State run picture house that always has a decent repertory season. Cost about a quid to get in and you may even learn some Catalan from the subtitles
33 Avda de Sarria, Metro Hospital Clinic
When you go to Sagrada Familia, don’t jump back on the Metro but persevere up Avinguda de Gaudi. You’ll eventually come across this still part-working hospital that you are free to stroll around and ogle. Unesco protected, this lesser known of the Modernista works is a visionary place created by Domenech i Nontaner for Barcelona’s medial needs at the turn of the 20th-century. It would have been worth getting ill just to have been able to stay there.
It’s not called Tancat, it’s not called anything. It’s just a shutter door on the corner of Calle Carmen and Calle Sant Llatzer. Knock it, wait, smile and walk in. Inside it can be empty, full, serious, boisterous. Always a bit dishevelled but cheap and open very late. Barcelona has a number of these “nod-nod, wink-wink” bars. Just keep your eyes peeled.
Carry on past MACBA into deepest, but not necessarily darkest, Ravel and you’ll come across Calle de Joaquin Costa and surrounding streets. Low rent bars/galleries/shops, old Barcelona and new Moroccan immigrants go about their daily businesses. Wander around and you’ll find some thing that that will get the better of your curiosity, you can even go to Benidorm.
The district of Gracia in Barcelona is one of the main student areas and therefore has a laidback, arty feel. There are many little squares, churches, bars and cafes to explore as well as Gaudi's Parc Guell within walking distance. When you're wandering about under the stars there are young, interesting people to meet in every square.
It's a lovely place to stay, much more relaxed than the city centre and easy to get to by metro and cheap(ish) by taxi in the early hours of the morning. Also, if you fancy a day by the sea, skip the undesirable beach in the city (Barcelonetta) and head for Sitges, 15 minutes by train, for a lazy day by the water and a big seafood paella, getting the last train back (about 10 pm) and heading out into the city.
A lively, exciting part of town, where the trendy Catalans hang out and without the Brits abroad found chugging back cans of San Miguel as you will find on the Ramblas.
El Born has amazing bars and restaurants. Calle Banys Vells houses a great Cuban called Vieja Havana, and a cosy, romantic wine bar called Va da Vie. During the daytime El Born is home to great boutique clothes and shoe shops, although be warned, they close on Mondays.
Nearest metro station: Jaume II; main roads: Calle Argenteria, Calle Banys Vells and Passeig del Born
Pretty, relatively unspoiled seaside town. Tear yourself off the beach to get lost in its tiny streets, catching glimpses of lush courtyards and grand houses owned by "americanos" (Catalan families who made their fortune in the Americas and returned home to build villas in the style of those they had admired there). Those same streets are now dotted with funky shops and restaurants, thanks to Sitges’ gay fanbase.
The café is gone but the unusually flavoured chocolates thankfully remain. The chocolates are the stars, but the pastries are also gorgeous and the chocolate-themed gifts a lot of fun - chocolate beer anyone?
C Petritxol 11-13, 08003; tel: 93 3011197
This little shop boasts a slightly funkier and cheaper selection of Camper shoes and super friendly staff. Take your kids - for once they will be encouraged to draw on the walls.
Corner C/ Elisabets with Plaza dels Angels
This little cocktail bar has been going for decades. Tell the besuited bartenders your drink preferences and they will come up with a cocktail that is just right for you. Charmingly old-fashioned (including the prices).
Tallers 1; tel: 34 93 318 95 92
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
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
Ferran Adria’s a fan – you will be too. This tiny restaurant in the trendy El Borne dishes up delicious little portions of imaginative food at reasonable prices. No bookings taken, so come early or be prepared to wait.
Comerç 17, 08003; tel: 93 315 1227
It's quite easy to go to a match at the Camp Nou, and far better than the tour. Tickets can be bought at the stadium itself or at many ATMs, although one needs rudimentary Spanish for the ATM option. They're cheaper than most Premiership grounds, and available for most La Liga games.
Visiting Montjuic fountains at night for the fountain/light/music show is definitely worth a visit. From May to September it's on Thursday-Sunday nights 8pm to midnight. The fountains are just off the Placa Espanya near the MNAC. I would recommend seeing them close up and also from the top of the mountain at Castell de Monjuic. The views from the Castell during the day are also worthwhile, stop at the Joan Miro museum on the way up or down. Cable car or bus are available.
Nearest metro: Placa Espanya
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