Barcelona is a vibrant city that offer plenty of things to do and see, and whether you are passing for a day or weeks while travelling in Spain, you want to make the best of your time by visiting iconic attractions and tasting the best of Catalan cuisine. Our Insiders´Barcelona Travel Guide offers you insider´s tips to make your experience memorable. Here you will find a selection of our favorite restaurants, tapas bars, city attractions and places to stay.
ESSENTIAL FOODS AND DRINKS IN CATALONIA
The gastronomic offer of Barcelona is influenced by a number of cultures, it clearly sparks the Mediterranean flavor on its dishes thanks to use of olive oil, fresh veggies, fish and meat. One can say that it is a dynamic combination of ancient and new traditions. You shouldn’t leave Barcelona without trying:
- Pa amb tomaquet. An art on itself and an identity to Catalan people. Bread rubbed with garlic, tomato, olive oil and a pinch of salt in that very same order.
- Bunyols de Bacalla. Codfish pastries, slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside that are served as an appetizer or just eaten as street food. Best are found at Barcelona Markets.
- Escalivada. Eggplant and Bell Peppers cooked in ashes served with a generous amount of olive oil are the ingredients of this perfect pairing to Pa amb Tomaquet.
- Trinxat. Literally to slice, this is a classic dish from the Catalan Pyrenees mountains made with cabbage, potatoes and pork meat.
- Mel I Mato. A classic Catalan dessert that combines curd cheese and honey and that originates in the middle age.
- Crema Catalana. Burned cream recipe unique to Catalonia as the custard is flavored with orange zest and cinnamon, and the sugar caramelized under an iron boiler.
- Catanies. Locally grown almonds which are toasted and covered by caramel, white chocolate and powdered black chocolate. A perfect pair with cava or coffee.
The essential dishes to consider trying when eating at restaurant in Barcelona have thousand of years of history. The first book written in Spain about gastronomy dates back to the 14th century and it was written in Barcelona!
And of course, this region also has an embedded culture on drinks which go beyond wine:
- Cava. Sparkling wine produced in the Penedes region of Catalonia under the champenoise traditional method, but with less sugar, using parellada, xarel-lo & macabeu grapes. The perfect pair for any dish.
- Vermut. Indispensable drink if you want to go for tapas in Barcelona. It is basically a type of fortified white wine flavored with herbs. Pair it olives or clams and anchovies.
- Beers. By no surprise, worldwide trends have also arrived to Barcelona and a bunch of enthusiastic entrepreneurs are producing amazing beers, putting Barcelona into the beer scene at very high standards.
Denomination of Origin (DO) refers to Spain’s wine quality control system, whereas Denomination of Origin Qualified (DOC in Spain & DOQ in Catalonia) is the highest category in Spanish wine law, reserved for regions with above-average grape prices and particularly stringent quality controls. There are two of these regions in Spain, one is Rioja and the other one is Priorat, which is located in Catalonia. Lets see which are the wine varieties that we can find in Catalonia. All of them are available at bars, shops and restaurants in Barcelona.
- Priorat DOQ. Is the most famous and prestigious Catalan wine region with famous reds and a worldwide quality recognition. Main grapes: Cariñena and Garnatxa.
- Montsant. DO is characterized by powerful red wines and ¨vi ranci¨ style wines using the traditional solera system. Main grapes: old Garnacha and Cariñena.
- Penedes. DO home to the modern and innovative growers, is the region where mainly Cava is produced, though fantastic white and red wines are also found. Main grapes: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo.
- Alella and Conca de Barbera. DO famous for its white wines, and the later also for cava. Main grapes: Xarel-lo for Alella, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Trepat and Pinot noir for Conca de Barbera
- Costers del Segre. DO wines are characteristic of the mountainous Lleida region where white and red wines are produced. Main grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Merlot, Parellada, Pinot noir and Tempranillo.
- Emporda. Wines that have been historically ¨roses¨, though these days’ reds and whites are on the rise, and some villages also produce cavas. Main grapes: Grenache and Carignan.
- Pla de Bages. DO is one of the smallest wine regions in Spain, famous for the white Picapoll and red Garnatxa and Ull de Llebre grape varieties
- Tarragona. DO is the wine region where most Cava is produced while some old traditional methods are still preserved to produce red wines (rancid wines)
- Terra Alta. DO stands for high lands, and it’s the place where red and white wines used to produce for local consumption, an aspect that is changing these days. Main grape: white Garnatxa
BEST BARCELONA RESTAURANTS AND TAPAS BARS
Barcelona restaurants are famous for its top quality, being upmarket or simply day to day cafes. They strive pride and character, and this is just a hint into the ones we believe represent best the city´s culinary culture.
Vaso d´Oro. Best solomillo (entrecot) amb foie in a place where tapas have character
Calle de Balboa, 6 Tel: +34 933 19 30 98 http://vasodeoro.com/
Open Mon-Sun 12pm-12am
Viblioteca. Be advised about the perfect wine pairing by one of the sommelier´ owners. Fresh products and needless to say, superb wine!
