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The Barcelona Guide

Where to eat, stay and explore in Barcelona

WHERE — Barcelona
PHOTOGRAPHY — Sam Flaherty
IN COLLABORATION WITH — Sass & Bide

The low-down on the very best spots to explore in the Catalonian capital. Spanish tapas, single-origin coffee, killer brunch; you name it.

Barcelona is an easy city to love, whether you come for a weekend, a week, or longer. It’s a city that is always simultaneously relaxed and ready for a good time all at once. Catalonia is fiercely proud of it’s heritage, and takes great pride in it’s local cuisine, beach culture and social way of life.

It’s also an incredibly easy city to visit (that’s not to say you won’t get lost in El Born’s narrow maze-like streets several times over); the weather is almost always glorious, the locals are friendly, and the food and drinks come (relatively) cheap.

 

 

 

Wearing: Sass & Bide shirt, Levi’s jeans and Tibi heels

GETTING THERE

Barcelona airport has evolved into a key European hub, with international flights arriving from all over the world almost 24/7. And despite the sheer volume of flights, the airport is only a 25 minute drive (20 minutes without traffic) into the central city, which, lets be real, is ideal after any long haul flight.

Taxis are a flat fee of 29 euros to the center, or you can hop on the frequent airport bus which will take you right into Plaça de Catalunya for 5.90€ per person. Buses leave approximately every ten minutes.

TO DO

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, (or La Boqueria) is a large, open air market which attracts tourists and locals alike. Yes, it is pretty touristic, however locals do actually come here to purchase their weekly produce, and it’s the best spot to sample as much Spanish cuisine as your stomach desires. So make sure you schedule in an hour to admire the stalls and snack on a whole lot of tapas.

La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona

It’s not a trip to Barcelona without a little (or a lot) of Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly the most notorious, and worth visiting to get your Gaudi fill. It doesn’t hurt to pre-book your visit online to avoid waiting in any queues on the day. Try to ignore the cranes – the cathedral has been under construction for 133 years, however it’s now on the home stretch.

La Sagrada Familia, Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013

Head down to Barceloneta beach, walk along the beachfront boardwalk at sunset and then grab a drink at one of the the local chiringuitos (basically an open shack built on sand).

EAT (SOME MORE)

For local Catalonian cuisine and a fun night out, head to Barcelona institution El Nacional, which is basically a huge (but extremely chic) warehouse that is home to 4 separate restaurants and, a bar. The interiors are highly Instagram-worthy but more importantly it’s the kind of place where fun will be had. My favourite restaurant of the bunch is La Taperia, where rather than ordering directly from the menu, incredibly charismatic waiters swan around yelling out the names of the dishes they have on offer. You then call them over, and voila, dinner is served.

El Nacional, Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona

Despite all the jamón, Barcelona is a surprisingly vegetarian-friendly city. Vegan and vegetarian options are constantly popping up on menus all over – although if you want to win over you non-vege friends, Green Spot is the place to do it. Every dish is executed with artful precision; it’s the kind of restaurant that excels at vegetarian food, rather than just making limp vegetarian alternatives. Not to mention the interiors are perfectly slick with plenty of greenery.

Green Spot, Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12, 08003 Barcelona

For great coffee, delicious brunch and cooler than thou interiors for the minimally inclined, Wer-Haus is always a winner. Just a few steps away from this Passeig de Gràcia it’s easily one of the slickest concept store come cafe in Barcelona.

Wer-Haus, Carrer d’Aragó, 287, 08009 Barcelona

GETTING AROUND

As for the best way to get around, you have three options. The first is on foot, which is always the best way to explore a new city. The second is by bus/metro, which even as a foreigner is super easy to navigate; every stop and station has straightforward maps to guide you. Lastly, and indeed the most popular mode of transport, is to hire a bike at one of the countless bicycle hire spots around the city. That way you can cover lots of ground, and still get to soak up the vibe of the city.

EAT

For a modern take on authentic Spanish tapas, Sensi is my favourite spot in the city. It’s authentic, fresh and the tapas are always thoughtfully put together. The restaurant has three spots within one minutes’ walk of each other, which means you can just head to Carrer Ample and pick whichever is the least busy.

Sensi, Carrer Ample, 26, 08002 Barcelona

I know that most people don’t come to Spain for ramen, but what can I say – I’ve devoured countless bowls of ramen all over the world (including Japan) and Koku Kitchen ramen is still one of the best of the best. Promise you won’t be disappointed.

Koku Kitchen, Carrer d’en Carabassa, 19 Barcelona

Black Remedy is a relatively new spot in Barcelona, and one of my regular brunch haunts; they do a flat white and avocado on toast just like home. Plus, I’m told that their Californian pulled pork burger is phenomenal.

Black Remedy, Carrer de la Ciutat, 5, 08002 Barcelona

STAY

Barcelona’s hotel scene has upped it’s game in the past few years, meaning you’ll easily find somewhere cool for any budget.

With it’s hidden rooftop pool, chic courtyard and thoughtfully designed rooms, Hotel Brummell is always a winner. I’m also a big a fan of Casa Bonay – they have a relatively secret rooftop terrace which is open during summer, a few rooms with private terraces, and an opulent speak-easy style bar downstairs. Plus, just next door is Nomad Coffee who do a mean white flat – which is pretty much a key requirement for me when traveling.

Hotel Brummell, Nou de la Rambla, 174, 08004 Barcelona
Casa Bonay, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 700, 08010 Barcelona

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