Barcelona

Overview

With its fantastical architecture, innovative dining, and legendary nightlife, it's no surprise Barcelona is one of Europe's most popular destinations. (So popular, in fact, that the larger region of Catalonia could function as an independent country thanks to the revenue generated by the seaside city alone.) Savvy travelers from around the world flock to the locale in search of its celebrated chefs (the Adrià brothers are just two of many), perfect climate, architectural diversity, edgy hotels, and truly unique Catalonian culture. Here, we share where to go, what to see, and how to most enjoy the cosmopolitan destination.

Best Time To Go

Barcelona is one of those rare destinations in which there really isn’t a bad time to visit—temperatures seldom dip below 60 degrees and there are major events like music and cultural festivals virtually every month of the year. June, when the average high is 75 degrees and the days are long (and when Primavera Sound Barcelona, one of the premier music festivals in Europe, takes place) is a particularly lovely time to visit.

Airport Info

Barcelona’s El Prat International Airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 is 2.5 miles from Terminal 2 so it’s very important to know which terminal you’re flying out of. Seventy percent fly out of the newer Terminal 1. The airport is about 15-minutes by car from the city’s downtown.

Can’t Leave Without

1. Work on Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia began in the 1880s and it continues to this day. Don’t pass up a chance to stand in awe under the church’s 150-foot tall vaults in the central nave. (Carrer de Mallorca, 401; 34-9/3080-0414; sagradafamilia.org)

2. Shopping on Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s most glamorous avenue. Peruse architectural handbags at Loewe (Passeig de Gràcia, 35; 34-9/3200-0920; loewe.com), Art Nouveau jewelry at Bagues Masriera (Passeig de Gràcia, 41; 34-9/3481-7054; bagues-masriera.com), and the best men’s and women’s fashion at the historic department store Santa Eulalia (Passeig de Gràcia 93; 34-9/3215-0674; santaeulalia.com), which also offers a bistro where shoppers can break for a glass of Louis Roederer Champagne and French macarons.

3. While it would be a shame to visit only one museum in Barcelona, if you have to pick one make it the sprawling Picasso Museum, spread across five adjoining medieval palaces and offering one of the most comprehensive looks at the famed 20th-century artist’s long and illustrious career. (Carrer Montcada, 15-23; 34-9/3256-3000; museupicasso.bcn.cat)

Deserves the Hype

The fantastical Parc Güell is so popular, more than 9 million people visit each year, the city decided to regulate access several years ago in order to better preserve the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A ticket is required to enter the Monumental Zone where most of the Antoni Gaudí designed structures are like the Dragon Stairway decorated with brightly colored shards of tile, but it’s still worth visiting. The contrast between the rustic pine tree filled park and modernist structures make it one of the world’s most unique urban green spaces and the views of the city are breathtaking. (Carrer d'Olot, main entrance on Carrer de Larrard; 34-9/3409-1831; parkguell.cat)

Local Dish to Try

Charred calçots, spring onions that grow in the countryside, are devoured by Catalans from December to May. A very traditional way to enjoy them is grilled on a hot BBQ, but Monvinic Wine Bar serves a much more elegant take. When in season the calçots are fried in a light tempura batter and served with homemade ricotta cheese. (Carrer de la Diputació, 249; 34-9/3272-6187; monvinic.com)

Local Drink to Sip

The long held tradition of enjoying a vermouth as an aperitif is alive and well in Barcelona. Cocktail bars and restaurants, not just tavernas, have begun concocting their own house made versions of the fortified wine. Bodega 1900’s (Carrer de Tamarit, 91; 34-9/3325-2659; bodega1900.com) caramel-colored vermouth is just sweet enough with notes of herbs and orange peel.

Seasonal Highlights

WINTER: In the winter visit the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market (34-6/4714-6688; en.firadesantallucia.cat) in front of the Barcelona Cathedral and shop for presents on Passeig de Gràcia.

SPRING: In spring take in the sunset from one of Barcelona’s fabulous rooftop hotel bars.

SUMMER: During the warmer summer months charter a yacht and cruise the Mediterranean. (34-9/1448-7275; madeforspainandportugal.com)

FALL: In the fall see some live music. The International Jazz Festival (theproject.es) begins in late September with artists like Diana Krall and Béla Fleck performing at venues throughout the city.

Local Hint

Catalans eat late, very late. Many shops and restaurants observe siesta hours and some restaurants don’t start serving dinner until 8 p.m. A prime dinner reservation would be around 9:30 or 10 p.m.

