...HELLO- BON DIA...GOODBYE- ADÉU...PLEASE- SI US PLAU...THANK YOU- GRÁCIES...
WHERE TO SLEEP
This hip yet tasteful Poble Sec hotel has to be my favorite in the city. With only 20 rooms and a small staff you will definitely get to know everyone there in a short stay. Each room has a balcony overlooking the pool or the Montjuïc hill and park. They also have complimentary yoga or EIIA classes as well as bikes for rental on site. Splurge on one of the two suites for a great balcony with an outdoor soaking tub.
Hotel Barcelona Catedral
Located in the heart of the Barrio Gotico, across from Catedral de Barcelona. You can't get more central than this. The rooms are on the smaller side but have comfortable, modern furnishings and the roof has a pool. A perfect place if you will only have a few days in the city.
This wonderful B&B is in spitting distance of both the Barrio Gotico and El Born neighborhoods. You can choose from 12 rooms in the main building or 2 larger apartments down the block. If staying in the bed and breakfast portion of the guesthouse, don't skip the great spread in the morning.
Barcelona's version of the Ace Hotel located in the Dreta d'Eixample neighborhood just north of the Born. This hip, well-furnished hotel has an outpost of Satan's Coffee, 2 restaurants, a sweet rooftop terrace with great views of the city, and even their own mini bookshop and boutique. Each room has a balcony overlooking an inner terrace or out to Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and the original gorgeous tiled floors. Worth staying a stone's throw away from the action for a cool room with great amenities.
If you are wanting the comfort and long term feel of staying in an apartment instead of looking to airbnb consider checking out this company. All of their apartments are in great locations and affordably priced. The Allada location in the Born neighborhood couldn't be more prime and the rooms have everything someone might need for an extended city stay.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
This beautiful, expansive market is just one of many in Barcelona, situated on the main drag La Rambla between El Raval and Barrio Gotico. Some of my favorite food stalls are El Quim and Pinotxo but there are many more you can eat at or shop around at different vendors for a DIY meal.
★Quimet y Quimet
When I am in Barcelona coming here is like a pilgrimage for me. This restaurant has been around for 4 generations of the Quim family. An abundance of canned seafood, montaditos and other tapas as well as walls lined with Spanish wines and vermouths. Don't miss an extremely unique Barcelona experience here.
Meaning "two sticks" this Japanese cum Spanish restaurant is helmed by El Bulli alum, Albert Raurich. Come for lunch at the front bar or make a reservation for the incredible tasting menu at dinner. If you are brave enough, try Japanese delicacies like seared chicken! If you are adventurous make sure to let the staff know to pull out all the stops, this still happens to be one of my favorite meals in the city.
This tapas restaurant on the edge of Barrio Gotico is one of my favorites. The small and inviting tavern has a great selection of local wines and cheeses and it seems to be a locals haunt as opposed to overly touristy like the rest of the neighborhood.
Get ready to wait in line for this authentic world-renowned Mediterranean cuisine. There is a menu but it's best to just put yourself in their hands. Sit back, sip some vino and watch as the food magic happens before your eyes at the open kitchen.
Old school tapas in El Born since 1929. For a taste of classic tapas stop in here for a snack, but come early or be prepared to wait in this tiny restaurant. My favorites here are the anchoas y txips (anchovies and chips).
★La Cova Fumada
Located in the Barceloneta, this little seafood restaurant was recommended to us by Donald Link himself, and for good reason. Everything is local, fresh and super tasty. Take a bike ride down the beach after to work off the meal.
The baby sister to Dos Palillos but no less mature. I had great luck in going to BCN a couple weeks after opening and was blown away by how great the food, service and overall quality was for the first month of opening. The concept behind Dos Pebrots, or "two peppers", is authentic, ancestral food from mostly Spain but a few dishes hail from Italy and Greece. The menu can seem overwhelming if you aren't into reading a short story about each dish so trust the servers, they will guide you in all the right directions. My favorites on this menu (I went twice) are the black onion, pine nut omelette, and the kebab. I recommend making a reservation to ensure getting a table.
Bar Del Pla
This tapas bar in the Born is not unlike most other tapas bars except that they tend to have creative, personal takes on classics. Try the squid ink croquette or the octopus bomb and keep an eye out for the dishes of the day.
Satan's Coffee Corner
This third wave coffee shop has a home in the Gothic but also an outpost in the Casa Bonay hotel. The owner comes from a family of coffee makers and was one of the first in the city to serve single-origin, specialty coffees. Stop in for an espresso and some yummy pastries or sandwiches.
