FOR THE ULTIMATE BED AND BREAKFAST COMBO . . .
Hotel Praktik Bakery
Fancy waking up in a bakery? In Barcelona you can! We stayed at Hotel Praktik Bakery in Eixample, you can read more about the hotel in my previous blog post here.
Praktik Bakery - Calle Provença 279, Barcelona
FOR GAZING AT GAUDI . . .
It’s impossible to avoid the impression that this artist has left behind on the city. From his landscaped gardens in Park Guell, his famous, (unfinished) church Sagrada Familia to the iconic residential building Casa Batllo and curved apartment and office block La Pedrera. All of these were within walking distance from our hotel so we stopped to admire the exteriors as we were passing by but of course you can pay an entry fee if you wish to go inside and explore further. In a quiet back street in Gracia, a lesser known example of his work, Casa Vicens became open to public viewing only last year.
FOR ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS . . .
Remember to look up as you explore Barcelona’s streets! I became obsessed with the the beautiful oriel windows which adorned many a building, protruding elegantly like a box at the theatre, overlooking the streets below.
My favourite example was this curved window above the Loewe store on Passeig de Gracia.
FOR EXPERIENCING THE MAGIC OF A MARKET . . .
One of Barcelona’s foremost tourist landmarks, this public food market is alive with the hustle and bustle of row upon row of traders selling all manner of goods from fresh fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, to pastries, chocolate, spices and olive oils. Your senses will be overwhelmed with the sights, smells and sounds of La Bouqueria. Stop for a fresh oyster, shucked to order in front of your eyes or take a seat at one of the many tapas bars dotted in and around the market. Closed Sundays.
Rambla, 91 08001 Barcelona
FOR LUNCH AT A MODERN FOODHALL . . .
In a building which has previously been home to a cafe-theatre, a fabric dye factory, a car dealer’s shop and a garage, the site has since been transformed into a grand dining hall complete with 4 restaurants and 5 bars. At La Braseria charcoal grilled meat is the star, At La Llotja it’s all about the fish, La Taperia offers tapas and rice dishes and at La Parada deli you can stop for light meals, sandwiches and pastries. There is a dedicated beer and preserves bar, a wine and cured meats bar, a cocktail bar, an oyster bar and an ice cream bar.
Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
FOR NEIGHBOURHOOD NIBBLES . . .
Our first taste of tapas on this trip was at La Pepita, (which translates to pumpkin seed) a lively restaurant in the residential neighbourhood of Gracia, a short stroll from our hotel. Perch at the bustling bar and enjoy small plates along with the locals.
La Pepita, Carrer de Còrsega, 343, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
FOR THE VERY BEST TAPAS EXPERIENCE . . .
My absolute favourite dining experience of the trip! From outside we peered into an authentic looking establishment which appeared utterly chaotic and intriguing in equal measure! We elbowed our way in and inched our way towards the bar where the cava flowed and chatter filled the air. Traditional Spanish bota wine bags hang at the entrance and antique curios adorn the walls. It became apparent that there were lots of tourists in here as well as locals, yet far from it feeling like a trap, it didn’t spoil the authenticity of the place one bit. I spotted a guy shout out to the barman to add his name to ‘the list’ and made no delay in following suit, hoping that this was in fact the way to bagging a much coveted table but not entirely sure what I was signing myself up for. I get anxious when I can’t work out the ‘system’ in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language but this was ‘organised chaos’ and soon enough my name was called and we were lead to a table by the kitchen. Relief. We had the most lovely man take care of us, super friendly and smiley, he spoke good English and we entrusted him completely to select what we should eat. The food was absolutely amazing, every single dish was delicious! Tomato bread, tuna belly with leek, anchovies, grilled octopus, crispy Iberico pork, salty padron peppers, and chorizo on mashed potato topped with a gooey fried egg. I would 100% recommend a visit.
El Exampanyet, Carrer de Montcada, 22, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
FOR PERFCET PAELLA . . .
A 45 minute wait in line for our last supper of the trip but it was well worth it! Starting with anchovies, salt cod balls and garlic prawns followed by traditional chicken paella. Colom offers tasty, traditional Spanish dishes at pocket friendly prices. If you are going to join the queue it’s worth noting beforehand that this restaurant takes cash only.
Colom, Carrer dels Escudellers, 33, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
FOR OLD WORLD CHARM . . .
