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Did I Miss the Point in Barcelona?

When I said I was travelling to Barcelona, no one hesitated to tell me how amazing the city is.  

People told me it was their favourite city in Spain, in Europe, and in the world even!

Migrating Miss Park Guell Barcelona

It would be fair to say I was pretty excited about my first foray out of Andalucía, especially since I was visiting Barcelona, a place that seemed to promise so much.

But, while I was in Barcelona, I found myself thinking, is this the place everyone told me about? Was I missing something?

Dare I say it…was Barcelona overrated?

Let me just say I’m the kind of traveller that looks for the positive in every place I go. In general, I’m always for giving the benefit of the doubt!

I might prefer some places to others, but there’s always something that I learned or saw that I couldn’t have elsewhere.

But while I was in Barcelona, I felt like I was supposed to feel something or see something, and it just wasn’t happening.

It felt like I was missing the vibe of Barcelona that everyone had told me about.

So was my underwhelming feeling about Barcelona as a top tourist destination a question of expectations? Maybe.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised before when I’ve had low expectations of a place, like when I visited Frigiliana in the south of Spain. Maybe this was a case of the opposite!

Barcelona was supposed to be amazing, and while I was having a great time, it seemed to be down to the company rather than the place.

So what was wrong with Barcelona for me?

Nothing was wrong with Barcelona; instead, it was just different.

Barcelona is big, confusing, and expensive for someone used to prices in the south of Spain, and while I can’t dispute it has some of the best architecture I’ve ever seen, it is a big city that obviously has varied architecture and isn’t always beautiful.

Barcelona is located in Catalonia, an area that is part of Spain but that many people feel is very different due to the culture, language, and background of the Catalonian people.

Some people feel it shouldn’t be a part of Spain at all and are campaigning for independence, so it’s not surprising that it would be very different to where I was living in Almeria, in southern Spain.

I didn’t expect it to be the same, of course, but I suppose I expected more similarities than there are.

I’m used to an entirely different Spain than the one I encountered in Barcelona. My time in Spain has been in cafes and bars with free tapas, beers in the sun and a relaxed atmosphere.

It’s hearing Spanish everywhere, trying to speak my own limited Spanish wherever I go.

It’s pretty plazas and narrow streets.

I guess I somewhat expected a bigger, albeit somewhat different version of this in Barcelona. So yes, I’m willing to admit the problem with Barcelona was me, although I don’t think I’m the only one. (You only have to look at the comments section of this post to see that!

Barcelona’s a city, and I just didn’t feel it

Barcelona is a fast-paced European city, and I found it a little overwhelming.

It has small alleyways in the Gothic Quarter, with multistory buildings and cafes that looked lovely if very hipster and on the expensive side.

When you get out of this area, it’s just like another city, with rows and rows of apartment blocks and big buildings.

Unsurprising maybe, and something that made me want to learn more about which neighbourhoods to visit in Barcelona and where the locals and expats in the know spend their time.

In Barcelona, I didn’t understand how things worked. Even the cities in the south of Spain, like Cordoba, Granada and Sevilla, have their differences, but I thought I would recognise a common thread in Barcelona. Nope.

Now I might be a bit of a small-town girl, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate big cities. I’ve fallen in love with the vibe of bigger cities in Europe before, but I just couldn’t feel it in Barcelona.

This magic that you feel when you start to fall in love with a city, and you wish you could spend more time there discovering its nooks and crannies and what makes it tick.

Gondala Barcelona

Barcelona is expensive

I was warned about the expense of Barcelona, so I wasn’t exactly surprised that things cost a lot more there.

Tourist attractions were a lot more expensive than Almería of course, more in line with other popular European cities, but it was the food and drink where I really noticed the difference.

I don’t know how other people afford to live here as English conversation assistants on the Auxiliar de Conversación program!

Barcelona is not a budget destination.

In its defence, it’s the kind of city where you end up wandering and taking in the sites, so you can save your $$ a little, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a cheap weekend destination.

Accommodation-wise, we were lucky to stay in a great apartment in the middle of the Gothic Quarter, but I have heard that it can be very expensive to find somewhere to stay otherwise.