★Celler Cal Marino
I still can't recall how I stumbled upon this neighborhood, locals only wine and tapas shop but it remains one of my favorites in the city. The owners speak a little English but mostly Catalan and the menu can be difficult to read if you don't have any knowledge of even Spanish. That being said, be adventurous- go to the Poble Sec, search for this little bar on the tree-lined street heading towards Montjuïc and tell them to pick some of their favorite dishes out for you to try. This is a truly authentic spot worth checking out.
There are four locations of this vermuteria around Barcelona, find the one nearest to you and go now. Pull up a barstool at one of these tiny bars and settle in for a vermut garnished with an orange or olive, some conservas and a lovely time. Make sure to bring home one of the limited edition painted bottles of vermouth as a reminder of how wonderful this experience was.
Feeling a little heavy after the tapas tour? This Raval oasis will help set you straight after an evening of binge eating and drinking with its creative smoothies and light breakfast fare.
Two words- churros and chocolate... ok I guess technically that is three. Come see this restaurant that has been around since the early 1900s, which Pablo Picasso ate in and is run by the fifth generation of Viader family. All the eggs and dairy products still come from the small village of Cardedeu where they have come from since the business opened. While they are known for their churros, they also have an incredible cheese selection and many other sweet treats.
This family run tapas bar in the Born has been around since 1925. Upon entering this seemingly unchanged restaurant you feel transported to another time. Rub elbows with locals and get an authentic Barcelona experience while eating some of the best seafood tapas in town.
Located on the tree-lined rambla, it is a perfect place to get away from the hubbub of Ciutat Vella. You won't hear too many people speaking english when you walk in because this Poblenou tapas spot definitely has a locals vibe to it. Make sure to try the baby clams when in season and the carpaccio de bacalao with roe, orange zest and pomegranate seeds. This place is quickly moving up to a top spot for me.
El Tio Che
Also in the Poblenou neighborhood, this orxateria is a great dessert stop after lunch at El 58. They have a small selection of yummy gelato flavors but the real reason you came was for the horchata, they have been around since 1912 so you know it must be good!
The unique tasting menu at this small and inviting restaurant was one of my favorite meals I have had In all of Barcelona. Go in with an open mind and palate and wait to be surprised by their ability to meld traditional and nouveau with influences from all over the globe. With an incredible wine list to boot, you can't go wrong at this Poble Sec jewel. If you have the option to sit at the bar definitely do, this is where you can see all the action and ask the chef questions.
Two words- MASCARPONE CROISSANT. I believe it is a play on the beloved Catalan treat, a xuxo but this thing is the most decadent yet light and airy pastry I have ever had.
I love this cozy and romantic tapas spot in the Gracia neighborhood. They are housed in a repurposed house and have a little library that encourages guests to sit and hang out for a bit. While their menu does not differ much from most other bodegas the environment does and that is why this is a place I will continue to return to.
A colorful and busy tapas and vermouth bar located in the Gracia whose menu differs from other tapas spots with reimagined bocadillos and lots to choose from for vegetarians.
If La Pepita is busting at the seams or you just prefer a more subdued ambiance check out their wine and tapas bar a few doors down. The menu their is smaller but just as yummy and if you are dying to try something from La Pepita's menu just ask, they will bring it over for you.
If you are adventurous when it comes to eating this is the gelato spot for you. They have unique, fun flavors like parmesan with balsamic, yogurt curry and even vermouth. Fear not if you are in the company of a picky eater though, they still have the classics like pisatchio, stracciatella and plain old vanilla.
Dalt de Tot
A member of the Morro Fi family this tapas bar serves more than just typical vermut hour snacks. They have a more extensive menu with hot items like tortillas con bacalao as well as your typical vermut picas. Located further north, near the Gracia it can be a bit of a hike to get to but while in the neighborhood check out Casa Vicens, another Gaudi stunner.
La Bodega del Notariat
This is a great option to test out all those Catalunyan craft brews you've been eyeing as well as filling up your water jugs for take-away wine and vermouth made by this bodega. Located in the Raval, I find this to be a great way to wake up post siesta.
Get a great cup of coffee and fresh squeezed juice to go along with your avocado toast or buttery croissant. I wouldn't say this is a place you needed to go out of your way to go to but when you need a taste of "normal" or just want really well done breakfast items this is the place to come.
