Barcelona

It’s been almost two months since I updated my blog (awful, I know), and yet despite the radio silence I’ve had so much to share, but not all that much time to share it! I said to myself early this year that I had a feeling I would be spending a lot of time travelling in 2017, little did I know just how much traveling there would be. I’m not complaining in the slightest, it is one of the most fulfilling things to set foot on new soil, however with travel, means content and a lot of it! So frankly with shoots, projects and travel, the poor little blog was a little left behind…!!

As those who follow me on Instagram might remember, I recently spent a weekend in Barcelona (at end of March/beginning of April). I discovered so many cute spots in the city, that I wanted to share on a post, so I’m finally sitting down to do so!

If I am 100% honest, and honesty is always the best policy, there were some things about Barcelona that I loved and some that I wasn’t as crazy about. The food was out of this world. If you love seafood, especially seafood cooked in a 100 different ways you could imagine, Barcelona will be your type of place. It had the most incredible eateries in general, places you have to stroll the streets to hunt for, which I absolutely adore doing. I’m not one to follow the crowd, I’d rather find a local hideout off the beaten track (Spots I will be sharing with you further below!).

The aspect I wasn’t blown away by was the architecture. It felt like there was a mish-mash of old and new, but not in a consistent fashion. It was as though the modern buildings had been plonked wherever there was free space in the city, with some corners feeling almost deserted. I think a big contributing factor was the fact that having seen snippets of Gaudi’s architecture before going, I was expecting the entire city to be over the top and colourful, like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory haha!  I mean, of course, the buildings designed by Gaudî were something special and this is all down to preference, it’s not to say that the city is ugly at all. I have spoken to a number of people who loved the architecture and the city dynamic in general, I just guess I love colour a bit too much, so found the darker buildings a little tame for my palette.

Now let’s get back to the amazing things to do in the city… With my city guides, I never know whether to basically write what I got up to in chronological order, or put together lists of tips. I guess for this post, since I visited quite a few weeks ago, I’ll stick to the list of tips so you can take away some quick and easy spots to visit next time you’re there!

W H E R E   T O   S T A Y

Being a very hip and design-led city, there are a number of amazing spots you can make yourself at home. We opted for our own apartment in the heart of the city, by the University district, which was run by the company Destination BCN. I search for a lot of hotels via MrandMrsSmith.com or apartments through AirBnB as I find that both offer really cool options for different budgets and styles of hotels/apartments required.

We loved our apartment (Destination BCN are offering a huge discount at the moment as the building they’re in is undergoing renovations, but we didn’t have any noise problems or inconvenience during our stay, so it’s a great bargain!)

I was also recommended a number of other places to stay in Barcelona, so here it goes:

Cotton House Hotel – Very Insta-friendly, I love the interiors. This hotel looks a real treat to stay in and a must-visit on your Barcelona list.

The W – One of the most famous hotels in Barcelona, it is situated at the end of the beach overlooking the coastline. For the more upmarket, modern hotel lovers out there, you won’t be disappointed by the amazing views across the coast and city.

Casa Bonay – Another design-gem in Barcelona, which seems to have almost a Manhattan vibe. It’s the brainchild of a group of creatives who wanted to offer a sort of social hub in the centre of the city. I’m sure it’s a spot favoured by the locals thanks to it’s cool interiors and rooftop bar.

W H E R E   T O   E A T

This part of the guide is not an easy one, simply because of how many incredible places there are to dine in Barcelona. I can’t explain how impressed I was by the food and restaurants you find in the city. The cuisine was nothing like the typical tapas you might find across Spain, it was so much more. The seafood was out of this world, the flavours just so different than anything I’d ever tasted, which says a lot coming from London where you have about every cuisine under the sun.

The best thing about restaurants in Barcelona is that you have to hunt them down. Ask for recommendations, get online and locate the best spots, then get walking. It’s one of my favourite things when travelling, to get lost in a new neighbourhood, following a map trying to find this hole in the wall restaurant I’ve been told to visit.

