A city of art, culture, great food, fashion and nightlife. I can’t believe it took me up to now to finally visit Barcelona in Spain but I think it’s a city I’ll return to again and again! Here’s my top ten things to do in Barcelona.
1. Stay in a Luxury Hotel
With it’s beach front position and stunning roof top pool, the Hotel Arts Barcelona was the perfect choice for Mr S’s birthday.
I visited several other hotels while we were there – all in the name of research of course…In my opinion the famous W Hotel looks a little worse for wear but it’s the perfect choice for those looking for a lively holiday. The Mandarin Oriental is often cited as being on par with Hotel Arts for being the top luxury hotel in the city and the location on Passeig de Gràcia makes it ideal for high end shopping.
We stopped there for a cocktail and I thought the interiors were immaculate but it lacked the atmosphere of the Arts or the W. Soho House Barcelona is the epitome of cool, and as I’m a member of Soho House, we took the opportunity to stop there for a drink. I loved the aesthetic of the hotel / members club but Mr S preferred being on the beach and having a larger pool. Another great option for the city centre is gorgeous Hotel Omm which boasts a rooftop pool and Michelin starred restaurant.
2. Go to the Beach
We loved Barceloneta beach, the location of the Hotel Arts. Not only for the wide expanse of sand and the gorgeous Mediterranean seaxx but for the lively atmosphere, artwork and superb people watching!
Two restaurants that I would highly recommend on beach are Agua for amazing seafood and Ca La Nuri for paella perfection.
3. Explore the Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is the old city of Barcelona, once a Roman village, you’ll find it walking down Las Ramblas from Placa Catalunya. As well as being steeped in history and being home to Barcelona cathedral, it’s a beautifully charming area to walk around and explore.
You’ll also find the Jewish Quarter here as well as Can Culleretes, the oldest restaurant in Barcelona dating back to 1786.
4. Stroll La Rambla
La Rambla is a pedestrianised street in the centre of Barcelona connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument. It’s around 1.2 kilometres and easily the most famous street in Barcelona.
It’s crowded and touristy but no visit to Barcelona is complete without a walk on La Rambla. You can also pay a visit to La Boqueria, the famous street market, and try some local produce.
5. Visit a Michelin Star restaurant
With many starry chefs hailing for the city and the surrounding area, Barcelona is heaven for dedicated foodies. There’s a huge number of Michelin and multi-Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the city so you will absolutely spoilt for choice.
We were lucky enough to get a booking at Tickets by Ferran Adrià, the hottest restaurant in town! But I was also recommended Moments at the Mandarin Oriental, Enoteca at Hotel Arts, ABaC and Roca Moo by the Roca Brother. Lasarte is the city’s first and only restaurant to hold three Michelin stars.
6. Go Yacht Shopping
Ok so Mr S and I aren’t quite in the market for a yacht but there’s lots to be admired around Barcelona. Check out Port Olympic for luxurious hotels and sexy night clubs.
Or head to Port Vell at the end of La Rambla, it’s a more touristy but very lively with lots to do.
7. Eat Spanish Food
Mr S’s favourite cuisine, we did of course stuff ourselves with Spanish food – we’re huge fans of padron peppers, Ibérico Ham, paella, croquettes…you name it, we had it!!
I would highly recommend Cervecería Catalana and Arola at the Hotel Arts Barcelona for tapas.
8. Discover Antoni Gaudí throughout the City
Antoni Gaudí designed many of the beautiful buildings in Barcelona with his unique style. Highlights for us included Park Güell, Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló and Casa Milà on Passeig de Gràcia.
I just love his whimsical, almost fairytale style.
9. Cocktail Hour!
Barcelona is the perfect party city and with dinner not even really getting started until 10pm, you’ll be dancing until dawn. We loved cocktails at the W and partying a eclipse, CDLC was a great beach front bar (but avoid the sangria), Soho House Barcelona is the epitome of cool. Also if you’re looking for somewhere lively for dinner check out Ikibana for Brazilian / Japanese fusion. Partying is definitely one of the best things to do in Barcelona!
10. Take a Pilgrimage to El Celler de Can Roca
Twice voted the best restaurant in the world and in possession of three Michelin stars, I highly recommend visiting El Celler de Can Roca. Located in Girona, it’s a good hour and a half drive from the centre of Barcelona but it’s well worth the journey to try the food and wine created by the renowned Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca. `
I couldn’t think of anywhere better for a short break from London. With the flight being so short and with the benefits of both city and beach and value for money, Barcelona is a winner.
Have you been to Barcelona? What are your must sees and recommendations?
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