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Barcelona vs. New York – Which City is Better?

Last updated 10.07.2020
The Statue of Liberty or La Sagrada Familia? These are the landmarks of two famous cities. Yes, it's New York and Barcelona, but are any of them worth the trip?

Let’s admit it when it comes to deciding on where to go-to options are endless. Depending on who you are bringing with you on the trip, the preferences could shift all together once more. Does everyone prefer open spaces or the buzz of a pulsating big city? Are we embarking on a spontaneous trip, or are we there to experience the culture with a jam-packed schedule? The list goes on and one. The truth is that coming to a final decision might demand a thorough discussion and careful planning.

Choose direction

But if you have already honed in on some specific choices and are currently are weighing pros and cons, this article might help you out on what to decide by comparing the two beautiful cities Barcelona and New York. Truth be told, you might find just what you need in both locations, but once you’ve read this article, you might have a better understanding of which of the two destinations is going to be the next on your hit-list. 

New York City, USA

Population: approx. 8.500.000
Size: 1.214 km²

Culture: New York City, also known as “NYC,” holds a lot of ethnicities, which among other things, influences the culture of the city. Countless museums, buildings, and even famous spots from movies to check out all around the city. Restaurants with inspiration from all sorts of different countries around the world. Loads of areas for shopping too, some more pricey than others. 40 million foreign and American tourists visit New York every year.

Nightlife is also a thing to experience, especially Times Square. In terms of nightclubs, they’re widespread over different areas in New York, but there are definitely lots of opportunities. Checkout East Village for the best bars or Williamsburg Brooklyn for some of the best nightclubs.

NYC is brimming with culture, and it isn’t a coincidence that NYC once was considered as “the Cultural Capital of the World.

Barcelona, Spain

Population: approx. 1.637.000
Size: 101,9 km²

Culture: Barcelona hosted the Olympics back in 1992, so they renovated parts of the city to make it representative. This lead to several things that lightened up the city — Stuff like a promenadebeachesrestaurantsmarinas, and cultural attractions. Barcelona holds a lot of museumstheatres amongst other attractions, like Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona, which the population of Barcelona tends to take a lot of pride in. 

Sagrada Familia, an unfinished church that has been under renovation since 1882 and is the most visited attraction in Barcelona. In general, a lot of the historical attractions in Barcelona are credited to Antoni Gaudi, a famous Catalonian architect who passed away in 1925.

The culture of Barcelona sprouts and is definitely worth visiting. It’s a Mediterranean pearl with nightlife, beach, and culture in one setting.  

So, why go to either of these destinations?

Below we’ll get a bit more int to the different aspects of the two cities. A lot more could be said about each destination, but below some of the most important things to notice are described. Finally, there’s a brief sum-up of the benefits of each destination before we dig into the pros and cons when we compare each city against each other. 

New York City Brooklyn Bridge with text

The City That Never Sleeps

Well, beginning with the city that never sleeps, New York City. The city has so much to offer, from numerous museums to just a lot of general attractions in terms of buildings, squares and neighborhoods, and estates. Of course, NYC has its landmarks that almost everyone has heard of at some point.

The Statue of Liberty

One is not mistaken if they find the Statue of Liberty to be overrated. Loads of security checks and even more tourists, everywhere. Booking a boat trip is far more worth it. You get a guided tour with a lot of information about the city and its history while you also get a great view of the skyline. Also, there is a free option, the “Staten Island Ferry,” which gives you a beautiful view too.

Why is NYC a good idea?

Despite that, there are a lot of great things to do in NYC. From a walk around Central Park to standing at the top of Empire State Building, the city is great. Of course, the mandatory drop-by at Times Square. Whether you do that throughout the daytime or nighttime, it’s a great experience.

Overall, NYC is worth the trip. You’ll have to go there more than once if you want to experience all the city has to offer!

barcelona- viewpoint

The City of Dreams

Moving on to the city of dreams, Barcelona. A city filled to the brim with art, museums, and architecture.
With that said, if you’re the type of person that is looking to go for a holiday in a city with a “capital-feel” to it, don’t pick Barcelona. Yes, it is charming and beautiful, but it just doesn’t feel like a big city like so many other cities. 

Sagrada Familia

Culture is imprinted everywhere you go in Barcelona, so if that’s what you’re into, it’s a perfect holiday destination. Being on the subject of culture, Sagrada Familia is overrated… Of course, its impressive work and very fascinating, but there are just so many people the half could be enough. And the construction… There are literally cranes everywhere, which kind of ruins the experience.

Why is Barcelona a good idea?

A thing that is super nice in Barcelona is the entire area near the ocean. It just has a fantastic summer vibe to it, that you don’t find in a lot of other big cities. A lot of bars/restaurants, sports facilities, hotels, lovely beaches and a beautiful promenade with a lot of life – great experience!

Barcelona is an excellent destination to a large extent, although if you have no interest in culture, it might not be the perfect match.

What are the pros and cons?

New York City

PROS

  • Endless amount of things to do
  • Very easy to figure out the public transport
  • Vibrant culture 
  • Food from everywhere in the world

CONS

  • Things can get quite expensive
  • Heavy traffic
  • Loads of tourists

Barcelona

PROS

  • Nice climate
  • A fantastic promenade/beach area
  • Lots of architecture and culture
  • Nice city centrum

CONS

  • Slightly complicated subway
  • Feels like a small city 
  • Language barrier
New York City
Barcelona

Overall, both cities have a lot to offer, although NYC is way more widespread, whereas Barcelona has its segment group.

Having been both places before, I would choose to go to NYC over Barcelona, any day. Barcelona is the type of city that you could explore in a week, where NYC has opportunities of a lifetime.

To conclude, it depends on what YOU desire.

Suggestions and information when going to NYC

Below you’ll see a collection of great activities to try out. These are some of the must see’s in NYC, and you’ll find the direct link in case you are keen on collecting ideas to your itinerary.  

A lot of the sights that are mandatory on a trip to the city are free to visit. It is important to note that a good pair of walking shoes is a must, because of the sheer size of the city. 

One can expect to consume quite a distance because everything is far in between, even if you choose to use the subway as the main transportation. 

Because of the sheer size of the city and the abundance of to-dos, planning ahead is highly recommended. Take the time to make an itinerary to get an overview of the things that would make the most sense for you to visit. 

Depending on the duration of the trip, expect to be forced to leave out some of the must-sees. Mainly because a lot of your time will be consumed on commuting in between the different activities. Instead of rushing ahead, knowing that you have chosen the activities that are of the highest importance, gives you the time to sink in the experience of the things you finally decide to experience.

Activities to do in NYC

Suggestions and information when going to Barcelona

Barcelona is filled with activities to embark on. Below you’ll see a collection of great activities to try out. These are some of the must see’s in Barcelona, and you’ll find the direct link for you to collect new ideas to your itinerary. 

The wonderful thing about Barcelona is that with a nice pair of shoes, everything is within a reasonable distance. If walking is not your thing, it’s good that taxi-transport isn’t overly expensive.

Planning on spending the daytime at the beach? It is quite convenient that you’ll find a new bar/cafe every 100 meters along Bogatell beach (the main beach). But expect prices to be slightly higher than elsewhere.

In the mood for some cultural experiences? It is quite important to note that most of the main attractions like the Gaudi Park and La Sagrada de Familia, often are fully booked for the day. So take the time to book in advance. This will both save you money and ensure that you won’t make the trip to any of them in vain.

Activities to do in Barcelona

Martin Rumph
I’m a marketing student with a high passion for digital marketing. Currently, I’m a marketing intern at Lentii, taking care of SoMe and blog posts.
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