Barcelona, Spain’s second city, is a fantastic destination offering an array of interesting things to do and see and for H&L couples, it’s an absolute must see. The birthplace of Gaudi, Dali and Miro, it is a city that is at the forefront of culture. World class museums sit aside a world class football team with the city’s bars and restaurants leading the way in Europe. We look at the must see items of this great seaside city that has played host to the Olympic games. A city that is called home to over 3 million people and is made up of a beautiful architecture, open plazas such as La Ramblas and the romantic tight winding streets of the Gothic quarter. There is so much to do that it is difficult to even scratch the surface and to truly experience the place it will take much more than a short weekend getaway. Even as you look to explore further afield there is plenty to offer, from Montserrat, the mountainside town where you can cast your eye out over incredible views, or for those of a more artistic nature Figures, a town that plays host to the final resting place of the great Salvador Dali – a unique and surreal museum and mausoleum pays tribute here. It is easy to see why Barcelona is one of Europe’s most loveable cities.
Where To Stay
ABaC hotel is situated within two buildings designed around a garden space and features a total of 15 rooms, three of which are suites. Based in the northern region of Barcelona, Sarria-Sant Gervasi, it is within easy access to the city’s most popular attractions. Rooms amenities feature, Bang & Olufsen equipment, parquet flooring and are totally soundproof. If you do need to venture downstairs for some dinner, then you won’t need to go far. The hotel is home to a Michelin starred restaurant with head chef, Jordi Cruz.
Ave. del Tibidabo, 1,
+ 34 933 19 66 00
A gorgeous boutique hotel that features six two-bedroom, two-bath apartment suites that are beautifully spacious and can accommodate a total of 4 guests. Located on Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona’s most fashionable street, this five-storey mansion, built in 1906 in a beautiful Art Nouveau style of architecture by architect Pere Calques. The facade of the building is a stunning statement of design that paves the way for a unique accommodation experience.
Passeig de Gracia, 113,
+ 34 932 18 00 50
Located in the neighbourhood of Poble Sec, Hotel Brummell comprises 20 rooms and 2 apartments situated behind a beautiful 1870 facade. The design by duo Blankslate features planting and lighting to create a serene atmosphere in a location that is off the beaten track but still hugely accessible to the main attractions of the city. The rooms feature commissioned artworks by local artisans that embrace what it is to be in Barcelona.
Nou de la Rambla, 174,
+ 34 931 25 86 22
Quite simply, one of Barcelona’s most loved hotels that features michelin starred dining and a fantastic spa in a fantastic location on Passeig de Gracia. The hotel overlooks attractions such as Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and enjoys 5 star amenities. The roof terrace (picture below) is a fantastic space to relax and unwind from a day’s shopping in the city’s luxury boutiques and bistros.
The Mandarin Oriental
Passeig de Gracia, 38-40,
+34 93 151 88 88
This beautiful hotel, a 28 room boutique, is set amongst Roman ruins and medieval arches at the very heart of the fantastic Gothic quarter of Barcelona. The concept behind the brand is to offer guests an exclusive stay that makes them feel special and leaves them longing to return shortly after they have left. The hotel offers a serene courtyard space for guests to relax or have breakfast in, amongst a setting of orange trees and XVI century architecture.
The hotel also offers guests the Mercer restaurant where the cuisine is delightful, offering fresh fish from local waters and meats from local suppliers. A healthy gastronomic menu that sits well and works harmoniously with the architectural setting of the restaurant.
Carrer dels LLedo, 7,
+34 933 10 74 80
Where To Eat & Drink
Hero & Leander sampled the delights of Barcelona’s eating and drinking scene and collated our favourites. Barcelona is a fantastic place to enjoy cocktails and sangria as the city’s artsy vibe runs through the barmen’s preparation. Due to it’s port location fresh fish is on most menus and the city offers Michelin starred restaurants through to low key diners where packed with locals. One key piece of information to remember when in Barcelona is that although you are in Spain, this is not the birthplace of paella and as such that dish is best reserved for its southern neighbour, Valencia.