Our apartment was perfect for a couple or two friends who don’t mind sharing a bed. If we had been spending longer in the city, I would have shopped more at a supermarket and made use of the kitchen there to save money.

Having said that I felt both underwhelmed and overwhelmed; there actually were parts of the city that I loved that made visiting Barcelona entirely worthwhile.

In my opinion, the best thing about Barcelona is everything Gaudí! 

Antonio Gaudí was a Catalan architect who designed the most amazing buildings. He used very unique materials and designs, and his work can be seen all over Barcelona today.

Park Guell Barcelona View

The best things in Barcelona

Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família is Gaudí’s most famous work and is out of this world. From 1915 until his death in 1926 Gaudí devoted himself to the building of the Sagrada Família, but its elaborate design meant it wasn’t even close to being finished.

Since then, other artists have worked to fulfil Gaudí’s vision, and it is expected to be completed around 2027.

I couldn’t even begin to capture the Sagrada Família in pictures, and I almost didn’t want to. It just has to be seen. The crazy minute detail, the different colours of the building materials used over 100 years, it all deserves to be examined with the naked eye.

Even as you look at it, you won’t believe it and be able to take it all in.

I’ll always remember the Sagrada Família in motion in my mind rather than in any pictures I took.

Sagrada Familia Barcelona
Side Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Park Güell

Park Güell was like a fairy tale come true, and I loved it. Sure, it was crowded, and some people pushed and shoved to get the pictures they wanted, but it was a dreamland in reality.

The mastermind of Gaudí and Eusebio Güell, it was supposed to resemble an English garden town. Unfortunately, the location proved too difficult, and the project was abandoned.

Park Güell is gingerbread houses in real life, and once again, everywhere you look, you see something different.

A plate built into a wall, dragon fountains, things that don’t seem like they should work but just do. Pathways that make no sense but look beautiful.

Does anyone create anything like this now? I feel like now we spend our time building things that are practical and cost-effective, with nowhere near as must artistry. No one would create something like this now.

Park Guell Barcelona Gaudi
Gaudi Park Guell Barcelona

Gaudí Buildings around Barcelona

There are numerous other Gaudí buildings around Barcelona, and I only managed to make it to a couple. Casa Batlló is one of the most visited, along with Casa Míla.

I loved Gaudí’s Barcelona, but it was like all of Gaudí’s creations could have been anywhere and had nothing to do with my overall feeling about Barcelona.

Casa Batllo Barcelona Gaudi
Gaudi Building Barcelona

What would have made Barcelona better for me?

Having reflected more on it, I think Barcelona is the kind of place where you need an inside guide.

For a short stay like mine, instead of just researching the main sites, I wish I had delved deeper into guides on particular areas to go and places to eat.

Or better yet, connected with a local in Barcelona.

I couldn’t seem to get a feel for the culture in Barcelona in the time I was there, which is something I really appreciate doing when I visit a new place.

It’s a cosmopolitan city and probably home to a lot of expats, but I’ve been to other places like that and still managed to feel like I understood a bit more about living there, even after a short weekend trip.

I think venturing out of Barcelona a little would help with finding out more about Catalan culture.

I’ve since visited Girona and the Costa Brava, which were both awesome and wish I’d had the time for a day trip to Montserrat!

Having at least one week in Barcelona or even more to explore the surrounding areas would have helped.

Migrating Miss Barcelona

So was Barcelona overrated?

Well, ultimately, I had an amazing weekend with one of my best friends, but it left me feeling like maybe I hadn’t seen the best of Barcelona, not necessarily that it’s overrated.

It’s not that I didn’t like Barcelona, I just didn’t get the hype.

It’s still somewhere I would return to, and with the hope I could explore it more and find some of the magic!

What I do know is I may not have fallen in love with Barcelona more than any other big European city I’ve been to.

Does this mean it’s not worth visiting? Of course not, if only to judge for yourself.

Did I miss the point in Barcelona because I didn’t fall in love with it as everyone seems to?

Sonja x

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Did I miss the point in Barcelona?

50 thoughts on “Did I Miss the Point in Barcelona?

