Living in Barcelona, yes or no?

Living in Barcelona, yes or no?

Living in Barcelona, yes or no?


When I was planning to live in Barcelona for 6 weeks, with a potential extension, everybody got so excited. “I loved Barcelona!” “Barcelona is my favourite city in Europe!” “I’m so jealous, I love Barcelona!” Are just a few of the super excited replies I received on the news I was moving there. Obviously, my expectations went through the roof, which might be part of the problem now. But in the end, I definitely didn’t love it as much as, apparently, everybody else does. And I will tell you why.

Not terrible either

Let me get this straight, I didn’t HATE it. I mean, what’s not to love about all those amazing Gaudi buildings, mosaic structures, gothic building and the fact that it has both a beach and mountains?! (Or hills, I’m Dutch, for me every piece of land that elevates is a mountain.) So yes, I definitely see the charm of the city and definitely had some nice days, nice walks and got to take plenty of beautiful pictures. But as somebody else said beautifully “I like it, I just don’t love it”. And that’s pretty much what it was. It simply wasn’t as amazing as everybody made me believe. Is it because of the high expectations? Maybe. But in the end I just wanted to share my story.

It didn’t make sense to me

This actually has different layers. But my biggest frustration was the public transport. They have a huge metro network, but it doesn’t make sense. If you want to go from North to South, you might need to go West first. We had a birthday party one night in the centre. It was a 40 minute walk from my place (I prefer walking, so I usually check that first. 40 min is doable, but it was already past 1AM) so I checked the metro. It was 35 minutes. Why? Because I either had to take one in a completely different direction and then transfer, or I had to walk 25 minutes to get to the correct line, take the metro for 5 minutes and walk another 5 minutes. It’s such a huge city that public transport is needed to get around. Still, very often, it would make so much more sense to go for the one hour walk. I guess I now understand why cycling is so popular in Barcelona.

During the week you also have to keep in mind that the metro stops running before bars and restaurants close. If you’re going along with the 10PM dinner times, you might have to get yourself a taxi home.

It smells, and not like flowers

Okay maybe it smells like flowers in spring, I don’t know. But during the night, when you do decide to walk home, the whole city smells like pee. Bars have quite the early closing time so the city has enough time to wash it down again, so it’s gone In the morning. Unfortunately it’s replaced with the smell of dog shit.

It’s so expensive

Although I didn’t expect it to be cheap, I also didn’t expect it to be built around tourism in the way it is. I didn’t even stay in Barcelona the entire time, I actually spend some time in a small town about 30 minutes by train. But here the prices were exactly the same. And everything touristic was closed off with incredibly high entry prices. For most buildings, you pay an impressive €25 to €35 entry. So if you want to visit 4 different places, that’s another €100 on your trip price, just for getting into a few buildings. Personally, I think that’s a lot. So, unfortunately, I didn’t even have the budget to go into a lot of places. It’s worth looking into a tourism card. It starts at €48 but mostly offer discounts to the big attractions.

The food

I know that many people disagree, but I’m not a fan of tapas. I am a fan of the tapas concept, sharing food with friends and try a littlebit of everything. But for me, most Spanish food is quite flavourless. This might be just me, but I grew up with Asian food like Thai and Indonesian food. Spicy, full of flavours and spices. For me, Spanish food is just a lot of oil and salt, not much more. Oh and finding a good coffee seems to be impossible as wel..


Isolation sucks

This is only relevant if you are moving to Barcelona, but Spanish housing isolation sucks. This is not Barcelona specific. Somehow, they still didn’t manage to find a way to keep the cold out in winter and the sun out in the summer. So, you can guess where this leaves you. Modern buildings might have an air-conditioning system build in which also heats in the winter. But most don’t have heating, so you’re freezing in the winter (because yes, it gets cold) and sweating your ass off in the summer.

What I did like

Like I said, there were things that I did like. For starters, there’s a great Italian restaurant chain, haha. But aside from other types of food, there were a few Barcelona specific things I liked. Here’s a list of the things I do highly recommend.