Quick Tips

Car Service to Know

Abaser Limousine Service
34-9/3245-7829

Extended Stay

Majestic Residence
34-9/3488-1717

Tailor to Know

The Santa Eulalia department store’s award-winning bespoke tailor department
34-9/3215-0674

Gifts

Jaime Beriestain
34-9/3515-0782

Personal Shopper

Veronica Pons from Made for Spain
34-9/1448-7275

Hair Stylist to Book

Cosmopolitan Hair Time
34-9/3240-5387

Best Spa

The Hotel Arts
34-9/3221-1000

Best Hotel Gym

Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
34-9/3151-8888

Best Souvenir

Barcelona Jeweler Bagues Masriera
34-9/3481-70-54

Fixer to Know

Irene Garcia from b:VIP
34/6150-49956
Hotels

ABaC

Located in a historic home, this design hotel combines a boutique feel with all the trappings of a five-star property.
Sant Gervasi - la Bonanova

Hotel Omm

In sharp contrast to many other Barcelona hotels, this property is located in a futuristic modern building and has 91 simple, functional guest rooms.
Dreta de l'Eixample

Casa Fuster

Built in 1908, this mansion-turned-hotel is a Modernist masterpiece. (Woody Allen filmed a scene for Vicky Cristina Barcelona here.)
Vila de Gràcia

Mercer Hotel

This small luxury hotel in the Gothic Quarter hotel has just 28 rooms and blends ancient and modern seamlessly.
Gothic Quarter

Majestic Hotel & Spa

This palatial hotel, open since 1918 on Passeig del Gràcia, is simultaneously luxurious and personal.
Dreta de l'Eixample
FH&R

Hotel Arts Barcelona

Just 300 feet from the beach, the Hotel Arts feels more like a resort than a city hotel, with terraced gardens, a pool, and some of Barcelona's largest guest rooms.
La Barceloneta
FH&R

Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona

Housed in a former bank, the Mandarin Oriental enjoys a prime location on Passeig de Gràcia, the city’s most famous and exclusive shopping avenue.
Dreta de l'Eixample
FH&R

Cotton House Hotel

Located in the former headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation, the Cotton House Hotel offers a glimpse into the lives of the 19th-century Catalan bourgeoisie.
Dreta de l'Eixample

Serras Hotel

Located on the edge of the Gothic Quarter, this hotel housed in a historical mid-1800s building by Francesc Daniel Molina feels more like a New York loft than a turn of the century mansion.
Gothic Quarter
Restaurants

Hoja Santa

This Mexican restaurant, which has an open kitchen and wood-beamed ceilings, is Oaxacan-inspired with an Adrià twist.
Sant Antoni
Mexican

Fabrica Moritz

This historic brewery dates back to the mid-1800s but a major renovation in 2012 brought it squarely into the 21st century.
Sant Antoni
Beer + Food Hall

Petit Comitè

Hotel Majestic chef Nandu Jubany runs the kitchen at this restaurant on Passatge de la Concepció, also known as Barcelona’s “gastronomy alley.”
Dreta de l'Eixample
Catalan Comfort Food

Restaurant Sant Pau

Chef Carme Ruscalleda’s original restaurant in the seaside community of Sant Pol de Mar is a worthy detour.
Sant Pol de Mar
Spanish Gastronomy

Restaurant Barceloneta

This restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea is the ideal spot to dine on fresh Mediterranean seafood.
Port Vell
Mediterranean Seafood

Moments

Mandarin Oriental’s two Michelin star restaurant is Catalan food at its most indulgent.
Exiample
Catalan Fine Dining

Roca Moo

The Michelin-star restaurant in the Hotel Omm has become a must-book reservation for any food lover visiting Barcelona.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Catalan Gastronomy

Enoteca

This top-tier spot has the easy, breezy feel of a beachside restaurant, with hardwood floors, bright white walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou
Contemporary Mediterranean

Tickets

Everything about this hard to book joint venture from brothers Ferran Adrià of El Bulli and Albert Adrià of Inopia is a spectacle.
Sant Antoni
Mediterranean + Spanish

Mont Bar

At this light filled tapas bar, most ingredients come from owner Ivan Castro’s hometown of Mont, known for its pristine fruits and vegetables and homegrown livestock.
Eixample
Tapas Bar
Bars + Lounges

Mitja Vida

The vermuteria, or vermouth bar, has experienced a major resurgence in Barcelona. Head here for a slightly more refined take on the experience.
Sant Gervasi - Galvany
Vermouth Bar

Apotheke

Apotheke means pharmacy in German and bartenders at this subterranean spot on the Plaça Reial are true alchemists.
Gothic Quarter
Cocktail Bar

Abirradero

This refined gastropub with 40 taps serves mostly Barcelona-brewed beers, as well as selections from other parts of Spain and Italy.
El Poble-sec
Craft Beer