  1. Amy says:

    I visited Barcelona when I was 16 and, to be honest, can barely remember it. Sangrada Familia’s interior wasn’t open, so I’m dying to get back for that. But I’ve noticed recently, that when I only have three or four days, I actually don’t like visiting big cities. I love living in them, but they’re not necessarily my top choice for weekend getaways. I preferred Oaxaca to Mexico City and chose Novi Sad over Belgrade. I think there’s just something about smaller cities and towns that capture local life and culture better.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with being able to get more culture from a smaller place. There are some bigger cities I love, but I probably am more partial to smaller places and this is probably why. Unfortunately bigger cities are easier to visit if you fly in on a short break! I unfortunately didn’t make it into the Sagrada Familia either but even the outside blew me away!

  2. Soumya Nambiar says:

    Thank you for this. I was wondering if it was only me. I was in Barcelona last weekend and I found it too touristy. Overcrowded and expensive. But I did love parts of Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia .

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I felt like I was the only things I could find about Barcelona were how amazing it is, and everyone I spoke to said the same! Maybe it upped my expectations, but it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who felt this way!

  3. Scott says:

    Ahhhhh . . . Expectations 🙂 What are expectations but building a future on someone else’s opinions 🙂 I Love listening to the stories of other travelers, find them riveting, to see the sparkle in their eyes when they speak of someplace that touched them – or not 😉 – in any way. IN over 30 years of international travel, I’ve truly never had an expectation. I simply go somewhere because I want to go. Should I speak and listen to someone else that’s gone to where I’m going, I realize that that’s their experience, as a unique human being with their sets of likes and wants and dislikes, their own personal psychology. Never, Never do I imagine that my trip will necessarily share anything with theirs, other than a GPS coordinate 🙂 I’m an India traveler, it’s my place. And my favorite place in India is a city (that alone might have ‘scared me off’ as I traditionally love smaller places), and it is also a place that I had a I based my going or not on popular opinion, I may never have stepped foot there. As it is, I went, and have spent over a third of my almost three years in India, in this place.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment Scott! I agree it’s best to take other peoples stories as just that, their stories. I always think each to their on in any kind of travel, but I can’t help but think a place may be a little more than I find it to be if all I’ve ever heard are positives. I honestly find it hard to put my finger on what it was, although it wasn’t necessarily that I had really high expectations as that I just in general didn’t “feel it”. I’m working out how to explain what “it” is haha.

  4. Kristine says:

    I liked all the architecture that is related to Gaudi in Barcelona! In fact, maybe the only reason I liked Barcelona at the moment. You nailed all 3: Casa Batllo, Park Guell and of course Sagrada Familia! It was a treat to see Gaudi’s soul and passion in these creations!

  5. Carly Hulls says:

    I’ve visited Barcelona multiple times, and kept trying to ‘get it’ but something about the city just doesn’t do it for me. I understand the whole nightlife, beach city hype, and loved all the Gaudi and architecture stuff, but something about the place just doesn’t click for me either. Might just be one of those places! You still managed to get some gorgeous shots though 🙂

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I love that you totally understand the point of this post and could explain it in a few sentences haha. I honestly had such a hard time trying to explain how I felt about Barcelona! There’s nothing actually bad about it, there’s just something…not there? And thank you!

  6. Taylor says:

    I totally feel you on this. I stopped in Barcelona for only a short 2 days while doing a Europe tour and just didn’t get it. While everyone else on my tour fell in love with it I was really to on to the next city or was thinking about returning to Paris. I do want to go back and give it a second chance, but it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t immediately fall in love with. I too thought it would be a lot prettier!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I suppose a big city can’t all be pretty haha. The Gothic Quarter was pretty amazing, but it was just very very different to what I’m used to elsewhere in Spain and what I thought it might be like so that threw me a little. It’s good to try and not have expectations, but not always possible! It was more that I didn’t get a vibe from the city, it was just a city to me. Who knows on a second time around though?!

  7. Susanna Kelly says:

    I love all the different opinions here, they’re great! If you look at Barcelona as part of Spain going into the trip, I could see how’d you would be disappointed because it is so different. That being said Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe because I love the modern/hipster culture vibe that lives there.

