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2 Day Trips to the Costa Brava

  If you’ve visited Barcelona before or perhaps you have been enjoying a longer stay in the city, you might think of exploring further afield. Here we have two day trips up the coast to the Costa brava. Exploring the towns of Tossa De Mar and Cadaques, grab your swimsuits and maybe even your hiking boots.

To access both you would need to book a car for the day or arrange a bus ride as neither town has a train stop. Be warned as well that the roads down to Cadaques are narrow and not for nervous drivers, however the rewards for teaching both destinations are ten fold as you find yourself in a perfect picturesque Mediterranean landscape.

You can visit both places in one day but your stops in both towns will be rushed and we recommend making a weekend of it or choosing one of the two depending on your tastes or time. Take a moment to enjoy all that both have to offer. From delicious port side seafood to snorkeling or discovering cultural gems. There is also plenty of hiking, swimming and boating for those with a taste for adventure.

Cadaques lies about 2 hours to the north, close to the French border. Accessed down a steep winding road that runs through extensive olive groves, you can spot the white village as you crest a rise or round a corner. Perched on the edge of the water, it’s blindingly bright, red tiled roofs in sharp contrast with its white washed walls.

Enter the town and find somewhere to park. Not the easiest thing to accomplish on a busy weekend, but persevere and soon you will be wandering the narrow cobbled streets down to the seaside, perhaps in search of lunch.

There are plenty of beach side restaurants offering a selection of typical seafood or the Catalan mar y Montaña ( sea & mountain) fare. You can enjoy a nice fresh glass of cava or wine as you watch beach goers sunbathe on the pebbles beach or take dips in the water. It’s a little colder up here to the north of Barcelona but a refreshing swim in the clean waters can’t be beat. You can warm up in the sun on a rock afterwards and the kids will enjoy looking in rockpools or snorkeling.

  
In the town itself you can find plenty of great restaurants and if you are spending the night try to get a reservation at Compartir which offers a taste of the gastronomical trends made famous by El Bulli. The concept of sharing that the restaurant is named after, allows you to enjoy small tapas size servings of foam and other curious delectable morsels among friends.   
Other highlights in the surrounding areas include Dali’s house in Port Lligat and the nature reserve of Cap de Creus. Dali’s house offers a unique view into the life and mind of the artist. The view from the various Windows onto the little bay illuminated his style as you are able to see the colors and rocks from the islands and water interpreted on canvas. Dali’s work is just as surreal as the surrounding area. And the light is different, reflected through a humid mist, everything seems muted and soft, fuzzy around the edges. Climb up to the garden and wonder at the giant egg sculptures or try to imagine yourself invited to a party with Picasso at Dali’s pool, which is something to behold! Spend the day exploring the coves and hiking in the Cap de Creus reserve. It’s windswept and wild and extremely beautiful. You can find yourself alone with a picnic at the end of a walk in a stunning cove, aquamarine water lapping at your feet, contrasting with jutting grey rocks towering above you. Wild flowers bloom in crevices and seaweed sways in the water. You may feel like Jaques Costeau or a pirate on a desert island. Do some snorkeling and discover some of the best underwater environments that the Costa brava has to offer. 

 To access some of the more difficult to get to areas, you can hire a boat, but take note that you need a license and that the weather in this part of the world can change suddenly. A drive through the reserve will take you up to the light house where you can see all the way into France and enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant on the top of the cliff.

There are various places to stay in Cadaques. Try the hotel RocaMar or book a self catering Airbnb. You can even rent the entire island of S’Arenella, which would make a great place for a larger group or unique wedding. With only access by boat, you can have the island to yourself.

Closer to Barcelona you will find the coastal town of Tossa De Mar.

  
With a history dating all the way back to before the Romans settled here in the 1st century, Tossa de Mar is the perfect place to wander along ancient walls, through crumbling cliff top churches and learn more about Catalan history.

There is ample evidence of settlements dating back to the Neolithic period, and it is believed that the area has been continuously populated since that time.


In 966 Tossa was ceded by Count Miró of Barcelona to the Abbey of Ripoll. Some two centuries later, in 1187 Tossa was granted its charter by the Abbot of Ripoll, coinciding with the building of a church atop Mount Guardí, the remnants of which can still be seen today. Wikipedia

You can walk along the length of the wall that encircles the old village which will afford you excellent views over the bay and into the old medieval buildings as well. Why not have lunch inside the wall, there are some great restaurants where you can enjoy a meal slap bang in the middle of all the history, dine like Count Miro himself on freshly caught monk fish and wine.

  
Tossa also has a number of lovely beaches where you can while away the day sunbathing or frolicking in the water. For those more adventurous, you can snorkel too, and Tossa is known for sea horses amongst other interesting Mediterranean sealife. Diving and glass bottom boat trips can be arranged from the town.

There is a bustling shopping district where you can stuff your face with summer time icecream and stock up on silly souvenirs or buy a beach bucket and spade for the kids to play with in the sand. Don’t forget your sun cream and beach towels!

