Out of Bed: The Insider's Guide to Barcelona
Between its sun-drenched boulevards and sweeping city beaches, Barcelona is the perfect choice for a Spanish sojourn.
Catalans are fiercely proud of their heritage and this mood shines through the cuisine, culture and day-to-day life of the city. Simultaneously relaxed and ready to go at all hours, this European hotspot is sure to sate your appetite.
What to do
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, known locally as La Boqueria, is a bustling market hall situated on the edge of La Rambla – a tree-lined central street that stretches from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell. Sprawling fruit stalls selling freshly squeezed juices stand next to butchers spruiking melt-in-your-mouth jamón ibérico as tourists and locals alike snake their way through the space. Collect picnic supplies or stop by a Pintox bar for Basque-inspired snacking.
Whether you choose to indulge in a little or a lot of Gaudi on your trip to Barcelona, there are a few highlights that must not be missed. La Sagrada Família, which is set to be completed in 2026 – more than 140 years after construction began – offers incredible insight into the wild mind of the renowned architect. Be sure to book your tickets online and avoid standing in the queue that winds around the block in the height of summer.
For Gaudi served alongside panoramic views of the city, make your way to Park Güell. Originally conceived as a public park, this UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the infamous mosaic tiled Serpentine bench, which wraps the perimeter of the terrace, as well as Hansel and Gretel-inspired gingerbread house-like dwellings that now act as museums.
While the city’s neighbourhoods are seemingly undefined by physical borders, each one has a distinct character. From the elegant Art Nouveau buildings in the Eixample district and the high-end boutiques that line the broad leafy boulevard Passeig de Gràcia, to the crumbling Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) and the maze-like cobblestone alleys of El Born. Most sights are best explored by foot or bike, but the metro system is easy to navigate if you wish to travel further afield.
After a full day of wandering, make your way to Barceloneta beach for sundowners on the sand. Grab a drink at one of the many chiringuitos (shack-like beach bars) that line the boardwalk and soak up the bohemian vibe.
Where to eat
An energetic dining scene defines the city, from street-food stalls to Michelin starred restaurants. For natural wines and sharing plates, be sure to book a table at Bar Brutal. Walls of bottles line the interior of this taverna-style restaurant, which is filled with rustic wooden tables and knowledgeable staff who are eager to share insights into biodynamic vintages and a love for their city.
For a taste of country NSW in the center of Catalonia, stop for breakfast and a flat white at Federal cafe (there are two locations in the city). Caffeine fiends should check out Black Remedy for specialty brews but we’ve heard the slowly smoked pulled pork is also worth a visit.
For a true taste of Spain, include El Nacional on your itinerary. The warehouse-inspired space is home to four restaurants and four bars, each serving up a unique slice of the Iberian peninsula. Meat lovers will find charcoal grilled cuts, pescatarians will delight in the catch of the day, and anyone who needs a break from the hustle of the city will find a welcome spot to recharge over a coffee or a cocktail.
Where to sleep
Rest your head at Casa Bonay, a boutique hotel located in the Eixample district within easy reach of the city’s main attractions. Housed in a restored 19th century neoclassical building, this cooler-than-thou space actually lives up to the home-away-from-home hype. You’ll come for the plant-filled interiors and creative vibe and stay for the rooftop terrace and ingenious details.
For those in the know, Little Beach House Barcelona might be the best bed in town. Part of the London-based Soho House group, non-members can also enjoy the hospitality offered within its bohemian-chic walls. You’ll find the seafront dwelling in the small fishing village of Garraf, a mere 30 minutes drive from the centre of the city. Make this your base to enjoy more of the Catalan countryside or indulge in a staycation and take advantage of the amenities on offer.
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