    Alsow I think a lot of big cities in Europe can get boring if you only hit the highlights. So stepping off the typical path in cities is always worth it, or I start to bore.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Me too! I’m so glad everyone can look at things differently, it would be boring if we all thought the same thing! Unfortunately for me I just couldn’t feel that vibe, although I could see how people would. To be honest the hipsterness (I’m making that a word…) of some of it put me off! I’ve been to other places that have that vibe though and LOVED it. So who knows! Totally agree about just going to big cities and seeing the main sites. It’s always worth trying to find a point of difference or some thing new off the beaten path.

  8. Jojo says:

    I am not surprised you feel this way. I find that sometimes when a place is too well known for something and I get really high expectations for it, I get a bit disappointed – a lot of time with food too! I like to just wing it a bit sometimes. Do just enough research to fill most days with activities I will enjoy and things I must see then go out wandering.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Me too! I didn’t know too many specifics about Barcelona, I was pretty slack in my research of even the top sites until about a week before, but I somehow knew people seemed to fall in love with the city and get this awesome vibe from it. Maybe it skewed my expectations, I don’t know! I had a great time, I just didn’t connect with the city in any way other than it having some nice things to see. Wandering time is the best 🙂

  9. Michael Quesada says:

    I’m kind of sad that you didn’t really like Barcelona, I was really looking forward to it! But I would prefer an honest opinion over a hyped up one any day. Nobody is going to fall in love with every city they visit, but maybe if you visit with a local (like you said) you would really like it. Either way, great article!

    p.s – I think we may have the same theme for out blogs!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      It is a very similar theme I think!

      It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like it, but that I didn’t fall in love with the place and I think I really needed to branch out from the tourist areas and explore some other parts. Also it’s just so huge! And I think I might be more of a smaller place kind of girl!

  10. Diana says:

    I think Barcelona is not a place which comforts me and gives me this extra glow when being in a slightly more stressful phase of my life, like right now. There is other places in the world which will just be like medicine and immediately kinda hug you, maybe you know what I mean :).

    I just came back from my 3rd Barcelona trip. After my first visit 7 years ago, I said “hmm … I just dont get the vibe”, after my 2nd one two years ago “Omg. I want to live in Barcelona!!!”, and right now, I feel like “I dont really get the city, I love it, but it stresses me too”.

    I am however sure that I will go back in the not too far future and I am curious what the city will feel like to me then :).

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Very true point, maybe it depends on your mood! I’ve been speaking to some people about Barcelona more recently and it’s making me want to go again. Possibly if I had more time to just soak it in and I was in a good space it would be a very different experience!

  11. Gerald says:

    Expectations are most likely what ruined it for you. The first thing to consider is that the Catalunya region of Spain is culturally different from Andalucía, which you seem to equate with being Spain. Things just work differently here, be it architecture, cuisine or even language. I would agree with you about the unpleasant amount of tourists. But, they are concentrated in the city center which is where locals tend to avoid. The city center is also very expensive because of the concentration of tourists. Barcelona is a bit more expensive than many other cities in Spain, but you’d get the best value away from the tourist traps like
    la Rambla or the Gothic quarter. I believe you might have appreciated it more had you gone to other neighborhoods like Gracia or Sants/Montjuïc as they have more a small town feel. You should plan another trip, but stay away from the city center.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Most likely! I try very hard to not have expectations for a place, but I think Barcelona was one of those places where it was hard to avoid! Everyone I told that I was going there spoke so highly of it I suppose I had formed some expectations. I don’t think there is only one kind of Spain by any means, but I suppose I thought that it wouldn’t seem so drastically different to me. Tourists don’t necessarily bother me, given I’m one myself, but it can make it a little harder to get to the depth of a place. I did make an effort to get a little out but you’re right, another trip and further planning is in order!

