I just got back from my third visit to Barcelona and my second trip in one year, can you tell I like it? Danny and I went over New Years and celebrated New Year’s Eve at the W Hotel Eclipse Bar, which was really fun and then enjoyed the sunshine and slightly warmer weather on our other days in the Spanish city.
Barcelona has become one of my favourite places to visit alongside other cities such as New York and Paris. The city is very chilled, the food is a massive highlight and I just really like the vibe, which keeps me coming back. Now I’ve been a few times, I thought I’d list some of my highlights and things I would recommend you do on visiting Barcelona to help you plan your trip.
1.Parc De La Ciutadella
I visited Parc De La Ciutadella on my most recent visit to Barcelona. In fact I never even knew it was there until this trip. I wanted to explore more of the El Born area, which is home to the Picasso Museum and the park is located just to the East of this area. On the day we visited it was such a lovely sunny day with blue skies and the palm trees looked in their perfect set up, given it being January. The park is great for walks, you will come across a lake and a beautiful large fountain which is perfect for picture opportunities. The park also hosts home to the Barcelona Zoo.
2. Arc de Triomf
Located at the entrance of Parc De La Ciutadella is the Arc de Triomf, which is Barcelona’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe. The archway leads the way towards Passeig de Sant Joan, which if you are looking for lunch to sit with in the park then head to the sandwich chain shop Sandwichez and grab an Iberian ham baguette. The Arc de Triomf is nicely aligned with palm trees and benches to perch on, again great for photo opportunities and taking a moment to take it all in. Along the pathway were giant balloon sellers and bubble blowers which were entertaining for the children around.
3. Casa Batlló
Known as the House of Bones, the Gaudi designed Casa Batlló is one of the major talking points in Barcelona. You can’t help but walk past without looking up at this amazing structure. Danny and I had never been inside the house until our recent trip, so we decided to book tickets and head one afternoon. Inside it is just as a beautiful as the outside and you will be given an augmented reality guide, where you can hold the iPhone looking technology up and it will show you what the house would look like with furniture and other fun things. It was a really knowledgable tour and great to see the architecture from Gaudi. It was very busy, so I would highly recommend maybe booking the early bird tour which you can book online, this is available to book a half hour before it opens at 8.30am and lets just 10 people in to look round.
4. Enjoy The View At Eclipse Bar
Never have I not had a good night at the W Hotel’s Eclipse Bar. The bar has a 360 view over Barcelona, where during the summer months you will get a fantastic view, in winter it gets darker quicker and the bar doesn’t open till 6pm so you won’t see as much, but it’s still pretty spectacular with all the lights. The cocktails and music of this bar make it a fun place to go if you are looking to party and it was our perfect New Year’s Eve choice. One thing to note if you are booking for NYE is the majority of the bar is taken up by tables that need to be pre-booked, otherwise you could be standing up a lot all night. On normal nights, these seats are free to be taken I’m guessing if tables haven’t been booked, we went before when this was the case and had a seat all night.
5. Eat At Tapas 24
Whenever I go to Barcelona, I end up in Tapas 24 at least once on my visit. This last visit was no exception and we ended up eating here twice. Tapas 24 is owned by famous Spanish chef Carles Abellan and is located just off the popular shopping street of Passieg de Gracia. It’s a small restaurant and a popular one at that too, so be prepared to queue or go at the not so busy hours. My tip never go at 8pm, the busiest time, try to go about 6pm and for lunch maybe around 12-1pm, but it’s hard to judge when it won’t be busy, they were just times we found weren’t as busy on our visits. The restaurant is of true tapas style with a seated bar. I recommend the chicken croquettes, chips with smashed eggs and chorizo (shown above, trust me it doesn’t look that appetising but it’s amazing) and the lemon meringue dessert.
6. Have A Cocktail Or Two…
Barcelona has some pretty amazing cocktail bars, favourites include Banker’s Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the bar is designed like the inside of a bank vault and the mix of classic cocktails and their own creations sit perfectly in this upscale hotel bar. Try Boca Chica located in Boca Grande restaurant, the bar is separate from the restaurant and has a good range of cocktails, if not quite expensive, but they make up for it in the toilets – trust me you have to see them, the walls are laden with mirrors and look out for the photo booth, it’s an experience in itself. Lastly Old Fashioned bar, it’s tiny inside but if you do manage to get a seat their cocktail list is extensive and definitely worth a visit.
7. La Boqueria Food Market
There is something about being in Barcelona that just makes me constantly hungry. I’m not sure if it’s the fact I’m surrounded by wonderful food or just my own greed. A must for foodies is La Boqueria Food Market located just off Las Ramblas. Here you will find plenty of tapas to choose from, ice-cold fruit drinks, fresh fish, meat, fruit and veg and so if your staying in an apartment and want to cook at home this would be ideal to pick up your essentials. It’s a busy area so do be vigilant and watch out for pick pockets, but apart from that enjoy all the food.
8. Park Guell
Park Guell is Barcelona’s other park designed by Mr Gaudi himself. The park is situated high up in the hills so it offers a great view over the city. The park is free to get into but access to the monumental zone which features the Gaudi work is charged at €7 per ticket, I’d advise buying these online before you go. The park has similar features to Casa Batlló with the coloured mosaic and wavy structures of Gaudi’s design. Another Gaudi must-see in Barcelona would be the Sagrada Familia.
9. Bacoa Burger
Image: Bacoa Burger
I wish they would bring this burger bar to the UK as it’s amazing. Step inside, pick up a card – a bit like a betting shop and your little pencil and tick off what you would like from the menu. Hand it to the assistant, pay and take your seat. Your food will be brought over to your table and what I love about Bacoa is the service is quick but also you get what you want and it’s really easy to add-on extras. Most people in Barcelona do speak English but I love this idea, as it solves any language barrier issues by ticking off what you want. The burgers are super tasty and it’s always busy but the turnaround is quick so it won’t be too long a wait for a table.
10. Magic Fountains
Barcelona Magic Fountains are located in an area called Montjuïc and throughout the year they have their very own show in the evenings. The fountains change colours and play music and flocks of people come from all over to see it. It can get very busy, so get down early for a good spot and view. You can check out the times and days of the fountains in their very own timetable here. It’s a spectacular show and definitely one not to be missed.
Other things to mention to do include a stroll along the beach, the science museum and on the don’ts – a boat tour round the port, unless you want to look at storage containers.