Fortify yourself for the day ahead with breakfast at Caravelle in the El Raval district, west of La Rambla boulevard. It has a roomy and hip warehouse feel but is still cosy and welcoming. The owners take an artisanal approach to everything – the milk comes from a local farm, the tea is organic, the coffee is fair trade and sustainably sourced from Barcelona-based roasters Nomad, and the beer is made on site in Caravelle’s Nano Brewery. In their own words, “We smoke cure bottle brew pickle ferment.”
Carrer Pintor Fortuny, 31, 08001
Just a short walk away, the National Museum of Art of Catalonia could swallow up days of your time, so choose what to see before you arrive at this stunning Vatican-influenced building set on the hill of Montjuïc. There are nearly 300 works of Renaissance and Baroque art, as well as a huge modern art exhibition that comprises sculpture, paintings, drawings, prints, photography and architecture – all with attention paid to social, historic and artistic context. Plus, you can admire sweeping views over the city.
Closed Mondays. Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, 08038
Barcelona’s many neighbourhoods or “barrios” offer their own distinct charms, and the labyrinthine back alleys of the Gothic Quarter are not to be missed. Switch off roaming and allow yourself to get lost for a while in this beguiling warren of old streets. Wander around long enough and you’ll come across the historic shoe store La Manual Alpargatera. Opened in 1941, this landmark shop still makes and sells high-quality espadrilles, or “alpargatas” in Spanish. These rustic, rope-soled shoes have been around for centuries and make for a great, and useful, souvenir.
Carrer d’Avinyó, 7, 08002
The multi-lingual and warm-natured bartender in the dickie bow and braces can offer you something delectable at the bluntly named “very good bar”, from a selection of classic Catalan dishes and a broad range of regional wines and spirits. The lavish interior – all Art Nouveau carved wood and marble – matches the sartorial leanings of the proprietor. Order the bread with chocolate, olive oil and salt… dangerously good.
Carrer del Carme, 63, 08001
It would be remiss to be in the capital of Catalonia and not visit the fantastical Sagrada Família cathedral, designed by Antoni Gaudí. Located in the Eixample district, work began on this emblematic landmark of Barcelona back in 1882 and it is famously still under construction (due for completion in 2026). The greatly differing exterior façades are worth the visit alone, but the interior is well worth the ticket price and there are options to gain views over the city via stairs or two lifts. Given its World Heritage status, it’s wise to book advance tickets online in order to avoid the lengthy queue.
Open daily. Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013
In the shadow of the iconic Camp Nou football stadium on the corner of a typically quaint Spanish neighbourhood plaza is El Maravillas, a football-themed bar with vintage photos of the beautiful game decorating the walls and even a shrine in the bathroom dedicated to legendary Brazilian player Romário. Why him? “Because he’s a bon vivant… because he’s the guy who did the most with the least effort,” says co-founder Enric Rebordosa.
Plaça de la Concòrdia, 15, 08014
The founders of Bar Muy Buenas and El Maravillas have something of a Midas touch. Enric Rebordosa and Lito Baldovinos are two young entrepreneurs with a gift for finding authentic old haunts in the city and breathing new life into them, reincarnating them as meticulously styled hot spots. As the sun starts to dip, enjoy a masterfully blended aperitif in one of the bars in their growing portfolio – Dr Stravinski is a retro-cool cocktail bar, or head for Paradiso speakeasy, concealed behind Pastrami Bar, the only pastrami sandwich shop in the city. Request entry through the old wooden fridge doors, and a clandestine haven awaits.
To cap off the day, head to the new Sir Victor Hotel on Avinguda Diagonal just steps from Diagonal metro station, which houses one of the best new restaurants in the city and where the city’s high flying cool crowd go to see and be seen. The star attraction and the hottest opening of the summer is moody steakhouse Mr Porter on the ground floor. Slide into a royal blue crescent-shaped booth for dishes such as salt-speckled avocado carpaccio extravagantly dolloped with Beluga caviar. Save room for the melt-in-your-mouth rib eye on the bone for two to share, with parmesan-heaped fries and roasted vine tomatoes. But the show-stopper? Scoops of ice cream served in a flower-encrusted ice bowl. Call off the search – we found the best meal in town.
Carrer del Rosselló, 265, 08008 Barcelona, Spain; +34 932 71 12 45