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)
A square at the seedy end of the old city off the Ramblas in Barcelona, named in memory of George Orwell, author of Homage to Catalonia. Pictures of the square, and of the security camera therein, are part of this photo essay from our trip in 1994: www.netcharles.com/orwell/pics/spain.htm
On Escudellers, east of the Ramblas near the port
Great club/venue in old music hall. Very good atmosphere.
I live in Barcelona, and when I arrived I thought it would be a good idea to learn a bit of Spanish. Two-and-a-half years done the line, I now realise that although that´s a great start, it´s even more appreciated by the locals if you speak their own language, Catalan. So just try "Gracies" said like "gra-si-ess" or "bon dia" (good day) or bona nit (good night - like the Geordie "neet") and remember that the majority of the people here don´t feel Spanish so don´t wear a "torro" t-shirt (the famous bull logo).
Instead, buy something with the now famous Catalan donkey logo - and you will make lots of friends in this beautiful city.
Excellent restaurant, part of a small group of seven or eight eateries in Barcelona. Not a tapas bar and not cheap (100 euros for two for three courses, drinks and aperitifs / digestifs), but excellent food and a really nice classy atmosphere. Booking recommended.
Avinyó 9, Barcelona; down a side street of La Ramblas (Mcdonald's is on the corner) just past la Bocqueria;
tel: 93 318 7986; www.grupcacheiro.com
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);
A wonderful, creative offering of cheese-inspired dishes in a place that defies categorisation as a vegetarian restaurant. Cheese Me serves exquisite, reasonably priced food (try the pear and ricotta fiochi in cava and mushroom sauce), amazing deserts, cocktails and a variety of 'anti-cheese' dishes. Explore the website and prepare to be hooked.
Calle De Argentería 51 (in the Born district); nearest metro: L4 Jaume 1;
The monument itself is not the attraction, but the fact that you can go to the observation room at the top by lift makes it worthy of mention. The views of both the city and the bay are quite spectacular from here – but I wouldn’t recommend it for sufferers of either vertigo or claustrophobia.
Placa del Portal de la Pau (at the bottom of La Rambla)
This is a great bar in Barcelona. The clientelle is a mixture of Brits and Catalans enjoying an exotic Guinness and a natter on the terrace or in the wood panelled rooms. It’s a 15 minute walk from the Ramblas so it avoids the stag and hen party trawl that has infested a lot of other English bars in the city and, as it’s a haven for expats, it’s also a great venue to get tips on other places to go.
The staff are really helpful and friendly and add to the mixture of families and friends that hang out there.
When I lived in Barcelona I spent far too long here and made friends for life so I may be biased but if you say I sent you they’ll treat you kindly. No, really.
Avda Allada-Vermell, 16; tel: 932 683 338; nearest metro: Jaume;
It's a festival in mid-September in homage to the patron saint of Barcelona. There are several traditional Catalan cultural features, including Sardanes (dancing in circles), Castellers (human castles) and parades of Gigants (papier mache dolls two storeys high). Apart from that, there is usually a parallel cultural programme involving live music on stages in the city and/or club events. Apart from celebrating La Virgen de La Merce, it is the first major event after most Catalans come back into town after the traditional exodus to the coast or the mountains in August, a hellishly hot month when locals usually leave the city to tourists who don't know better.
September in Barcelona - all over the place
It's the place where Barcelona fans gather after big victories. It is good fun after any major win but delightful chaos after they reach any final, win any trophy or beat Real Madrid or Espanyol.
Top of the Ramblas, at the entrance to the Placa Catalunya metro station
A superb tapas bar right in the middle of the Boqueria food market. It is a wonder to see the chefs working in such a tiny space to produce extremely fresh, rustic tapas. Wash it down with a glass of cava and soak up the hectic atmosphere of the market.
La Boqueria market, Las Rambla 91
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org