A city guide to Barcelona
The constant traveller: Barcelona
Words— Kaitlyn McInnis
Barcelona is truly an enchanting coastal city within the Catalan region of Spain that’s bursting with an undeniable zest for life. The Catalan city is where football fans, food lovers, and beach fiends converge. Whether you’re in the mood to wine and dine, wind down and relax or something in between, there’s something for everyone in the seaside city.
Here, we’ve laid out exactly how to spend an unforgettable few days in Barcelona.
Where to Eat
When you’re in Barcelona, you get tapas. There’s no way around it. For a more upscale dining experience, head to Ten’s, which serves up creative signature and traditional tapas by Michelin-starred chef, Jordi Cruz. It may not be the traditional way of enjoying tapas, but if you’re looking for a more refined experience, don’t miss it.
On the other end of the spectrum there’s Martin’s Bar. Slightly north of the city centre, this unpretentious bar and restaurant serves some of the best jamon in the city, alongside other traditional tapas like patatas bravas and croquettes. Set in a charming, neighbourhood square, here’s where to go to get the real Barcelona local experience.
It may sound offbeat, but hear us out. Sports Bar, a twenty-seat Italian restaurant just steps away from the Gothic Quarter serves up some of the best wood-oven pizza outside of Italy. Run by an expat Italian family, this charming neighbourhood bar and restaurant is much more than its somewhat misleading name.
For dessert (or an afternoon snack between meals…), head to Xurreria Trebol, where you’ll find some of the best churros in town. Make sure to ask for chocolate dipping sauce—fresh churros dipped into warm chocolate will convert even the cleanest of eaters into chocolate fiends.
Where to Drink
At Bar Brutal you’ll find some of the best natural wine in Europe—by the glass—for a lot less than you’d pay in North America or other European countries. Feel free to experiment with new producers or let the bartender guide you based on what you already know you love. Pro tip: the menu changes seasonally, but if you see oysters on the menu, do yourself a favour and order a dozen on ice.
Restaurante La Vinya del Senyor
Remember the first time you went to Europe? Ideas of charming terraces on cobblestone streets overlooking centuries-old cathedrals probably came to mind pretty quickly, huh? Restaurante La Vinya del Senyor offers just that. Set in the same square as Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, this charming cava bar has one of the most picturesque terraces in town—and some of the best cava, too.
Take advantage of the ample amount of delicious Spanish wine available and head to Bar Salvatge. Here you’ll find endless natural wine options—but the bar itself feels more like stepping into your favorite college dive than a refined wine bar.
Galleries and Museums
Whether you’re a huge Picasso fan or not, a trip to the Picasso Museum is very well worth your time. The charming museum is set in the Gothic Quarter and boasts one of the most expansive collections of the Spanish artist’s work with over 4,000 pieces of his art.
Catalan Museum of Archaeology
If you’re into prehistoric and ancient artifacts and history, be sure to head to the Catalan Museum of Archaeology. The museum was originally founded in 1932 and has since expanded to include the most important archaeological collection of Catalonia, from medieval statues to pre-Romanesque churches and tombs.
Museum of the History of Barcelona
Barcelona has a rich, complex history that you probably won’t be an expert on after visiting any museum in the city, but the Museum of the History of Barcelona is undoubtedly your best bet. The museum’s main focuses include conserving, researching and offering exhibits centred around the historical heritage of Barcelona, and dates all the way back to Roman times. It even has carefully preserved Roman ruins underneath the museum itself that visitors can catch a glimpse of.
Things to See and Do
Although it’s admittedly a bit of a trek from the city centre, Park Güell is a must-see when visiting Barcelona. Here you’ll find all those picturesque Gaudí buildings and swirling ceramic mosaics that Barcelona is so well known for. Enjoy a few hours of traipsing through the fauna, flora and colourful designs—but get there early if you don’t want to be surrounded by tour groups.
After a few days of running around and getting lost in the city, grab a few beers and rest and recharge at La Barceloneta. The seaside neighbourhood is home to one of the biggest beaches in the city, and although it gets full pretty quickly, it boasts insanely striking views of the Mediterranean Sea.
FC Barcelona at Camp Nou
Football fans will probably already have a match at Camp Nou on their to-do lists, but it’s truly a must-do for anyone looking to really soak in Barcelona to the fullest. Tickets will run you just under $100 but are truly worth it if you want to experience what it’s like to be surrounded by serious soccer fans.
Palau Dalmases Flamenco
Flamenco dancing is so tied to Spanish identity that it would be a mistake to skip out on one of these truly magical and moving performances. Skip the tourist spots in Las Ramblas and head to Palau Dalmases in the Gothic Quarter. This 6-person show runs about an hour in length and will touch even the most jaded travellers.
Where to Shop
La Manual Alpargatera
Shoe lovers will particularly appreciate La Manual Alpargatera, which boasts endless amounts of handmade espadrilles. The traditional Spanish workshop will also work with clients to create custom espadrilles in any colorway, pattern or style they’ve dreamed up.
Maremagnum Shopping Centre
If you find yourself in La Barceloneta on a Sunday (when everything is closed!) head to Maremagnum Shopping Centre. The mammoth complex was recently constructed and feels almost like stepping into a megamall in Singapore. With sweeping views of the sea, an actual farmer’s market, and traditional shops, it’s easy to spend a lazy Sunday strolling through this modern complex.
Mercado de La Boqueria
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or simply La Boqueria, is a bustling market in the city centre that serves both locals and tourists — and it’s a must-see for food lovers. While you’re there, be sure to pick up a cone of jamón ibérico and queso manchego for a newfound, grown-up appreciation of ham and cheese.