  

    

  
Tossa has plenty of self catering apartments available through Airbnb or tripadvisor. You can also camp in various campsites close to the town and the area offers some great hiking over the cliffs and through the scraggly coastal pine forest. The views are impressive and there’s nothing quite like finding yourself in a quiet cove with crystal clear water to dive into on a scorching summer day.

Enjoy some sundowners on the beach before heading back to Barcelona or to your lodgings for the night.

Both towns can be reached within an easy 3 hour drive from Barcelona on good roads. Be aware that the highways have frequent tolls and that the national roads can get very busy during peak hours on the weekends.

pesca salada bar barcelona

Unusual Bars in Barcelona

bars-in-barcelona

There are a fair number of unique, unusual and quirky bars in Barcelona, some have fun themes while in others the drinks or decor makes them stand out in your memory. Here we feature some that have been our favorites and some you should try to check out on your next trip to Barcelona!

pesca salada bar barcelona

TRIED & TESTED

Pesca Salada – fancy drinking inside an aquarium? This teeny tiny cocktail is all aquatic inspired! Loads of quirky details, from a scaley ceiling to fun fishy diaramas. You can find the little establishment in raval, but be quick, it packs out fast, due to its petit size.

Gran Bodega Salto – a wine bar with a difference. if you enjoy drinking wine from the barrel under a barbie leg chandelier while stuffed tigers eyeball you, then this bodega is just perfect for you. loads of details to keep you entertained, they often have live music or a dj to keep your feet tapping.

Sor Rita– loads of fun in the Gothic, be sure to don your sexy black habit and high heels for this fun theme bar. expect great drinks, good music and a fun ambiance, dance or chat under a roof covered in shoes or below mother superior surrounded by flowers!

El Ciclista – a bicylce themed gin bar in gracia. watch all the cogs turn when the door opens as the whole bar is connected with kinetic parts. Clever bicyle sokes make chandeliers and tables, and the bar tenders pour superb G6Ts. the music ain’t half bad either.

Can Paixano or La Xampaneria – although not a theme bar in the usual sense, the Xampaneria is an institution in Barcelona, and one to behold. Go for the cheap cava – catalan champange and tapas, and revel in all the tradition has to offer! Standing room only!

pesca salada bar barcelona

OTHER THEME BARS

Betty Fords – named after the mental institute, this American theme bar in Raval draws a steady crowd.

Kahala Tiki Bar – one of a kind in Barcelona, serving frothing volcano drinks and more!

El Bosc de les Fades – the forest of fairies, a mystical, magical, if somewhat cheesy, bar near the bottom of Las Ramblas.

Gatsby Barcelona – all that 1920s glamour, glitz and roaring fun that the era is famed for can be found here, they have shows and singers on a regular basis.

 

 

all images courtesy the above establishments website.

8 MUSEUMS BARCELONA

A Guide to Barcelona’s Museums & Galleries

BEST MUSEUMS BARCELONA

Barcelona is usually graced with splendid weather, and so it’s no wonder that most people spend their time out doors rather than in the many museums the city has to offer. Don’t miss out however as Barcelona has some great spaces filled with art, culture, history and science.

Barcelona was home to some very important artists such as Picasso, Dali, Miro, Tapies and Gaudi, so if the weather suddenly turns on you, here are our list of favorite rainy day museums and galleries that you shouldn’t miss:

 

caixa forum – an art and culture museum at the foot of Montjuic. in a splendid art nouveau factory, besides enjoying the ever changing exhibitions, you can visit the undulating roof made of bricks for a unique view over Barcelona.

cosmo caixa – one of our favorites, and no doubt will be yours and your kids too. a large museum with permanent and changing exhibitions, many of which are interactive that have a focus on science and the natural world. Highlights include the living Amazon jungle with crocodiles, piranhas and other wild life.

cccb – another great cultural museum, located near the macba in Raval, the large space hosts an ever changing calendar of exhibits exploring a myriad of topics from the technological to theatre and sculpture. check the website to see whats on, and plan your next visit accordingly. the cccb also has a nice cafe for a quick snack.

fundacio miro – for the art fanatic, go and check out the Joan Miro foundation atop Montjuic hill. The building itself was designed by architect and city planner Josep Lluís Sert, who was a close friend of Joan Miró and an exponent of avant-garde architecture in Catalonia. The stark white building looks almost like lego, with unusual shapes, and houses a mountain of Miros artworks. The two experimental galleries often host some of the best art exhibitions from up and coming artists and the shows are always extremely well curated. Don’t miss the enclosed Mercury Fountain.

macba – Barcelona’s modern art museum houses some interesting art pieces, and a collection of over 6,000 works. The museum strives to continue to host contemporary art and hosts varied art exhibitions during the year. Many of the pieces of their permanent exhibitions highlight works by Catalan artists. The building itself is something to see, and continues to be a focal point in Raval, where hundreds of skateboarders congregate in its plaza to meet and practice tricks, the sound of the boards and wheels ricocheting off the museums glass fronted facade.

maritime museum – Barcelona’s history is unique, and the museum takes a look at the port city and how it has evolved over the centuries, and the folk who people the area, and plied its waters. There is a fantastic display of a life size rowing galley, and the museum will keep young and old entertained.

picasso museumpetite though it is, the picasso museum is very popular, and has a superb collection of picassos early work. the artworks are well laid out, and his technique, style progression and artworks are usefully explained, giving more insight into the artist’s world. If you don’t mind the queue its work a look.

mnac – The museu national d’art de catalunya contains the largest, and oldest display of Medieval Romanesque Art in the world, with fully restored sections of the apses of churches found in the Pyranees, among its collection. You can also view artworks by Velaquez, Rubens, El Greco and other noteworthy artworks, including drawings, paintings and photography. The location of the museum offers wonderful views over the city.

