The best restaurant I've ever been to. It looks like a tiny taverna from outside, with chickens grilling on spits in the window. A short walk through the restaurant brings you out into a cavernous room filled with drying hams. It’s quite an experience.
Escudellers, 14; tel: 93 302 3185
Very swish tapas bar and restaurant. You can eat at the restaurant at the back or at the bar as I did. Wonderful fresh ingredients and simple yet delightful dishes. The staff very friendly and helpful too.
Pl Sant Josep Oriol, 9;
A very funky and opulent bar, with red walls and midnight blue ceilings, plush fabrics and original 60s chairs. Friendly staff. They do lots of cocktails but the wine is also lovely.
Quintana 6, off Calle de la Boqueria
A beautiful house on a hillside converted into a bar/disco with lovely garden and terrace. Absolutely great on a summer's night. The clientele consists of "beautiful people", but it’s really good fun.
Avenida Tibidabo 61
A fantastic place to go for an unusual meal. The small restaurant only has desserts on its menu, containing exotic ingredients such as eucalyptus, tamarind and lots more. The portions might look small but believe me you're not going to feel hungry by the time you leave.
Espai Sucre, C/Princesa 53; tel: 93 268 1630; nearest metro: Jaume I
Anywhere that counts Che Guevara AND John Wayne among its past customers must be doing something to satisfy people. Classy but not fussy with reasonable prices for food and wine alike, it does great paellas and similar rice dishes, but also plenty of regional meat and fish dishes. A limited number of tables can be booked so it is worth getting there early in the evening for one of the first-come-first-served tables - otherwise you can expect to wait in the queue with everyone else.
Passeig de Gracia II, 14; nearest metro; Barceloneta, Drassanes is a bit further;
The port area, about ten minutes' walk from the foot of the Ramblas.
Stroll around and go into any one of the specialist seafood restaurants there. You will be blown away by the fresh taste, generous portions and choice. Seafood in the UK will never be the same after this.
While everyone flocks to Gaudi’s still-in-progress spires, it’s very much worth remembering that there’s a medieval cathedral still standing proud in Barcelona’s old town. There’s perhaps a touch of irony too, in the fact that the finishing touch was not applied to this building, in the early 20th century, until nearly 700 years after its inception. It is beautiful, as are its surroundings, and revealing of how the centre of this city has shifted according to fashion. Don’t pass it by.
Placa de la Seu
This gallery is devoted to the work of the 82-year-old Catalan painter Antoni Tàpies. A rich experience not to be missed.
Aragó 255, 08007 Barcelona; tel: 34 934 870 315; nearest metro: Passeig de Gràcia;
Quite apart from the permanent collection of Catalan, Spanish and other European contemporary art, and the special exhibitions, the museum is itself a work of art (architect Richard Meier). Just walking around its spaces is an uplifting experience.
5 minutes walk from Las Ramblas;
Plaça dels Àngels, Barcelona 08001;
tel: 93 412 0810;
The best record shop in Spain. Yards and yards of rare and wonderful jazz, rock, funk, soul, and soundtracks on vinyl. And a cat called Marcel.
Riera Baixa 14, deep in the heart of El Raval; tel: 93 442 37 03;
Massive park with great views of the city tucked away behind Barcelona. The green lung of the city is an unknown treasure. A great place to escape the summer humidity and avoid Ramblas hordes. Bring a mountain bike.
FGC from plaza Catalunya to Peu Funicular and then the cable car to Carretera de les Aigues. Get a map at the tourist info booth in Plaza Catalunya
A totally flat 5km track for runners, cyclists and walkers that runs along the hills at the back of Barcelona and offers the most stunning views of the city spread out below you with the sea beyond. The track sometimes winds through the trees but is mostly out in the open. If you need a break or want a different perspective on the city take a couple of hours and refresh your mind in this oasis with a view.
Despite its wonderfulness, the track is often almost totally deserted, though is busier on Saturday and Sunday mornings as Barcelona exercises itself. This track is a runner’s paradise and if you are there just after sunrise (the best time to go) you may see me plodding along.
To get there take the Ferrocarillis Catalana, which starts in Plaza Catalunya, towards San Cugat and get off at Peu de la Funicular. Take the funicular to Vallvidrera but get off at the half way stop. As you exit the halt turn left along the track and keep walking for as long as you want. Once you have walked enough either retrace your steps (literally) and return to the funicular or after 4 km you will get to Placa del las Maduixas (sadly lacking in strawberries) and here you can take the road back down into Barcelona stopping for refreshments at the Bar Miramar (a bit expensive and you've already had the views) beside the funicular station up to Tibidado and the Tramvia Blau if you wish
Great and incredibly chilled place for a glass of champagne and the largest gin and tonics ever. Relaxing sofas and trendy place to watch the world go by or just relax before setting out on a full on night time tour of Barcelona. Somewhat expensive but worth splashing out for something special.
Calle Rosello; nearest metro, 265: Diagonal; tel: 93 445 4000;
Riverside restaurant on three (maybe four) levels on the Triana side of the river, at the end of the Puente Isabel II bridge. At bridge level it is a stand up tapas bar, oddly reminiscent of an English pub. Below this, a dining room and at street level a pavement terrace. A rooftop terrace offers superb views over the river towards the Maestranza bullring and the cathedral beyond.
Primarily fish and seafood, their pescaito frito (mixed fried fish) is as good as most restaurants on the coast and a half ración easily feeds two. A word of warning; seats on the roof terrace are freely available on summer afternoons but the locals tend to eat inside. You'll soon understand why - the sun in Seville can be merciless at lunchtime!
On the bridge facing Plaza Altozano at the northern end of Calle Betis
This elaborately decorated, art nouveau (modernista in Catalan) concert hall is an absolute must see. It's exciting enough looking at it outside, but the whole of the inside is exhilarating with a riot of sparkling stained glass and swirling forms. There’s a huge expression of colour and light, especially in the auditorium itself with its stunning, golden-brown, stained-glass ceiling - a highlight in every sense. Guided tours only, some in English, last just under an hour, and it's best to book in advance. Don't be put off - this is really one to remember.
Calle Sant Francesc de Paula, 2; tel: 902 442 882; nearest metro: Urquinaona
Can't decide what to eat in this gourmet city? Try Txapela, a busy taberna in the heart of Barcelona offering a varied selection of exquisitely presented, succulent, tiny bites, displayed around the semicircular bar. The tablemat placed in front of you gives each a Basque name, a number and a description in Catalan with photo and price and you just give the number or point.
Demand is incessant, so everything is freshly prepared. Try Arantxa - a small brochette of prawns, bacon and mushrooms; or Gros - a mini-entrecote with Roquefort sauce; or any of the other 49 on offer. Since most cost 1.10 euros and the dearest 1.65, the only difficulty is choosing which to have next. Great Spanish wines and ice-cold beers, too. The bar is large, the welcome enthusiastic, the atmosphere convivial and the experience memorable.
Passeig de Gracia 8-10; tel: 93 412 02 89;
nearest metros: Cataluna, Passeig de Gracia;
Small cheese shop selling only Spanish farmhouse cheeses. Run by a Scottish woman who has been living here over 20 years. Small but quality selection of scrumptious cheeses. And she also sells a great, cheap red wine for under 3 euros.
Carrer Dagueria 16 (not far from cathedral)
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