4 days in the achingly cool city of Barcelona
Day 1 – La Barceloneta
10AM – Drop off the bags, grab a couple of pastries (not free) then turn left when you leave the hotel towards Sagrada Familia
10:30AM – Admire the architecture from outside and scoff at those idiots queuing in the heat. Head south east towards the La Monumental and the beach. Nip into a shop and buy some cold beers for the beach…unless you want to buy just one for €5 from the beach hawkers?
11:30AM – At the beach, there are a lot of hawkers. The best deterrent is to buy a blanket from one (€10). When the others come round they can see you don’t need another
Top tip: lie on the non-printed side until you wash it to avoid ink transfer to clothes or skin!
…have your pastries with beer and chill…
3PM – Hungry? Walk towards the main harbour and Carrer de l’Almirall Cervera for a wide array of bars and restaurants.
The Carrers host restaurants that are less busy than those on the beach but no less delicious.
4PM – Leave some space for desert. Eyescream & Friends at the marina provides a fun twist on a desert.
Enjoy whilst admiring the super yachts parked in the harbour
4:30PM – Brace yourselves, you have a fairly long walk ahead but the sights you will see are well worth it.
Head north west away from the beach (the beach is south).
Take whatever route you fancy as each one has its own charm. Our favourite routes were ones away from the main roads
6PM – Check into the hotel, collect your bags and freshen up for dinner – which you’ll be glad to hear, is just a stones throw away
7PM – Head across the street to the hip La Menuda, self described as offering craft beer and crazy food.
The owner will delight in telling you about the seasonal fresh dishes and what his favourites are.
Don’t miss a chance to try the local craft beer which changes regularly.
Our favourite dish was pickled mackerel crisped up by the chef in front of you (Spring 2017). It’s surprisingly cheap for the quality of food and service on offer.
One of our highlights in Barcelona.
Day 2 – El Gotico & W Hotel beach
8AM – Breakfast in the hotel – choosing between the buffet or purchasing individual items from the on site bakery. Relax in the atrium whilst watching the bakers prepare fresh breads, cakes and pastries.
We preferred buying our own from the wide selection available than being restricted by the buffet.
8:30AM – Grab some baguettes to go then turn right when leaving the hotel hotel and walk towards Casa Milà.
Head South East down Passeig de Gràcia past the iconic Casa Batlló.
These places are interesting early in the morning with no tourists around but look absolutely gorgeous when lit up at dusk.
9AM – Keep heading downhill on Passeig de Gràcia towards the beach.
It is an absolute MUST that you take detours into the Gothic Quarter side streets once you pass Plaça de Catalunya.
Get lost as you follow the weaving downhill paths through the medieval backstreets of old Barcelona.
Meet.Barcelona “Entering the Gothic Quarter is to make for Barcelona’s origins, the place where two thousand years ago the Romans founded Bàrcino”
10AM – This is probably the best time to visit Las Ramblas and La Boqeria Market.
We made the mistake of going here later in the day.
This ended with us jumping in a taxi and asking for the beach ASAP.
We get enough of crowded tourist traps in London!
11:30AM – Park your sexy ass on the beach outside W Hotel and chill for the afternoon
4PM – Take a wander round W Hotel and the Harbour area.
You can get a cable cart to vistas overlooking the city but you would spend half a day queuing. Time we would rather spend exploring.
If you insist on visiting Montjuïc, buy tickets in advance with Visit Barcelona
5PM -Have some tapas in the romantic basement of Bastaix where you will learn the art of making the perfect bruschetta.
Go easy on the garlic…unless both of you try it, then ‘knock yourselves out’!
6:30PM – Head back up the hill towards your hotel through the Passeig de Gràcia.
Enjoy all the amazing architecture of Barcelona lit up at dusk.
Find a bar en route to the hotel and grab a seat on the pavement/sidewalk to catch a glimpse of the weird and wonderful heading for a night on the tiles – or join them!
Day 3 – Parc de la Ciutadella: pintxos, street art, impromptu music & dancing, flamenco
9AM – Grab some freshly baked pastries to go from Hotel Praktik bakery and a couple of filled baguettes for lunch later
9:30AM – Make your way through el Gotic and get lost again.
