The bustling capital of Catalonia really makes this job easy. Imagine a place where, in just one day, you’d be able to enjoy the pleasures of a swim in the Mediterranean, discover the architectural masterpieces of Gaudí, experience the scents and flavors of the local food markets, explore the picturesque gardened hills surrounding the urban fabric, wonder the nooks and crannies of a city that’s 2000 year old city, savor the best tapas and wrap-up your day with a cocktail at a beautiful rooftop and an unforgettable sunset. That place is Barcelona, and believe it or not, this could be a pretty average day here.
All you need is some inside knowledge and intrepid curiosity. Here’s our perfect day in Barcelona.
This is going to be a busy day, so better start off with a healthy and energizing breakfast –one of our favorite “desayuno” is the artsy Cosmo (www.galeriacosmo.com) at the just-as-artsy promenade of Carrer Enric Granados. Great offer of natural juices, healthy sandwiches, lip-smacking pastries and lots of art – Cosmo Bar is also an active art gallery! Right next door to Cosmo you will find Norman Vilalta’s atelier (www.normanvilalta.com), former Argentinian lawyer turned into Barcelona’s signature bespoke shoe creator.
This is a unique opportunity to take a peek at one of Barcelona’s most cherished artisans. Gaudi’s Casa Batlló (www.casabatllo.es) and the unique “Block of Discord” are just a short walk away (take Carrer Concell de Cent on your way there, the epicenter of art galleries in Barcelona) – this is the perfect excuse to take an inside visit to one of the eight (8!) Unesco World Heritage sites in Barcelona. This is one of Gaudi’s most exciting works and a unique opportunity to understand the master’s techniques, conceptual work and amazing engineering skills, just by walking thru the house assisted by an audio guide. Halfway thru the morning is the perfect time for a very special escape. Hop on the BrightSide sidecar (www.brightsidetours.com) and ride with the wind all the way uptown: let you private guide take you thru the most charming neighborhoods, the luxury residential areas and secret viewpoints, unknown to the regular traveller. Get to know some of the best kept secrets by the hand of a private tour guide, until you’re dropped off at Park Güell (www.parkguell.cat). There you can appreciate the beauty of the exceptional mosaic work and great views over the city and Mediterranean coastline.
Walking down from Park Güell you’ll find Gracia district, this charming district is a local’s favorite, perfect for walking and plentiful with cafes, little bars, restaurants and terraces. Make sure to take a look around Mercat de l’Abaceria Central (www.mercatabaceria.com), this is one out of 40 Barcelona local markets and a proud exception: it’s not named after a saint! Lunch: time for tapas! One of our favorites is Pepa Tomate (www.pepatomate.com), just around the corner from the market, where you will find traditional tapas in a local and lively atmosphere: delicious and fun! Right across the square, Gelateria Caffetteria Italiana serves arguably the best gelato in Barcelona – the lines are often long but the wait is highly rewarded!
With a happy belly it’s time to head to the beach where the only rules are: relax, soak in the sun, splash into the Mediterranean and rent a paddle board to go for another unique perspective of our amazing city. It’s impossible to be bored at Barceloneta beach. The old city is waiting for you. El Born district boosts some of the trendiest shops, cafés and restaurants, this old medieval quarter broke into a hip area where locals roam by late afternoon to get the evening started: the atmosphere is elegantly casual, in good Mediterranean style. But this is also an awesome district to explore during the day, with numerous artisan shops, museums, historical sites and beautiful scenery all around.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (www.santamariadelmarbarcelona.org) is arguably the most fascinating building in this area; you can take a short tour to the rooftop of this 14th century Basilica to learn more about the building and its impressive history. It’s said to be the place where Gaudí took inspiration to create the lighting of Sagrada Familia (www.sagradafamilia.cat). Another local highlight is El Xampanyet – a traditional Cava bar (Cava is the local sparkling wine, and national pride of the Catalans) just a few steps away from the Picasso Museum (www.museupicasso.bcn.cat). A quick stop at this 80 year old bar will replenish your energy: toast with Cava and sample the local delicacies (the anchovies are the house specialty).
Next to Palau de la Musica Catalana (www.palaumusica.cat), this stunning concert hall is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner – and if this is your lucky day, you might find one of the traditional Spanish music concerts they offer on a regular basis (without live concerts, it’s also totally worth to visit the inside and see for yourself its beautiful stained-glass skylight and main hall). But your job is not done yet! If you really want to do it like a local, there is one more ritual you should accomplish: raise your glass to the sunset on a Barcelona rooftop bar, nearly a national sport of Barcelona’s summer evenings.
There are many beautiful rooftop bars and one of our favorites is the Hotel Pullitzer (www.hotelpulitzer.es). Centrally located right off Plaza Catalunya, its rooftop terrace has made a huge reputation amongst the locals based on its groovy music sets and the cosmopolitan atmosphere: the perfect sunset! Catalans like it late, so dinner time is usually around 9:30PM and onwards. Just two blocks away from Plaza Catalunya, at the luxurious Passeig de Gracia promenade, El Nacional (www.elnacionalbcn.com) is a mandatory food temple of Barcelona! A huge area of over 2500 m2 boosts a jaw-dropping scenario with 4 different dining areas (meats, seafood, rice dishes and tapas) and 4 different specialty bars (wine, cava, beer and cocktails) put together in majestic style.
But Barcelona’s nights are long and if you haven’t yet had enough during your day in Barcelona, we’ve got great news: night clubs party till 6:00AM! Around Avenida Diagonal and Carrer Tuset you’ll find some of the trendiest night clubs. At clubs like Sutton Club (www.thesuttonclub.com), Bling Bling (www.blingblingbcn.com) or Luz de Gas (www.luzdegas.com) the bouncers will be picky – dress to impress!