BARCELONA GUIDE: Travel & Lust believe in sharing first hand experiences, many of these you'll get to see if you follow our social media channels. We felt that now is the time to share a compiled list of our favourite haunts, whilst visiting Barcelona. As one of the most visited cities in Europe, you'll be surprised how many traditional stores, customs and unspoilt places there are. Barcelona has long reinvented itself time after time, making it one of the go-to-cities in Europe for sporting events, galleries, music festivals and a culinary mixture of world wide cuisine. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did doing research for it. #tandlbarcelona #tandlcatalonia
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TOP ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT
Travel by foot, Barcelona is one of the most walkable cities in the world.
From top: Temple of Augustus, discover the columns of the old temple in a small medieval courtyard. Antena Anilla Olimpica (Montjüic communications tower) was created for the '92 Olympics. Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, it was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. In the Monjüic area you can enjoy the Joan Miró Foundation, MNAC, Poble Espanyol, Caixa Forum, the Botanical Garden, Montjüic Castle, Olympic Stadium, Archaeology Museum and lots of outdoor space for activities.
Gaudí avoided straight lines when it came to this project. Like in his next (and last) commissioned private building, the Casa Milà, he paid great attention to detail when designing the wooden doors, stained glass windows, colourful tiles and carved out fireplace. Casa Batlló is a very expressive façade, in 1900 it was bought by the rich industrialist Josep Batlló i Casanovas who commissioned Gaudí to tear down the old house and reconstruct a new one.
The Caixa Forum is in the Art-Nouveau factory Casamona. This factory was closed down just seven years after its opening. After that, it was pressed into service as a warehouse during the Barcelona World Fair of 1929 and has underwent mass productions through humane and aesthetically interesting conditions. Now an amazing art gallery for kids and adults alike to enjoy in opulent spaces and galleries. See their website for viewings and activities on weekly basis here.
Antena Anilla Olimpica in Montjüic
The '92 Olympics games had a huge impact on Barcelona both on a touristic and architectural level. The Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring) was the epicentre of the festivities surrounded by the impressive Olympic stadium, the Bernat Picornell’s swimming-pool and the Palau Sant Jordi. Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava was the brave individual responsible for the design of this antena in the shape of an athlete holding an Olympic torch in a location so peculiar, in which both tourists and locals love to take in the views of the city.
Temple Roman August
Situated in the street C/ Paradis nº 10, it is a gem worth visiting if you are in or around the Gothic Quarter. It is a Roman temple built during the Imperial period in the colony of Barcino (modern day Barcelona) as a place of worship for Emperor Augustus. Once upon a time it was demolished but then discovered in the late 1900's.
Plaça Sant Felip Neri
This corner of Barcelona suffered one of the most tragic episodes during the Civil War and was witness to a great murder. The bullets can still be found on the façade of the church. It is a pretty quaint square with a sad tale.
Gaudí planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 for Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, a Catalan entrepreneur who profited greatly from the industrial revolution in Catalonia in the late 19th century. The project was intended for sixty single family residences in a residential park. It still remains one of Gaudí's most colourful and playful works of art and a visitor's favourite. Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism.
The Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Barcelona used the Catalan Gothic constructions for its structure. The large windows open up onto the radial chapels of the ambulatory, illuminating the presbytery. Also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, it is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona city. It is also a great meeting point to make your way around the narrow streets of the gothic quarter.
View the grid like city from above by visiting the bunkers at the top of the Turó de la Rovira hill. As it stands it is still free to visit, but the word has got out fast that this is an amazing place for breathtaking views of Barcelona. The bunkers are historical as they were built during the Civil War in 1937 and became shacks shortly afterwards. Now you'll find people running around there, having a picnic during the day or relaxing and watching the sunset.
The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is a work on a grand scale which was begun on 19 March, 1882 from a project by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar (1828-1901). At the end of 1883 Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea, with many locals arguing they do not live the more modern features which weren't of Gaudí's vision.
TOP PLACES TO EAT
Indulge in Barcelona's finest foods. CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO READ THE FULL REVIEWS.
The Fish & Chips Shop
With a superb takeaway operation, limited seatings capability and fresh products of the day, this spot has been a regular for us since its opening. Magid is on the fryer and Mani Alam does the leg work, and by popular demand they will wrap a newspaper cone with the best golden crispy fish and flavourful chips! Finish your meal with qualitative coffee from their La Marzocco machine!