  • Park Guëll! This was definitely my favourite. It’s also the cheapest tourist attraction (€10). While it’s actually the biggest place you can go, so price quality wise, this one was a win for me. I only spend about 1,5 hour in the park but you could walk around for hours. Most famous is of course the mosaic part build by Gaudi, but it’s a huge park. Bring a picknick basket and make a day out of it. Of course with a great sunset view over the city! Get your tickets here.
  • La Sagrada Familia. What’s not to love? I can’t get over the beauty of this building! I didn’t go inside but I joined an online viewing and I might need to go back to view it live. Especially around sunset the light is absolutely amazing! The building itself already lights up in the golden hour and watching the sunset in the small park behind it, is already great if you don’t want to go in. There’s a €26 entry fee.
  • Catedral Santa Eulalia. Honestly the whole area “Barri Gòtic” is pretty amazing if you ask me. So many details on so many buildings, with the Cathedral being the highlight. It’s quite a typical building structure, definitely not only to be seen in Barcelona. But I was amazed by it’s details and beauty. The area is great for vintage lovers, as it’s filled with vintage shops. Entry for the Cathedral is €9.

There are more nice places, like these 5 hidden gems. Generally my verdict is, that it’s a great place to visit with lots to see. Especially if you are aware of the high costs of the touristic places. But to live there for a longer period, I wouldn’t really recommend it.

5 Hidden gems in Barcelona

5 Hidden gems in Barcelona

5 Hidden gems in Barcelona


Are you going on a weekend trip to Barcelona and are you wondering which spots you absolutely can’t miss on your short trip? Then you’re in the right place! Like every big city, Barcelona is known for a bunch of touristic hotspots. Although most are definitely worth a visit, there are a few other options that you will not find in your tourist guides. Go off the grid and join locals and expats in Barcelona to really experience the city.

1. Carmel bunkers

This is most likely thé hotspot amongst expats and locals. Next to the famous Park Güell, you’ll find another mountain with a stunning view over Barcelona. The Carmel bunkers are free and you’ll find a lot less people there. Also, the vibe is completely different. Where you’ll find people fighting over that picture-perfect sunset spot in Park Güell, most people who go to the Carmel bunkers will bring some drinks and food and just have a chill evening with friends. It’s an easy place to meet people as well. The perfect spot if you just want to relax and enjoy the view!

2. Parc del Laberint d’Horta

In other words: a maze! When was the last time you got lost in a maze? At the border of Barcelona you’ll find this maze in de gardens of an old estate. So aside from the maze, there’s a beautiful garden to wander around in to enjoy nature and fountains. It’s only a €2,23 entrance fee, tickets can be bought here. On Wednesdays and Sundays the park is free. Enjoy wandering!

3. La Poble Espanyol

This one might pop up in some other lists, but it’s still not that crowded and touristic. La Poble Espanyol looks like just a residential area with nice streets and shops, but it is a park for which you pay an entrance fee. Still worth a visit, since it only costs €9 for normal entree and provides many Instagram worthy spots. Think umbrella streets and houses covered in flowers. A lot of colour and a high level of cuteness.

4. Platja de la Mar Bella

A beach? Yes, a beach. Although I absolutely loved Barceloneta, it’s really the touristy beach where you are constantly harassed by street vendors and bicycle taxis. Do you want more peace and quiet and really enjoy the beach in Barcelona? Then go for Platja de la Mar Bella. It is located a bit further in the neighbourhood El Poblenou, which is a popular expat area. The beach is located next to a nice park with a skate park and sports fields. So it is still very lively, but more with locals and sportsmen than with tourists. Go for a game of volleyball or enjoy a drink at a beach bar.

Extra: You can also plan a day trip to surrounding beaches. The beach at Casteldefells is worth a visit or a little further on the beautiful beach at Sitges.

5. Cim de Camalot

There are a number of cosy villages around Barcelona where you can escape the crowds. Half an hour by train you will find the village of Gavá with, 20 minutes from the station, a mountain with a beautiful view over the city and the beach. (Pic on the left) You are guaranteed to be alone and can enjoy the beautiful sunset that Barcelona so often grants you. If you like hiking, you can also make a day of it, because you are on the edge of a large nature reserve.