El Born Bar
I adored this little cafe/bar. Make a point of popping to the bathroom out back if only to check out the teeny tiny wooden spiral staircase which leads the way. The home made empanadas are worth a try too!
Passeig del Born, 26, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
FOR MARTINIS TO REMEMBER . . .
A world renowned cocktail bar where drinks are mixed by men in white jackets. The fresh fruit martinis will blow you away!
Carrer d'Aribau, 162, 166, 08036 Barcelona, Spain
FOR INNER CITY BEACH VIBES . . .
Chiringuito at Casa Bonay
A beach shack style bar on the rooftop of hip hotel Casa Bonay. Summer bbq, tapas and drinks all year round. Open to non residents from 6pm to 11.30pm.
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 700, 08008 Barcelona
FOR FREE FLOWING CAVA . . .
Can Paixano (also known as La Xampanyeria)
Crowded and noisy but delightfully so. There’s only one drink on the menu here and that’s cava! Bubbly rose served in dainty coupe glasses. It’s super cheap (two glasses came to less than 4 euro) and the atmosphere is buzzing. Bocadillos (filled rolls) and tapas are available too. Closed Sundays.
Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
FOR ROOFTOP VIEWS . . .
The One, Barcelona
Mood rooftop bar at The One hotel is open during Summer months offering panoramic views over the city. Situated next door to our hotel it provided a beautiful setting for late night margaritas!
In El Born we stumbled across a sweet little street called Carrer dels Banys vells. This is home to a collection of lovely independent boutiques, workshops, galleries and apartments.
FOR HOMEWARE HOARDERS . . .
Clay Concept Store
Home decor, ceramics, glassware, table ware, baskets, rugs, candles, hand soap, the list goes on. All beautifully merchandised in a fabulously rustic, dilapidated, space.
Carrer dels Banys Vells, 11, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
FOR PLANTS A PLENTY . . .
A store and workshop offering a plethora of plants, flowers, vases, pots, baskets, glass jars and decorative items such as candle holders and murals made from organic materials to add interest to your home or work space. Their vision: to create a contemporary interpretation of nature. Closed Mondays.
Carrer Banys Vells nº7, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
FOR BOOK WORMS . . .
Llibreria Sant Jordi
This romantic little bookshop drew me in as soon as I laid my eyes upon the intricate carvings adorning the book shelves and the old fashioned lace curtains hanging in the window. Piled high with books on art, photography, design, poetry and philosophy. A heavenly refuge from the hustle and bustle of the medieval streets outside.
Carrer de Ferran, 41, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
WHAT TO BRING HOME FROM YOUR TRIP
I trawled the boutiques of Barcelona for affordable glassware and ceramics but didn’t find anything I wanted so ended up returning with these tumblers from Zara Home. I mean I guess they are authentically Spanish (kind of) and I hoped that perhaps not available in the uk (they are). I did however find this lovely candle stick holder in Botanicum.
WHAT TO PACK
Hip water bottles are great for travelling. Due to their flat shape you can pack them easily into pretty much any style of bag.
De Mamiel Altitude Oil is a godsend for travelling on public transport, both on holiday and at home in London. Dab a little around the nasal passage and it helps to purify the air as you inhale as well as preventing air born bacteria from getting up your nose, perfect for confined spaces with air con systems.
Coola organic aerosol spray gave me lightweight spf protection from the September sun. Just mist on, rub in and off you go.
Due to the warnings of Barcelona’s pick pocket problem I decided to buy a running belt before our trip. It sat discreetly and comfortably just below my bra strap and allowed me to carry larger amounts of cash safely and securely. This was my sisters idea and it worked a treat. The belt was so comfortable I forgot I was wearing it and it gave me absolute peace of mind so that I could just enjoy the holiday without worrying. I kept a small amount of cash in my handbag and when I needed a top up I would just pop to a bathroom and take out what I needed from the belt.
Alternatively my boyfriend used a Revolut card which meant he didn’t have to carry any cash at all. You pre transfer your holiday spend amount over to your Revolut account and use the contactless debit card which syncs with an app on your phone so you can keep track of your spending and see real time currency conversion rates. There are no hidden fees as long as you stick to the guidelines and opt to pay in the local currency.
Flights to Barcelona El Prat are available from all major UK airports.
Hola Barcelona travel cards are a good value option available for 2,3,4 and 5 consecutive day visits permitting unlimited travel across the city on all major network providers including the journey to and from the airport.