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barcelona holiday guides

A Weekend in Barcelona

So you have 48 hours in Barcelona?

So little time, and so much to do, Our easy seasonal itineraries will help you make the most of your time in the city. Take in the views, the history, the culture, the architecture, the food and more! We have included a good selection of museums, restaurants, attractions and more to keep your weekend in Barcelona jam packed with all the city has to offer.

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SUMMER IN BCN

Summer

Day One

  • morning – get up early, grab a coffee and croissant from one of the myriad cafes in the city. Head down to a market, we recommend La Mercado de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas. It’s the most emblematic of the markets in Barcelona, colourful and chaotic, but also the most expensive. Wander around and pick up a snack and a fresh juice. *Hint, forage deeper into the market for better prices. Don’t forget to sample something from one of the tapas bars in the market, and pick up some cheese and dried meats and bread for a snack later on. If you prefer to visit another market that is not as crowded with tourists, go to the Santa Caterina market in El Born. Don’t miss looking up at it’s beautifully designed roof. After your morning market experience, wander down Las Ramblas and stop in at Plaza Reial. You can have another coffee or tea at the lovely Ocaña, and enjoy a spot of people watching under the palm trees. If there is time after your tea, get lost in the alley ways of the Gothic quarter, take a peek at the Gothic Cathedral and spend a moment in silence in Plaza Felip Neri. Are you hungry? Grab a spot at a restaurant for a Spanish lunch. Find a place serving a menu del dia or eat tapas in a plaza. Try patatas bravas, and pan con tomate, pimientos del padron and boquerones! We recommend La Plata.
  • afternoon – walk to the beach, explore the port and Barceloneta along the way. If you didn’t get tapas for lunch try one of the restaurants on the seaside. All the chiringuitos will be open, or you could enjoy some seafood at Barraca or Gallito. Enjoy a siesta on San Sebastian beach, and a dip in the med. You can while the afternoon away and enjoy drinks at Salt  (just below the W Hotel) with perfect views of the strand or shower and head back into town for a bit of late afternoon shopping or window shopping along Passeig de Gracia. Stop off for a photograph outside La Pedrera and Casa Batllo. Buy a souvenir at Vinçon, a large home & decor store with unusual products. Inside they have an exhibition space, and upstairs in the old building some beautifully laid out rooms.
  • evening – start your evening off in a plaza in Gracia, try a vermut at La Vermu, before heading to one of the many restaurants nearby. You could have pizza at La Gavina, or pasta at Da Greco, or if you have euros to spare, try some of the best Barcelona has to offer at Somodo or Con Gracia. After dinner, you can get a drink al fresco in one of the lovely plazas in Gracia, try Villa de Gracia, Plaza del Sol or Plaza Virreina. If drinking in a plaza is not your thing, you could catch a late night movie at the art house cinema Cines Verdi, where they show original soundtrack movies. If you enjoy clubbing, there is always plenty on offer, try Razzmatazz or for an open air party you could head to Montjuic for dancing at La Terrrazza. *Take note that clubs really only get going at about 2am!

Day Two

  • morning – wake up late, enjoy a brunch at Granja Petibo, and then take a leisurely stroll down along Passeig de Sant Joan to the Arc de Triomf, pass under it’s petit arch built from lovely russet red bricks, and continue along to Parc Citudella. Explore and find the giant mammoth, rent a paddle boat on the little lake, take in the gardens, and fountains. If you have kids, you could visit the zoo. If you get hungry, break out that sausage and cheese you picked up at the market yesterday. Or head into El Born for some snacks. Patisserie Hofmann has wonderful croissants, and the Mercat Princesa will provide some bite size nibbles. You can get a good espresso at Satans Coffee Corner to keep you going.
  • afternoon – a trip to Barcelona cannot exclude a visit to the Sagrada Familia. Although it’s quite pricey, of all of gaudi’s architecural works, it’s not to be missed. If you are on a budget, you won’t go amiss with a walk around the exterior, taking in the pirouetting spires, and fantastic carvings in the nativity facade. If you have tickets, you can easily spend 3 hours on the audio tour, and clambering in the towers, which offer superb views of the city, and close up looks at all of the details on the cathedral. Grab some churros at a stand or shop nearby and walk up to the Hospital Sant Pau. The hospital itself is a beautiful ode to modernista and the views back down the avenue towards the Sagrada Familia are not to be missed. Catch a cab up to Park Guell and wander around the Mediterranean park. the views over the city are fantastic, and flocks of parrots and pigeons sweep by in flocks in front of the vistas of the sea. You can explore a fair amount of the park without paying the timed 7 euros entrance fee to the more famous parts of the park. If you have an entrance ticket, you can enjoy the mosaics and stairway down to the main entrance of the park, wondering at all of Gaudi’s work.
  • evening visit a hotel rooftop terrace for sundowners before heading out to dinner. A number of hotels offer spectacular views of the city and are popular during summer. Take your pick of the over 2000 restaurants in Barcelona for dinner and then if you enjoy going out, you have to try one of Barcelona’s famous Gins. Plenty of bars mix a great gin and tonic, and the refreshing beverage can be deceptively strong. Try an unusual bar like El Ciclista or Sor Rita, or the famous El Xampanyet for cava, and if you want to make the most of your evening finish off at a club like Moog or Apollo.