Vallfogona, 12 Tel: +34 932 84 42 02 www.viblioteca.com
Open Mon-Sat 6pm-1am Sun 7pn-12am
Bar Bodega Quimet. Distinct atmosphere, cask wine served like in old times. Fabulous grilled octopus
Vic, 23 Tel: +34 932 18 41 89
Open daily 10 am-11pm; Sat-Sun noon-11pm
Caravelle. Best hipster brunch in town! Try their homemade Galatic Pale Ale beer
Pintor Fortuny, 31 Tel: +34 933 17 98 92 http://www.caravelle.es/
Open Mon-Sun 10am-12am
Disfrutar. Haut and original cuisine, with an excellent wine menu by former “El Bulli” chefs
Villaroel, 163 Tel: +34 933 48 68 96 www.disfrutarbarcelona.com
Open Wed-Tue 1-3pm, 8-10pm Sun-Mon closed
Kaiku. Taste the best of Barceloneta cuisine. Best paella in town (though here we call it ¨arroz¨!)
Placa del Mar, Barceloneta Tel: +34 932 21 90 82 www.restaurantkaiku.cat
Open Mon-Sat 1-3.30pm Sun 1-3pm
Bohemic. Family run bistro that celebrates awesome creative cuisine
Manso, 42 Tel: +34 934 24 06 28 www.bohemicbistro.com
Open Tue-Sat 1.30pm-3.30pm, 8.30pm-11.30pm
Morro Fi. Barcelonians favorite institution for vermut and anchovies
Consell de Cent, 171 www.morrofi.cat
Open Mon-Sat 12-4pm, 6-11pm Sun 12-4pm
Xurreria San Roman. One of the best artisan doughnuts in town open since 1969
Consell de Cent, 211 Tel: +34 934 53 25 82 http://www.churreriasanroman.com/
Open Mon-Sun 8am-10pm
As well you might want to know where you can eat by the Barcelona beaches or what are the best restaurants to host large group dinners, Barcelona has it all! In case you are looking for something quite specific dont hesitate to write us a line, we´ll make the best efforts to point you into the right direction.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN BARCELONA
VISIT THE GOLDEN QUARTER (QUADRAT D´OR)
Take a breathtaking walk on this kind of open-air museum area in central Barcelona, as you´ll admire stunning architecture that boast neo-gothic details, floral decorations and stained-glass works that reveal the best of modernisme (the local version of art noveau) that florished towards the end of the 19th century. This is the legacy of Antoni Gaudi and many more.
The area is delimited by street Aribau, Passeig de Sant Joan, ronda Sant Pere and Universitat, and Diagonal avenue. Among the most famous attractions to see you will find:
- Casa Batlló and Casa Mila (better known as La Pedrera) by Antoni Gaudí.
- Casa Amatller, Casa de les Punxes (the thorns) and Casa Macaya by Puig i Cadafalch.
- Casa Lleó Morera and Casa Montaner I Simon (better known as Fundacion Antoni Taies) by Domènech i Montaner.
FEEL THE VIBES AT PLACA DEL ANGELS
Probably the most eclectic and quirky venue in town that host the Barcelona Museum for Contemporary Art (MACBA) and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), both among the most visited arts centers in Barcelona and the world, which are also opposite to a Medieval Convent for which the square is named, being a haven for modern skateboarding, photography and cinema.
BEST BREATH-TAKING VIEWS AT THESE 3 LOCATIONS
- Carmel Bunkers, just above the must visit eclectic Park Guell, this area offers the most breathtaking view to Barcelona (bring a bottle of cava in your bag! upsss!)
- Tibidabo, apart from being an attraction theme park, it is the highest point in town with an historic church. Discover it!
- Parc Poblesec is easily reachable by foot from Barcelona city center and it offers a close view to the seaport, industrial districts and Tibidabo!
(photo credit: www.geekyexplorer.com)
STROLL AT CIUTADELLA PARK
A former fortress that host a cascade and a lake, the Barcelona zoo, modernist buildings an Arch (similar to the Arc de Triumph in Paris), the Catalan Parliament and plenty of beautiful green areas is the perfect spot to feel history and the way Catalans find leisure over the weekends.
(photo credit: www.barcelonaconnect.com)
JUST BIKE AROUND BARCELONA
Barcelona has an extensive bike infrastructure and there are plenty of businesses that rent bikes for around 10 euros per day. Just go green and get to iconic Barcelona attractions through the bike lanes and stroll over the sea side with a bike while you stop for tapas and beers, while lure´s Barcelona life and architecture. Simple and easy.
BARCELONA WITH KIDS
Looking for what to do in Barcelona with kids, we must state that this is very much a child friendly city and we do recommend:
- Cosmocaixa to discover science with your kids in an unforgettable manner (the views from the garden are also breathtaking).
- Walk along Barceloneta beach and find the big spider nets which kids love.
- Uncover the ¨Labyrinth Park of Horta¨ or take your little ones to the Bosc Urba for extreme experiences.
