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An Insider’s Guide to Barcelona

A guide to the very best spots in the city

WHERE — Barcelona
PHOTOGRAPHY — Sam Flaherty

How do do Barcelona like a local. The best spots for cool homewares. The bar to duck into for an aperitif. Where to go to escape the chaos of the city. The best flat white. And of course the very best places to eat.

We lived in Barcelona for three relaxed, sun-filled years (yes, the clichés about the Spanish way of life are gloriously true – I loved living in a city where don’t take themselves too seriously). Anyway, as you’d expect we slowly but surely discovered our favourite spots and then kept them on repeat. So I thought I’d share some of the restaurants, museums, shops, bars, beaches, walks etc that made the city feel like home.

STAY

It goes without saying I don’t have a huge inside knowledge of hotels since we had our own apartment to rest lay our heads. But Cotton House Hotel is decked out the grand interiors and has a lush terrace, Casay Bonay is more like a cool hub than a hotel featuring a cafe, Vietnamese restaurant, it’s own speakeasy bar and a rooftop overlooking the city. Location-wise, Soho House Barcelona can’t be beat; smack bang in the middle of the Gothic Quarter, plus less than a 10 minute walk to the beach.

EAT

I’m aware that most people don’t visit Barcelona for the ramen – but it turns out that it’s home to one of the best ramen spots of all time. Yes, really. Every time we had friends visiting from out of town we convinced them to go to Koku Kitchen Ramen instead of tapas, and it was always a massive crowd pleasure. Promise it’ll blow your mind.

Koku Kitchen Ramen, Carrer d’en Carabassa, 19, 08002

BEACH

Barceloneta Beach is great for people watching, but if you want to actually spend an afternoon at the beach minus the crowds and pollution, head to Arc de Triomf station and take the train 20 minutes up the coast to Badalona Beach. And you have time to make a day of it, you can reach picturesque Costa Brava in just over an hour from Barcelona. For easy access to the beach directly from the train, stop at the long sandy beach of Tossa Del Mar. 

VIEW

Turó de la Rovira is a favourite for both locals and tourists – and for good reason.  There’s no better view of Barcelona, especially at sunset. Head up in the early evening, and watch the sky turn pink as it stretches out over the Mediterranean. Don’t be put off by the teenagers and tourists, it’s definitely worth the hike up the hill, best enjoyed with a BYO cerveza!

EAT

Green Spot is one of my all-time favourite restaurants – not just in Barcelona, but in the world. The menu is entirely vege and vegan, although it’ll satisfy even the most dedicated meat lover.

We used to live around the corner, so I feel as though I may have sampled almost the entire menu and it never gets old. Pro tip: get the cauliflower starter and don’t be afraid to over-order, it’s all too good.
 
The Green Spot, Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12, 08003

COFFEE

Once upon a time Barcelona was coffee culture dictated either espresso or café con leche, but now you can’t swing a cat for all the oat milk flat whites. My go-to spots are Satan’s Coffee Corner, Nomad Coffee and Cafés El Magnífico.

ART

Joan Miró is one of my favourite Spanish artists, and the building itself is perfectly set up to showcase his impressively eclectic body of work; a rambling, multi-level gallery with an outdoor rooftop, expansive grounds and amazing views of the city.

Fundació Joan Miró, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038

APERITIF

Tourists drink sangria. Locals order vermouth. 14 De La Rosa is a cosy little speakeasy/vermut bar found in Gracia. The intimate setting, knowledgeable bartenders and well-made drinks make this one of my favourite spots in the city. Grab a small table flickering in the candlelight, order a classic negroni and a few snacks.

14 De La Rosa, Carrer de Martínez de la Rosa, 14, 08012

SHOP

Turns out Barcelona is an untapped gem for vintage homewares, ceramics and art; more than half of our homewares are pieces we picked up whilst living there. One of my favourite spots was CLAY, a boutique filled a really thoughtful curation of locally made furniture and homewares. I can’t promise you won’t want to buy half the store and ship it all home.

CLAY, Carrer dels Banys Vells, 11, 08003

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