Are you at once a foodie, a clubber, a culture vulture, a skier and a beach lover? Then Barcelona is the place for you. Splendia’s very own Sergi Pastor, Barcelona born and bred, gives us the lowdown on the city that has it all.
Modernist architecture, fantastic food and glittering nightlife.
What is your favourite thing about living in Barcelona?
It’s got everything I need: A Mediterranean climate with more than 200 sunny days per year and an excellent location – beaches are minutes away in summer, and skiing at driving distance in winter. It’s also a paradise for food lovers and has a rich history and cultural heritage.
Do you have any insider tips to share with us?
Plenty! Firstly, make sure you visit la Sagrada Familia early in the morning, when it’s much quieter and you can really take your time to admire the sunlight as it filters through the stained glass windows.
Secondly, beach lovers who have a bit of time shouldn’t miss la Costa Brava, particularly Calella de Palafrugell or Cadaqués, where you can also find the House-Museum Salvador Dalí – a must-see! If you’re pressed for time, one of the best beaches right here in Barcelona is the Platja de Sant Sebastià. Take advantage of the trendy “chiringuitos” (refreshment stalls) like El Pez Vela.
Thirdly, be sure to enjoy Barcelona from a height! Try some daytime tapas or a cocktail by night on the roof of the Hotel 1898, the Majestic Hotel & Spa that overlooks the famous Passeig de Gràcia, or Gran Hotel La Florida for an amazing view of Barcelona from Tibidabo hill.
Fourthly, book a concert in el Palau de la Música, which also features some incredible modernist Catalan architecture. Arrive in advance to sample some of the Palau bar’s tapas in a unique setting.
Finally, don’t forget to get lost in Barcelona’s trendiest neighbourhood, Gràcia. In Spring, on some Sundays you can catch a jazz concert in la Plaça de Rius i Taulet or listen to some Swing in la Plaça de la Virreina with a glass of wine.
Barcelona is famed for its eclectic architecture, perhaps most notably the works of Gaudi. What’s your favourite building and why?
Barcelona has an important modernist heritage and the city’s magic lies in its modernist buildings. The “Ruta del Modernismo” takes you around 115 of Barcelona’s fascinating sites of modernist architecture – not just the famous Gaudí buildings like the Pedrera (also known as the Casa Milà) or the Casa Batlló, but also those of lesser-known architects such as Domèmech I Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch.
Barcelona’s restaurants offer a host of different cuisines, especially tapas! What are your top three restaurants?
Barcelona is a gourmet lover’s paradise. It’s impossible to limit yourself to three favourites! Try Albert Adrià’s (brother of Ferran Adrià of El Bulli) Tickets Bar in Poble Sec. You’ll need to book two months in advance – but it’s definitely worth it!
After years of tutelage under the ubiquitous Ferran Adrià, chef Carles Abellan went solo with Commerç 24 in el Born, which serves incredible contemporary tapas. Cal Pep is tiny and atmospheric, serving uncomplicated and classic tapas. You’ll probably have to wait, but you won’t regret it. Bar Mut has a good ambience and delicious food. Choose your dishes from a daily menu on the blackboard. For those on a budget who still want great tapas, try Tapas 24 next to Passeig de Gràcia or El Canalla in Sant Gervasi.
If we only have 24 hours in the city, what is not to be missed?
Resist the urge for a lie in and get up in time to sit on a terrace with the classic Barcelona breakfast. It’s tasty, it’s simple, it goes with everything… It’s pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato)!
Amble over to La Sagrada Familia, then walk down Passeig de Gràcia – not forgetting the obligatory stop off at the famous Vinçon, showcasing the essence of quirky Barcelonian design. Keep walking until you reach Hotel Majestic, where you can reward yourself with a rooftop cocktail and admire thestunning city views. Then stroll to El Born, where you can admire the Santa Maria del Mar Church and many designer boutiques. If you’re feeling peckish try Tantarantana, or for the best seafood go to Poblenou, home to the hidden gem that is Els Pescadors.
After lunch, soak up some rays on the beach and then head to Gràcia for an atmospheric walk. Now it’s time to relax and prepare for an amazing night!
First: dinner at the uptown and totally tranquil A Contraluz, far from tourist zone – book a garden table if you can. Then head off for cocktails at the newly-opened Dime, or URA Restaurant & Lounge for a real night out.