If you’re looking to sample the culinary mix of Mediterranean and Catalan cuisine in fine surroundings, Boca Grande is an excellent choice. Located within Barcelona’s most romantic district there are few better places to spend an evening with your significant other after a wander around the local area. It is an eclectic mix of a venue that combines two spirits. A truly exciting venue that keeps you on your toes.
The food market (featured image) located off the central La Ramblas is an absolute festival of colour, sound and aroma. Food is stacked high and even if you’re not buying it’s incredible to walk around and see all that is on offer. Pass through the iron gates that open very early in the morning and you will be spoilt for choice of the finest Iberian ham and Mediterranean olives. There are even local stands where you can sit and enjoy the delicacies and is fantastic for people watching; people from all walks of life come here to get their shopping. You will not leave hungry and as such this is a perfect way to start your day in Barcelona.
A restaurant directly inspired by the Mediterranean and Barcelona’s culture, Disfrutar is a brand new experience in the city’s restaurant scene. If you’re looking for the complete experience be sure to sample the full tasting menu. You won’t be disappointed and it will leave you with a culinary occurrence that you will not forget. Where else can you sample a crispy egg yolk with mushroom gelatine that looks as fantastic as this?
El Informal is tied to the boutique luxury hotel, The Serras Hotel and this michelin starred restaurant with head chef Marc Gascons stands apart from its contemporaries. Having enjoyed huge success in Genoa, the family has established El Informal as a restaurant that offers a Mediterranean and Catalan blend of flavours and is fresh and exciting amongst its neighbouring restaurants. The menu is seasonal and sourced locally from the huge amount of fine produce in the area. Favourite dishes are the delightful honeyed potato gnocchi with butter sauce and black winter truffle or the charcoal grilled turbot with roasted leek. Guests can enjoy the same menu on the hotel’s terrace which overlooks Passeig Colom.
Ideal Cocktail Bar
If you want a cocktail in Barcelona, this is the place you need to be seen at. Dating back to 1931 when Ideal was established by Antonio Gotarda, its concept was founded from inspiration of Europe’s best bars at the time, in particular London. Today the Old English charm still runs through the decor of wood and deep red armchairs with English artwork adorning the walls. ‘Two factors define Ideal – the clientele and the menu.’ The range of cocktails here is almost endless so you will be spoilt for choice. Ideal features a huge malt whisky menu to allow you to sample the finest whisky from around the world.
If you are a wine lover then Monvinic is the place for you. There are approximately 3,000 varieties of wine on offer here and they can be enjoyed in plush surroundings. The cellar at Monvinic is ‘the heart of soul, its raison d’être’. They showcase wines that are from exciting up and coming regions that are not overshadowed by the timeless classics. The reason for this? The staff at Monvinic wish to create a cellar that is diverse and strive to showcase the work of winemakers from around the world. This is certainly a stage where wines of all corners of the globe have a chance to shine. The service here is also exemplarily with a high number of sommeliers that have an advanced knowledge of the wines on offer. Accompanying their knowledge is an extensive digital list that has been created at Monvinic for the purpose of taking the reader on a digital trip around the world and the wines it has to offer. Not only is this a fantastic starting base for knowledge but there is also a library formed of oak shelves that reference books, magazines, catalogues of essential reading within the wine community. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without an evening spent here for the discerning wine aficionado.
A unique space dedicated to the art of the cocktail. A space that harks back to the golden age in New York with a vintage look utilising vibrant deep reds and violets. Enjoy a relaxing drink in the armchairs or dance the night away.
What To See
In a city that is certainly not short on things to do it can be tricky collating the recommended items in to a concise list. Here at H&L we painstakingly sifted through our favourite and have complied a list of the absolute must sees of the city that best showcase its cultural heritage. The city is composed of numerous districts that all have various offerings and vibes for visitors. From the designer Passeig de Gracia that is a luxury label haven to the urban and lively Barri Gotic or El Raval.
The cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is a statement within Barcelona. Located on a bustling town square, the cathedral stands above the surrounding buildings and again reinforces the fact that you are in a city that is full to the brim with history. The interior is suitably impressive and is a functioning cathedral, not solely reserved for tourists! If you’ve got a head for heights, climb the tower for incredible views over the city.
