5 Must-Dos in Barcelona...
A city by the sea, of endless sunshine and sublime gastronomy, Barcelona really is one of a kind.
#1 Discover Barcelona's Secret Inner-City Village
Before Barcelona expanded and swallowed it up, the neighbourhood of Gracia was completely separate from the city. But today, even though it's just a ten minute metro ride from the touristy Las Ramblas, it still feels like a little old village, complete with bustling markets, quaint squares, restaurants and independent boutiques. Go for lunch or dinner and soak up the lazy local vibes with a caña (a small beer) or a glass of vino. (First photo: "Gaudi's home in Park Güell, just a stroll up the hill from Gracia.")
#2 "Fer el Vermut" - Do the Vermouth
La Confiteria is the "perfect meeting spot". Its interiors have remained untouched since 1912 and "in my humble opinion, it's now one of the most beautiful bars in Barcelona." Carrer de Sant Pau, 128, Raval.
If there's one thing I love more than a long, lazy Spanish lunch, it's the aperitivo hour that precedes it. The locals call it "fer el vermut" (do the vermouth) or "la hora del vermut" (time for vermouth), and the basic concept is to get together with friends for a few nibbles and a drink to get your appetite going for lunch. You'll find all sorts of creative twists on foodie streets such as Carrer Parlament in Sant Antoni and Carrer Blai in Poblesec. Just follow the crowds!
|In El Dinamic, "The tapas are classic and simple --- no gimmicks --- and the occasional live performances provide the ideal setting for a couple of lazy glasses of wine." Passatge de Pere Calders, 4, 08015, Barcelona.|
|"This is where I like to go on my bike when the sun's shining." Bar Calders, Carrer del Parlament, 25, San Antoni.|
#3 Go Tapas Bar Hopping in the Old Fisherman's Quarter
Barcelona Food Lovers Company tour to be guided to the best local spots and learn about the area’s fascinating history. Then it’s time for a quick siesta at the beach!
|"Noisy, brash, and with service that leaves a lot to be desired..." But taste their tapas and "it all makes sense." Jai-ca Bar, Carrer de Ginebra, 13, Barceloneta.|
#4 Cruise the Beach Boardwalk
|Ben (right) with buddy Michael aboard BCN Boat Tour's "Minerva". bcnboat.com|
#5 Find Enlightenment at Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia
Yes, it's on every postcard and travel brochure going, but Gaudi’s iconic Sagrada Familia is one of those world-famous tourist attractions that actually lives up to the hype. In fact, if you book the "skip the line" ticket — which is absolutely advisable because the line takes forever — I can pretty much guarantee you'll fall in love with this otherworldly masterpiece.
Ben Holbrook is a freelance travel and food writer in Barcelona. You’ll find more of his insider advice on his blog DriftwoodJournals.com.
*All photos Ben Holbrook