  12. Tom Stevenson says:

    I’m living here at the moment, teaching English, and I emphasise a lot with this post. There’s just something about the city that doesn’t feel right with me. I think it’s the lack of green spaces, to me it’s a big jungle of concrete. There’s just buildings everywhere, it’s suffocating at times! I plan on exploring a lot more of spain this year, because I’ve only been to Valencia and loved it there and I want to see a different side of the country than just Barca! BTW, I’m going to link to this article in my upcoming post about Barca, as it perfecty encapsulates my feelings about the city!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks!! Let me know when it’s live I’d love to give it a read. I find living in any city can be a little suffocating at times, and I need to get out to some green spaces! I love the south of Spain so much, although I would like to explore a lot more of the north too. But it definitely sounds like you should get out on some weekends away if you can.

  13. Arturo says:

    I completely agree with your post. The same happened to me: everybody told me it was the most beautiful city in the world, that they were envious of me.
    And then I found something not even pretty, confusing, expensive, and scamy. Let me tell you why:

    The”beautiful city of Barcelona”, it does have nice buildings but most of them are in gray and dark sand color and so they don’t stand out in terms of color, that, plus the way the city is laid out with long streets full of trees blocking the view to the buildings, they can’t really be appreciated and they are few compared to the other crappy buildings from the 70s and 90s an example of this: Las Ramblas.

    Gaudi: In reality, Gaudi only has about 5 important sites in Barcelona, when you see pictures of Barcelona on the internet they always choose the same picture of Park Guell (like in your post), which by the way, costs 7 euros to access that area with the columns and the Iguana statue made of tiles. It’s a big scam, the rest of the park has dirt roads and doesn’t have planned gardens, it is just a bunch of vegetation here and there, there’s no order, no plan, no line. Sagrada Familia is 20 euros to get in. Gaudi is a huge cash cow.

    In other places in Europe parks are entirely free and they are nicely designed, with beautiful trees, views and fountains and locals are the ones who visit parks, tourists stay in other parts. Here in Barcelona it is just a mess and full of tourists.

    Another thing nobody talks about is Barcelona at night: dark and creepy as hell full of homeless people and prostitutes.

    The only good thing about Barcelona IMO: you can quickly make friends and meet some great people, however, they will all be foreigners, you will not meet Spaniards and you will not become friends with Catalans, it largely doesn’t feel like the Spanish experience.
    And also the weather, perhaps that’s the reason why people say Barcelona is the best: they come from rainy countries in Europe.

    I’m sick of this big mess: I only lasted 1 month here and I’m moving to Malaga!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Hi Arturo,

      I’m sorry you haven’t found Barcelona to your liking! In the end I enjoyed what I saw, although I wasn’t in love with it like some people seem to be. I don’t think I would live there, but then not every place is for everyone. It’s great that you’ve given it a go and I hope you can take something from the experience and move on to something you enjoy more!

    • Charlie says:

      Hi Arturo! What do you think about Malaga? How it turned out for you? I came to live in Barcelona and I don´t really get the vibe here.. I think it is a good destiny for young people who wants to play the hipster beachie “I live in Barcelona” game, but I have lived in Sydney, Australia and it was a huge disappointment to live here. I don´t know yet other cities in Spain.

      And for the article writer! yes! you´re right! it is completely overrated.

      The only thing I appreciate is the chill-relax-boho vibes (I can appreciate this since Sydney is a purely superficial barbie & ken surfer /yoga edition culture.

  14. Mireia Sanz says:

    I was born and raised in Barcelona, and for that, there are a couple of things I can tell you:

    1. Gaudí is great, but if you only visit Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, etc. you just won’t get the vibe. It is like going to París and just visiting the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

    2. Spanish culture is not Catalan culture. We have our own language and in general, it is not the same as being in Madrid, Valencia or any other city.

    3. Expensive: Yes, it is expensive if you go to el Born or les Rambles. I mean, just as London, Ámsterdam or París, restaurants at city centre usually are expensive. If you are local you know cheap places, just like you with your city I guess.

    Obviously we all like different cities. I didn’t get Amsterdam and loved Rotterdam, I had higher expectations for London and París felt ok but not super great. And the list goes on and on… I think the same you say… everyone should have their own opinion.

    Anyway, I hope that of one day you come back you enjoy it a little bit more!

