Start your day with a Spanish almuerzo – the handy snack between breakfast and lunch – before heading and exploring the iconic Gothic Quarter. This is the oldest part of the city and is home to a number of buildings that date back to the early Middle-Ages. It’s winding streets and enchanting squares are the perfect place to get lost and soak up the majestic feel of this ancient neighbourhood.
When it comes to lunch time, one of the most economical and authentic ways to eat is to search out a good menú del día during the week– an affordable worker’s lunchtime menu generally ranging between €10-€15. The Nou Cellar in the Born is a great option for traditional Catalan cuisine, while La Esquina by Plaça Catalunya offers a more modern menu.
After lunch, wander through El Born, the bohemian part of the Old Town located between Via Laietana and the Parc de la Ciutadella. This is the best place to peruse the independent boutiques and artisan stores that give it its character, and you’ll be able to find original pieces by local designers as well as artisan-made leather, ceramics and more.
Come the evening, the city will have taken on a whole new persona and Barcelona’s bustling nightlife will be beckoning. For busy bars head to El Raval where you can find a number of fantastic tapas spots, from traditional Spanish food to vegetarian tapas. While over in Poble Sec, there has been a veritable foodie revival in the area and there are a number of upmarket restaurants serving top-notch food to a mostly local crowd. Finish the night with a cocktail at Bitter or La Papa on Calle Parlament, or head in to the heart of El Raval for some live jazz or flamenco at Robadors 23.
Make a trip to one of the city’s world-famous, fresh food markets for a glimpse of how locals like to shop. For quality produce with half the tourists of the Boquería and all the charm, head to the Mercat de Santa Caterina or the Mercat de Sant Antoni. In recent years the tourist trade has put pressure on traders to sell fresh fruit salads and juices for tourists to eat on-the-go. Support the real local commerce by buying something to take back with you as a souvenir– tinned seafood is a delicacy here and most of the cured meats are sold vacuum-packed for ease of transport.
Time to get serious about the city’s architecture. Depending on the weather and how much you enjoy walking, opt to visit either the Sagrada Família or the Park Guëll – the masterpieces of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Be sure to book your tickets online ahead of time to save time in the queues!
Combine a visit to another of the city’s most stunning architectural gems with an evening of live performance with a visit to the Palau de la Música Catalana. Designed be the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, this stunning concert hall regularly hosts live performances of opera, classical dance and flamenco, and is without a doubt one of the best music venues in the city.
Start your day with a refreshing walk through the gardens of Montjuïc, paying special attention to Laribal gardens and the Escaleras del Generalife. Slowly make your way to the Fundació Miró, the premier museum dedicated to the work of Catalan artist Joan Miró. The Espai 13 located inside the museum is at the cutting edge of contemporary European art.
After lunch, take the cable-car across to the Barceloneta and finish off your day with a long stroll by the waterfront, soaking up the sea breeze and the sound of the waves with a cocktail or glass of cava in one of the bars by the W hotel.