Some of my favourite spots were as follows:

  • B R U N C HTropico. This is an Instagrammers paradise (Ella, a blogger friend who was visiting Barcelona after me and took that recommendation would agree!). Pink smoothies and tropical plants, we munched on a delicious brunch, enjoying out eggs with a Barcelona twist. Highly recommended, but book in advance on the weekend!!
  • L U N C H – Mescladis. This restaurant was a little colourful courtyard spot to enjoy a delicious lunch, though the food is more continental than Iberian (they do amazing hummus and empanadas) but it is a great spot nevertheless. Plus, it’s located in a really cute neighbourhood not far from Barcelona’s Cathedral.
  • L U N C HEl Nacional. This place was hands down my favourite in Barcelona. It reminded me of Harrod’s foodhall, with this retro vibe from maybe the art deco era. It’s a multi-restaurant establishment with four different places to dine and four different bars, all offering a variety of Iberian specialities. It was just the most incredible place – DO NOT miss this if you are heading to Barcelona!
  • L U N C H / D I N N E RSomorrostro. We spent one afternoon strolling along the seaside and ended up in Barceloneta, a cute area by the sea. This seafood tapas place was recommended to us and was an absolute gem. The menu is literally a massive chalkboard the waiter brings over to you to pick from, with tapas dishes of the day. This is ideal for those of you who love your fish, seafood and plates with a flavourful twist.
  • D I N N E R4 Gats. Another old style restaurant which I absolutely loved. It had live music and a real 20’s vibe, clinking glasses and well dressed waiters in bowties (we dressed up but not all guests were in formal attire). Again, we were met with a menu of dishes I had never tried before and we drank some of the best wine I’ve had in a while.
  • D I N N E RTickets. This place is one I was told to go to by a close friend whose boyfriend is a chef, however, before going to Barcelona I completely forgot and didn’t get chance to book. I have been told it is out of this world. It’s a real gastronomic experience, very experimental and like a real theatrical foodie night out – make sure to book in advance though!
  • C O F F E ECafé Cometa. I usually end up on a wild goose chase at least once during every one of my holidays, making whoever I’m with go on a hunt into the most random area for some “place” I was recommended. Café Cometa was one of those hideouts and it turned out to be the cutest little local coffee spot in a really un-touristy neighbourhood in the city. Next door to it you can also find a bakery that makes delicious and colourful donuts! Yum!

T H I N G S   T O   D O

There are a number of things to do in Barcelona, aside from eating your way through the city, which is basically what we did. Some of the other places we visited however were:

  • M A R K E T – La Boqueria. This is Barcelona’s central market where you can go and enjoy fresh juices, buy meat, dairy, fish, or just slide up to their tapas bars for a snack. Since it is just off La Rambla I would suggest going earlier in the day before it gets completely packed and impossible to walk through!
  • P A R K – Park Güell. Set on the top of the city, this park was designed by Gaudi, as part of his larger construction plans for the city (which never materialised). It has stunning views across the city and amazing mosaic structures (including Gaudi’s house), giving you a true grasp of his architectural style. Of course, in addition to Park Güell you can visit the other houses he designed which are located in the city centre, the most interesting I found was Casa Batllo.
  • B E A C H – A nice part of the city is of course the beach front where you can get away from the busy streets and just enjoy a relaxed stroll. It is such a cool city in the fact that it has a little bit of everything, so if you are in need of some fresh air or fancy a dip in the sea, get down to the beach 🙂 Right near the beach is an area called Barceloneta with a few cute eateries, perfect for a lunchtime snack.
  • C O N C E R T – Guitar concert. One of my favourite things in the whole world is Spanish guitar. I always wish classical guitar was the instrument I had studied at school (instead of piano, but oh well all instruments are beautiful!). Anyway I was desperate to go to guitar concert in Barcelona after going to one in Madrid a few years back and found one set in one of the city churches and the tickets were so cheap, only €19 each! This such a lovely experience, definitely add it to your list of things to do!
  • C A T H E D R A LSagrada Familia. This is another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. The interior is a real feast for the eyes, and I would recommend either taking a guidebook or joining a tour because there are so many interesting aspects about the architecture that you’ll miss out on unless someone shows you! We also booked our tickets in advance which saved us queuing 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed my tips and pics, thanks for reading as always. Wish you a fun trip to Barcelona whoever is planning to head there soon!!!

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