    Regards from Barcelona!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      All very fair points! I think if I had more time to spend in Barcelona, or had a local show me around, I would be able to find some of the magic everyone says is there. I tried to get a bit out of the normal areas but without knowing where you’re headed it can be a little difficult! I think you’re right that we all like different places too. I’m more than willing to give Barcelona another go though! Like I said, I definitely didn’t have a bad time 🙂

  15. Irene says:

    Went there twice and I didn’t see the appeal. If I could resume my opinion of Barcelona in five words, those would be:

    – Unfriendly
    – Arrogant
    – Mass-Tourism
    – Expensive
    – Tacky

  16. Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) says:

    As you can probably guess, I really love Barcelona – but I totally get what you’re saying. It really doesn’t have much in common with smaller places in Spain, and it’s a world apart from Andalucía. Plus, although there are great places to go near the big sights, they can be really hard to find (even after living here for years). I don’t know if you’ve read about the issue of how big tourism is here, but that’s also definitely made things in general more tourist trap-y and less enjoyable.

    Still, there is a different experience to be had here! Explore some of the smaller neighborhoods and somewhere like Girona. Though it’s nowhere near as cheap as the south, you can still get that lovely laid-back vibe. 🙂

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I think you’re totally right! My problem with Barcelona was probably somewhat in my expectations and somewhat in not knowing exactly where to go to get what I was after. If I had more time I would definitely have explored more neighbourhoods. I haven’t written it off by any means, and in fact I actually want to go back to see if I can find it!

  17. John Williams says:

    I’m so glad someone else felt the same, we found ourselves wondering if we had gone to the wrong city because it was not the place that we had been told about, it was lovely but not amazing, we loved Madrid and the Spanish vibe and Tarragona with it’s history but I’m afraid the hype around Barcelona was lost on us.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      It’s so hard not to have some expectations about such a high profile city, and especially when it always sounds so good! I agree, it was still a lovely city and nice in it’s own way, just not quite as much as I thought.

  18. Bryony says:

    This is such an interesting article, thanks for writing a different perspective. Also loved reading the comments! We are in Southern Spain at the moment, heading to Barcelona in a couple of weeks, just for two days. It will be interesting to see what we make of it! I completely agree though – exploring a big city with a local with insider knowledge is where it’s at!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks for your comment! I was quite worried about writing it but tried to be fair! I couldn’t say I fell in love with it when I didn’t, but also acknowledge that may have been down to how I saw it at the time! The further away from the trip I get the more I think about the positive things as opposed to the negative!

  19. Jeff says:

    Actually, I had a completely different experience of Barcelona. I too think it’s overrated, but not for the reasons you mentioned.

    I don’t think it’s overly touristy and I don’t really care if it is or not – that’s how big cities are. Have you been to London during March Break? It’s a zoo! But who cares? It’s London! I didn’t get that same vibe from Barcelona. To be honest taking a cab through to where we were staying everything looked slummy and dirty until we arrived in the center and I still wasn’t impressed with any of the Architecture – it just seemed in a state of slight disrepair everywhere. Sure, you have Gaudi related stuff which was great, but beyond that and the Gothic Quarter there isn’t a whole lot that jumped out at me the way London did or have the charm of an Amsterdam or Lisbon. To be completely frank, the thing that impressed me most was generalized public Wi-Fi!

    I also thought for a place with touted beaches that the beach was actually quite dirty, not much to write home about. I also thought the food wasn’t really expensive at all compared to larger cities like Paris or London but the food just wasn’t executed nicely and was somewhat expensive considering what you were eating. (Wine was cheap though!).

    I also just didn’t get a strong vibe from it in general. It’s there, it’s nice, but I don’t see why anyone would place it in their top destinations. I think it’s definitely deserved of being visited at least once in you lifetime, but I don’t really think there’s a strong case to back more than once.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I actually think I felt some similar things! I don’t mind if I city is big and touristy, I’m used to it having been to many of the big cities in Europe. I guess for me it was more the vibe part, that everyone seemed to fall in love with the city and I thought it was nice enough but wasn’t blown away. I would be willing to give it another chance and maybe if I had someone who loved it show me around it might help!

