Delicious guide to Barcelona - where to stay, eat, shop
With its iconic Gaudí architecture, vibrant cultural scene, eclectic shopping and sunny beaches, Barcelona is a city designed for everyone's enjoyment.
The Catalan capital is renowned for its gastronomic treats, from the freshest seafood and tastiest paella to the latest in cutting-edge dining (culinary giants the Adria brothers recently opened a slew of outposts here).
The city is also a cultural hub, with an exciting art scene, breathtaking architecture and seriously cool shopping options, where you can stock up on everything from the latest in design-led home decor to the most mouth-watering sweets you can imagine.
From where to bed down to the not-so-run-of-the-mill spots you need to try for a meal and a shopping excursion, as well as some destinations you can't miss when visiting this energetic city, check out our complete delicious guide to Barcelona before you book your flights...
Fly direct to Barcelona from London Gatwick with British Airways from £38pp, based on a return fare. Book now at ba.com/gatwick
1. Take in the view from the top
For striking city views, the most breathtaking panorama of the city can be found at the Mount Tibidabo theme park, a funfair that's more than 100 years old. Mount Tibidabo is 512 metres high, and can be reached by the funicular, tramvia blau ("blue tramway"), bus or car.
2. Embrace traditional craftsmanship
When in Barcelona, don't head for the high street chains. Instead, check out some of the fantastic footwear on offer at La Manual Alpargatera, the first-ever workshop to make fashion-forward espadrilles, which launched in 1940 (the shop opened a year later). The shop is beloved by royals, celebrities and even Popes, and it's no surprise - you can find your favourite summer shoe in a variety of prints, colours and heel heights. The best part? Prices start at €10. We defy you to leave with just one pair...
3. Cool down at the beach
Barcelona's sandy beaches bring sun and surf to this dynamic city, and for those who delight in a bit of kitsch entertainment (or just really, really liked Frozen), Icebarcelona on El Somorrostro beach is a fun destination to cool off and sip a cocktail in. The temperature hovers at -10°C, but don't worry - guests are provided with puffer jackets and gloves for the duration of their stay.
4. Make like a legend
Picasso fans will love visiting the city to see where the master lived and partied in his early years, from walking by his family home at Carrer de la Mercè 3 to dining at Els 4 Gats, which Picasso would frequent with other artistic luminaries (he designed the poster that's still used as the present-day menu). And the Museu Picasso in the city displays some of the artist's most notable works, including highlights like Las Meninas and Portrait of Jaume Sabartés with ruff and cap.
5. Say cheese
When strolling through Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, be sure to stop for a little indulgence at Formatgeria La Seu, a gem of a cheese shop offering a selection of over 20 handcrafted cow, goat and sheep's milk cheeses from around Spain. Stand-up tasting sessions (including three cheeses and a glass of wine) are a very palatable €3.
6. Bed down in style
The Kelly Hoppen-designed Murmuri Hotel gives you the four-star boutique experience without entirely emptying your purse (rooms start at £125 a night). Think plush velvet sofas, marble stairs, shag rugs and Hoppen's signature luxe-neutral bedding schemes. The location on the Rambla Catalunya, in the Eixample district, is unbeatable, with plenty of Modernist architecture to admire and trendy shops to browse in. Guests looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon also have access to the rooftop pool at sister hotel The Majestic.
7. Give in to your sweet tooth
At Papabubble, candy is about so much more than being a tasty treat; it becomes a work of art, where you can watch the sweets getting rolled before your eyes. As creative and lovely to look at as they are tasty, head here to stock up on candy sushi, candy rings, candy roses, test tube bottles of mini-sweets, multicoloured swirly lollipops and so much more. Is your mouth watering yet?
8. Explore new neighbourhoods
Forget touristy La Rambla; El Born district in Barcelona is where you want to be. The medieval quarter, which used to be home to the city's textile guilds, is a labyrinthine area packed with cafes, trendy shops, museums (including the Textile & Costume Museum) and funky restaurants and bars. Also worth checking out? El Poblenou, formerly the city's industrial centre, which now draws artists, designers and musicians thanks to its tapas bars and hip nightlife scene.
9. Shop 'til you drop
Vinçon is a must-visit design destination shop, packed with clever and inspired home decor items and gifts, from trendy utility-chic laptop cases with padded pockets and powerbanks to quirky doghead-shaped dog food bowls. Trust us, you'll be obsessed.
10. Sample authentic fare
Embrace delicious regional dishes at Euskal Etxea, one of the first pintxos bars in the city to serve up Basque-style tapas (croquettes, pork ribs, montaditos, baby squid and more). In line with tradition, you pay according to how many toothpicks you've used.
11. Go back to basics
If you're looking for an unpretentious place to stay that merges modern design with plenty of personality and affordable prices, go no further than Chic & Basic, in the hip Born district. Fun for the younger crowd, the hotel has all of the amenities and then some - you can even host a dance party in your room by switching on the LED lights to turn the white walls multi-coloured.
12. Old meets new
Catalan cuisine gets a reboot at Cinc Sentits, considered one of the city's top dining establishments. The restaurant features a selection of tasting menus - the eight-course Gastronomic version will set you back €110. Expect delicacies like caviar on whipped sturgeon foam, foie gras with cherries, Iberian suckling pig and olive oil ice cream with macadamia cream.