The Catalonian capital has long been a favourite stop for travellers on a Euro-trip and it’s no surprise it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. This truly cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean is bursting full of history, culture, food and entertainment all waiting to be discovered. Short on time or looking for a concise recommendation, our Eat Do Sleep guide showcases our favourite, hand-picked places that need to be added to any Barcelona itinerary! We only choose the best…
Cocktails at P41
Nestled in the vibrant Hotel Arts Barcelona is P41 Bar & Cocterlarium. The in-house mixologist Diego Baud is an award-winning maverick, concocting flamboyant and elaborately presented cocktails for the unique menu. If you are looking for a cocktail experience like no other, Diego will definitely put on a show. The bar itself is kitted out with contemporary wooden floors, a central curved bar, and deep teal velvet bar stools against slate grey fixtures – a modern take on art deco sophistication. P41 is relatively new on the Barcelona drinking scene and is still a well-kept secret so take the opportunity to visit before it becomes old news. You heard it here first.
Lunch at Casa Leopoldo
This iconic restaurant has been at the heart of the El Raval district of Barcelona since 1929. Serving up fine seafood and Catalan cuisine with a touch of home-cooking magic, it’s no wonder Casa Leopoldo has charmed locals and visitors alike. The dining room is quaint and appropriately Mediterranean in style, with blue and yellow tiled walls, rustic wooden bistro chairs and white table-clothed tables. Although the ownership has changed in the past few years, the popular menu remains practically the same and the history of the place lives on. Whilst we couldn’t pick out just one favourite dish above others, many people rave about the pig trotters with ‘espardenyes’(sea cucumbers).
Dinner and drinks with a view at Dos Cielos & 24 Cielos
Located on the 24th floor of the Melia Barcelona Sky, the Dos Cielos Restaurant boasts incredible views of the city skyline and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. The Torres brothers, the creative forces behind the establishment, were awarded their first Michelin star in 2010 just two years after the restaurant opened, suggesting you are in good hands here. The Melia hotel itself is a stunning skyscraper designed by architect Dominique Perrault and is a striking landmark on the city skyline. After dinner, retire to 24 Cielos, the former restaurant terrace turned bar space, an ideal spot to sit back and take in the wonderful vistas whilst sipping on an aperitif.
Shopping on Passeig de Gràcia
As the biggest shopping street in the city, Passeig de Gràcia is a hive of activity. But trust us; if you are seeking some serious retail therapy, it’s worth battling the crowds. The street itself is wide leafy boulevard which was once a promenade for the 19th century bourgeoisie of Barcelona. Whether you are hunting for a bargain at high street favourites Mango and Zara, or seeking out your latest luxury purchase from Stella McCartney, Prada or Louis Vuitton, the wide selection of stores is sure to delight. If you aren’t into shopping, the street’s amazing showcase of Catalonian modernist and art nouveau buildings will most definitely conjure up awe and amazement. Be sure to look around when you are walking along to spot the organic paving stones designed by Gaudi and streetlamps by Pere Falques.
Prestige tour of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
A most popular opera house in Europe and a beautiful building, the Gran Teatre del Liceu has provided the stage for many of the most important works of classical music and the most greatest singers of the last two decades, including Domingo, Pavarotti, Callas and Tebaldi. Opened in 1847, the building was designed by architect Miquel Garriga i Roca and at the time was the largest opera house in Europe. Whilst the opera house has been ravaged by fires throughout its lifetime, it has been reconstructed to be much the way it was in 1847. Nowadays, we recommend booking in for a ‘Prestige’ tour of the building to truly appreciate its impressiveness. Start in the Renaissance-style lobby, before proceeding to the jaw-dropping auditorium which is an exact replica of the original hall. Tours also take in the Mirror Hall, once a gathering spot of the Catalan upper-middle classes, and the Cercle del Liceu, a British-style private club housing one of the finest Art Nouveau collections in Catalonia.
Sunset Cruise with Nautica Port Barcelona
Perhaps one of the best and most refreshing ways to see the city is by water. Spain has recently re-embraced its maritime past and nowhere more so than in Barcelona. We recommend heading to Port Olímpic where Nautica Port Barcelona offer all sorts of water based fun! If you aren’t too keen on hopping on a water-ski, hire out your own private sail boat for a cruise around the Barcelona coastline. They have a multitude of options from a small 10m sailboat costing 180 euros for a 1 hour cruise (including skipper), to a more luxurious 16m sailboat complete with bathrooms, cabins, a kitchen and space for 11 passengers, starting at 850 euros for the day (not including skipper).
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The Cotton House
Taking its namesake from the headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation, the former site of which the hotel now stands upon, The Cotton House Hotel is fast becoming an iconic luxury mainstay in the city. The 19th century neo-classical building is now filled with contemporary art and modern furniture whilst original features such as marble staircases, parquet flooring, and embellished ceilings and walls are woven throughout. Rooms are decently sized especially in such a packed city as this, and are immaculately (and aptly) all-white. The hotel also houses Batuar Restaurant serving classic Catalan dishes all day long, whilst the library is our favourite tranquil space to sip on cocktails whilst taking in the floor to ceiling shelves stacked with original old books.
Check Availability & Prices : The Cotton House
Located at the trendy heart of the city, the OD Barcelona is a relatively muted but stylish hotel with 98 rooms and suites. The public space is interestingly split level and features a contemporary reception, a slick lounge bar and a vibrant and brightly coloured dining space. Rooms are soundproofed which is a god send due to the hotels uber-central location, whilst full-length windows and strategically placed lighting offers the illusion of space when rooms are on the smaller side. Despite their compactness, the rooms have comfy king-size beds and are packed with character. The restaurant on the first floor delights with delicious dishes inspired by global cuisines from Asian dumplings to Mexican-style smoked ribs. The hotel also features three bars but the best is definitely the highest. The sky bar is situated right next to the angular roof top pool and is the perfect spot for escaping the Barcelona bustle!
Check Availability & Prices : OD Barcelona
In a renovated 19th century building just minutes from the Passeig de Gràcia, the Alexandra Barcelona Hotel exudes the elegance and charm characteristic of a Hilton brand establishment. The hotel is tranquil, calming and sophisticated despite its central location. Rooms boast traditional features such as original mosaic flooring mixed with contemporary fixtures and furnishings in a warm but neutral palette of greys and browns. The hotel is minimal but still comfortable and full of the added extras expected of a luxury residence. The Alexandra Barcelona is also home to a two-floor brasserie and an amazing charcuterie bar – a fantastic spot for some wine and nibbles after a hard day sight-seeing!
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Built atop an original Roman wall, the Mercer Barcelona completely immerses guests in the city’s riveting history. Renovated by distinguished architect Rafael Moreno, the hotel is now a contemporary boutique hotel bursting with character and charm. The rooms are at Mercer Barcelona is simplicity at its best, many with original exposed brickwork. Set against the rustic walls are bespoke modern furnishings and sleek oak flooring. In terms of dining in, The Mercer Restaurant’s menu is a masterclass in refined Mediterranean cuisine, whilst on the more casual end of the scale is Le Bouchon, the hotel’s award-winning tapas bar.
Check Availability & Prices : Mercer Barcelona