It seems that recently everyone I know has decided to go to Barcelona, Spain. I went a couple of years ago, so I’m deciding to just put all my tips about the great city all in one place for everyone to read. (Feel free to add your picks in the comments.) Check it out:
A hotel I really wanted to stay in was the Hotel Banys Oriental. It’s moderately priced, and is very sleek and modern, but unfortunately it was all booked up by the time I got around to securing a room. It’s in the SoHo-ish area of Barcelona, meaning hip, but slightly fancy. The area is a little bit on the more expensive side in terms of restaurants and stores, but a nice area right of La Rambla.
I especially liked the El Raval area of Barcelona, which is the southwest side of La Rambla. It can get kind of dodgy at night (there was literally one street we walked down where I think it was all drunk people and prostitutes), but just stay on the main streets and know where you’re going and you’ll be good. It’s fine in the daytime as well.
Cool hip restaurants are scattered throughout the area and it’s the “ethnic” area of Barcelona–but a very up-and-coming neighborhood. In NYC terms, it’s kinda like the equivalent of the Lower East Side/Chinatown.
A bar I liked in El Raval was called Ambar (above), situated at the end of Rambla del Raval. When I was there they played familiar music, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Strokes, etc. Cheap beer.
Restaurant in El Raval that I loved: Dos Trece. It’s actually owned by a SoCal transplant named Abraham and specializes in a loungey vibe.
Some other great food spots in other parts of Barcelona include:
This restaurant has a LOT of character, the oldest dining establishment in Barcelona (est. 1786), right in the heart of the Barri Gotic.
Many reviews say the servers there are gruff, but I had a wonderful little old lady help us. The food is OK, but the atmosphere is great.
This charming place is in L’Eixample and is my pick for the yummiest paella ever created. It doesn’t look like much from the street, but go upstairs, take a table and get prepared to have your culinary mind blown. I wish when I was there I did NOT order an appetizer because I was too full to finish the full cast iron skillet of paella de gambas. I still dream about returning one day. NOTE: You MUST order for two. They do not serve single portions of their paella.
My first day in Barcelona I took an awesome bike tour. We did a day bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours. Our guide, JJ, was a drunk Australian dude who was pretty jovial despite his hangover. I fully recommend taking one of these tours as soon as you get to the city because you really get to see the major sites of the city and see the neighborhoods. Tour ends with lunch by the beach at Beach Bar 23.