They say Paris is the city of love but anyone who has visited Barcelona knows that the Catalan capital is just as likely to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. From strolling hand in hand through the old-world streets of the Gothic Quarter to cozying up in the corner of a lively tapas bar, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city as a couple.
After dropping off your bags at your hotel or rental flat, hit the town and soak up the Friday night buzz by heading to a tapas bar for a bite to eat. Since you’re probably feeling a bit tired after a day of work and you have a busy day to look forward to tomorrow, keep the evening relaxed. El Born is a lively neighbourhood popular with both locals and tourists during the weekend thanks to its many cocktail bars and cozy eateries.
Bar del Pla is a Barcelona institution, a bustling tapas bar where you should reserve a table ahead of time as it fills up quickly with locals during the weekends. There’s a wide choice of Catalan and Spanish tapas including seafood and cured meats and cheeses, which most diners snack on while perched on stools at the bar. Alternatively, Elsa y Fred is a retro-themed bar and restaurant whose vintage lamp shades and wooden fireplace will make you like cuddling in no time.
After dinner, impress your partner at one of Barcelona’s hottest new speakeasy cocktail bars located behind a pastrami sandwich shop. The head barman at El Paradiso, Gioacomo Giannotti, was recently voted best barman in Spain and his signature cocktails are really worth the visit. After a night out like this, you should definitely be ready for bed.
It’s time to get out and explore the city! While there’s so much to see and do in Barcelona, it’s probably wise to limit the number of places you’re going to visit so you don’t spend the whole day running around. To avoid the major tourist sites so you’re not waiting in queues all day, it’ll be better to choose from the lesser-known sites and really soak up the Barcelona atmosphere.
Start the day with a trip to the local market (not the always busy La Boqueria) and head to the Santa Caterina market instead for a more laid-back vibe. Grab a coffee and bocadillo (a small sandwich) at one of the counters and you’re ready to do some serious sight-seeing.
From the market, you’ll be able to start wandering into the Gothic Quarter where you’ll find San Felip Neri square via the cathedral cloisters and Plaça San Jaume. Take the time to stop and admire the architecture of this historic neighbourhood and impress your partner with a few little-known facts about the area.
Later, be sure to stroll through the iconic Passeig de Gràcia to admire architect Antoni Gaudí‘s world-famous Casa Batlló, one of his most celebrated buildings. Down the street you’ll find El Nacional, a former parking lot transformed into a multi-space bar and restaurant with stunning modernist décor where you can stop for a drink.
For dinner, say goodbye to the city centre and head to Martínez on Montjuïc Mountain where you can enjoy year-round al fresco dining while overlooking the Mediterranean. Order a few oysters to start, then the lobster arroz caldoso (a delicious rice dish, almost like a stew) to share and a bottle of local cava for a night you won’t forget.
Get off to a lazy start by having brunch in Barcelona’s hip Sant Antoni neighbourhood where you’ll find a number of great breakfast joints lining the popular Carrer del Parlament. If you’re in the mood for eggs and Bloody Mary’s then Federal or Tarannà will do the trick. If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, the home-made cakes and pastries at Café Cometa are what you’ll want to seek out.
Work your breakfast off with a walk up Montjuïc Mountain, making sure to pass through the Grec Garden to admire the 1920s Greek amphitheatre carved into the hillside. From the top you can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the city and there are numerous parks and flowered gardens where you can stop to catch your breath.
If you’re an art fan, you can end the day in one of Barcelona’s many museums and art galleries that won’t disappoint. While the Picasso Museum and the Miró Foundation are wonderful, contemporary art lovers should visit the MACBA (Barcelona’s Contemporary Art Museum), which is home to a thrilling collection of international and national pieces. Alternatively, if you’re not in the mood for staring at paintings, the Erotic Museum on Las Ramblas might be more up your alley (though you may end up wanting to go back to the hotel instead of getting on a plane after that).