I have often overlooked this bodega when in the Barceloneta because I usually have my sights set on La Cova Fumada or a chiringuito on the beach but once I finally made it here it had me thinking I'd been doing all wrong all this time. This small tapas restaurant focuses on a small menu where everything is executed perfectly and paired with amazing wines or local craft beers. The morcilla is a standout for me as well as the simple preparation of the seitons (or boquerones).
I think this lovely little vermuteria and bodega is worth going out of your way for but if you are near Sagrada Familia you should DEFINITELY stop in for a can, some cheese, their house patatas vermut, a few olives and of course, their brand of vermut. Here you are guaranteed to be surrounded by locals having an apertif or just picking up a bottle to bring home. Casa Mariol is one of my favorite spots in the city to visit.
When you visit the Gracia pop in to this tiny coffee shop for a fantastic pour over or cortado. This place is strictly "para llevar" so get your coffee and move on to your next location.
If you happen to be traveling with a group this is a fantastic place to come. We went with 8 friends for my husband's birthday and the ambiance was well suited to a loud and boisterous group. The servers are obviously trained to be extra animated themselves. We tried most of the menu and nothing disappointed however the Andalusian style aubergine and the gazpacho were both standouts.
Put this charming vermut bar on your Gracia tapas hopping list. They have some of the more interesting house vermouths available and some out-of-the-ordinary tapas selections- that is if you are sick of preserved and marinated things.
Bar Bodega Quimet
Deep in the Gracia, almost to Park Güell you will find this intimate bodega. If you are lucky you won't wait too long for a table but even if you do, it is worth the waiting while sipping on vermut de la casa or their house wines. Try the habitas con huevos y jamon and the asparagus from Navarra.
WHAT TO DO
This beautiful expanse of sand and sea is located in the heart of Barcelona. No need to hop on a train to get to this urban oasis, it is right at your hotel's doorstep. Make sure to check out the snack shacks on the beach!
I am not typically keen on guided tours, I usually take pride and enjoyment from the researching process (obviously) but after a client of mine highly recommended this food touring group after her experience in Lisbon I decided to go for it. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT. We chose to tour the Sants neighborhood which is probably the least visited by tourists and our guide, Danny was exceptional. Not only did he have a vast knowledge of food culture and history but also was able to shed some light on the independence movement and Spain and Catalunya's history as a whole. Six hours spent at historic bakeries, bodegas and restaurants was an excellent way to spend the afternoon.
La Sagrada Familia
Gaudí designed many buildings in Barcelona but this church is the most famous by a long shot. The structure has been "under construction" for over 130 years with many more to come, some even wonder what the church will look like without the cranes around it. Definitely purchase tickets online to avoid the long lines at the door and don't skip the Passion Tower. It is worth the extra money to walk the spiral staircase from the top all the way down viewing the ongoing work to the church and the city of Barcelona.
Take the funicular or hike to the top of this hill that towers over the city's port. This expansive park has a castle, botanical gardens, the Fundació Joan Miró, and the Montjuic cemetery to keep you occupied.
Another one of Gaudí's magnificent creations and my personal favorite, located in the northern part of Barcelona. The park is beautiful on its own, offering great views of the whole city but is made special by all of Gaudi's fantastical sculptures throughout the area.
Overlooking Passeig de Grácia this architectural gem was built in 1906 for the Batlló family by non-other than Antoni Gaudí. This amazing home has some of Gaudí's signature nature themed tiling, glass and woodwork. If you are in BCN in the summertime try making it to Casa Batllo for "Magic Nights" where you take a night tour of the house that ends on the rooftop with twinkle lights, music and cocktails.
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
A little further flung in the upper Gracia is this magnificent set of buildings that was once home to Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The pavilions were built between the years of 1902 and 1930 by Lluís Doménech i Montaner and used as a hospital from 1916 to 2009. In 1997 it was designated a UNESCO world heritage site and you will see why once you step foot inside one of the 8 restored buildings. The architecture is mind blowing, if I were sick I know where I'd have wanted to end up.
This may not be Gaudi's most iconic work but it is hands down my FAVORITE. Casa Vicens just opened to the public as a museum in late 2017, in fact they were still doing some of the restoration work when I visited in summer 2018. This home located in the Gracia was Gaudi's first commissioned project and it is unlike all of his more famous work so if you have any knowledge of his other projects this home can seem quite surprising.
