We're revisiting the Ultimate Guides to bring your favorite cities to you.
Spain’s historic Barcelona evokes images of architecture, fine art, and fine dining; it’s the place to travel for someone seeking to broaden their perspective and cultural scope. But right now, travel, to everyone’s disappointment, is off the table (unless it is to your kitchen or essential business). Just because we can’t travel to this destination, however, doesn’t mean that we should stop ourselves from experiencing it.
Give yourself a preview of what the city is like from the comfort of your own home with our ultimate guide on spending a day in Barcelona without ever leaving your living room. Whether this is a chance to relive your favorite vacation or a way to prep yourself for that post-coronavirus trip, this guide will help satisfy the explorer in your current home-bound body.
So, let’s do this, travelers: Here is how to spend a day in Barcelona inside your home.
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Barcelona-ify Your Porch/Balcony
With a subtropical climate, much of a trip to Barcelona will take place in the outdoors. If you have a space outside that you can enjoy, make sure that you’re doing just that (it’s the Spanish way). Add a chair and small table to your porch (it can be as makeshift as a folding chair and a stool-turned tiny table) and bring those plants desperately needing a dose of UV rays with you. Enjoy an espresso in the morning on your balcony or porch as you read your newspaper (or phone) and enjoy a slow, romantic sort of morning.
If outdoor space is not something you have access to, that’s fine: You can bring the Barcelona balcony inside your space. While it might be slightly less exciting, just opening the windows and enjoying a nice breeze will help set the mood. After that, take the chance to learn about Gaudi architecture, the style that resulted in some of the city’s neatest balconies.
Watches These Movies Filmed in Barcelona
The city is naturally stunning with architecture to rival it, making it the perfect backdrop for destination movies. There’s no better way to spend a day in Barcelona from home than by seeing it in the films. For a family movie night, turn to Disney+ for Cheetah Girls 2, which is old enough that your kids probably haven’t seen it but recent enough that they’ll still enjoy it (plus it has some great musical numbers).
If you’re more interested in movies that will make you cry, try Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem as an ill single father of two living in Barcelona.
And if you’re simply looking for a fun movie to help distract from our current situation, the Netflix original Ibiza can offer just that. It takes only five percent of your brain to follow, and the beautiful beaches and fun night clubs are sure to capture your attention. Also, while the movie might be named after a different Spanish city, much of the beginning is set and filmed in Barcelona.
Hear the Sounds of the El Palau de la Musica Catalana on Your iPhone
The historic concert hall has closed its doors to visitors for the time being, but they are offering those at home a chance to experience their best artists remotely. Their digital platform allows you to listen to some of their most famous concerts and artists, and chat with fans alike. While hearing it through your headphones might not be the same as enjoying it in person, it’s still a wonderful chance to hear works you might not otherwise get the chance to.
For a more concert-hall experience, play the various symphonies on a speaker and allow your home to become the El Palau de la Musica Catalana.
Partake in Fer el Vermut
It is a Barcelona tradition to gather at a local bar on a sunny weekend and enjoy a nice glass of Vermut. Though gathering is strictly against the rule, that should not prevent us from partaking in the social custom. We are taking on this Barcelona tradition with a bit of a social-distancing twist.
Prepare yourself a nice Vermouth cocktail and invite your closest friends to a Google Hangout or Zoom conference–it’s a new take on the American happy hour. And once this is over, invite those same friends to take the get-together cross-country, enjoying fer el Vermut in the place it all began.
Have a Sip of Barcelona
If Vermouth is not your style, or your happy hour just came to a close, move on to another traditional Barcelona drink: Cava. This Spanish sparkling wine is a drink found all over Barcelona, one you’re sure to encounter daily when there. This refreshing and crisp beverage will transport you from your home and elevate the night entirely, as Champagne in the U.S. is typically saved for special occasions.
And if carbonation is not your thing, make a pitcher of Sangria to be shared with your family, roommates, or alone with a straw. This summery drink, and Spanish favorite, will make you forget about the potentially drab spring weather, with the fresh fruits introducing sunshine and warmth to your home.
Explore the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya and Museo Picasso
When in Barcelona, seeing the art the city is known for is imperative—you can’t immerse yourself in the culture without seeing the art and history first hand. Spain native Picasso has his own museum in Barcelona and, while you might not be able to visit it in person currently, you can explore the exhibits online.
In addition to Museo Picasso, Barcelona’s other must-visit (albeit digitally, currently) is the Museu Nacional D’Art. The museum houses all of Catalan’s greatest pieces of art, making it the ideal place to learn about the city’s centuries of history. The exhibits can also be explored online, with guided tours, letting you take in the art from your couch. Familiarize yourself with the pieces before your trip, allowing you to spend less time reading the plaques and more time taking the art in.
Have a Spanish Dinner
One of the best ways to experience a different culture is through food. If you have a traditional Spanish restaurant near you, I implore you to order (we should all do what we can to support small businesses during this time), but if you’re strapped for cash, love to try a new recipe, or find that nothing nearby is delivering, you can give it a go yourself. Try your hand at paella, escalivada, pa amb tomàquet, or a romesco sauce.
Catch a Game of Fútbol
There is nothing more European than enjoying a game of Fútbol, with Spaniards being no exception. While we cannot get into Camp Nou to see FC Barcelona play, it doesn’t mean we can’t get in the team spirit. If you’re not a huge soccer fan or have not been avidly following the team’s season, there’s a good chance a game exists you don’t know the end score of. Find one of this year’s games, put it up on the TV, grab a beer, and cheer for your new favorite team! These reruns can help you brush up on the players and cheers before embarking on your future Barcelona trip (where you can put those cheers to good use in person).
Experience Their Stunning Churches
You wouldn’t visit Barcelona and skip visiting the historic, long-standing churches. Though these pieces of history ultimately need to be seen in person, right now is a good time to visit them virtually. You can tour the Catedral de Barcelona through their website or tune in to one of their services via their YouTube channel. The Basilica Santa Maria del Mar is additionally offering online tours and the famous Sagrada Familia can be explored through their website, offering a history of the church and architect Antoni Gaudi.
Turn Castell (Human Tower) Into a Game
A little-known tradition that excites locals and tourists alike is a Castell (human towers built at festivals as part of the entertainment). While we wouldn’t recommend trying this at home (unless you’ve got high ceilings and a family of acrobats), this tradition is the final touch to bringing Barcelona to your home. Rather than stacking literal humans on your shoulders, considering challenging those you live with to a Castell-type game: Grab cards, dominos, cans (really any household object) and get stacking! See who can make their tower the highest the quickest—and yes, structural safety does matter.
While there is no equivalent to visiting Barcelona, this guide to seeing the city from your home will subdue your need for travel—for the time being.