Carrer de Rocafort, 70
This concept shop-café-restaurant, has been open for over two years now and is definitely the icing on the cake Barcelona needed! Jaime is currently immersed in national and international major projects in the world of hospitality.
Carrer de Pau Claris, 167
La Cuina d'en Garriga
The story of La Cuina d'en Garriga started in 1876, when Mr. Agustí Garriga Mundett, the great, great grandfather of the current business owners founded in Paris the siphon for soda water to use as an utensil capable of alleviating heavy digestions. As a pharmacist by profession, this man shared his great discovery in Girona and this is how the nostalgic story of the siphons and Garriga family begins.
La Cova Fumada
An authentic family run bar that has been catering the real eaters! They are said to have invented 'las bombas de Barceloneta', go try it for yourself!
Carrer del Baluart, 56
Located in Barcelona's Eixample neighborhood, we found a stirring culinary restaurant that goes by the name of Semproniana. Packed with locals, this traditional and creative space has had us wondering where we have been eating all these years!
Carrer Rossello, 148
This place is all about the food and it's great because you get to see the chefs at work, the waiters pacing up and down and some of the tables are shared, so you don't always know who you'll be next to. We love the stewed bull's tail, garlic soup with poached egg, steak with foie gras and the crispy aubergine with a drizzle of honey is heaven!
Carrer de la Unio, 17
Daily specials with local, Spanish varieties in a historical setting amongst locals. Excellent for group menus! Situated off the beaten path in Barcelona, it is well worth your commute!
Carrer de la Creu Coberta, 87
Bar Mut's owner Kim Díaz opened this across the street from Bar Mut. This place has a vintage feel with delicious delights such as gazpacho with beetroot, squid sandwiches, bombons de morcilla, ham croquettes, ...need we add more!?
Carrer de Pau Claris, 189
TOP PLACES TO STAY
Design apartment rental and boutique hotels. Click on the texts in the images to read our full reviews.
This hotel is spot on in the residential neighbourhood of Poble Sec, within the depths of the local's side with dozens of amazing bars, restaurants and entertainment in the area. Their in-house bistro, The Box Social, has been getting a lot of buzz for their precious food and on sundays do indulge in their roast. When in the mood, you can balance your stay with a session in the sauna or lounge by the swimming pool area with a glass of your favourite drink. All details in the hotel were either designed or chosen carefully with a focus on functionality. The mixture of antiques with custom furnishings and details from some of their favourite designers make Brummell a well balanced and relaxed environment. www.hotelbrummell.com
This boutique, luxury apartment rental company has numerous, spacious suites all across the centre of the city. With a Nordic slash Mediterranean inspired design, it clearly represents the sophisticated style behind the owner and interior designer Anne Nijstad. With a spoilt selection of amenities, a friendly staff at check in and an amazing space for kids to play, this is at the top of the charts for families, friends and couples all together. www.destinationbcn.com
Away from the busy streets you can find the perfect home away from home. Expect exclusivity, quality and friendly service all adorned in beautiful rooms and suites. In the warmer months you can enjoy their private swimming pool and spacious terraces. In the summer they make use of the upstairs chill-out terrace for music and drinks. A boutique find in Sarrià, with stylish rooms, free Wi-Fi and honesty bar. Perfect for family holidays, romantic escapes and friends. You will feel like you are living in a residential neighbourhood with prized exclusivity.
Gone are the days when a hotel simply offers a pretty space where you lay your head. Casa Bonay in Barcelona is a huge testament to that, as it not only has a hotel but is encompassed by a restaurant, cafe, juice bar and cocktail bar. Situated in the newly popular side of Dreta de l’Eixample, this is a magnet not only for those visiting Barcelona but locals too! The building is huge yet the branding is minimal and the welcome is discreet, which very much sets the tone of the ethos. Introducing an eclectic array and collaboration of homegrown talent. www.casabonay.com
EXTRA: Read about our other boutique stays outside the province of Barcelona.
