This market just off La Rambla is under an enormous lofty wrought iron roof resembling a Victorian railway station. Here can be bought just about every fruit and vegetable that can be thought of – and more. And everything fresh, every day – and unbelievably cheap. A kilo of tomatoes, ripe and bursting with flavour, for 39 cents.
Being a Mediterranean port, this is where fish reigns supreme. Every sort of fish – whole, gutted, filleted, dried, smoked, cooked, salted. Fresh and glistening in beds of glittering ice. From the lowly mackerel and sardine – unbelievable grilled over a hot barbecue, to octopus and langoustine. There can be no smell that is more evocative of the Mediterranean than that of shells of giant prawns roasting over charcoal. This gigantic market of food covers an area the size of a football pitch and is packed every day with shoppers till early evening.
Wine is so cheap. And not just those Spanish wines that everyone knows. There is a wine shop near the Picasso Museum that sells every conceivable wine up to expensive ones. But best of all is the wine that comes from several huge barrels in the cavern at the back of the shop. Here, Senora Duran, whose grandfather opened the shop after the Spanish Civil War, will fill empty litre bottles that the customer brings in, for a Euro.
A lovely Indian/Pakistani restaurant located next to the Poble Nou metro station. They specialise in Tandoori, but for spicy food lovers the good news is that their dishes are prepared as they would be in Ireland or the UK, and not made mild for the locals!
Prices are very reasonable, if not downright cheap.
Nearest metro: Poble Nou.
A smart portside restaurant serving amazing value for money "menu del dia". There’s soup, a choice of starter and main, wine and water, dessert, coffee, digestive liqueur and sweets. All for the quite incredible price of 8.5 euros (and it tastes great as well).
Wonderful restaurant, serving gorgeous food at ludicrously affordable prices, it's deservedly popular, although be prepared to queue with locals and tourists alike (well worth it and the queue moves very swiftly) you almost feel sorry for the surrounding eateries whilst in that 50 yard long queue. Plaça Reial is a popular haunt with some of Barcelona's more "colourful" characters, which only adds to the restaurant's charm.
Plaça Reial, Barcelona. tel: 93 317 3075.
A very large modern tapas bar popular with locals. Excellent place for a group to go out for a meal/night out. The best thing about it is the prices, second best is the staff - great craic. You can sit at the bar for a casual bite and a beer, pointing out what you want from the huge array of appetising Tapas on display on the bar, or sit down and order off the menu. A group of four of us sat down for a meal at about 9.30.
We left after 2am (last out of the place), with plenty of beers and about three-four tapa each on board. The cost was an astonishing 30 euro each including a tip on top of the included service charge, as the waiter was such a laugh. Highly recommended for a cheap and utterly cheerful night out. You may have to wait a little while for a table, but people are constantly coming and going, so don’t be put off by a queue.
Rambla Catalunya, 18; tel: 93 318 1997
Walk right past the fast food chains and overpriced restaurants in the Ramblas – this focacceria is the place for a tasty, healthy meal on a budget. The freshly made focaccias with gorgeous toppings (try sausage and onion) are quality, as are the moreish desserts.
Plaça Bonsuccés, 6;
tel:93 318 37 08;
nearest metro: L3 Catalunya
A fabulous free light and music show to the "dancing" fountain at the foot of Montjuic - a spectacular display of light, water and music. At the same time, the Palau National is illuminated, providing a beautiful background. The show runs every thirty minutes. The start and end date depend on the time of the year (see the web link), but the best time to see the fountain is at sunset with a glass of cava from one of the snack bars alongside.
Av Maria Cristina; nearest metro: Espanya (L1, L3);
Cooperatively run vegetarian restaurant handy for the Picasso Museum and the lively bars of the Born area. It's based in a former sweetie warehouse and is a lively, informal restaurant, free of much of the worthiness that so often goes with veggie restaurants.
Choose soups, pasties or innovative pasta dishes from daily changing blackboards or pick more hearty dishes from the restaurant's menu. And do try to leave room for the fab cakes and puddings.
c Dels Flassaders 30 bis; tel 93 319 9866; Metro Jaume I; Open 1pm to midnight, Tuesday to Saturday
II found renting an apartment is a good-value option for a Barcelona city break. You pay about the same per night as for a standard double room in the cheaper hotels and get the benefits of self-catering facilities and more space. We rented a self-contained apartment just off the marina through Freestanza: clean, designer chic and about 70 euros per night. The beach, Gothic quarter, Ramblas and Borne all walkable. We felt we were living in Barcelona.
A party palace of a hostel with clean, modern bathrooms located in the gorgeous (though rowdy by night) Placa Reial just off Las Ramblas. Lots of fun with organised pub crawls and a rooftop bar, Kabul can be noisy at night but is never boring. Good-sized lockers by each bunk and a vending machine selling one-euro beers in the bar. Ace.
A fab, simple tapas bar at the lower end of the Barri Gotic quarter. It has a horseshoe-shaped bar, on top of which is displayed a wide array of tapas. If you're uncertain in the Spanish language you can easily just point. Very friendly owners and frequented mainly by locals. They serve cava by the glass or why not try the white wine served in the strange little ceramic dishes? There are tables but it's much more fun to perch high on stools around the bar. From here you can listen to the chat and watch the fun. Try it and I bet it will become a firm favourite.
c/de la Mercè 16. Lower end of the Barri Gotic. If you're at the bottom end of the Ramblas, strike off right from the Statue of Christopher Columbus as you look up the Ramblas.
Across from The Hotel Barcino, just off La Rambla, is a shop that sells falafels. Middle Eastern food seems popular here. It is easy to become addicted to these vegetarian pittas with their lip-numbing contents dressed with houmous, tabbouleh and coriander with chilli.
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