Casa de les Punxes
While I wouldn't say that this modernist home is a "must see" it is worth checking out on your 5th or 10th visit to Barcelona or if you are killing time on a hot day. The architecture and design is stunning and you can tour the rooftop towers which is the best part. Be prepared to learn the entire legend of the Catalan hero Sant Jordi as well, it is presented in the form of a 4 part CGI film.
Parc de la Ciutadella
Adjacent to the Born neighborhood lies this peaceful urban park. A great place to siesta but it is also home to the zoo, the Museu de Geologica and the Museu d'Art Modern. There are a handful of great wine and food shops a few blocks from the park that you can obtain provisions from for a lovely picnic.
Palo Alto Market
I think this suggestion could easily fall under "where to eat" or "where to shop" as it is a fabulous weekend market in Poble Nou that houses local food vendors, artisans and musicians. The market is on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month except August and it is a great place to spend an afternoon listening to music and drinking a glass of cava after doing some great shopping. My favorite way to get there is rent a bike and ride along the beach, the market is only a few blocks from the boardwalk.
Rent a bike
I LOVE riding bikes! I think it is an incredible way to experience a new city. Barcelona happens to be one of the better places to do this in because it is so biker friendly. With plenty of well-marked bike lanes all over the city, you can practically cover the entire city on 2 wheels. You will find rental shops all over most of Ciutat Vella but the one I like the most is in the Raval. Cruising Barcelona offers great, well maintained cruisers to rent that are very affordable or you can choose to join one of their city tours. Either way, don't skip this great activity, it will also help burn off a few of those tapas from lunch.
This gastronomical market sets up near the beach a few times a week and hosts some amazing purveyors of local wines, cheeses, meats and dried goods. Stop by for a snack or pick up a few things for a seaside picnic.
Alta Alella Winery
You don't have to go far to find amazing wineries in Catalunya. This one in fact is only a 20 minute train ride from Plaça de Catalunya. They have a beautiful vineyard with views of the Mediterranean and their wines are wonderful too!
WHERE TO SHOP
Unique, handcrafted shoes for men and women. All the shoes, clothing and accessories in the shop are designed and made in Spain. If you are looking to bring home a well made Spanish brand of shoe look no further than Camino.
The first store opened in 1981 in Barcelona but they are now internationally known as being quality Spanish made shoes with a funky and functional design. They even have a hotel located in the Raval neighborhood.
Handmade, artisan crafted gifts and accessories from all over Spain and Europe. Get Majorcan pearls, gold French tennis shoes, Spanish perfume or locally made sunglasses. There is a little bit of something for everyone in this small Born boutique.
Bartomeu i Uribe
Located in El Born, this small boutique carries local clothing and jewelry designers as well as their own designs that are made in the loft studio above the shop.
Looking for your signature scent? This small perfumery in El Raval carries unique lines of perfumes and soaps that are sure to suit anyone. If you are overwhelmed by smelling each one just ask for help, the staff knows the perfumes inside and out and can guide you based on your preferences.
This local grocery in the Eixample carries a great selection of craft beers, local wines, teas, jams, nuts, meats and cheeses among other things. If you are staying in the city for a while and need to stock your pantry, this is a great place to do it.
The Basque clothing company's Gothic neighborhood location is the only one in Barcelona. Designed and produced in Spain, this clothing company specializes in everyday wear for men and women that is inspired by life in Donostia, otherwise known as San Sebastián.
One of the oldest food stores in Barcelona, Casa Gispert has been in the Born since 1851. They originally specialized in imported dry goods like nuts, spices, teas and coffees but now carry a large local, high quality variety of local products. Visit this shop to pick up edible gifts like olive oil and chocolate for your favorite food fan back home.
La Nostra Ciutat
The name means "our city" in Catalan and their mission is to allow the locals to take a stand against international companies like Nike and Zara that have taken over their town. Think of this shop as a local artisan market you can go to every day. It is a place for up and coming local designers and craftspeople to display their newest creations in the center of the city along side all of these giant brandname stores.
Their website probably says it best- modern and traditional arts and crafts produced by local artisans committed to the environment. This store carries amazing woven handbags and baskets, bamboo sunglasses, bota bags and more. I went in 4 times on my last trip because I was so in love with all the great things they carry,
Most of the stuff in this story I can't actually transport home, read: amazing mid-century furniture! But beyond lusting over their furniture collection, there is quite a bit you can bring back with you. There are great home decor items, new and vintage and some beautiful textiles and notebooks.
Produit National Brut
If you are looking for European vintage, look no further than this extremely well-curated shop in the Raval. It has everything from Hawaiian shirts to snow suits and a great selection of vintage housewares if you care to furnish your new Barcelona flat.