Yurbban is a new hotel concept that links local and urban experience in the oldest district of Barcelona city. With 56 rooms, this boutique gem caters to every individual with their extensive range of services and leisure facilities, focusing on attention to every detail. Their envious rooftop terrace takes you above the city, providing 360 degree panoramic views of vibrant Barcelona, with a plunge pool to cool off in. www.yurbban.com
A 4-stars boutique hotel, which is luminous and has an atmosphere which radiates freshness and cosmopolitan cool. Conveniently located by Plaza Catalunya, you'll find yourself walking distance to most places of interest. The hotel has an intimate rooftop terrace, famed for jazz nights and vermouth days and there is also a restaurant on the ground floor. With a 24 hour room service, a free and unlimited access to Holmes Place Fitness Centre and more services that go beyond some hotels with the same ratings, you can enjoy your stay here for all the days you will ever need. www.hotelpulitzer.es/en
Praktik Vinoteca Hotel
This boutique gem is situated in the among most of the Modernist and Art Nouveau monuments that have made Barcelona one of the leading cities in art, fashion and design. You will also be spoilt with their spacious garden terrace where one can sip on a glass of wine after a long day of sightseeing. You can take advantage of the complimentary wine tasting session, where you can learn all about the vino culture. It is a stone's throw away from Enric Granados, Rambla Catalunya and Passeig de Gracia, but you still fell like your living among locals. www.praktikhotels.com
Ca la Maria
This bed and breakfast flourished with the wealth of knowledge from architect Maria Inglada. She has repurposed her parent's 1920s-era flat into accommodation that serves as a revolving exhibition space for her family's collection of contemporary art. Desirably on the top places to stay: points for its 750+ square metre terrace, culinary delights and urban comfort. Expect homemade cakes and an excellent service. www.calamariabarcelona.com/en
From top: Yurbban Trafalgar, DestinationBCN and Casa Bonay. Tap images to go to our first hand experienced hotel reviews.
TOP THINGS TO DO
Want to keep your agenda short? Here's our list of faves things to do.
From top: A landmark in the Gothic Quarter is the Plaça del Rei in between serpentine streets. Galeria Miquel Alzueta is a contemporary art and furniture gallery with exhibitions on rotation. Federal Cafe Gótico is among our fave coffee corners in Barcelona. Read our list (to the right) of some of the best spots for your morning fix.
Vermut: celebrate the aperitif
The Catalans, like the Italians, also like their vermut and the city is brimming with places to go for an aperitif. See our list below:
Vermuteria El Tano
Bodega Els Sortidors del Parlament
Eat with the locals
Eat like the locals with the locals by applying on the website. Learn about the city and its residents in the best way possible...through the food. We are big fans of slow tourism and sometimes the best paella, pan con tomate or any other dish that represents a region, is best eaten when cooked by someone that is local. We did just that, read all about it here.
Visit the Modernista buildings
Half way through the 19th Century and Barcelona entered arguably the most significant stage of its development to date. A huge building programme took place, based on the plans of one Ildefons Cerda, which dramatically increased the size of the city, expanding exponentially out from the medieval Old Town and joining the neighbouring villages of Gracia, Sants, Sant Marti and Sant Andreu into one huge metropolis. This new, vast zone of Barcelona was called Eixample (Catalan for 'The Addition') and became the playground of the Modernista architects. The following are a list of buildings you must see!! View the Barcelona Turisme website to learn more about the Modernista route in the city.
Enjoy the numerous restaurants, beach snack-bars (chiringuitos) and sporting activities on these beaches: Barceloneta, Nova Icaria, Bogatell and Mar Bella. The beach side snack bar, La Guingueta de la Barceloneta is our favourite stop off before a stroll through the beach. Celebrity chefs Carles Abellán and Jordi Escribá have united in unison to raise the bar in Barcelona's beach side culinary offerings. Here you can find sandwich bites, tapas and ice cream from Girona's famous Rocambolesc.
Extra: All Those markets is a celebration of street food aficionados, artisan goodies and like minded entrepreneurs that value their local communities. Click on the link to learn more - http://www.allthose.org/
For history buffs and the curious: go through the medieval, cobble streets of the Gothic Quarter. Be sure to visit the historical Sant Felip Neri square and Plaça del Rei, all of which surround the beautiful cathedral. Remnants of the Roman Wall can still be seen, as can the dark and ever present Gothic style in the architecture and small passages.
Head over to El Born and discover talented local fashion designers in places such as Ivori, Miriam Ponsa and Santa Eulalia. Concept store Nuovum in Raval, is also good for quirky souvenirs and custom made bags, art, jewellery and more. You can also pick up some nice vintage finds at La Boutique. El Recibidor in Sant Antoni is a haven for furniture and design fiends, as is Galeria BCN 2 minutes away where cool pieces of art and ornaments are on display. Sa Tramuntana opened in the summer of 2015, a showroom with design pecks and bites to eat.