Open: 9am – 1.30pm, 4.30 – 8pm Monday – Saturday; 10.30am – 1.30pm, 4.30 – 8pm Sunday
Metro: Jaume 1 — L4
Fundacio Joan Miro
Where better to see Miro’s work than within the foundation that was itself created by Joan Miro as an exhibition for his private works. Open since 1975 the Fundacio has grown into a centre of Miro masterpieces in a building designed by Josep Lluis Sert.
Open: Monday (closed, unless public hol.) Tuesday – Sat 10am – 7/8pm 9pm (Thursday). Sunday 10am – 2.30pm
Metro: Bus 55 & 150 (Montjuic)
Gaudi’s Modernisme & Parc Guell
Gaudi is Barcelona’s poster child and was commissioned to design several buildings and monuments throughout Barcelona. His most famous are the Parc Guell located to the north overlooking the city and La Pedrera on Passeig de Gracia. The Parc is a garden complex and features several buildings and open spaces. It is perfect for a romantic walk amongst Gaudi’s creations. La Pedrera is an apartment building with a fantastic and surreal rooftop. The tour offers an insight into the apartment would have been furnished which is fortunate as the others are all private dwellings now.
If great architecture is your thing, it’s all over Barcelona and if you move away from Gaudi you can see great works by star architects Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava and Jean Nouvel.
Parc Guell – Open: 10am – Sunset daily
Metro: Lesseps — L3
La Pedrera – Open: Dec – Jan 9am – 6.30pm daily, Feb – Nov 9am – 8pm daily
Metro: Diagonal — L3 & L5
The incredible museum, founded in 1963 from a private collection donation is dedicated to the genius that is Picasso and currently houses one of the world’s most extensive collections. Focusing primarily on Picasso’s formative years and his ‘blue period (1901-1904)’, there are over 4000 works that tell the evolution of the great artist. In turn the collection sits within 5 townhouses of architectural importance, dating back to the 13th century and paying testament to the art within. Artwork such as Las Meninas can be seen here as well as a highly praised print collection. The museum is often creating temporary collections in the many adjoining galleries that showcase certain aspects of Picasso’s life or influences on his work. There is even a collection of his pottery work that he created in his later years.
Open: 10am – 8pm Tuesday – Sunday
Metro: Jaume 1 — L4
The icon of Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudi and currently unfinished. The city has been constructing this basilica since it’s inception in 1882. Due to be completed 144 years later in 2026, it does currently still operate as a church and visitors can venture inside. The cathedral space is stunning and as a piece of architecture, completely breathtaking. Get up early to avoid the tourist trap and sit for a while inside the peaceful space. When Gaudi was still alive he was asked about completing the works and responded, ‘My client is in no hurry.’He believed God had all the time in the world and there was no need to rush. The attention to detail on the build is incredible with detailed stonework on the facade to stainglass patterns on the interior.
Open: Mar – Sept 9am – 8pm daily and Oct – Feb 9am – 6pm
Metro: Sagrada Familia — L2 & L5
FC Barca is the city’s football team and the city certainly knows how to get behind them. The stadium has been home to Barca since 1957 and can accommodate up to 100,000 adoring fans; there is talk to expand the capacity even further. The team epitomise the cities spirit as the fans own the club and their colours are seen throughout the city. If you’re into your football, this sporting temple is an absolute must. The tour is an excellent way to learn about the rich history of football in the city and the trophy cabinet of FC Barca is an incredible array of titles through world football history. There is a wall of past Barca players that shows you how many famous faces have walked through the stadium doors and stepped foot on the turf.
When To Go
With a beautiful Mediterranean climate, it’s difficult to find a time when you shouldn’t go. However if we must pick it would be from Spring to Autumn, with an emphasis of trying to visit outside of peak holiday seasons. The tourist sites becomes particularly busy at this time and the city’s residents leave for their holidays, making the experience less authentic.
Travelling Tips in Barcelona
Catalunya, the region of Spain where Barcelona sits is a truly unique place in the country, and the Catalans know it. So much so that they see themselves separate to the rest of the country. Spanish is widely spoken however they also speak Catalan, so for many natives English is a third language.
Petty theft and pickpocketing is unfortunately a real problem here so vigilance is required. There are countless street performers operating on La Rambla and large crowds do gather so be aware of who is standing next to or behind you.