winter in bcn

Winter

Day One

  • morning – wake up and go and find breakfast at a market, Mercado de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas offers all sorts of mouth watering treats, and is a tourist right-of-passage. Enjoy fresh fruits or tapas ath their world famous market stalls and then head out and get a hot chocolate to warm up at chocolatier Chok, they have delicious churros, and a vast array of donuts! With loads of sugar energy, now’s the time to check out a museum – the CCCB and the MACBA are close by in Raval.  Lunch on hearty Catalan fare or eat Mediterranean at Bar Lobo or Teresa Carles, then wander around the neighborhood, stop in at book shop La Central , the Camper shoe store, or Fantastik for some fun souvenirs. If you prefer something different, try lunch at Dos Palillos, they serve Asian tapas, and their delicacies are served up with flare in El Bulli style by chef Albert Raurich, deserving of their Michelin star, you decide!
  • afternoon – Sagrada Familia  is surely on any Barcelona itinerary, summer or winter. The views may be wind swept, but the vista is still wondrous. Afterwards stroll up tree lined Passeig de Sant Joan (often in winter they have Christmas markets on this street) and into Gracia get a coffee at Onna Cafe or hit up Bar Pietro for a beer or cava.
  • evening – take in the panoramic views of Barcelona, but stay indoors where it’s warm, try dinner on Montjuic at the Miramar Restaurant or the Torre Alta Mar. Late night activities could include clubbing or visit a theater show or the Palau de la Musica. Be sure to check the current listings online for events and shows. Time out Barcelona, Le cool Barcelona and the Barcelona Metropolitan will have current listings.

Day Two

  • morning – brunch at Federal cafe, then walk to Barcelona Maritime Museum, where you can learn about Catalan history and clamber inside a life size galley from the 16th Century. If boats and seafaring pirates are not your thing, check out our list of bad weather activities and pick your own. Merienda or snack in the Gothic quarter, cross over Las Ramblas and into Plaza Reial, walk up Ferran to Plaza St Jaume and then on to explore the alleyways around the Gothic Cathedral. Look out for the unicorns, go to Cafe de E’stiu in the Patio Museu Frederic Marèsm if the weather is nice, but there will be plenty to choose from on your ramble in the barrio.
  • afternoon – walk to El Borne, and wander around the neighborhood, stop for coffee at Cafes Magnifico or Nomad(if it’s a week day), then wind down your weekend and enjoy a hot steam bath and massage at the Aire de Barcelona in the roman spa.
  • evening – you could enjoy the most authentic flamenco at Robadors 23 in their tiny little bar, and feel as if you have been transported to a cave in Granada.  Afterwards why not enjoy a dinner at El Nacional in one of their restaurants, all designed by Lazaro Rosa Violan in an old parking garage on Passeig de Gracia. A more budget friendly option would be to eat at La Paradeta, which is always a fun seafood experience. To close the evening take a walk up Passeig de Gracia and enjoy all the Christmas lights, you may find the stores open late for shopping, and sales often happen during winter, especially after Christmas. Make sure to stop for a minute outside La Pedrera and Casa Batllo and admire the beautiful architecture on the “block of discord”, where competing architects have constructed some of the most famous buildings in Barcelona.

You can mix and match these itineraries to suit your day, or interests. Be sure to check out our other posts for more ideas of what to do, see and eat in Barcelona.

brunch

Brunch Barcelona

brunch

Brunch in Barcelona is all the rage. On a weekend, you can’t step out of your front door without finding a spot where you can fill up on the best food invention ever –  breakfast and lunch rolled into one. Throw in some bloody marys, mimosas, and your weekend in Barcelona is set!

We have trawled the streets and found and tasted almost all the brunches on offer, and the following list offers restaurants that consistently present good brunch meals. Brunch may not be a very Catalan style of food in Barcelona, but if you are missing your french toast or eggs from back home, there are plenty of lovely bistros here that will make your belly full, possibly with a dash of Spanish flare and send you adventuring with loads of energy.

 

Avenue Bar – a sweet tiny space that gets packed on the weekend due to their great brunch specials with giant jug of bottomless mimosas. We dare you to try it!

Picnic – down near the citudella park, picnic has tables outside, serves up delicious pink lemonade and good food. Perfect before a summer siesta in the park under the trees.