The city has an abundance of museum, from the more contemporary works of upcoming artists to more classic offerings. Whether you like science, art, design, architecture, there is a museum for you in Barcelona. Our favourites are the Science Museum, CaixaForum, Fundació Joan Miró , MACBA, MNAC and Museu d’Història de la Ciutat - Plaça del Rei. See museum details here. Galeria Miquel Alzueta is a contemporary art and design gallery that hosts exhibitions in the bohemian neighbourhood of Grácia.
Visit traditional haunts
Colmado Quílez on Rambla de Catalunya, 63 has been open since 1908, it's probably the most famous shop of its kind in Barcelona. There are actually five stores in the Barcelona area as well as an additional two stores under the 'Colmado Quílez'. Colmado means "full of things". Most people find this other quaint little place by chance called Caelum, which is hidden away in the Gothic quarter on Calle de la Palla, 8. It will fill your monastic sweet temptations with their menu. Also unmissable is the Casa Gispert, recognised as one of Europe’s 10 best food artisans. Situated in the heart of the city, they sell all kinds of spices, chocolates, nuts and organic products. It makes for an excellent choice of gifts. There is a wide selection of boxes and baskets to choose from for your delivery style.
Check out the website for prices and timetables. It is an amazing zoo with dolphin shows and a special exhibition on 'Snow Flake' who passed in 2003.
TOP CITY ESCAPES
Venture outside and see what else the region has to offer.
From top: Visit the old town of Cadaques and winding cobbled streets. The views of the mediterranean sea whilst dipping in the crystal clear water of the town will have you wishing you booked a longer holiday. In Tarragona, history emanates from the stones, books and becomes alive. The city has specialised in historic re-enactment events and hosts the biggest human-tower building event in the world.
A miracle was built on site in this city: In the amphitheatre you can see the inscription of the emperor Heliogabalus (221AD) which is considered one of the major roman inscriptions remaining in the world. The castles and golden sand beaches in the gold coast (Costa Dorada) are must see gems.
A former fishing village that was once only accessible by sea, Cadaques remains a favourite spot for artists and is popular with the locals. Walk to Port Lligat and Dali's house to explore where the wacky artist spent half his year coming up with his creations. A truly sensational experience must be had here, this town cannot be imitated.
Celebrate life in style in this seaside town famous for its "Modern Style Parties", that made Sitges worldwide famous among artistic circles. Reputed to offer 300 days of sunshine a year, you will love the views as it is surrounded by the hills of the Garraf National Park. It is the St. Tropez of Spain. Stay at Hotel Alenti in its suite with terrace and bath tub (in room nº9).
The warm waters of the Mediterranean caress the coast of Empúries and have collected boats and civilisations for centuries. This small port on the Costa Brava was occupied by a Greek colony in 575 BC and the remains of its passage through here still gild the sun every day. As do the remains of the city that the Romans built right next door and also enjoys privileged views. If you visit, take your time and enjoy the relaxed air of the place, explore every corner, eat something in neighbouring Sant Martí d'Empúries.
Pretty waterfront houses, riverbanks and a dreamy atmosphere of the old, medieval town with churches and towers. Its historical Jewish quarter is charming and ever more beautiful in the Temps de Flors (Flower festival) in May. Walk through the narrow cobblestone streets of this ancient Catalonian city and discover its beautiful shops and taverns. Walk along the city wall walkways in the medieval quarter and catch a glimpse of the rural areas surrounding the city. Girona is to Barcelona what Arrezzo is to Florence in Tuscany. It's smaller, quieter and less frequented by visitors but mostly visited by the bigger city residents. Stay at the sophisticated Alemanys5 in the centre of the old town.
Whether you hike, climb, drive or take a cable car to this 1,236 metre high destination, you will be for the mountain views and the monastery. Make a spiritual connection and learn further more about the history of the region whilst visiting the sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat.
The ideal day trip, it is a medieval gem in the northern part of Catalonia. 11th century Romanesque bridge, Jewish baths and the Miqve (synagogue) are some of the main attractions of this town.
BARCELONA CITY MAP
Navigate your way round with our personalised map
There is more where that came from! View our Pinterest map to get to know Barcelona in even more details here.