May 15, 2017Posted by Bethany Larson Bloch
With shimmering golden sands, pine-scented mountains, 2,000-year-old labyrinthine streets and dazzling Modernista architecture, Barcelona is a whirlwind romance of a city, an irresistible temptress that seduces at every turn. From people-watching and tapas bar-hopping through the old fisherman’s quarter to exploring museums, ateliers and indie stores of the old town, this Catalan city thrills and inspires in equal measure.
For some, it’s an escape to wild fiestas and balmy nights of debauchery. For others, it’s a much needed dose of art and culture, an epicurean dream. And while many jet in with the intention of staying only for a year or so, Barcelona teems with those who were won over by the city’s charms and made their move a permanent one.
Big enough to get lost in, but small enough to explore in a weekend, all you need is a little insider knowledge and an adventurous spirit to get a feel for what it is about this intoxicating, illustrious place that enchants everyone who visits. Some say you can’t have it all. Bring them to Barcelona, I say.
9:30am: For instant immersion, start off on La Rambla, then veer off to the west for a steaming cup of the city’s finest third-wave coffee at Caravelle in the multicultural hub of El Raval.
10:30am: Take a stroll around the area and soak up the atmosphere as the city leisurely begins to wake up. Stop off at Sant Pau del Camp to get a perspective on just how old this neighborhood really is.
11:30am: Now that your mind is fully switched on, pop into contemporary art museum MACBA to be inspired – and baffled – by the latest installations.
1pm: it’s la hora del vermut! Go to Bodega Armando and get your appetite going with a few glasses of vermouth and a bowl of fat, juicy olives.
2pm: Meander your way south to El Poble-sec and hop from Bodega Vinito to Quimet & Quimet and Koska Taverna, nibbling on bite-sized pinchos in each before feasting on contemporary tapas at ultra-hip Malamén.
4pm: From Paral-lel station, use your metro card to ride the funicular up Montjuïc, where you can take a walk or a quick siesta in the elevated Jardins de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer.
5pm: There are plenty of museums and other gardens to explore in Montjuïc if you want to make an afternoon of it, but if you’re ready to crack on, hail a cab to El Born and explore the boutiques and ateliers such as Loreto and La Clinique Fine Store, which are housed behind 2,000-year-old walls.
6pm: Visit photo archives Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona to see how rapidly and dramatically the city has developed over the last century.
8pm: A few blocks down on Carrer de la Princesa, you an sip on artisanal gins at the romantic Rubi Bar & Restaurant, before grabbing dinner at Mercat Princesa, a medieval castle that’s now a food hall offering scrumptious international delights.
10pm: Find your way through El Barri Gòtic to KaelderKold, one of writer Ben’s favorite craft beer spots, where you can sample some serious brews.
11pm: End the day with live music at Harlem Jazz Club, Barcelona’s oldest concert hall.
10am: After all that booze yesterday, you’ll be in need of a wholesome start. Kick off your morning at Flax & Kale with a plant-based brunch feast and a revitalizing juice. You’ll be raring to go in no time.
12:30pm: Stroll down Gaudí-centric Passeig de Gràcia to El Nacional for a pre-lunch glass of Cava and some oysters.
1:30pm: Continue south to El Barri Gòtic to ogle Plaça de Saunt Jaume. Nearby Café de l’Académia is just the place for a long, lazy Catalan lunch.
2:30pm: Get lost in the narrow streets of the Gothic quarter, stopping along the way to shop for hand-crafted accessories and fashion pieces from Zoen.
4pm: Follow Via Laietana south to the water to enjoy the sand and a mojito or two from one of the chiringuito bars at Barceloneta Beach.
7pm: Head back up toward the city through the lush Par de la Cuitadella where you can unwind by the impressive fountains (which feature some work by a young Gaudí) or try a spa session at Aire de Barcelona, just outside the park on Passeig de Picasso.
8:30pm: Continue north to the Arc de Triomf and hop on the metro to Girona in Eixample, where you can indulge in modern Mediterranean cuisine at the very charming Restaurant Embat.
9:30pm: For an artisanal ice cream, roll your way a few blocks over to DelaCrem.
10pm: After the sweet treat, walk along Carrer de la Diputacio to Monvínic, where you can taste the local terroir with fine wines.
11pm: Amble your way past Plaça de Catalunya to La Rambla and pull up a stool at Boadas Cocktails for a few expertly made concoctions.
About The HUNT Barcelona Writer: Born and raised in South Wales’ Gower Peninsula, Ben Holbrook spent much of his youth exploring the world with his travel agent parents. His first job was stacking brochures in his mother’s office, which may explain why he ended up becoming a travel writer himself. Ben moved to Barcelona in 2009, and when he isn’t writing about his adoptive home city on his blog, driftwoodjournals.com, he can be found hunting out new cultural and culinary experiences around the world, writing for various international publications and indulging in his penchant for good wine and craft beer.
For more great insider recommendations in Barcelona, pick up the guide on gatehousepublishing.com.