For a lovely first meal try Arume, rated amongst the best restaurants in Barcelona. Located in El Raval, some tourist reviews have labelled this area as unsafe, but the savvy Londoner will feel as at home here as a trip to Shoreditch. El Raval is bustling with bars and offers a place to gain a genuine experience of the city. The Modern Art Museum in conjunction with dozens of galleries, bars, restaurants and street art sites, puts El Raval comfortably within a young Londoner’s crosshairs.
Arume boasts a strongly Catalan menu, with plaudits going to the range of seafood and fish on offer. The crispy Galician octopus, the carpaccio of Iberian pork and the Arume paella will inevitably have you over-ordering. And with generous portions, you’ll likely roll out of the restaurant. Along with brilliantly personal table service and the great value 10-year-old wine, the price feels like a steal.
Arume, Carrer Botella, 11-13, Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 15 48 72
The Modern Art Museum, Plaça dels Àngels, 1, Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 12 08 10
Begin your second day with a trip to the San Antoni food market, where for around €25 you can buy a very large and very good value meal for the evening, to prepare in the apartment.
After shopping head straight to the MNAC, which sits picturesquely at the end of an imposingly grand avenue, built for the 1929 International Exposition. The museum deals almost exclusively in Catalonian artists, dating from the medieval era to the 20th century. With a student card, you save a third on entry and if art’s not your thing, go for the sweeping views out over Barcelona.
Mercat de Sant Antoni, Carrer Comte d’Urgell, 1bis, Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 26 35 21
MNAC, Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, Barcelona, Spain, +34 936 22 03 60
For lunch, go to Guixot. Again situated in El Raval, you will be wowed by its sandwiches and crepes. At lunchtime, they have a very enticing set menu where for €10.50 you can enjoy three courses and a beer, or a glass of wine. All the food is sumptuous, though a favourite combination is the spinach, bacon, raisin and goat’s cheese bruschetta followed by the large breaded veal.
After lunch, take a stroll through the touristy Las Ramblas, and visit Barcelona Cathedral. Make a stop the Museo Picasso for a quick culture fix and finish your day with a stroll along the marina, the perfect way to cap off your excursion.
Museo Picasso, Carrer Montcada, 15-23, Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 56 30 00
Barcelona Cathedral, Pla de la Seu, s/n, Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 15 15 54
Guixot, Carrer de la Riereta, 8, Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 29 95 53
An all-day metro pass for €7.20 means you can venture northwest, to Gaudi’s neck of the woods. The Sagrada Familia is the ‘number 1’ attraction in Barcelona and the prices reflect that. Student entry is steep €13. Inside, you’ll be herded in with thousands of other tourists pushing to get the best views of the building that dominates any panorama of the city. However the slight sense of claustrophobia at ground level is more than compensated for when you raise your eyes up: as you enter the cathedral, having appreciated Gaudi’s mesmeric Gospels sculpted onto the outer walls, multi-coloured shafts of light engulf you amongst the forest of pillars on the interior. Fear and all-consuming awe are conjured by the magnificent nave – it is at that point you forget all the other tourists. Do not baulk at the queues or the price: the hype is justified.
La Sagrada Familia, Carrer de Mallorca, 401, Barcelona, Spain, +34 935 13 20 60
From those heady heights, head to Parc Guell for more Gaudi and then back south to the CaixaForum, where Barclays customers enjoy free entry (otherwise €4).
Parc Guell, Carrer d’Olot, s/n, Barcelona, Spain, +34 902 20 03 02
CaizaForum, Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, Barcelona, Spain, +34 934 76 86 00