Whether you’re on a romantic trip or a group getaway, here are all our insider tips for when you find yourself in this buzzing beachside city.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for a romantic spot right in the heart of Barcelona, something akin to 'proposal territory', then Sir Victor, just off Passeig de Gràcia, is calling your name. Full of Art Nouveau references and contemporary quirkiness, Sir Victor isn’t just a place to rest your head – it's an architectural experience. The 93 rooms are beautifully styled, but drop your bags off and head straight for the rooftop pool and bar, which is an oasis of achingly cool tranquillity. The gym is also one of the best of any hotel we’ve seen.
Location:Carrer del Rosselló, 265, 08008
Tucked away in the back streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the Kimpton Vividora is a boutique hotel that’s a magnet for cool locals and travellers alike. The rooms feel like you’re stepping into someone’s upscale pied-à-terre. The bijou-but-beautiful rooftop terrace features an infinity pool affording splendid views across Barcelona, not least glimpses of Gaudi architecture for which the city is famed.
Location:Carrer del Duc, 15, 08002
Neoclassical opulence for the Barcelona bourgeoisie springs to mind when you first set foot in the five-star Cotton House Hotel, housed in the former Cotton Textile Foundation building, that is now a 19th-century monument to timeless luxury. It has a rooftop saltwater pool, and a sprawling terrace populated with lush vegetation, perfect for aperitivo, while the Batuar restaurant downstairs is a culinary delight.
Location:Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 670, 08010
Where to go for breakfast & lunch
Head into the bustling labyrinth that is La Boqueria market and seek out Bar Pinotxo, a must-visit Barcelona institution serving up traditional Catalan dishes to in-the-know locals. The beef stews are to die for, but if that sounds a little heavy for lunch, there are plenty of light tapas dishes to choose from (as well as a top-notch gazpacho).
Location:Mercado De La Boquería, 465 470, 08001
Guzzo, in El Born, is a brilliant brunch spot, replete with beautiful artwork, quirky furniture, live jazz music, and a vinyl market. Go for the atmosphere and stay for the food, which is exemplary. The cuisine blends Spanish classics with contemporary influences – the owner Fred has nailed the combination of flavours. Our recommendation? The roast octopus with grilled baby broccoli and laksa sauce.
Location: Plaça Comercial, 10, 08003
Head over to Gràcia and Plaça de la Llibertat where you’ll discover an absolute gem of a brunch spot; La Pubilla. There are no bells and whistles here, just great locally sourced food. Skip the restaurant and perch at the long wooden bar upon which you’ll get acquainted with locals - giving you a real sense of living in the buzzing city - while indulging in delicious Catalonian recipes.
Location: Plaça de la Llibertat, 23, 08012
Where to go for dinner
For an absolute gastro blowout, make a beeline for Disfrutar in Eixample. This Michelin-starred restaurant is owned by three former chefs of the famous, and now sadly closed, El Bulli. Disfrutar means “Enjoy”, and that is exactly what you’ll do. Yes, it will make a dent in your wallet, but food like this is an experience you don’t get to try very often in your lifetime. Last year, it was awarded third place in the Best Restaurants of the World and continues to hold two Michelin stars.
Location: Carrer de Villarroel, 163, 08036
Alternatively, Dos Palillos on Carrer d’Elisabets is another Michelin-starred restaurant that specialises in Asian fusion cuisine with Spanish influences. Book a table at the intimate Japanese-style bar where the chefs serve you directly and order the tasting menu. Thank us later. The dishes are like something Willy Wonka couldn’t even conjure up – mouthfuls of exploding gastronomical deliciousness is the best way we can describe them.
Location: Carrer d'Elisabets, 9, 08001
Apologies if we’re drowning you in Michelin stars but here’s another two to feast on: Cinc Sentits, meaning “five senses”, is the brainchild of self-trained Jordi Artal, and focuses on modern interpretations of Catalan cuisine in the heart of Eixample. The full tasting menu - comprised of 10 courses - is €170 and is worth every single cent. The restaurant itself is super minimalist so as not to distract you from the culinary artwork on your plate.
Location:Carrer d'Entença, 60, 08015
Where to go for a drink
Barcelona is a drinking paradise, with a plethora of bars to pitch up to and quench your thirst. But there is no pitching up to Paradiso, since it’s hidden behind a refrigerator door in a pastrami shop. We kid you not. Once inside, you'll find an amber-lit chamber like something out of Salvador Dalí’s dreams, but it’s the cocktails that are surreal. Voted the best bar in the world in 2022, Paradiso’s libations are out of this world, concocted with great theatre.
Location: Carrer de Rera Palau, 4, 08003
If you’re partial to a drop of mother’s ruin, then Bobby Gin in Gràcia should definitely be on your Barcelona bucket list. The cocktail list is a melange of avant-gardism and tradition, with the classic G&T offered every which way, alongside concoctions that really stretch the boundaries of mixology. Above all though, it’s a great friendly vibe in unpretentious surroundings, and the perfect way to start or end a night.
Location:Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47, 08012
Stay in Eixample for your next cocktail experience – the aptly named Dry Martini on Carrer d'Aribau. This beautiful slice of nostalgia has been serving discerning Barcelona drinkers since 1978 and they flock here for the rich wooden bar and laidback green leather banquettes where you can easily lose an evening.
Location:Carrer d'Aribau, 162, 166, 08036
What to do
If you’re a football fan, you can’t come to Barcelona and not visit the fortress that is Camp Nou. Book yourself onto an official stadium tour and experience everything this side of playing for the first team. You’ll get to see the locker rooms, walk through the tunnel, and set foot on the pitch itself.
Location:Carrer d'Arístides Maillol, 12, 08028
A god to many Catalunyans, Pablo Picasso is perhaps the greatest modern artist, whose works over many decades came to define Europe in the turbulent 20th century. The Picasso Museum is the best way to get into the soul and imagination of the man, featuring over 4,000 works from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and sketches, dating back to some of his earliest pieces.
Location:Carrer de Montcada, 15-23, 08003
Just a short drive down the coast is the buzzing little coastal town of Sitges, which has fostered a thriving LGBTQ+ community, attracting artists, performers, musicians and creatives alike. If you want peace and quiet, the nearby Garraf Park is a hiker’s paradise – start in the hills and work your way back into town before collapsing diving into the clear, sparkling blue sea.
What to wear
While you’re sorting through your daily plans, we’ve been busy sorting through the sartorial side of your holiday. The Barcelonian heat is something to consider when packing your suitcase, but thankfully our curated collection puts the emphasis on ‘lightweight’ and ‘stylish’ in equal measures.