Updated: Aug 18
Visiting a new city for the first time can be super overwhelming. You don't want to miss out on the must see moments but equally running around like a headless chicken from tourist attraction to tourist attraction isn't a vibe.
To make your life a little easier, here's my guide, as a Barcelonian, to how I would spend a first weekend in our beautiful city.
Your number one absolute, must visit whatever happens stop is La Sagrada Familia. Even after seeing it daily from my terrace when I lived in the area, it never ceased to take my breath away.
I recommend seeing LSF in any way you can, in the day, in the night, from a terrace, from the ground, inside, outside, take your pick.
Remarkably there actually aren't many bars/ restaurants close by with roof top terraces but if you can get a reservation at The Ayre Hotel terrace (definitely book well in advance) it has a beautiful, insta perfect view ( www.ayrehoteles.com ).
Another thing to get booked before you arrive are tickets to go inside the cathedral, it's impossible to buy them on the door. I'm not usually one to fancy traipsing around any type of attraction on a weekend away but a look inside here is other worldly. Whether you're into architecture, art or just seeing beautiful stuff that will blow your mind, you will love every second.
If you're more of a winging it kind of kid, seeing LSG from the park outside is just as breath taking.Have a stroll around, avoid the tourist trap bars directly next to it with crappy and extortionate cocktails and take a two minute walk to http://www.chillbarcelona.com for a drink and a snack (and a view if you can get a table on the little terrace).
Now you're on Calle Provenca it's just a 15 minute walk down to Passeig de Gracia for your next instalment of Gaudi (and cava). Of course Barcelona is packed full of incredible architecture, but with Casa Mila and Casa Batlló so close to each other (and your next refreshment spot) it's the perfect way to pack all that art in to one morning or afternoon.
Now you're all Gaudi´d out you'll be in need of a drink and some air con so you're going to hit https://www.elnacionalbcn.com/en/ . El Nacional used to be a carpark, and has been magically transformed into one of the most beautiful drinking and dining experiences in the city. The venue boasts 4 restaurants and 4 bars, so you can swing from one to another grabbing oysters and cava to start and tapas en route to a cocktail. Don't forget to check out the most instagrammable powder room of all time.
From here you're close to Plaza Catalunya if you're up to an additional stroll, not a must see in my opinion but super close to El Nacional. Watch your bags and phones in all the touristy areas for pick pockets and leave your expensive watch at home.
I feel like you've done enough darting around for one day, time to head back to your hotel , have a siesta and start getting ready for dinner. There are so many amazing spots to choose from, I have done a restaurant and bar guide covering all areas and tastes so drop me a line through the contact page if you would like some ideas.
A walk through Ciutat Vella is a must, I would go in the evening when it's a little cooler, you can browse the boutiques and galleries, stop off for ice cream or a beer, and be wowed by the architecture, cute cafes and bustling streets.
Avoid La Rambla like the plague, although there are amazing bars and restaurants in the barrios either side of the street in Raval and Gothico, La Rambla itself boasts only a collection of crap tourist traps, drug dealers and stag parties.
If you're feeling fancy viewing the city at night from one of the hotel roof top terraces is the perfect way to view Barcelona from above. The Hotel Colon or Ohla have great views of the Cathedral and you can enjoy the bars even if you're not a guest.
It's Barcelona and unless it's 7am, the night is still young, where to head for the rest of your evening depends on what kind of experience you're looking for. Drop me a comment or a message for personalised recommendations or my "Where to drink and dance" guides.
Day two, are you hungover? I hope not but you are going to have a relaxing day of beaches and lazy lunches so don't worry. Venture out of your hotel and gran a coffee and a croissant any of the thousands of little cafes that line Barcelonas streets. If you happen to be lucky enough to be close to a https://www.baluardbarceloneta.com/en/ or https://www.boulangeriemayer.com run there like the wind and buy all the almond croissants they have left!
If you're not staying next to the beach, pack your bikinis, suncream and beach blanket and take a walk through El born or Gothio down towards Barceloneta, you're heading to El Cap de Barcelona for several reasons. A great photo opportunity, the glamorous walk down Port Vell as you head towards the beach, and arguably most importantly you'll probably be in need of Barcelonas best frozen daiquiri from Carabela en route. I personally recommend the coconut daiquiri with maracuya coming in a close second but there are tonnes to choose from.
Refreshed and revived you're going to stroll down Port Vell towards Barceloneta beach dropping in at https://stokethreads.com en route if you find yourself in need of a beach towel, bikini or an interesting gift.
I personally wouldn't recommend making camp on Barceloneta beach, BUT the walk down the palm tree lined beach front with the W Hotel on one side and El Peix dÓr on the other is iconic Barcelona landscape and you need to drink it in.
Somorrostro is the closest beach that I would consider to be nice to swim and lounge around being fabulous. It has tonnes of beach bars and restaurants right next to it if you fancy a glam afternoon otherwise grab a bite or a sandwich in Barceloneta as you walk down and bring it along with you for a picnic. Remember never to buy "cocktails" from the beach traders they can use fake alcohol and it can make you ill. If you run out of beers or waters (which I recommend you buying a big bottle of at a supermarket on your way down) and are forced to buy from the "Água, Cerveza, Beer" guys, make sure you wash them before drinking from them you don't want to know where they are stored (really).
After a day of lounging about at the beach head back towards Port Vell, and jump on the V19. Take a drink for the ride and jump off a couple of stops before Bunkers del Carmel to grab cold beers from one of the little shops and head up to El Turo de la Rovira. Find the perfect spot, put your beach blanket down, crack open a beer and watch the sunset over the city.I recommend getting down around an hour before sunset (maybe a little more) to get a good spot.
With the sun down and the beers running dry, the night is your oyster, head back into the city to get glammed up and hit the town, jump off the V19 on Passeig San Juan to grab a casual bite at Parking Pizza or Pita, or go to drink Absenta in the very same bar Hemingway and Picasso used to frequent in Raval.
There's so much more to see, you won't be away from our little city for long, so much more to explore, eat and drink.
For any of my restaurant, bar and party guides, see previous blog posts and I´ll have the PDFs sent out to you quicker thank you can search Skyscanner for September flights.