  20. Ivan says:

    I think Barcelona is one of the most overrated destinations in the world. It’s also one of the most stressful: prices for everything increase substantially every year. Crowds too. I just can’t think of a solution to change the experience, for the resident too!

  21. Niki says:

    Lovely article and nice to see I am not the only one with the similar feelings about Barcelona. I was there (with my father) in July 2009, long before the largest hordes and Airbnb mania made the city a bit of a hell, but we struggled to find the city as charming as presented elsewhere. And we had definitely tried. After a brief attendance at two academic conferences, we had 9 full days to explore the city and if not throwing a lot of interesting side-trips into the mix (Gerona, Dali’s museum in Figuerras, antic Tarragona etc.) we would be left with not so much to do after three days (we utilized the local museum pass to the very latest bits). Last autumn I was very pleasantly surprised with Madrid (just two days for a quick reference with postpoining Prado and other world-class museums and imperial palaces for next visit) which was viewed by many friends as inferior to Barcelona. The Spanish capital has its big-city vibe, perfect metro, cultural activities and plenty of intersting shops which reminded me some of the nicest retail areas of London.

  22. NGM says:

    It’s highly overrated, totally agree with that! I’ve been living here for almost 6 years now and the more time I spend here, the more I want to leave: very high levels of pollution, “fashion people” (don’t know how to name it 🤨), ridiculously high prices, lots of pickpockets everywhere!! plus all the independence stuff which has become really annoyed.

    There are lots of amazing places in Spain which are worthwhile to visit like Canary Islands, Córdoba, Asturias, Vask Country in the North or the beautiful city of Segovia (very close to Madrid). Hope this helps to someone! 😉

  23. Nina Hobson says:

    So interesting to read this post! My husband is from Barcelona and we visit regularly and I understand where you are coming from 100%. I love Barcelona, but it’s an unusual city. I don’t think it has the buzz, or beating heart like London, Paris or New York. You really do need a guide (or local husband!) to see the best bits. The culture is also quite closed, and it can be hard to break in without someone local to help you.
    Thanks for such a refreshingly honest post.
    Nina x

    • Sonja - Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks so much for this comment it really sums up how I felt about it too! I think it would be a totally different experience with a local guide. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it’s a great city, but I missed that cultural heart and vibe like you say. Next time I go I want to hire a local guide for sure.

  24. Alex says:

    I’ve lived in Barcelona for a few years now and I totally agree I would not recommend it as a tourist destination unless your idea of a vacation is walking around old buildings and looking at architecture, and the beaches here are some of the worst I’ve ever experienced, so yeah I really don’t understand why all the hype over Barcelona as a tourist destination? But as a place to live I would 100% recommend, I absolutely hated the place for the first few months I was here and couldn’t wait to leave but as time went on and I discovered all the hidden gems the city has to offer I never want to leave, I still can’t stand the city centre and avoid going there but the rest of the city is amazing. I guess that’s the main problem with Barcelona it’s a victim of its own success, before it was one of Europe’s top tourist destinations it probably was an amazing place to be even for just a few days but as word of mouth spread and the people flooded in it has just become a massive tourist trap, your just going to be packed in somewhere with lots of other tourist and overcharged to do so, most the tourist I see here now I really believe they couldn’t care less for being here they just come to take their photos to post on Instagram and tell their mates how amazing it is while sitting in McDonald’s.
    So yeah as a tourist destination I would definitely recommend to avoid Barcelona especially as a weekend getaway, you definitely need a few months or a year to experience the true Barcelona

    • Sonja - Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks for your feedback! Totally think it would be an amazing place to live because you’d have time to discover those great places. I still enjoyed my time I just didn’t fall in love with it like so many seem to, and I think it was because I wasn’t able to get past the surface. I’d love to return and see more, maybe with the help of a local!

  25. Devon Cook says:

    So refreshing to have someone actually admit someplace wasn’t their favorite. I just returned from my first Spain trip, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. I felt 3 days Barcelona was plenty, whereas 3 days Madrid, I would return again.

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