If you have ever been to Spain, or Europe for that matter, you must have noticed their obsession with hip, funky eyewear. This shop in the Raval is one of my favorites. The optometrists are young and hip, they offer you a beer while you browse and they even ship back to the States. If you are in need of a new cool pair of sunnies or eyeglasses this is the place to get some really cool shades.
A shop filled with fantastic home decor items, artwork, clothing and jewelry all made in Barcelona. Stop in to pick up an original t-shirt design or a hand drawn map of one of the neighborhoods in the city.
This design shop in the Raval showcases some of the coolest up and coming artists in the city as well as a few global designers.
The name refers to "happenings" because the owners of this shop believe it should be filled with all types of events, pop-up shops and exhibitions. Mostly local, some international, fashion designers, perfume makers, and home good designers.
Stepping into this storefront is like living in one of my dreams. They stock an incredible selection of smell-good things like soaps and perfumes as well as housewares, rugs, plush blankets and sweet little aprons. Towards the back you will find a great selection of locally designed and made clothing and shoes. I could spend hours and gobs of cash here for sure.
On one of my favorite streets in the Raval is this cool sewing and design co-working space where you can find one-of-a-kind textiles and fresh, new designers. They carry both men and women's clothing and jewelry as well as swimsuits and accessories.
In the market for the some hip, high-end vintage shades? This is your place. La Clinique has some of the best selection when it comes to classic frames from the last 60 years. They also carry a small array of fine perfumes, leather goods and rare accessories. Definitely worth a peep ;)
Etnia's flagship store is a three-story building with a rooftop lounge, super awesome customer service and some of the best eyewear that BCN has to offer. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of amazing glasses shops around this town but Etnia brings the shopping experience to a whole new level with added perks like a free copy of their own guidebook to Barcelona, a nice canvas bag and a beer on the roof overlooking the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar in the Born.
Looking for the perfect souvenir to remind you of your stay? This Poble Sec t-shirt shop has some less obvious Barcelona designs, some of which are playful and a lot os which are political. The owner designs and prints all the shirts in the shop that once housed his grandfather's handmade shoe shop.
This shop has colorful toys, decorations, paper goods and more from around the world. If you are wanting blankets from Mexico, a deity sculpture from India or an old toy from your childhood, this Raval store is the place to come looking.
A skate/surf/bike inspired clothing and shoe shop where almost all designs are dreamt of and printed in house. The brand's creative director describes the company's biggest motivation as expressing their vision and representation of Barcelona to the world. So if a personal and uniquely designed shirt or print is what you are after, check this spot out.
★Flamingos Vintage Kilo
This clothing store is not unique to Barcelona but it is definitely worth checking out if vintage is your style. This densely packed store sells retro and vintage clothing by weight instead of quality so come in to score some fun, new-to-you digs.
Across the street from VOS is another clothing and lifestyle store specializing in small brands from all over the world. A compact but well thought out sleek space with a little something for everyone whether it be clothing, watches, jewelry or even candles and books.
A gourmand's playground, filled with all the yummy meat, cheeses, tins and accoutrements perfect for a picnic in the park or a snack on your balcony. This two
shop spot has one storefront filled to the ceiling with wine and the other a drool-worthy grocery that should delight anyone's eyes and mouths.
La Moderna Singular
I stumbled upon this incredible shop near the Sant Antoni market on my last visit and was so excited it existed. Everything from vintage Spanish magazines to conservas and perfumes. There are peculiar candies and old glass siphon bottles and even a room full of Barcelona olympic memorabilia.
A small clothing shop in the Raval that has local designs as well some independent lines from around the globe. This shop has both men's and women's clothing, shoes and accessories.
One of my favorite things about shopping in Barcelona is that so many of the local makers have their studios in their stores, Casa Atlântica is a great example of this. They make incredible woven bags, ceramic mugs and plates and even rugs.
This home goods store in the Gracia carries their own designs for sheets, curtains, bags and even wallpaper. When I walked in I had a chance to talk to the 3 designers while they were working about how they design the images and have them printed on a variety of different mediums. Check out this super cool lady run business even if you aren't in the market for a new bedspread.
A Barcelona design company through and through. This clothing line is 100% designed and printed in Catalonia and they work hard to ensure that none of their products come from workers who are exploited or in unhealthy working conditions. You can find a cool new shirt and feel good about wearing it too.