Roca Bar

The same troika of brothers behind the Michelin three-star El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, concocted this swank establishment.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Wine + Cocktail Bar

Monvinic

Barcelona’s best wine bar is located near Plaza Catalunya and offers an impressive 50 by-the-glass options each day.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Wine Bar

La Dolce Vitae at the Hotel Majestic

La Dolce Vitae offers an impressive panoramic view of the city from the roof of the Majestic Hotel.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Rooftop Bar

Boca Chica

All the beautiful people of Barcelona congregate at this Lázaro Rosa-Violán–designed bar, with its glass walls, lots of weathered wood, and low couches.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Cocktail Bar

Dry Martini

A Barcelona institution, 30-year-old Dry Martini is the city’s original creative cocktail laboratory.
L'Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample
Cocktail Bar

Tandem

This understated bar in L’Eixample has no menu and the interior is nothing flashy; this allows the attention to stay squarely on their spirits.
L'Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample
Cocktail Bar

Ideal Cocktail Bar

Open since 1931, this English style bar with fine wood-paneled walls, red-upholstered armchairs, and hunting-inspired art feels timeless and elegant.
L'Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample
Cocktail Bar
Shopping

La Cuina d’en Garriga

This larder and restaurant is the place to pick up gourmet souvenirs.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Gourmet Market

En Linea Barcelona

Occupying the entire ground floor of a modernist building, the space is as aesthetically pleasing as the furnishings it houses.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Furniture + Design

Galeria Safia

This contemporary art gallery, open since 1991, champions lesser-known artists from around the world.
Vila de Gràcia
Contemporary Art

Outpost

This men’s shoe and accessory shop has a retro inspired interior and creative window displays.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Men's Shoes + Accessories

Wer-haus

This edgy concept store just off Passeig de Gràcia is a coffee shop, bookstore, clothing boutique, and art gallery all in one.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Concept Store

Santa Eulalia

Santa Eulalia whisks shoppers back to the days when department stores offered a truly bespoke experience.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Men's + Women's Clothing

Bagues-Masriera

Bagues-Masriera has been making jewelry since 1839 and its modern designs still draw heavily from the Art Nouveau period.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Jewelry

Jaime Beriestain

Chilean Interior Designer Jaime Beriestain’s concept store in Eixample has everything shoppers need to achieve his signature globe-trotting look.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Home + Design

Loewe

The luxury leather goods maker may be carried by the best department stores, but this dedicated split-level boutique is worth visiting for its vast selection of handbags.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Leather Goods + Clothing

Jean-Pierre Bua

The best Parisian fashion houses are all represented at this splashy boutique with tiled walls and a spiral staircase.
L'Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample
Men's + Women's Clothing
Things To Do

National Museum of Catalan Art

This museum represents over one thousand years of art in the region.
Parc de Montjuïc
Art Museum

Picasso Museum

Barcelona’s Picasso Museum houses one of the most extensive collections of the Spanish artist’s work.
Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera
Art Museum

MACBA

Barcelona’s contemporary art museum brings together works by Catalan, Spanish, and international artists from latter half of the 20th century.
El Raval
Contemporary Art Museum

The Barcelona Pavilion

Designed by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exposition, the pavilion is considered one of the most influential modernist buildings of the 20th century.
Montjuïc Park
Architecture Tour

Joan Miró Foundation

This foundation and modern art museum created by Miró was made to encourage young artists to get involved in contemporary art.
Montjuïc
Foundation + Modern Art Museum

La Pedrera After Hours

Experience one of Gaudi’s most famous modernist buildings without the crowds.
Dreta de l'Eixample
Private Tour

Concerts + Performances

Experience the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Gran Teatre del Liceu by tour, live performance, or show.
Various
Theater, Opera, Music

El Born

While much of Barcelona shuts down on Sunday, bohemian El Born stays very much alive.
Sant Pere - Santa Caterina i la Ribera
Museums + Boutiques

Bike Tour and Tapas Cooking Class

With its mild Mediterranean climate, biking is a great way to see the city of Barcelona year round.
Various
Bike Tour + Cooking Class

Gaudi Trail

Visionary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi’s (1852-1926) modernist buildings, seven of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, dot the city of Barcelona. Visitors cans see them all by following the Gaudi Trail, a self guided walking route.
Various
Architecture

Yachting in the Mediterranean

One of the best ways to appreciate the Barcelona skyline is from the sea, on a 38-foot-long sailing yacht.
Yacht Tour

FC Barcelona Game

Football, or soccer as it’s known in the United States, is a religion in Spain. And FC Barcelona is the city's team.
Various
Sporting Event