The Underdog Tourist City: Barcelona, Spain

When you think of a European getaway, or a backpacking trip through Europe, what countries and cities do you think of? Most people who I’ve asked this question, being it friends or family, have always listed England, France, Germany, or Italy; and that makes me a little upset. I may be an American, but after having called Spain my home for the past 10 months, and returning for a second year, it always makes me a little upset knowing that Spain doesn’t make it to a traveler’s list of “top countries to visit”.

Arc de Triomf

Spain has become my second home, and I’m always trying to convince friends and family to make the trip to see this beautiful Mediterranean country. I consider this place to be an “underdog” or extremely underrated. Truth be told, Spain has an abundance of hidden gems, small beautiful pueblos, and a culture rich and vibrant with history! One of the major tourist cities visited in Spain is Barcelona. Barcelona is in the northern region of Spain on the Mediterranean coast, and is the capital city of the province of Cataluña. The city is large and very vibrant with culture.

While visiting Barcelona, as I’ve mentioned before, there are specific tourist attractions that must be seen. I repeat, these must be seen! La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are two tourist attractions that can be a bit overly crowded, with tour groups, individual tourists, and an abundance of the famous “selfie sticks”; but they are both two sites that I completely recommend. Barri Gotic, the Gothic quarter in Barcelona, also boasts beautiful architecture and quaint side streets filled with commercial and local stores. These are famous sites to see in Barcelona, so many of these sites will be bustling with locals and tourists, and selfie sticks (which, I fully support! Buying my selfie stick was the greatest investment I’ve made thus far!).

Image by Vincent Ramundo via Trover

If you’re looking for a more “unbeaten” path to take in Barcelona, I suggest booking a hotel in the Village of Gràcia. The Village of Gràcia is one of the neighborhoods in Barcelona, and is just north of downtown Barcelona. The Village of Gràcia is known for its bohemian, artsy atmosphere, boasting trendy fashion and the hipster vibe. Also in the Village of Gràcia is Antoni Gaudi’s Park Güell, which I mentioned as one of the top tourist attractions that you must visit. The neighborhood also hosts an 8-day festival in August called the Festes de Gràcia, known to be one of the biggest festivals in Barcelona.


This small neighborhood in Barcelona was not always part of the big city feel. The Village of Gràcia once was an independent village, until 1897 when it became fully incorporated into Barcelona, itself. The village has many local restaurants, and some of the best places to try Catalan cuisine. I was looking to book a food tour for my mom, sister, and I while we were recently in Barcelona, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the time. One food tour that takes you through this village, sampling the local cuisine is Devour Barcelona Food Tours. It’s a four-hour walking tour that takes you to the most local restaurants and bars, sampling this village’s finest treats!

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