I finally know why Barcelona is such a popular destination for many people around the world: their history is ancient, the food is amazing and the people are extremely nice. This is most certainly a city that I will return to time and time again. The trip to Barcelona was quick (approximately 3 full days) so this will be a great guide to someone who is making a quick stop. I will be structuring this post as a day by day guide, but feel free to move each place around or rotate days as it works for your schedule.
We stayed at Le Casa De Antonio Boutique. This small hotel inhabits an entire floor in an apartment building. It took us a while to figure it out, but you enter through the main doors and take the elevator (or stairs) up to the floor it resides on. From the exterior it looks like any other apartment entrance, however once you enter you are presented with a fresh and modern front desk. When we visited in March of 2017, it appeared it had been recently renovated. The design is very minimal and modern and our room was very clean (and were surprised with a Spanish bottle of wine waiting for us!).
Spain was a nice change of pace due to the fact Spaniards eat lunch and dinner later than typical Western culture with a laid-back Mediterranean vibe. I was curious to know why their eating times were so different, which I found was due to General Francisco Franco who, in 1940, moved the clock forward 1 hour to be in sync with Nazi Germany. The Spanish people were just coming out of the devastating Spanish civil war and never made a peep, so what was custom to eat lunch at 1PM now became 2PM, with the same logic applied to dinner. For us it was nice to sleep in late, get a workout in, and make breakfast by noon! It is easy to sleep in due to the fact you will be sitting down to dinner around 10PM.
Breakfast on day one was a lucky discovery in the Gothic area. I don't know if it is because it was in my favorite area in Barcelona, or that they are self proclaimed coffee connoisseurs or that the name is catchy; but Satan's Corner was a cozy spot to drink some amazing coffee and to get some great breakfast. Ingredients were fresh and staff was friendly. Now that you have your pulse of energy...lets get the day started!
One of my highlights for the trip is right around the corner from Satan's: Barcelona History Museum. The majority of this amazing museum resides underground. A quick elevator ride downstairs and you can see the excavated remains of Barcino, the name of Barcelona when the Romans established the city in 3 A.D. It was impressive to see the old sewers, where they made wine and learning about the other buildings and what went on in them. Amazing!
The museum is pretty much under the Barcelona Cathedral. It is worth having a look at it's beauty but we didn't go inside. As you are looking up the stairs towards the front of the Cathedral, it is worth paying attention to the old existing walls that fortified old Barcelona from attackers. If you keep walking right you will see what I mean and will come on to a sign that explains the history of the wall.
Are you hungry again? Good, because there is a great place right around the corner. El Drac de Sant Jordi was our go to for tapas. The ingredients are fresh, the price is great and the selection is large. We ended up going back three separate times to enjoy this place.
Use this opportunity to wander around the area. There are many small bistros were sangria is served like water with all sorts of tapas accompaniments.
A great place for dinner in this area is L'Antic Bocoi del Gotic. You will find delicious traditional Catalan recipes at this restaurant. The coques de recapte is what they are known for. It is most comparable to pizza. Basically it is ancient Roman pizza, pretty cool huh? Another cool aspect to this restaurant are that its interior walls are the ancient walls that the Romans built to protect the city. Even cooler? We thought so! We typically ate around 10PM so depending on your energy levels you can head home or go out to hit some clubs.
Ah, the first day in Barcelona is over. I hope it was filled with as much Spanish deliciousness and culture as you hoped. I planned this day to be slightly themed around the touristy stuff. From the hotel we stayed at, we walked to Sagrada Familia. It was approximately a 45 minute walk with most of it on Passeig de Gracia street. Here you will find tons of high end shops along with some of Goudi's works. It was a pleasant morning stroll to work off all of the previous day's tapas! It's worth mentioning that you should buy tickets to Sagrada in advance. Getting in was seamless with pre-purchased tickets and from what we could see they sell out pretty consistently. If you are going to Barcelona I don't think I need to explain the significance of La Sagrada. However, in short, it is a massive cathedral designed by Goudi but has yet to be completed. It's design makes it one of the most unique cathedrals in the world and is definitely worth the visit. A different but equally beautiful cathedral that sits on top of a hill (we didn't visit) that it is worth mentioning is Templo Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.
We are now heading back to the Gothic area for the Picasso Museum. Note: another place that is worth getting tickets in advance as the lines here are insane if you don't have a ticket. There is a street that is short walking distance from the museum called Career de la Fusina. Here you will find a street of great little bars that serve a nice variety of food: Konig, Llamber, etc. We used this opportunity to stuff our bellies and try all sorts of different beverages before we looked at the life works of Picasso...because art is way more interesting when alcohol is involved! The museum was worth a visit even though we had mixed reviews from friends who had been there. I will say it was very impressive and amazing to see how Picasso's style had changed as he grew older. You could tell there were styles of painting that were 'in' during the various phases of his life.
When you are done with checking out Picasso's work, head on over to La Galera for some quality tapas and some delicious homemade sangria. This restaurant was very cozy and comfortable and had a large glass entrance to the alley so you could people watch. At this point we were pretty exhausted so we walked slowly home and called it an evening.
After a busy two days of walking and checking out the sites, a day to lounge around at the beach could be right up your alley, so it's a good thing Barcelona can deliver. Barceloneta Beach is lined with a nice boardwalk which has good seating options from some local restaurants for tapas or, you guessed it, sangria! A fantastic lunch spot, although not Spanish, is Poke Maoli. The ingredients were fresh and the owner was extremely friendly and helpful in making the right selections. As mentioned before, this beach is filled with bar and food options so I would suggest using this opportunity to wander around and do some bar hopping!
For dinner, as you pass back through the Gothic area I would highly recommend Bar Tropezón Tapas. This was a place found by wandering around aimlessly, because it will not show up in all of those fancy blogs that make recommendations on where to go eat. If you truly enjoy hole in the wall places, this is the place for you. Feast on a large selection of delicious tapas and homemade sangria. The restaurant has a fantastic worn out flair to it, serving what appeared to be younger adults before they headed out for the evening. It gives off the impression that the restaurant has been there forever. Our gracious server ended our meal with taking a green shot (still to this day have no idea what it was) with us. Fantastic end to the delicious meal!
I hope you enjoy Barcelona as much as I did and that the itinerary provides you with some ideas on where to go and what to do! Safe travels :-)