This is a light, airy, neighborhood cultural centre run by an all female French Guatemalan team. La Marelle is dedicated to providing a space for parents and children to unwind, meet and learn. It's divided into various play areas with toys and games galore for the kids, and there are tables and stools for the grown ups to sit at while keeping an eye on their little monkeys. The cafe serves great coffee, brunches (pancakes!!) and cakes. There are also numerous workshops like yoga for kids in English, or story telling in French and other learning and sharing activities.
If you go up the left hand side of the Cathedral you’ll very soon come to a tiny square opposite the original entrance, which is on the right-hand side. The square is called Sant Iu, as is the Cathedral entrance. To the left of the door you’ll see a relief carving of Catalonia’s first Count-King, Wilfred the Shaggy, killing a dragon with a great bough torn from a tree. However, that’s another story and you can read about it on my website, if you’re interested… High on the Cathedral wall to the left is the door the old Catalan Kings used to enter the Cathedral when their palace was just across the way and joined by a now defunct bridge.
Across the square from the Cathedral is the entrance to the Museu Marès. Inside this wonderful Gothic courtyard, tucked into a far corner among Roman columns and behind the orange trees and fountain is the Summer Café: a delightful spot to sit and restore depleted energies, write that postcard and get outside something long and cool.
Open from ten till ten, April to September.
Start the day with freshly baked pastries at Cup and Cake located in the leafy pedestrian stretch of Enric Granados between Avinguda Diagonal and Carrer Paris.
As the name suggests, several varieties of cupcakes figure largely on the menu, alongside traditionally popular breakfast favourites such as toast, ham and other freshly made sandwiches.
All products are freshly handmade using the finest natural ingredients and there’s a strict no additives policy.
Coffee is 100% organic and the baristas are all qualified by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, guaranteeing you a first class café con leche.
Cup and Cake has no terrace but there are cushions on a bench just by the window where you can enjoy your coffee and the bright Barcelona mornings.
Inside, the décor is a quaint mixture of odds and ends with a welcoming, informal feel.
Cup and Cake is open for breakfast and tea but closes at lunchtime.
This is an absolute gem of a traditional Barcelona cafe, serving food and drink all day in the most charming art nouveau surroundings where you can rub shoulders with the locals reading the complimentary newspapers. The staff are unfailingly polite, even when the tourists have had a few too many of the wonderful Martinez brandy (7 euros a shot) and are getting rowdy... Delicious breakfast food, fabulous fresh orange juice squeezed before your eyes, and later a good range of traditional tapas and simple dishes. Proper alcoholic sangria served indoors or out. Favourite - a huge glass of the Cava sangria.
Las Ramblas, opposite the Liceu theatre
An international group of locals and expats who meet twice a week to socialise, practice their Spanish or English and exchange tips on Barcelona.
Don't watch TV in your hotel, meet the locals (Barcelonians and expats). Socialise and get all the insiders' info you could never get from a guide book. Every person is a walking, talking, up-to-date guide book. Ask and we shall answer!
The group meets at least twice a week. For all the details check out their website: www.englishoasiscafe.com
A friendly, bohemian cafe-bar in the Gothic quarter, just off Carrer de Ferran. Expect to be sitting alongside writers and artists - writing and drawing, no less - during your stay. Food is reasonably priced (eg soup and a main - the 'combi of the day' - for 6 euros). Plus the staff all seem to know English, but avoid speaking it if possible - usually a good sign.
5 Calle de Arai
In addition to presenting the "history" of chocolate, the museum displays huge chocolate sculptures. There is also a cafe offering chocolate treats.
Comerç 36, in the Gothic Quarter;
tel: 93 268 7878;
metro: Jaume I or Arc de Triomf;
open: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Sun 10am-3pm
This cool café, closed in winter, is in a pretty and surprisingly quiet square off the Ramblas and a great lunch spot. Locals and savvy tourists tuck into salads, pastas and quiches as their kids happily run around or go on the swings.
Plaça Vicenç Martorell, 4;
tel: 93 30 22 072
Just behind the legendary Boqueria market, this is best practice in regeneration. It has an eclectic design, sunny terrace by day and discrete candle-light by night as well as best value multicultural dishes. Inclusive and yet trendy. Great brekkie and home-made milkshakes.
Plaça de la Gardunya 7; tel: 00 34 93 3014 163; nearest metro: Liceu
Think Willie Wonka versus Ferran Adria and you get a cosmopolitan, eclectic and mind-boggling menu featuring such random selections as hot chocolate soup with curry and yoghurt ice cream. Beats other neighbouring milk-bars in what is known as the hot chocolate street.
Carrer Petrixol 11, 08002; Tel: 00 34 93 301 11 97, www.xocoa-bcn.com/; nearest metro: Placa Catalunya
Addictive haunt for exchange students, locals and other bagelistas. Along with a different vegetarian special every day, diverse tea flavours and American brunch served on Sunday mornings, the infinite selection of bagels provides an essential accompaniment to Barcelona snacking.
As a bonus, up and coming artists exhibit their work while an eclectic musical mix provides the aural background to your bagel-infused conversations. Known to insiders as the Bagel Club, it’s a must on the exchange student circuit.
Place de la Vila de Madrid; nearest metro: Placa Catalunya
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com