I’ve been to Barcelona twice and recently come back from Rome (I’m a lucky girl!) and really enjoyed them both. I think Rome was my favourite but there’s plenty to do and experience in both cities. There are a lot of similarities too, but some differences…
Both cities are historic and full of beautiful architecture. But not much (in Europe) beats Rome for antiquities, some of the structures in the Roman Forum date back to the 7th century BC. The city of Barcelona purportedly dates from 250 BC but some of the most striking architecture in Barcelona was designed by Antoni Gaudi from the 19th century.
One of the reasons I liked Italy better than Spain is because getting vegetarian food was sooooo much easier! Of course it depends where you go but there wasn’t a single place in Rome that I struggled to find a delicious option, and it’s hard to go wrong with pasta, cheese, and pizza. On the other hand I spent most of my time in Spain buying overpriced cheese sandwiches. But it did force us to find some vegetarian restaurants and get some dedicated veggie cuisine.
Of course I visited the Olympic stadiums in both cities. As you can see the biggest difference between the two places is that Rome was ridiculously hot and in Barcelona it was pissing it down. It’s hard for me to remember the Barcelona stadium without just thinking about how soggy it was. We couldn’t go into the Rome stadium which was a shame, especially because it’s kind of out in the sticks but at the least the stadium is still being used for football matches. In Barcelona, it all seemed somewhat neglected. But there is a little Olympic museum next door and terrible cafe.
And both cities had odd quirky things, Rome had a elephant statue while the good people of Barcelona were keen on cats. And I like standing in front of animal statues and pointing.