Barcelona

48 Hours In Barcelona

May 9, 2016

Until my recent trip, I hadn’t been to Barcelona for over 12 years. I remember vaguely being taken around the city en famille, doing a whistle stop tour of all of the Gaudi sights, but besides that, I can’t remember a lot. So it was so amazing to go back with Ed recently to discover it all over again, wander along the beaches, get lost in the charming backstreets, eat more patatas bravas than you’d think possible, and revel in the delights of plentiful local cava. Barcelona is the most beautiful city — charming, characterful, walkable and varied — hence it’s scored highly in my favourite cities list. In fact, since we got back, I’ve raved about it to anyone who’ll listen. We spent 4 days in the city, split between two different hotels, and though spent a lot of time skateboarding (him, not me – obviously) (Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world for skateboarding if you didn’t know!), we got to see a whole lot of the city too. Read on for my city guide…

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Park Güell + Gràcia

Though a little way from the city centre, Park Güell is a definite must-see when in Barcelona. Right at the top of a hill, up here you get the best view of the city and can see right out across the city, to the beach and beyond. It's beautiful. The park itself is a gorgeous place to walk around with lots of shady spots for those hot summer days, but obviously it's all of Gaudi's colourful mosaics and whimsical buildings that are the real attraction. Though you can walk around the park for free, you have to pay (and queue) to see Gaudi's work up close. It's worth buying tickets online which have set time slots so to limit your time queueing. On your way back in to the city centre, enjoy wandering through the Gràcia neighbourhood, which has a sleepy vibe but some cool little bars.

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Walk along the beach

I don't care that it's man made, the fact that Barcelona has a BEACH (and a beautiful one at that) is a total highlight for me. From the bottom of Las Ramblas, take a stroll around the marina and along the beautiful golden, sandy shore, taking a dip in the sea of it's warm enough. Ed and I just strolled along the palm-lined boardwalk for ages and ages, mainly in search of a skatepark he wanted to go to, but it was absolutely beautiful, with the sun pelting down on us. Hire a bike and cycle it instead if you're short on time or want to see more. Thirsty? Stop at one of the many idyllic cocktail bars on the beach walk.

 El Born + Gothic Quarter

Easily the coolest neighbourhood in the city centre, El Born is a web of charming cobbled backstreets, awash with cool boutiques and great tapas bars. The area really comes alive at night, so plan to be there for early evening sangria, or bar-hop your way around the many tapas bars for dinner - the perfect way to fully explore Catalan cuisine. There's no shortage of great eateries here and you'll be sad you can't try them all. Cal Pep is famously old, busy and brilliant. We ate at a gorgeous little place called Casa Loleo too (pictured) which was super delicious and had some amazing sangrias too!
Nearby, the Gothic Quarter is equally good for bars and eateries. If you're feeling a little OD'd on the tapas, I highly recommend Rosa Negra for a late lunch or drinks - it's a characterful little Mexican place on Via Laietana and it's GREAT, with delicious (and cheap!) tamarind margaritas!
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Casa Battló

I vividly remembered this building from my childhood, but it was far more impressive this time round. I love how it's just there, plonked in the middle of lots of normal buildings, looking all whimsical and wonderful, like something out of Disneyland. Casa Battló is often considered Gaudi's finest work - and it really is so spectacular, especially if you can catch it with the sun beating down, making it shine. We didn't go in (the queue snakes the block!) and though I'm sure it is interesting, I think you can appreciate a lot of the wow-factor from the outside. The surrounding area is all wide, tree-lined streets and swanky shops so it's a nice area to stop, shop and get a coffee in too.

Badalona

Ed and I got a train from Catalunya to Badalona (15 mins or so) in search of the Nike SB skatepark (which is pretty mega if you're at all into skating). Even if you're not, it's a nice area to explore. The train runs parallel to the beach, which is much quieter and calmer up here: it's be perfect spot to soak up a few rays with a couple cans of Estrella. There are lots of camera-baiting graffiti walls as well as a few lovely beach-front tapas bars where the locals hang out. Go join 'em - the tourists don't usually come out this far so it's got a really local vibe.
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  A few more things to do

Visit Mercado de La Boqueria, an undercover food market right off of Les Ramblas which is wonderfully bright and beautiful (and very, very BUSY).

After walking along the beach, stop for a few drinks in La Barceloneta. Early evening, these backstreets buzz.

Eat at Flax & Kale: an Instagram-famous cafe in Barcelona, which serves up the most wonderfully wholesome, healthy looking dishes. We didn't get chance to eat here but I so wish we did because boy, it looks so fresh and delicious.

Wander through Sant Antoni, a laid back neighbourhood which is growing cooler and cooler every day.

Do like the trendy young locals and knock back a few Estrellas in the open-front bars along Carrer de Joaquín Costa, a popular street in the El Raval neighbourhood.

If you're in the market for a slap up dinner, we enjoyed the most incredible tasting menu at Krèsios BCN in the Mercer Hotel.

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