyone is just hanging out listening to good music and chatting it up. I met a bunch of Aussies, a couple Dutch folks, some Canadians, a Turkish guy, a couple from Shanghai, some girls from Sweden, etc. The beds are plenty comfy and I became friends with the staff, who speak pretty much any language you can imagine, and take you out for free to clubs as a group. Oh, and one other thing - the rooms, the bathrooms, the common kitchen (which rocks!), are all SUPER clean. I left very impressed and I can't wait to get back!!
What to Eat
On a small street called Carrer de la Reina Maria Christina, near the barceloneta area, there is a small delightful little tapas place called La Champaneria. It's standing-only, and always crowded with locals. They have excellent chorizo, amazon sandwiches (hamburgers, pork/pate/ham, chorizo, and more). Everything is delicious! They close early, at 10pm, so go for lunch or an early dinner. Most sandwiches or plates are under 3 euros, and you can get a bottle of champagne for 4 euros before 7pm, after which they sell the champagne by the glass for about 1 euro each.
Where to Party
Drinking / Bars / Happy Hours
I tried 3 nights in a row to make it to the sunrise, to watch it on the beach. Harder than you think, the sun doesn't rise until 7:30 in October! If you can make it, do it- but bring blankets to the beach, it gets cold & windy.
go to to the Champagneria- all they serve is pink champagne and tapas... recipe for a good night.
The Chupito shot bar off the beach is worth it too- 2E or 2.50E shots (try the Monica Lewinsky if you have an open mind- involves sex toys, whipped cream, and a lot of work). Most of delicious and reasonably priced for the show- small place, gets packed. The bartender is a sweetheart, especially if you know some Spanish.
Two things to look for: Dog poop (look down but don't miss the sights!) and pickpocketers. I recommend keeping your valuables in your front pocket or zipped bag. It's not like Disney World, if someone comes up to you dressed like Mini-mouse don't stop for a picture- she's probably going to rob you.
Siesta is a wonderful invention but it means that sometimes restaurants are only serving drinks till 1:30, no food.
Get a T-10 subway pass- especially if your hostal is a bit out of the way. The subway is closed from midnight to 5am (might be open till a bit later on the weekends), so stay out until that first morning subway back in order to save on cab fare! I know you can manage ;).
What to Avoid
Scams & Petty Theft
It's the most famous street in Barcelona and highly populated by tourists which makes it a great place for pick-pockets to do their work. Las Ramblas is filled with street performers along the entire stretch, and although there are some really great performances, be cautious of your valuables while watching because it doesn't take long for a wallet or phone disappear from your pockets. There are a few bars to go to but walking along Las Ramblas after dark means you will be hassled to buy drugs or cervezas and maybe even a prostitute. It's good to take a nice stroll along the street during the day but not too much time is needed here as there are many other things to do in Barcelona.
What To Do For The Day
Start the day off at La Farga cafe on Diagonal with a chocolate croissant and a freshly squeezed orange juice.Then to Av. Sarria to spend the morning shopping in the little designers shops. Once you're ready for lunch go to Bar Mandri on C/ Mandri for some authentic tapas. Make sure you book a table, especially on a Saturday because this is a popular place with locals! Spend the afternoon visiting the Pedralbes monastery, which is one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic architecture. After that go for a leisurely stroll around Parc de l'Oreneta which overlooks the city. For dinner go to La Venta restaurant in Tibidabo. As the sun goes down, head to Mirabe on Avenida Tibidabo where you can see the whole city light up from an incredible glass balcony.