(photo credit: Cosmocaixa)
UNCOVER MEDIEVAL BARCELONA
Between Paralell Avenue and Passeig de Picasso the curious traveler enters the Gothic Quarter to admire the roots of a faraway life that is still beautifully represented by the Cathedral and some churches such as Santa Maria del Pi, Santa Maria del Mar and the oldest Sant Pau del Camp. Many Gothic style buildings exist in this area, and beyond is worth visiting the Pedralbes Monastery and the National Museum of Catalan Visual Art (MNAC).
(photo credit: Its only rock and roll)
VISIT WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENTS
Since 1984 nice buildings in Barcelona are declared world heritage. Most of them located in the golden quarter, and some beyond. Among the best things to see in Barcelona are impressive church Sagrada Familia and Park Guell from Gaudi, and one of the oldest and most beautiful hospitals in Europe Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (in our opinion the Barcelona must see) and the concert-hall Palau de la Musica Catalana from Domènech i Montaner.
(photo credit: Barcelona.cat)
DRINK AT AN OLD TAVERN
Beyond tasting Catalonia´s main drink, cava, in the city of Barcelona there are unique and authentic places where locals actually celebrate this drink, and whether you drink alcohol or not, there is no harm in seeing how traditions are enjoyed in the City of Counts. Just visit Xampanet or La Champañeria to get a glimpse of how locals enjoy this sparkling drink.
OUR TIPS ON FINDING AN APARTMENT
Use a local agency
When you’re looking for a place to stay in Barcelona, you can either go with an apartment or a hotel. One useful best piece of advice if you want to stay in an apartment is to try to consider that they need to be registered as holiday accommodation. Unlicensed apartments are commonly found on international company websites who aren’t strict at enforcing this, so you may end up staying in one and be contributing to unsustainable tourism while eroding local culture. Try to book with a local and central apartments agency in Barcelona such as OK Apartment Barcelona, who live in the city everyday and take stronger measures to avoid listing illegal apartments, including visits to the apartment.
Another way to rent an Apartment in Barcelona is with Likibu, a great website that aggregates different types of accommodation for rent with the possibility to compare prices with hotel rooms, but look at the company you’re booking with for the aforementioned reason. Would you like to stay in an apartment in Barcelona to eat your way around during a week-end or discover the modernist vibes of the Eixample? Its all there!
OUT TOP PICKS FOR HOTELS
Hotel Casa Camper
Smart hotel boutique just in the center of town and close to shopping areas and attractions. Unique on its own with a 24-h open café with free snacks. The perfect playground.
Address: C/ Elisabets 11 Tel: +34 933 426 280 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rooms from around 250 eur per night
Located in a unique location close to the city bustling center and nature, with a decoration that reminds you of Sri Lanka, this boutique hotel has a yoga space The Garage run by Veronica Blume and host Brummell Kitchen, a fantastic option at the Barcelona culinary sky. Feel trendy and breath fresh.
C/ Nou de la Rambla,174 Tel: +34 931 258 622
Rooms from around 110 eur per night
The hotel that captures the best of Barcelona local designers and top restaurateurs such as Satan Coffee and Mother which was featured in our best juiceries in town. A blend of tastes.
Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes 700 Tel: +34 93 545 80 70
Rooms from around 150 eur per night
Sophisticated look with affordable prices in a fantastic location that will allow the traveler to taste the real Barcelona life. Walk to the trendy hipster mile at Parlament street.
Comte Borrell,68 Tel: +34 933 251 205
Rooms from around 80 eur per night
Luxury, history and gourmet food at the Gothic Quarter. The building has original frescoes dating from the 2nd century. Feel the past and wonder around windy old streets.
Calle dels Lledó, 7 Tel: +34 93 310 74 80
Rooms from around 300 eur per night
Close to main Barcelona city center attractions with a Balinese inspired terrace that has a signature cocktail that shouldn’t be missed (The Pullitzer!). Laid back arty atmosphere.
Calle Bergara, 8 Tel: +34 934 81 67 67
Rooms from around 170 eur per night
Winery or Bakery? This small chain has two hotels distinctive on its approach which relates to wines from Catalunya or the best bakery in town (Baluard). Both have superb rooms. Feeling like buying wine or bread?
Praktik Vinoteca – Calle Balmes 51 Tel: +34 93 454 50 28
Praktik Bakery – Calle Provença 279 Tel: +34 93 488 00 61
Rooms from around 120 eur per night
Hotel The Serras
Located in a building dated from 1846 overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and close to the gothic quarter, this 5-star hotel recreates modernism at the first Picasso´s studio. Simple and sublime.
Passeig de Colom, 9 Tel.: +34 93 169 18 68
Rooms from around 350 eur per night
The 5 Rooms
Warm yet stylish B&B that has evolved into a blend of rooms and apartments that make the traveler feel at home in Barcelona with a quality approach and personalized treat at the heart of Barcelona bustling city center and close to the best attractions and restaurants in town. Great choice for families and the self-improver traveler.
Pau Claris 72, 1 Tel: +34 93 342 78 80
Rooms from 135 eur per night
One way or another, this Barcelona travel guide should have help you out on your preparations to visit this fantastic city, we showcase things to do and places we believe are truly unique and representative of the local culture. In case this post has provided you some value we would appreciate a share or a facebook like, and of course your comments are welcome, there is always room to improve. All the best!