Barcelona is one of European hot spots. It took me 23 years to find my way to the buzzing city along the Mediterranean, only to end up loving it. The architecture, the nearby beach, the relaxed people, skateboards all over the place, long nights and not to forget delicious food anywhere you go. Anem!
Accommodation: we stayed with Nick, a young Brit who lives in the Raval district. It was a great apartment, however the area becomes a bit dodgy in the night. I totally fell in love with the districts of Born and Eixample where I would stay the next time. One night, we had drinks on the roof top of the Cram Hotel which you should do, too. Other great accommodations are the luxurious Cotton House, Hotel Central with its rooftop pool, the minimalistic Hotel Praktik Bakery and the Casa Gracia Hostel with its beautiful views.
Restaurants: I possibly could write an entire post about the Spanish food that I adore – seafood, tapas, tortilla… you name it. The best Paella in town can undoubtedly be found at Bosque Palermo. For other seafood I recommend La Paradeta which is a self service place where you can choose your food from the counter. When it comes to Tapas, Ciutat Comtal is the address, but also quite crowded. Therefore, you might want to head to Paco Mergalgo, Vinitus, La Champaneria, El Xampanyet (C/ de Montcada 22) or La Tertulia. Other local approved restaurants are the Mexican Rosa Raval (C/ dels Angèls) and Iposa (Floristes de la Rambla 14) in Raval, the family owned Can Recasens a bit further outside, and the Argentinian restaurant Iguazu near the beach. As you can see, Barcelona is a food heaven!
Bars & Nightlife: as we walked a lot during the day, we didn’t really experience the nightlife but we found some great bars to hang around. The best area is the Gotico with Oviso Bar, Sugar Bar (cocktails half price for girls) and the Plaza Real where you find lots of different bars. As a huge sucker for roof top terraces, I recommend the Cram Hotel, the Ohla Hotel and the Duquesa de Cardona Hotel. A friend from Barcelona strongly recommends the Mellow Beach Club (near the W Hotel) and the Razzmatazz as her favourite club around the town, mainly because of its diversity of music styles.
Cafés: I was surprised to see how many bakeries one can find around the city. As a coeliac it was a pain, but I found some nice places were even gluten-free people have fun. My favourite is probably the Travel & Cake/Brunch & Cake/Cup & Cake, a “chain” with the best breakfast in town. If you want to enjoy brunch by the beach, you should go to the Surf House. Another bakery that I loved was the Forn Boix in the Raval where pastries are simply delicious. Apart from these particular addresses, I simply would enjoy the street life in Barcelona, avoiding the touristy La Rambla – rather sneak into the little alleys in Born, Gotico or Ravla (not by night) to find the best cafés or ice cream places (for the gluten-free people here: at Gocce Di Latte, they serve GF cones and vegan ice cream).
Shopping: except from some items of my wish list (of course I found Espadrilles and a shoulder less top), we didn’t do a lot of shopping. Yet, on our way to Park Güell, I found the Typographia where you can buy shirts with extremely cool prints as well as other nice boutiques along the road. Whilst most of the people shop in the usual chains around the Plaza Catalunya, I prefer neighbourhood streets such as the C/ Verdi (check out the decor shop Fulanitu i Menganita) in Gracia or the C/ del Rec in Born where there are more individual boutiques.
Sightseeing: for most tourists, the major reason to go to Barcelona is to see the Sagrada Familia or the Park Güell (make sure for both to buy tickets online). As much as I was impressed by both, particularly by the park, I enjoyed less popular places more, just while strolling around the city. Let’s take for example the former bullfighting arena La Monumental or the Olympic Park – I both loved them. If you are a fan of art, the Miro museum is a must-do (as all museums in BCN, it is free on the 1st Sunday of each month), but I even more recommend to walk through the surrounding park. It is simply beautiful. Finally, markets are a must and although very touristy, the Mercado de Boqueria is a highlight as you can find fresh and local food at all stalls. My tip: get yourself some fresh fruits and a tortilla de patatas and eat in the nearby square of the Biblioteca de Catalunya.
My personal tip: when I was younger, I bought myself a skateboard and even though I was pretty horrible at it, I still love to watch skaters. They are all over the place, but if I were you, I would grab some cold beers and sit down next to the MACBA in Raval where the skateboard scene has its hot spot.