Guys, Now Is the Absolute Best Time to Go to Barcelona
And here are 19 things to do while you’re there
Here's a travel tip, people: There’s never been a better time to plan a trip to Barcelona. Norwegian Air just launched incredibly affordable flights, the dollar is strong, peak tourist season is over, and the Mediterranean sun is still shining. You’ll fall in love with the amazing architecture, incredible cuisine, cosmopolitan feel and the bohemian, laid-back way of life. So we went ahead and planned your itinerary for you.
Explore Gaudí’s Whimsical Park Güell
Designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, Park Güell is one big work of art, from the sprawling ceramic benches to the mosaic creatures to the twisted stone columns. Located on Carmel Hill in the northern part of the city, the quirky and vibrant park offers amazing views of the Mediterranean.
Taste Your Way Through La Boqueria
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (or La Boqueria, for short) is a huge public market on Las Ramblas, the vibrant boulevard that leads from the city center to Port Vell. Filled with stands of eggs, meat, fish and spices, it’s where many locals do their grocery shopping. Make sure to try the fresh coconut juice—we’ve searched the world and still haven’t found anything quite like it.
La Rambla, 91
...Then, Grab a Stool at El Quim
Eating a meal inside La Boqueria is a must, but be warned: There are a handful of tourist traps. Keep an eye out for El Quim, a tiny stall that serves up some of the best tapas in the city. Order the baby squid over a fried egg.
Mercado de La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91
Get Lost in the Gothic Quarter
Dating back to medieval times, the Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old City). As you wind though the serpentine streets, you’ll stumble upon gorgeous, ancient architecture, open plazas, fountains and quaint shops and bars. Follow the narrow streets to Plaça Sant Felip Neri, one of the most charming and romantic corners of the city.
Tour Barcelona’s Most Famous Houses
Passeig de Gràcia is the equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue, home to luxury shops and landmarks. Remember architect Antoni Gaudí? He designed two very different houses just a few blocks away: Casa Batlló is famous for its colorful, skeleton-like exterior, while Casa Milà is known for its modernist stone facade and rooftop lined with surrealist sculptures.
Watch FC Barcelona Play At Camp Nou
You don’t have to be a sports fanatic to enjoy an FC Barcelona game (although watching Leo Messi could turn anyone into a football nut). In Barcelona, football is more than a hobby; it’s a source of national pride. Set foot into the stadium, Camp Nou, and you’ll see endless rows of yellow and red, Catalonia’s national colors, and you’ll hear nationalist cheers for independencia from Spain.
C. Aristides Maillol, 12
Let the Chefs Decide at Cal Pep
There’s no menu at this popular tapas spot in El Born—just a long bar, beer on tap and a rotating selection of daily specials. Think just-caught tuna tartare, clams in garlic sauce and the best Spanish potato omelet around. Just tell the waiter behind the counter how hungry you are and let him surprise you.
Plaça de les Olles, 8
Get Your Culture Fix at the Picasso Museum
Housed in a stunning stone mansion where even the palm-tree-lined courtyards and staircases look like a work of art, the Picasso Museum is a must-visit spot. It houses work mostly from the artist’s formative years—sketches and oils, portraits, work from his Blue Period and some experiments in Cubism. The museum is relatively small, so it's very manageable if you have a couple of hours to explore.
Carrer Montcada, 15-23
Slurp Down a Gin and Tonic at Bobby Gin
If you thought you came to Barcelona for the sangria, think again. The hottest drink in town is gin tónica, and Bobby Gin, an upscale speakeasy in the hip, young Grŕcia neighborhood, is known for its creative takes on G+Ts served in huge fish-bowl glasses.
Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47
Bask in the Mediterranean Sun
Barceloneta Beach is, hands down, the most famous beach in the city, and for good reason. During the summer months, the crescent-shaped stretch of sand is a bustling place where you’ll find topless sunbathers, beachside bars and restaurants, volleyball players and everything in between. While it's not the most serene place in the city, there’s nothing quite like dipping your toes into the warm Mediterranean.
...Then Cool Off at Eyescream and Friends
This trendy ice-cream spot is just minutes from the beach. Do it for the Instagram…and because the city is hot, and heck, you need an ice cream with googly eyes, stat.
Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 30
Marvel at Sagrada Familia
Our old friend architect Antoni Gaudí (more about him above) began building Sagrada Familia Basilica in 1882. Now, in its 134th year of construction, the Roman Catholic Church is finally in its final stages. Even with the cranes and scaffolding, it's a stunning architectural wonder. The exterior facade tells the story of Catholicism with detailed stone carvings and sculptures of biblical figures. Inside, it’s a dizzying chamber of natural sunlight streaming in through the stained-glass windows.
Carrer de Mallorca, 401
Unwind at the Hotel Arts Spa
After all of that sightseeing, you deserve to be pampered. Take the elevator to the 43rd floor of the Hotel Arts, located right on the marina. As you wait for your spa treatment, take a dip in the hydrotherapy pool or grab a lounge chair on the sundeck, and you’ll see nothing but blue from the sea and the sky.
Carrer de la Marina, 19-21
Shop ’Til You Drop in El Born
Arguably Barcelona’s coolest neighborhood, El Born is a part of the Old City, located between the Gothic Quarter and the beach. Explore the hidden squares and narrow alleyways, and you'll discover trendy restaurants, bars and the best boutique shopping in the city. Pop into Coquette for bohemian-chic clothing, or La Tercera for locally-designed shoes, glasses and bags.
Try a Montadito from Quimet y Quimet
This standing-room-only spot is basically the size of a closet, but it whips up some the most flavorful dishes in the city. We’ll tell you now so you aren’t surprised when you sink your teeth into one of the decadent bruschettas at this hole-in-the-wall tapas bar: This could be the single best bite of your trip.
Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25
...Then Sample Some Bombas at La Cova Fumada
Here’s the deal: Walk into this tapas bar around noon, and you’ll most likely wait to be seated next to a table of 60-year-old locals who have just washed down their anchovies with a dozen bottles of estrellas. Everything on the menu is incredible, but nothing compares with the signature bomba, a fried ball of meat and potatoes topped with spicy sauce.
Carrer Baluard, 56
Experience a Culinary Circus at Tickets
It’s one of the hardest reservations to score in the entire world, and for good reason. Chefs (and brothers) Ferran and Albert Adrià offer their signature top-notch gastronomical experience but at an affordable price in a playful and laid-back environment. Think traditional tapas dishes reimagined, like liquid olives and “minibags” stuffed with Manchego cheese.
Av. del Paraŀlel, 164
Escape the Crowds at Parc del Laberint d’Horta
This serene public park is located a bit off the beaten path in the northern outskirts of the city, but if you’re seeking a little peace and quiet away from the crowds, this is the place. The entire park is a maze of cypress hedges designed in neoclassical and romantic styles, containing beautiful flowers, waterfalls, Tuscan columns and mythological sculptures.
Passeig dels Castanyers, 1
Visit the JOAN MIRÓ FOUNDATION
Miró is without a doubt the most famous Catalan artist—his work now synonymous with Barcelona. The Fundació Joan Miró was created by the artist himself and today showcases a huge number of works from his private collection, including surrealist paintings, colorful sculptures and abstract sketches. The museum is located on Montjuïc, a hill offering sweeping views of the city that make the trek all the more worthwhile.
Parc de Montjuïc