Put your best foot forward for a brief stay in Barcelona
Considered the "cradle of Catalan culture," Barcelona is the quintessential model of 20th century modernism and the avant-garde. Although it would be impossible to explore all that Barcelona has to offer during a brief two-day stay, there are particular activities you can do – and others to avoid – to make your trip become a true Barcelona adventure.
Do: Take a walk
Barcelona is renowned for its food, culture, artistic heritage, modernist architecture and sporting prowess. To absorb the city's character, take a walk down La Rambla and grab a bite to eat at La Boquería, which is considered one of the world's best food markets. No matter where you go or what you decide to do, take a stroll through Barcelona's many medieval streets to receive a true Barcelona experience. While sightseeing, keep an eye out for pickpockets, who tend to gather near populated areas – such as La Rambla and La Boquería – and take advantage of unsuspecting tourists.
Do: Tour eminent Gaudí sites
Barcelona's awe-inspiring modernist architecture can't be missed. In addition to Casa Batlló, Antoni Gaudí's three illustrious works – Park Güell, La Pedrera and the unfinished La Sagrada Família – demand to be seen. If you can only stop at one destination during your stay_,_ La Sagrada Família should undoubtedly be your choice. However, make sure to book your tickets in advance to skip the lines. Most monuments in Barcelona are open between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., but it's best to verify online. Make sure you book time to take the elevator to the top to see views of the city. Just know that there is only one way down – via hundreds of steps down a spiraling staircase.
Do: Experience Catalan cuisine
Catalonia – the region in which Barcelona is located – is a self-described "gastronomic paradise." As a 2016 European Region of Gastronomy, Catalonia's distinct food and wine can't be overlooked. If tapas and wine are your thing, make sure to check out Tapas 24 and Palo Cortao for a true Catalan gastronomic experience. Among the more popular Catalan dishes are seafood paella and escalivada. Make sure to do your homework beforehand and check out Rick Steves Pocket Barcelona guidebook for restaurant tips or take a guided tour of Barcelona shops and markets through VisitBarcelona, Barcelona's official tourism body.
Don't: Book expensive hotel rooms
As one of the most popular cities in the world, Barcelona is littered with posh hotels. However, many local neighborhoods offer budget-friendly apartment rentals. In addition, Barcelona houses a number of hostels that host nightly activities and build camaraderie among tenants. As a result, you can easily pass up a fancy hotel room in favor of a budget-friendly, welcoming apartment rental.
Don't: Carry expensive gadgets and accessories
Be aware that pickpockets and purse-snatchers are rampant in tourist-packed destinations. That said, avoid carrying expensive electronics – such as smartphones, professional cameras and laptops – and fancy accessories. If you must bring one or more of the above, make sure it is out of plain view or securely fastened to you. Some popular spots for thieves include La Rambla, La Sagrada Família, Barcelona Sants train station and other tourist hot spots.