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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.

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.

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.

 

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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!

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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Guide to Barcelona’s Barrios

guide to BARCELONA neighborhoods

guide to BARCELONA neighborhoods

Barcelona is a very old city in which you can feel the weight of history; it is haunted by history. You cannot walk around it without perceiving it -Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona is a lively, beautiful city, well known for it’s cultural heritage. Graceful Modernista architecture line the vibrant streets, while Barcelonians while away time in leafy plazas. Gaudi mozaics merge with surreal Dali landscapes while strains of music can be heard drifting out of cafes or from buskers in the gothic quarter. Barcelona is a city of art and, as such, offers many interesting museums to the discerning traveller. You can brush up on your history in the Picasso or Miro Museums.

The many parks invite you to relax in the shade, and it’s easy to enjoy a picnic and watch the world wander past. The beaches beckon, and as the sun sets you may find yourself joining in with locals in a singalong, as many bring instruments onto the sands to play while appreciating the perfect Mediterranean view.

At night, the city comes alive, and you can watch a Flamenco show, or listen to classical guitar in the Palau de Musica. From spectacular dining experiences whipped up by the likes of Adria Ferran at his restaurant Tickets, to bustling markets where you can grab tapas on the go; from the vistas at the Tibidabo Fairground to quiet cloisters in a Gothic Cathedral; from an intimate Flamenco concert at 23 Robadors, to a thumping club scene at the beach…

Barcelona has something for everyone. Scroll down for our guide to Barcelona’s different neighborhoods and don’t forget you can download our quirky illustrated guide to the city here.

 

THE BARRIOS

Barcelona has 10 neighborhoods. All of our available rooms and apartments are located in Gracia.

Ciutat Vella comprises of the “old” city of Barcelona. Within it, you will find the barrios of El Born, the Gotic, Raval and the beach barrio of Barceloneta. The area is very popular with tourists, it contains the famous Las Ramblas walking street, many museums, historical sites including fascinating Roman artifacts, restaurants, bars, hotels and shops. You can also find the famous Boqueria Market, the Gothic Cathedral, The Santa Catarina Market, Citudella park and Plaza Catalunya here. It can get quite crowded and noisy, but the area retains it’s inheritance in the texture of the narrow streets and winding passageways.

Eixample is a large neighborhood with many Modernist Buildings. Here you can find some of Gaudi’s famous architectural gems along Passeig de Gracia, which connects the neighborhood of Gracia and Plaza Catalunya. It is a large shopping street and runs down the center of Barcelona. There are many restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings and shops as well as a few parks in the area, which is quite extensive and well worth some exploration. Check out our downloadable guidebook for more info on where to visit in this neighborhood.

Sants – Montjuic contains the prominent mountain of Montjuic, on which lies the Fort of Barcelona as well as the Olympic Stadium. The park on the hill is expansive and you can find many museums, including the Miro museum and the Catalan Art History museum which holds an impressive collection of medieval art, in the area. The street of Parallel connects this area with Ciutat Vella, and the area has many good restaurants. Read our post on Pintxos in Poble Sec.

Les Corts borders Ave Diagonal which runs across the center of the city. Here you will find the famous Camp Nou football stadium, as well as some large shopping malls, gardens, and the large Maternitat Hospital. The area is mainly residential.

Sarria / Sant Gervasi is a historically upper class residential neighborhood. There are some beautiful old houses in the neighborhood. It is quiet, has many schools, and Turo Park. You can also find a few good restaurants, The British Council, and some Consulates in the area. It is close to Diagonal and the business sector of Ave Diagonal. The natural park of the Collserola make up the top part of this neighborhood with fantastic views of Barcelona.

Horta Guinardo, Nou Barris and Sant Andreu are all residential neighborhoods on the outskirts of Barcelona. Some of Barcelona’s university campuses can be found here. There are also parks, schools, shopping malls etc as well as access to the natural park of the Collserola.

Sant Marti borders the beach of Barcelona and the Besos River. You can find the design Barrio of Poble Nou here. There is the famous Encants Market, as well as some interesting architecture which houses new fashion districts as well as designer cafes and shops in the area. Villa Olympica is also within this neighborhood, and borders the Ciutadella Park. There is a large cinema complex as well as many hotels along the beach.