Take a different route from yesterday as you meander down hill
10:30AM – Pick up some treats for yourselves at La Colmena sweet shop.
We wanted to buy some gifts here but the heat would melt the chocolate.
Take your time as you make your way to the beach, soaking up the atmosphere and not forgetting to look up too.
At the beach, pick a different spot from the last couple of days so you experience a different buzz.
We got close to the competitive pensioner chess players which was mesmerising to watch their individual characters.
3PM – Make your way from the beach towards Parc de la Ciutadella.
A vibrant, almost carnival-like, atmosphere greets you and is a joy to witness.
Here you will find incredible fountains, artists, gymnasts and the downright crazy practicing their art or just dancing randomly in the park.
The air is filled with a mash up of live music from all different cultures playing their own beats.
5PM – Make your way back into the Gothic quarter and try some seafood pintxos at Euskal Etxea.
We will admit, San Sebastian is the holy grail of pintxos but it is worth trying if Barcelona is the only Spanish resort you will be visiting any time soon.
If anything, it gives you an excuse to try the local vermouth
7PM – This is one you need to book in advance and sadly we discovered it too late but there are two incredible options for you following your evening meal
1. The spectacular looking Palau Dalmases flamenco show or
Both are found along the medieval Carrer de Montcada.
If you don’t fancy these then do what we did and go for cake & coffee somewhere along Carrer de la Princessa (so many to choose from and the ice cream is awesome too!).
Found on Carrer de la Princesa, one of our favourite streets
Day 4 – Vila de Gràcia: unlimited variety of dogs, quirky shops, secret gardens, delicious churros
8AM – This is your last day and you want to get the most out of it.
Try to book an evening or late afternoon flight home when planning this trip.
9AM – Skip breakfast and leave the hotel by turning right then right again as you walk up hill on Carrer de Pau Claris.
At this time of the day they are made to order, so even better!
9:30AM – Keep going up hill towards Carrer d’Astúries for boutique shops where you can treat yourselves or friends and family.
Don’t miss a chance to visit the secret garden behind Olokuti.
You’ll notice a wide array of dogs and owners around Barcelona. We think this is unrivalled in any other city we have visited so far.
You never meet the same breed twice!
10:30AM – Keep going uphill towards Park Güell.
If you want to get into the really colourful nature square you need to have a ticket booked in advance. We didn’t know this but fortunately the rest of the park is open for free. Make sure you head up to the top of the hill inside the park for amazing views across Barcelona and over nature square. Take water or buy a bottle from the hawkers selling cold ones around the park.
12:30PM – Head towards your hotel and marvel at the Catalan community spirit.
The elderly are well respected by their families who ensure they feel part of the community. We witnessed many families taking their elders out into parks and squares to socialise, especially those less mobile.
1:30PM – Eat anywhere you like. Pizza was our choice today.
We then had a take-out tub from Hagen-Daz café on a quieter part of Rambla de Catalunya, just a short stroll from the hotel.
We found a shaded bench to enjoy our ice creams and watch the eclectic mix of Barcelona inhabitants mixing with trendy and not so trendy tourists.
2:30PM – You can take a taxi to the airport but they will be more expensive than the journey from the airport.
On your travels, you may have spotted the airport shuttle buses parked at Plaça de Catalunya.
These will get you to the airport for around £5
Customs are a nightmare and can take several hours – plan to arrive well in advance of your flight
Departures to the UK leave from a terminal with no food or shops after security so be warned.
Here are some of the best things we never got to do that we think you might love!
- Magic Fountain
- A rooftop bar or 1818 per Sagardiat the harbour or 1881 per Sagardi
- eBike tour
- Gran Teatre del Liceu
- Ayre Hotel Rosellón’s rooftop bar overlooking Sagrada Familia
When to visit: Spring // Cost per couple: £300-£600 (excluding flights) // What for: Beaches, foodies, boho, sun, culture, fun
Warning: This involves a lot of walking, almost 50km over 4 days, so take plenty of water and comfortable shoes!