Milk – possibly one of the first places to serve Brunch in Barcelona, before eggs benedict became a weekend way of life here, milk consistently brought it! Huge portions in cute surrounds, the bar is the original Brunch spot. It gets jammed full of weekenders, and there’s usually a queue, but it’s so worth it. They also make a mean cocktail if you happen to land up there in the evening.

Brunch & Cake – this is a brunch institution. open all week, and serving breakfast all day, every day, their eggs and waffles will satisfy your sweet tooth, and they have a good selection of healthy breakfast alternatives. Heck the last time we visited they even had Green eggs and Ham ala Dr. Seuss

Cafe Godot – neighborhood cafe that’s kid friendly. They have great brunch and lunch options, friendly staff and a baby changing table in the bathroom.

Can Dende – rated one of the best brunches in Barcelona on Yelp, and we can’t lie their unusual plates are getting high fives from all of us. Perhaps a little off the beaten path, but close to the beach and the Palo Alto market. If you are exploring Poble Nou, you hipster you, this place cannot, let’s say that again, CANNOT, be beat.

Granja Petibo – a wander up from the Arc de Triomf, the Petibo has delicious breakfast any day of the week, and their weekend brunch is good too! The menu changes, so you can always go back and try something new. An airy cafe with high ceilings and a good ambiance.

a guide to sweets and cakes barcelona

Barcelona for the Sweet Tooth

a guide to sweets and cakes barcelona

a guide to sweets and cakes barcelona

Barcelona has a sweet tooth! Perhaps not the kind you are used to, but how can a place that offers nutella or chocolate croissants for breakfast not enjoy a little spot of sweetness. If you enjoy sugary delights, look no further than our recommendations below. Before long your belly will be very happy and your wallet a little light, and, well, let’s not think about your weight! Check out these shops in Barcelona to satify your cravings, be it for cake, cookies or cream!

Chok – all manner of donuts and muffins and more, want a donut covered in flowers and orange sprinkles, head to chok, just off las ramblas.

Patisserie Hofmann – pastries in a superb location in the old city, and they have an indoor terrace upstairs.

Usagui – a japanese tea house serving classic japanese cakes, mochis and more, served with green tea or yuzu, all superbly served on gorgeous crockery.

Eyescream & Friends -icescream fun near the beach. perfect for the kids, but the adults will also enjoy a monster eyed icescream. you scream, I scream, we all scream for icecream.!

Happy Pills – self service candy, fill up on happy pills, and let sugar take care of all of your woes. these make perfect little treats you can take home with you.

La Besneta – cookies to die for, and vegan friendly too! filled with peanuts, chocolate and nuts, or try their lemon drizzle cake. best of all they offer the cutest cakes in jars. just waiting for you to take on your next picnic!

Çukor  -artisanal sweets, they run workshops where you can learn to make marshmellows and eat such unusual flavors you’ll be back before you know it to grab more of their goodies.

 

bcn6

Best of Barcelona’s Festivals

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La Merce – The weather is balmy, the eveings still long and as summer finally winds down, Barcelona parties. The city’s main annual festival, celebrating the end of summer and Barcelona’s Saint- the Virgin La Merce. Marked by 3 days of festivities, including fireworks, carnivals, music events, exhibitions, workshops, parades, and a slew of cultural attractions including the human pyramids, saldana dancing and more, La Merce takes place during September, so put a note in your calendar and enjoy all the cava drinking you can.
Nit de Sant Joan – the best place to start your evening on the Night of Sant Joan, is atop the hill over looking Barcelona. Take along a picnic and head up to the canons of carmel. The sun sets and the fireworks begin. They will continue all night, until dawn the crackle of gun powder fills the streets, echoing across the neighborhoods. Accompanied by large bonfires and jovial catalans, you can make your way to the beach for what promises to be a wild fire fueled night.
Festa Major de Gracia – every neighborhood in Barcelona has their own fiesta or festival, Gracias is probably the most renowned, and one of the highlights of summer. Read about it here, and definitely put it on your itinerary if you find yourself in Barcelona during August.
Diada de Sant Jordi– Lovers day in Barcelona. Similar to valentines day, here Saint George is celebrated by giving flowers and books to your loved ones. The streets are filled with roses and little book stalls and its a lovely day to wander Barcelona’s streets. Your feet will be cushioned by petals, and you can enjoy a coffee and read your newly purchased book in a cafe. Men traditionally buy roses for the women in their life and the woman buy books for the men. It’s interesting to walk down Rambla de catalunya on this day, although it may get a little crowded. Often authors will be out signing copies of their books, so you might want to see if your favorite is in town.
Sant Medir – another festival that takes place in Gracia. The sweet filled festival of Sant Medir will be a favorite with the kids. Head up to the barrio to watch the processions of horses and trucks with festival participants hurling bag loads of sweets into the air. Bring along an umbrella like the locals, who hold them upside down to catch the falling bounty. You could collect a year long supply of candy for your sweet tooth!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS WITH THESE DATES.

best festivals in barcelona

best festivals in barcelona

Enjoying our guides? Download our Illustrated Adventures, a quirky guide that offers loads of off the beaten track tips and secrets.

top 5 beaches catalunya

Our 5 Favorite Beaches

top 5 beaches catalunya

top 5 beaches catalunya

Great Beaches in Catalunya are not hard to come by, with a little exploring you will discover a heap of blue sea, white sands, pebble beaches, hidden coves, crystal clear waters, and vistas to make your Instagram look photoshopped! Here are our top 5 beaches in Catalunya, Spain, all within 2 hours driving from Barcelona.