Gracia is a central neighborhood above the Eixample. It used to be a village until Barcelona grew and encompassed it. It still retains a classic Catalan village feel and you can find many good restaurants, shops, bars, and squares in the area. It is family and student friendly with plenty of small schools. Park Guell designed by Antoni Gaudi lies at the top of the neighborhood.

You can find out more interesting insider tips and guides in our Illustrated Guide, it offers a unique artistic viewpoint to Barcelona, with walks, restaurant guide, and a few secrets…

read more about the barrios of barcelona here.

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Best BCN Rooftop Terraces

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With the sinking sun going down at around 9pm, the long summer afternoons stretch out and Barcelona reclines in the balmy weather. It’s the perfect time to be outside sipping a cold drink or cocktail, and where better to do this than on the rooftop. With vistas reaching from montaña to mar, Barcelona offers some excellent sundowner spots.

Usually I enjoy them on my own terrace, this being the cheapest and easiest option, but if you are visiting the city and don’t have your own access to a private terrace or rooftop there are plenty of swish spots to spoil yourself with views and expensive drinks. And why not treat yourself? It’s summer, and you only live once!

I love how the “terraza” combines the outside and the inside, and I have busily been trying to create my own lounge-garden. And what better places to gather inspiration than all the fancy hotels in town. I have been on a bit of a rooftop exploring kick. So far I have made myself at home on the terraces at the Grand Central Hotel and the Ohla Hotel. Both are situated on Via Laitana, and both have different views over the city. It’s easy to unwind on the couches laid out, and watch the stars slowly peek out of the settling dusk.

You can find fantastic spots at Hotel Omm, Hotel Arts, Hotel Alma (which has a garden terrace), The Pulitzer, The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelo Raval, and Casa Fuster, but I’m sure there are plenty more, so exchange your beach sandals for heels, stuff your wallet with euros, and pretend you just stepped off your yacht for an evening out with a view. Go on spoil yourself!

If you have already tried these lovely terraces, there are even more to choose from. Try the the new Cotton House Hotel or the Yurbban!

Festa Major de Gracia

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The annual Gracia Festival is not to be missed. The event of the summer holidays, Barcelona awakens out of deep summer slumber and the streets of Gracia come alive during August.

If you are in Barcelona during this time, the festivities are something to behold! If you are staying in the area, be sure to bring earplugs, or resign yourself to partying for a week, not such a bad thing to do in Barcelona!

The neighborhood associations of various streets in the barrio have been at work for months, preparing the massive street decorations. Each group competes for the illustrious prize of top street, and everyone eats, drinks and parties into the late night under a canopy of papiermaché and plastic decorations. There are concerts and various workshops in each of the areas, get hold of a map, and do an excursion to visit all the various attractions. You never know what you may find around the corner – a street turned into Jurassic Park or another into the cherry blossomed avenues of Japan.

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Pinxos in Poble Sec

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Part of the newest Hipster route, you know the one – filled with trend setting flower beards and horn-rim specs. Well not quite, although Calle Blai has blossomed, it still retains its colourful textures – Factory façades and a distinct Latino tone.

Welcome to Poble Sec. The barrio borders Montjuic and is a short walk from Las Ramblas. Slightly hilly it is home to the El Grec theatre and the Apollo theatre and the neighborhood boasts a distinctly colourful style. Nibbling on pintxos, at the various bars, requires a fair amount of co-ordination. Along the street we hopped, gobbling up pintxos like snapping turtles and gulping the house beer in each spot. Squeezing into tight spaces, our movements being more theatric as the evening wore on. It’s proved to be a great late afternoon’s activity. People watched, enjoy some rays on the terraces set up along the road, and talk about the food. Pintxos, literally translated as “Thorns”, each little tapa, or bite size snack comes with a longish tooth pick holding a tower of various flavours together on a slice of bread. This could be anything from a cube of spanish tortilla, a cherry tomato, a sliver of anchovy, a spiced pepper, a dash of sausage, sautéed onion, all wildy balanced and skewered by said thorn. The challenge is to get it all in your mouth, follow it by a slurp of your preferred beverage and then pick your teeth with a flourish at the end. If you cannot visit Basque Country in northern Spain, the original home of the pintxos do yourself a favour and organise a little tapas & pintxos journey in Poble Sec from Bar to Bar.

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