Travel guide to Barcelona

131988I moved to Barcelona 18 months ago. Coincidentally, just after the move a few people I hadn’t seen in a while thought it might be a good time to catch up.

Anyway, if you do decide to come, here are some ideas of things to do. These are just ideas.

It only takes a few hours to get here, and flights are about £50 if you book ahead.

Best time to come:  April/May, and September/ October. It’s still a nice temperature, but you’re less likely to develop holiday-ruining heat grump.

YOU HAVE ARRIVED. WELL DONE.

Download the tube app, and get yourself a T-10 ticket from your nearest station. This will give you 10 journeys on the underground, and it also works on the buses – and for some trains.

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THE BEACH (Nearest Tubes: Cituadella Vila Olimpica / Barcelonetta)

It’s likely that you’ll be offered a non-sexy massage, and/or a mojito by one of the ubiquitous beach sellers (the Spanish for No, is No). And just a heads up, it’s easy to absentmindedly wander over to the Southern stretch of Barcelonetta, which is a nudist beach.

If this all seems a bit much, and you fancy venturing out from the city, there are some thoroughly beautiful stretches of sand a short distance from the capital.

THE INEVITABLE TRIP TO THE RAMBLAS (Nearest tube: Catalunya)

Opposite the Apple Store on the other side of Catalunya Square is the start of the Ramblas. Although not entirely deserving of its reputation, thieves do congregate here to take advantage of tourists who stand around gawping at trinkets with their phones on display.

There are some pretty cool districts nearby though; if you turn right at Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, it connects through to Rambla de Raval, and on to Sant Antoni, and Universitat. These are great areas to explore – full of museums, shops, cafes and potentially happy good times.

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LA SAGRADA (Nearest Tube: Sagrada Familia)

Still not finished, but that’s Spanish builders for you ahaha. Anyway, if you do fancy a visit (it is after all a miraculous and beautiful thing), then book online. Don’t queue, for god’s sake. Queuing is for idiots. The area is very touristy, and home to KFC, McDonalds et al.

Further north from here is the quiet neighbourhood of Gracia, which is lovely, and well worth a gander. If you have hunger and the time, check out RESTAURANTE PEPA TOMATE. The food, staff, and ambiance are all spot on.

TAKE A RIDE ON A CABLE CAR!!!

I found this experience rather stressful and exhausting. It was a lot of effort for very little gain, and I was outnumbered by annoying couples with selfie sticks. I did not enjoy it. But hey, you might, so here’s some more information. It does seem to be very popular, so I’m willing to accept that I could be in the wrong.

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SITGES, BAAAAABY

Yeah, so Sitges manages to be both relaxing, and exciting, sophisticated and barmy. And if you like your steak, then my god check out the Black Angus beef on offer at the Buenos Aires Grill. And then check out their cheesecake. You’re on holiday, so you should try to enjoy yourself.

Passeig de Gracia has shorter ticket queues and is generally a quieter station to go from. It takes about 40 minutes to get there, and a return ticket costs €7.60. My favourite thing about going to Sitges is the DOUBLE DECKER TRAIN! (locals don’t seem to find this as exciting as I do.)

Oh yeah, Sitges is also quite gay.

ARC DE TRIOMF (Nearest Tube: Verdaguer)

Take a stroll down the promenade and soak up the sun (unless it’s raining). Hidden to the right is the quiet and quaint district of El Born, and just before you reach the harbour is Ciutadella Park. People come here to paint, do yoga… It’s an interesting place, with little pockets of activity in every corner.

PLACES TO EAT

There are plenty of bad tapas bars serving slices of microwaved omelette, and half a tomato smeared onto a piece of baguette. However, there are also some great tapas places nailing it. If you find yourself on the beach and want something fresh and excellent, FOC is a great little beach café serving classic Latin food and drink.

QUIMET AND QUIMET (Nearest Tube: Paral –lel) serves quality authentic tapas. Not the place for a quiet romantic dinner – you eat standing at the bar, and it can get very crowded. Beware of the random opening hours.

THAI GRACIA (Nearest Tube: Diagonal) offers outstanding Thai cuisine in a smart but relaxed setting. The sharing menu is… I’m going to go with delightful. One of those meals where you’re continually making mmmmm noises. Mmmmmmmm.

THE MILK BAR (Nearest Tube: Jaume 1) is a great way to start, or end the day. They’re open till 2am, and serve frankly amazing brunches up To 4.30pm (with dinner from 7pm – midnight).

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LUZIA (Nearest Tube: Catalunya) is the one place I’ll always recommend to people. It gets 5 stars on all counts. A great menu, an open kitchen with chefs preparing fresh pizzas and steaks. Considering its location, and the myriad of bad restaurants surrounding it, this is a find to be cherished.

EL NACIONAL (Nearest Tube: Passeig de Gracia) is an absolutely amazing venue, with a beautifully constructed interior and décor. A completely open space hosting four restaurants and a bar running through the middle. The food’s pretty good too. You can’t really go wrong.

Other good places include Josephine, which has Jazz nights, and excellent Sea Bass. Vitalaipizza, which does a good Nutella Pizza. Yup, NUTELLA PIZZA. Shout outs to The Meat Packing Bistro, and Cornelia and Co, and Paco Meralgo.

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BARS AND CLUBS

Barcelona is all about the rooftops and there’s plenty of hotel bars with stunning views looking out over the city to choose from. There’s also no shortage of gay bars. One of the coolest (and smallest) is Zelig.

Good bars:  NO SWEAT / METRIC / CREPS AL BORN.

RAZZMATAZZ is a club that doubles up a music venue, with Death Cab for Cutie, and Belle and Sebastian both making an appearance this autumn.

It’s a laid back city, mostly warm – friendly, and considerably cheaper than London. This guy moved here and commutes to his job in London every day. But that’s a bit much.

If you want to find out a little bit more about what the city has to offer, I can’t think of two better people to show you around than Richard Ayoade and Kathy Burke.

 

 

 

 

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