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San Sebastian Beach in Barcelona lies at the foot of the w hotel. It stretched down the strand towards Barceloneta and offers superb views of all of Barcelonas beaches which curve away down to the Besos River. San Sebastian has a good selection of chiringuitos to choose from as well as offering water sports such as paddle boarding and sailing, from the club de natacio. Our favorite spot to take in the view is Salt, sit in one of their pretty beach chairs, your feet in the sand and sip on a cold beverage while you do. The water at San Sebastian is clear and the beach is a little less crowded than Barceloneta while still being close to the city center. Do be aware however that it is a nudist beach and you may get an eyefull. If this is something you are uncomfortable with, perhaps choose another beach.

Garraf Beach can be found at the foot of the tiny village of Garraf. It’s a short twenty minute train ride from Barcelona, and the small natural beach is clean and charming. Enjoy hunting for shells along the shore, or admire the quaint wooden holiday shacks, stacked in a row on the sand. They were originally built to house railway workers, but now house happy holidaymakers instead. The beach has a sprawling restaurant overlooking the sea and makes a good spot for lunch.

Aiguablava is as it’s name would suggest a wonderful little bright blue bay on the Costa Brava coast. Situated near Palafrugell and Begur, it is a popular destination in summer, and you will often find the beach and bay jam packed with holiday makers. Opt to visit slightly off season, when you can still enjoy the beach and water, but the crowds won’t be stomping on your towel or splashing you in the face. The beach offers diving, and has a number of fun paddle boats which you can rent and explore the coves and cliffs that seclude the waters of Aiguablava. BONUS BEACH – check out Sa Tuna nearby!

Sant Pol de Mar is a small village north of Barcelona, a pleasant train ride away. The sand is fine and the waters clear. There are a number of beaches to enjoy in the town and just outside of town, which you can drive or walk to. Some of the beaches are located below cliffs which offer great views down the coast and climbing to those more interested in the heights than the inviting waters.

Santa Cristina is a picturesque beach near Loret de Mar. Made up from a number of little coves, pick your preferred one, and enjoy. There is a convenient beach bar, and shady pines where you can picnic.

Interested in visiting Barcelona? Download our Guide to the city which includes off the beaten track tips, places of interest, restaurant guides and more! Come and stay with us, check our rental availability!

CAFES IN BARCELONA

4 Lovely cafes in Barcelona

CAFES IN BARCELONA

There are oodles of lovely coffee shops in Barcelona, it’s hard to pick a favorite. If you are struggling, why not try one of these 4 that are in our Top 10 cafes of Barcelona. We will be sure to add more later, but for now, enjoy some coffee, and sweet treats in style!

IMG_5589cafe cometa – cometa is the little sister cafe of cosmo cafe on c/enric granados. cometa is located in sant antoni on c/parlament, and is super petit, a tiny cute space, where you can squeeze in for a little jam on toast and coffee, and enjoy the art on the walls.

la criolla – off the beaten track, la criolla has a beautiful indoor terrace, they also serve cakes, pastries and a great menu del dia.

meatpacking bistro – labelling themselves a little slice of NYC in Barcelona, meatpacking bistro packs a good lunch and coffee in a crisp cafe designed by Lazaro Rosa Violan.

spice cafe– go for the carrot cake. its good! nuff said!

*BONUS CAFE lukumas (pictured above) serves delicious greek donuts and coffee in two locales, one in Gracia, and the other in Raval. the perfect spot for your sweet tooth!

Interested in coffee spots in Barcelona? see our post here…

COFFEE in barcelona

All About Coffee in Barcelona

COFFEE in barcelona

COFFEE in barcelona

The 3rd wave coffee phenomenon has landed in Barcelona. It’s true – a number of months ago, there were only a smattering of places that offered hand poured coffee, but now you can find yourself in a cool Spandi cafe (my new word for Spanish+Scandinavian Style)in two or three easy steps. Flickering filament lightbulbs highlight the choices – chemex, siphon, aeropress, french press, espresso, flat white, and trusty old hario. The white tiled walls and wooden accents complement the azulejos and copper piping, your coffee is fragrantly steaming in your hand as a barista tells you about the beans.

If this is something you get excited about, and I won’t lie, I love a good coffee in a pretty place, then you’re in luck, head to the following coffee shops and enjoy your brew!

Satan’s coffee in the Gothic quarter, this is a good cafe to stop at while exploring near the cathedral. Get lost in the alleyways trying to find their shop.

Onna cafe in Gracia serves up delicious coffee from Costa Rica, they also offer yummy snacks, and free wifi.

Syra coffee a hole in the wall coffee stand, with space for a few bar stools, Syra makes coffee with Onnas beans and they do a great takeaway

Nomad coffee on the fast track to being Barcelona’s number one coffee shop, they take their coffee seriously.

