If you follow my Instagram then you will have seen that last week I was in Barcelona on a Baby-Moon with my sister and Mum. We planned three nights and two days (48 hours roughly) to have a relaxed city break with the only real prerequisite being some beach time in the afternoon and Paella, so I had free roam of organising our sightseeing around this – something which I think I do pretty well and I love a good hunt for the best of the best. Barcelona is a great city break from the UK with a flight time of 2 hours, a time difference of only 1 hour and many airlines offering great deals on return flights; check out Monarch and Ryanair for the best fares.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the lovely Casa Bonay which is a relatively new boutique hotel (they had their one year anniversary last month) and ever since I stayed at The Vendue in Charleston, SC last September, I have been obsessed with unique and smaller run hotels for a more relaxed, authentic stay.
Case Bona really ticked all boxes with independent restaurants, cool coffee bar, a rooftop drinks terrace and great spacious rooms with balconies or terraces to soak up the sun. On top of this the staff are so friendly and helpful it made our time there a breeze! One thing I particularly loved as a Dairy Free/Gluten Free person is that Satans Coffee Corner was really with the times in their offering; Cold Pressed Juices, Locally Roasted Coffee with two different alternative milks, Chia Breakfast Puddings, Sugar Free Baked Goods and a great lunch offering too- so if you want a healthy start to your day then this is the place to go.
WHAT TO SEE
You will probably already know that Barcelona is the home of Picasso, Gaudi, Miro and Dali to name a few so it is a culture capital and a playground for anyone interested in architecture and art. With every turn in Barcelona there is something beautiful and colourful to look at which for even the novice is a delight. There is almost too much to see and do here so if you are going then I highly suggest you narrow down your list and save the rest for the next time you go; because you really will want to go back.
My highlights and what I would call as must sees for the a true feel of Barcelona are Le Pedera Casa Mila, Casa Batllò, Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter , Arc De Triomph and Fontana Montjuic.
If I could pick one of these which you would really be missing out on then it would be Parc Guell; yes it is a little further out from the centre and yes its a long walk up a hill if you don’t take a taxi (it is only €7-9 from Passeig De Gracia area FYI) but the views are so amazing across the whole city to the sea and the architecture is so stunning that you will kick yourself for missing out- just look at below if you don’t believe me.
WHERE TO EAT
Tapas and Paella are two of the main things you should try when here, firstly its everywhere and secondly it just is great. Also since it is a coastal town try and make at least some of your dishes seafood for fresh out of the sea delights! I am a massive believer in eating off the beaten track to avoid tourist hotspots and menus with images (big no-no), this means venturing into areas where the locals truly hang out; so expect authentic food, cheap prices and friendly atmosphere. One thing to bear in mind is that typically lunch isn’t before 2pm, dinner before 9pm and most places stay open until 1am due to the midday siesta.
Plaça Del Sol in the Garcia Neighbourhood is a really local area with some of the best bars and cafes for late night tapas; all streets have something down them and all of the squares are great places to people watch. We chose Nina’s which was a great Tapas Drinks & Lounge bar; the food is cooked in the next door restaurant partner Sol Soler which was full to the brim and still bustling at 11.30pm. We ordered a selection of five to try and boy did they taste good- the best Patatas Bravas ever! The meal was €26 with three drinks so a really great price and very filling.
Another Option is Cerveceriá Catalana which is a great spot just off the main tourist sights of Castle Batlló and Le Pederera Casa Mila so a great stop midday to refuel. It is a busy spot so I would expect a wait of around 30 minutes for a table, but this will be well worth the wait. Not only is it a great price but there is a vast choice from all the counters and menu with both sandwiches and hot/cold tapas. We had a selection of four dishes with drinks for €23.
If you are going to have Paella then as a general rule make sure it is near the beach and remember, no images of food! Salamanca is rated consistently as one of the places to go, we opted for a Veggie version as my sister is pregnant and can’t have shellfish sadly, but this didn’t disappoint; full of surprises like mange tout, artichokes, mushrooms and asparagus. We opted for a skillet serving two people which is more than enough for three to share as it is huge, then we had the Salamanca salad which was nice and light alongside. Considering we were right on the beach, it’s a popular spot and we had so much food, with drinks, this still only came in at €44.
THE HIDDEN GEM
On our last night we ate at El Nacional after popping by the previous night to check it out; turns out Mondays are heaving because many other places are shut- so I would recommend not dining here then. It is a grand large building, with four distinctly different restaurants to pick from; A Meat Brasserie, A Fish Restaurant, Tapas Bar and Deli, not to mention an amazing ice cream counter with Dairy Free options too. We opted for Tapas as a last goodbye and even sampled some fish dishes, topped off with a raspberry and basil ice cream dessert which was amazing.
Lastly no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a stop at the Beach. With 8 to choose from you are truly spoilt, Barceloneta is the most popular and the first one you hit when walking from the centre. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you going all day, plus options to hire parasols and chairs as well as paddle boards, windsurfing and parasailing. The sea is crystal clear and the sand slightly rocky but a great pitstop for a siesta after a morning sightseeing. Why not walk along the marina and marvel at all the super yachts too?
I will certainly be going back with my Husband and eating my way around the city again, next time hopefully for it’s famous seafood.