Honestly, who doesn’t love Barcelona? Catalonia’s capital is an inspiring city with a rich cultural heritage, a ton of museums, thriving nightlife and a seemingly endless list of great places to eat. If you’re the same type of tourist we are – the kind that likes to be prepared and hates looking clueless while on holiday – then we’re sure you’ll appreciate the tips and pointers our good friends (and Barcelona natives) Nuria Val & Coke Bartrina gave us. Vamos!
Foodies rejoice, because as you may know, Barcelona is full of excellent restaurants. As in every big city, nearly every cuisine in the world can be tasted here. You can choose to trust your instincts (or Google) but we’ll make it easy on you with this little list.
Let’s start with an already renowned favorite amongst vegetarians, vegans and everyone that enjoys delicious, beautifully presented food: The Green Spot in the Barceloneta neighborhood. Gone are the days of weird, scruffy vegetarian eateries, The Green Spot is a modern, well-designed and spacious restaurant where everything revolves around freshly made plant-based food. Then, in the same neighborhood but right by the beach, you’ll find El Gallito, which mixes Mediterranean and international cuisine. Simple food, made with fresh ingredients of the highest quality – what more can we ask for? Maybe a terrace with beautiful views over the beach and the sea? They’ve got that too.
Bacaro in the multi-cultural Raval area is a no-frills, convivial Italian restaurant in a minimalistic setting, run by Venetian expats (which explains the name, bacaro being a typically Venetian wine bar/eatery). No cheap pasta here, but refined, fresh and tasty food. Sardines, burrata, bresaola and insalata – it’s all on the menu and it’s all great. Nuria & Coke’s favorite Italian is up next: Hello Il Giardinetto ! Amidst the concrete jungle of the city, Il Giardinetto offers an elegant escape in an original, yet timeless decor. This is the go-to spot for those that love Italian food made from seasonal ingredients, with some fine wine and/or cocktails. Live piano too if you’re sticking around for dessert.
Paella? Paella! Xiringuito Escribà excels at that Spanish specialty and also has a nice range of other fresh seafood dishes. Established in 1992 (the year of the Barcelona Summer Olympics!), its beautiful location that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and its quality cuisine have made Xiringuito Escribà a legendary place.
Switching over to breakfast and brunch options, the Federal Café – opened by two Australian adventurers - is highly recommended. They have two different Barcelona locations these days too! Not only is their food simply delicious, their coffee does a great job too and the whole vibe is relaxing and welcoming. A perfect way to start the day.
Considered to be the best champagne bar in Barcelona, El Xampanyet in the El Borne neighborhood has the best cava in store for you, as well some great tapas. Ideal for a late lunch or an evening where it doesn’t really matter anyway. Always busy and lively, filled with locals and tourists, El Xampanyet is an authentic, fun place where you’ll easily spend hours.
Bar Cugat is a timeless, chilled out bar in the Eixample area and comes highly recommended. Try a glass of vermouth, combined with some tapas. Or coffee with some cake. When you’re visiting and feel like you’ve already seen the place before, it’s because we shot part of our City Slickers editorial there.
Negroni Cocktail Bar - as the name gives away – is an elegant, yet young and friendly cocktail bar in the El Ravel district. Each cocktail is personalized to suit the taste of whomever is ordering. Nice! Staying in that same vibe, Boadas is another name and address to note. Right by the Ramblas, so easy to find, it’s another great place for a late-night cocktail or drink.
Well, we’re talking Barcelona here! There’s so much to visit that the only risk is feeling overwhelmed by all the options there are. Good thing we have Nuria & Coke’s advice to guide us. The Fundacio Joan Miro is one of their favorite museums and it’s easy to see why. It was originally set up by Miro himself in 1975, with works from his own collection. Nowadays, it’s the perfect place to discover Miro’s work as well as stunning amount of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century.
Another must-see in the Montjuïc area is the Caixa Forum. In a beautiful building from 1911, this modern art museum and forum opened in 2002 and houses work by artists like Beuys, Kapoor and Uslé, but also offers a media library, classrooms, auditoriums and a restaurant. Right next to it, you’ll find the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion, originally built for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. Designed by van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, it is widely considered as an important building in the history of modern, minimalist architecture due to its shape and the wealth of materials used. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (or simply MNAC) is also close to the aforementioned stops. Being one of Spain largest museums, it’s well known for its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque art, but it also houses a lot of modern art. From the MNAC you can also enjoy a great view over the city. Bring your camera : )
In the center of the city, you can’t help but to take a stroll down the Ramblas or visit the Mercat de la Boqueria, but in both cases: please beware of pickpockets. If you’re craving a dose of Gaudi architecture (and we don’t blame you), go to La Pedrera and – of course – la Sagrada Familia. While you’re around, why not visit the MACBA (Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Richard Meier) whose collection contains 5000 works, including art by Goldstein, Calder, Duchamp, Torres Garçia, Klee and more.
After that overdose of culture and art, you might want to clear your head. Parc Güell might be the right place for that. A stretch of green biodiversity, in the middle of the city. Walk all the way up the hill for another great view of the city, the opposite of the view you had from MNAC. Another great park to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city is Parc de la Ciutadella, where you can go on long walks, row a boat on the lake or visit the city zoo!
If you’re planning on walking to the beach, take your time to stroll around the narrow streets of the El Borne and El Gotic neighborhoods. If you’d get lost, remember that if you keep going downhill, you’ll end up on the beach for sure.
Do you love flea markets? Perfect. The Mercat dels Encants Vells dates back to the 14th century and happens on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Go there in the morning and avoid Saturday as it’s the busiest day of the week.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mecanic is a stunning space dedicated to (analogue) photography and everything that comes with it (books, exhibitions, workshops). Part bookstore, part creative space and meeting point, but also the perfect place for a nice coffee, glass of beer or wine with a quick bite.
That’s it for now, please do let us know how your trip went!