Cafes el Magnifico the oldest locale in Barcelona to serve great coffee. they have a roastery in their shop and supply a large number of the cafes and bistros in Barcelona with coffee beans, you can sample coffee from a large selection of growers, and they do a mean espresso.

SlowMov a recently opened space in Gracia, they serve filter coffee and espresso from a cute little shop/ meeting space. The coffee is direct trade, and they roast in house. You can buy their beans by the bag, or just enjoy a cuppa at their central table while you read a book.

 

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You can also find coffee in a few food trucks scattered around Barcelona, they turn up at various pop-up markets and with a little google investigation you’ll be able to sample their cups. Skye coffee and Nomad both have coffee trucks.

You can sample some great coffee at various Bistros through the city – Caravelle which serves coffee made with beans roasted by Right Side Coffee, a local roastery. Nomad also has a roastery in Poble Nou, and you can sign up for coffee workshops with both ventures.

If you are here in summer, be sure to try the cold brews on offer at Nomad and Onna. You can also try to find Cafes Fred who construct their own cold brews.

If all this is mumbo jumbo to you, here is a little guide to typical traditional spanish coffee found in most cafes in Barcelona.

Americano – large machine coffee with extra hot water

Cafe Largo – espresso shot with extra hot water

Cortado – espresso shot with milk

Carajillo – espresso shot with milk and your favorite alcohol (be specific carajillo con baileys…)

Cafe con Leche – milk coffee

A few other notable Spanish words you may want to throw around to make your coffee just how you like it –

sin espuma -without foam

leche desnatada – fat free milk

leche de soja – soya milk

caliente – hot

templado – warm

fria -cold

descafinado – decaffeinated

So perhaps you enjoy your coffee – “cafe con leche sin espuma, con leche desnatada,  fria, gracias!” – milk coffee without foam, with fat free cold milk. Thank you very much!

Also of interest is this post on the mystery of Torrefacto… love it or hate it, it’s some fascinating coffee history!

Enjoy your coffee at these lovely Barcelona cafes…

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EAT EAT EAT – a guide to some of Barcelonas Restaurants

guide to BARCELONA restaurants

guide to BARCELONA restaurants

What are some great places to sample Barcelona’s culinary offerings? It’s hard to choose, with over 2000 restaurants in the city, it can be overwhelming to know your pan con tomate from your patatas bravas. We’re here to help. With a list of over 20 restaurants that have all been tried and tested, you can’t go wrong. From Catalan dishes to Mediterranean fusion food. Slow food and fast food, romantic restaurants, michellin starred spots, and everything in between, plus some tips for dining in the Catalan Capital.

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So let’s break it down. Breakfast can be found in any cafe from as early as 7am until around 11am. Usually this consists of a croissant and a coffee, but more substantial fare can be found if you look hard enough. Bocadillos (sandwiches) with ham or cheese or a slice of spanish tortilla (omlette) may also be of interest if you have a big day of sight seeing planned. Finding a full english breakfast during the week may be hard, however Brunch has become increasingly popular here in Barcelona and on the weekends, every cafe and bistro in the city is offering some form of eggs benedict.

Coffee, that all important morning beverage, can be easily obtained in any cafe. The locals like theirs strong and dark, and if you order a cafe, you will be served an espresso. cafe con leche is coffee with milk, a cortado an espresso with milk, an americano is a machine coffee with extra water, supposedly to resemble a filter coffee. We recommend you try the cortado, and, if you are feeling adventurous, you can ask for a carajillo, which is a coffee with a dash of your preferred alcohol. A carajillo with Baileys can be mighty delicious, and on a cold morning or afternoon the perfect hand and tummy warmer.

Of course the ubiquitous cool-city artisanal coffee shops have been sprouting up in Barcelona too, and these days you can find handcrafted filter coffee in a number of hip cafes. Poured expertly, with fresh beans ground just for you, you wont be disappointed with daily caffeine fix. A myriad of cafes offer hario, chemex, aeropress and siphon coffees.

After breakfast and before lunch (which typically starts at around 12 noon and continues until 4pm) you may find yourself peckish. Join the locals in their merienda – this is a light snack between main meals. Especially if you only had a small bite for breakfast. Sometimes people enjoy a merienda after lunch and before dinner which only begins at 8pm, with most restaurants kitchens only opening at this hour, and diners only arriving at 9pm. You will find restaurants closed between lunch and dinner, so make sure you don’t miss their serving hours.

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TIP      In Spain, the midday meal menu is often half the price of that in the evening. Look for places advertising a menu del dia, which will consist of a starter, main, and dessert or coffee. Most come with a drink and water too. It’s a great way to try more expensive restaurants if you are traveling on a budget.

 

TRIED & TESTED

  • cafe godota family friendly bistro in gracia. their menu del dia options are good, and their salad and service to be recommended.
  • picnica cafe near el arc de triomf, famous for their brunches. try the huevos rancheros on the weekend.
  • brunch and cake a breakfast institution in barcelona, they serve breakfast all day everyday.
  • granja petiboa small cafe with high ceilings on psg sant joan, serving cafe food, fresh juices and good breakfasts.
  • can dendein poble nou, slightly off the beaten track, but somehow still very popular with a queue out the door on weekends. their brunch is worth the wait.

 

  • el nacionala large and beautiful space, with 4 restaurants and center bar. a bit pricey, but you pay for the ambiance as well as the food.
  • cafe emma french bistro cafe, lookout for the giant fork on the wall inside. a good menu selection and they serve oysters.
  • chivuosbranded as slow street food, their burgers and pulled pork sandwiches are delectable. an interesting selection of beers too.
  • bacoavoted the best burgers in barcelona, this spot with self service tables right on the beach is a good bet for a hungry tummy.
  • cafe federallovely cafe in cool sant antoni on coveted c/ parlament, good brunch and lunches.

 

  • sesamo vegetarian hotspot. serving fresh vegetarian dishes, this tiny restaurant never disappoints.
  • jaime beriestainbeautiful restaurant by the interior designer of the same name, perfect date night.
  • el glop catalan fare, this tavern serves typical dishes, and seasonal greats such as calçots. go with an empty stomach!
  • koy shunkamichellin starred restaurant well worth the high price tag, if you like japanese food. you are transported to japan as soon as you step inside.
  • el niño viejoone of the adria brothers newer eateries, they serve mexican tacos, make sure to book ahead of time.

 

  • la paradeta canteen style seafood. order by the gram, and they cook your food up and call your number. it’s not to be missed if it’s your first time to the city. we recommend the branch in el born, however there is also one near the sagrada famila and another in sitges!
  • torre d’alta marfancy pants restaunt at the top of the tower next to the harbour. stunning views, this place is good for special occasions.
  • puddingkid friendly cake and tea shop styled like wonderland, full of giant mushrooms and circus tent awnings. you do feel like you have been invited to the mad hatters tea party. a fun spot with good carrot cake!
  • hoffman patisseriefantastic bakery, they also have an indoor terrace upstairs for lunch.
  • chez cocorotiserie with a difference. a gorgeous restaurant designed by lazaro rosa violan who is responsible for a number of gorgeous locales in barcelona, their roasted acron fed chickens are another good reason to visit.

 

  • la llar de foctraditional catalan food, all wood fired meats, smoked cheeses, and tasty breads.
  • batuar in the cotton house hotel – lovely garden terrace restaurant in the hotel, great for a romantic dinner.
  • quimet & quimet a tourist hot spot in poble sec, their tapas and wine are worth the crowd, go for one, and then fill up around the corner on c/ blai, read our post on pintxos in poble sec.

You can find a bunch more tried and tested places to get grub in our downloadable guide

Top 5 Getaways Outside Barcelona

guide to BARCELONA getaways, all within 2 hours of the city

guide to BARCELONA getaways, all within 2 hours of the city

So you want to explore a little further afield?

Barcelona city is too crowded for you during the height of summer or you’ve been here before? Why not use the Catalan Capital as your base for exploring the nearby attractions? Barcelona is the perfect jumping point, with easy access from it’s airport, and a myriad of transport options available to the discerning traveler. Rent a car to head off the beaten track, or travel by bus or train. You can do a day trip or overnight at any of our 5 favorite Barcelona getaways, scroll down to find out more, or download our creative illustrated guide for more secrets to making your trip to Barcelona unforgettable.

Garraf – a sweet little village on the coast, just 20 minutes train ride from Plaza Catalunya. It has a charming row of beach shacks right on the beach and a restaurant (one of the only 2) perched on terraced levels in the cliff face overlooking the strand. It makes a superb day trip or a great little stop on the way to Sitges.

Montserrat – you can spot this curious mountain from Barcelona on a clear day, if you look in the right direction – northwest, its spires protrude from the landscape like fingers. You can take the train to the mountain, and then ascend to the working monastery abbey nestled halfway up which houses the famous Black Madonna. The mountain also has various hiking routes, and breath taking views. If you are a climber, there are plenty of rock climbing scrambles on the mountain.

Tarragona – a small city south of Barcelona, Tarragona boasts some lovely beaches and a fantastic Roman amphitheater over 2000 years old. A wander around Tarragona’s old city unveils fascinating historic buildings, old ruined walls, and is an easy day trip from Barcelona.

Tossa del Mar – a wonderful coastal village north of Barcelona in the Costa Brava, its curving bay and white sand beaches would make a great weekend excursion. Not only that, but Tossa also has a fantastic walled fort positioned overlooking the sea, you can clamber along the walls admiring the views as well as the old village contained within. There are plenty of hikes in the area along the coast, boat trips, snorkeling, fishing and some perfect places to enjoy a good seafood meal.

Cadaques – another great weekend trip, Cadaques is a perfect village with a tiny port. It is extremely picturesque, with white painted walls, red roofs, and shockingly blue waters off pebbly beaches. Truly Mediterranean in aspect. You can understand why the artist Dali chose to live nearby. His house has been turned into a museum, which is a delightful peek into his life. The garden is something to behold with whimsical swimming pool and surreal giant white egg sculptures. The nature reserve over the hill is worth exploring too, with stunning coves where you can go skinny dipping among the sea anemones.

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