It’s vacation season, that time of year when school is over for the summer and people are venturing out and about. In case you happen to be on your way to Barcelona or are planning a trip to this vibrant metropolis, you’re in luck. Here you will find a small compilation of slightly odd ball and off the usual path of touristy things to do in Barcelona, with a couple of exceptions.
/1/ Do: Rent a bike/website
Although metro and travel by foot are excellent ways to get to know a city, I am a big fan of bike rentals. It’s inexpensive, quick, and offers a way to experience the city on a more intimate level all while breezing by the sights.
/2/ See: Public Water Fountains
As you peddle your way through Barcelona, notice the public drinking fountains sprinkled around the city. Each one is unique and the best part? The water is safe to drink. Go ahead, quench your thirst.
/3/ See: La Boqueria
Rambla, 91/La Rambla/ website
Unless you get up at the crack of dawn and hoof it to La Boqueria, you best just take a quick gander and dodge the hoards of people while trying to get in and out. This massive market has always been an informal food related market of some sort since the 1200’s. Today, you can find prepared foods, produce, meats, seafood, charcuterie, vegetables, and specialty food items.
/4/See: Els Encants Vells flea market
Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes/website/
Get ready to flex your bargaining muscles while navigating the dizzying array of vendors and above all else, bring small bills and a bag to carry your loot. This is the place to find everything from furniture (see upstairs galleries dedicated to furnishings), antiques, books, clothing, household items, to downright junk. There’s something for everyone in this madhouse. I absolutely loved it.
/5/ See & Eat: Mercat de Santa Caterina
Av Francesc Cambó, 16, 08003/website/
After all that wheeling and dealing at the flea market, you’ve likely worked up an appetite. Cruise on over to the Ribera Neighborhood and stop by Mercat de Santa Caterina. Located at the site of a former convent from which the market derives its name, Santa Caterina is filled with fresh seafood, produce, meats, and has an excellent casual tapas bar/restaurant for a bite to eat. The pastry shop inside the market is also great for treating yourself to something sweet afterward.
/6/ See: Gaudi Architecture
If this is your first time visiting Barcelona, seeing the Gaudi buildings is a must. That said, do yourself a favor and get the fast passes that will get you ahead of the horrendous lines in a shorter amount of time. This was not our first time in this city and luckily, we were able to enjoy the tours without the crowds, many, many years ago. Nowdays, it’s seemingly always tourist season and that means long lines and every Tom, Dick, and Harry clamoring for the same photos as you are. That gets old really fast.
/7/ Drink: El Born Bar
Passeig del Born, 26/Ribera- Born Neighborhood/ website/
After elbowing my way out of the madness at Park Guell, it was time to decompress and have a cocktail. Gin and tonics are super trendy in Barcelona now, and El Born is just as good as any place to immerse yourself in the trend. Located in hipster central, El Born neighborhood, the bar of the same name is a nice retreat from the crowds outside.
/8/ Eat: Ramen at Ya-Hiro
Carrer de Girona, 164/L’Eixample neighborhood
There’s always a first time for everything. Truth be told, if I’m visiting Spain, I’m not wasting my precious few days eating non-Spanish foods. But! This time I was sick and needed some comfort food and was
willing desperate to get some ramen. That was a good thing because it was really delicious and almost as good as at home. Definitely worth a meal here unless you’re like me and believe in immersing yourself in local cultural offerings. In that case, I totally understand. However, if you do decide to give Ya-Hiro a try, heed this advice and get there shortly after opening and get in line. Otherwise, you’ll be waiting quite a while for a table to open up.
/9/ Eat: Vivanda Restaurant
Carrer Major de Sarrià 134
If ramen is not you thing, I highly recommend Vivanda restaurant for authentic modern Catalan cuisine. It’s a little out of the way but accessible by metro. Make reservations ahead of time and if you can snag a garden/patio table, that’s awesome. Vivanda is a Michelin Bib Gourmand pick so that means you’ll get great service and high quality food for a reasonable price. We had a very enjoyable dinner here and our waiter was fantastic.
salad with foie gras
bacalao in tomato sauce
/10/See: Palau de la Musica Catalana
C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6/ La Ribera neighborhood/website/
Behold the extravagance of this 1908 Catalan music hall in all of it’s ornate splendor. It’s a sight to be seen as visitors can peek inside the reception hall or grab a drink at the bar. If you are able, purchase tickets in advance and treat yourself to a concert in the evening, most definitely time well spent. You’ll marvel at the architecture and elaborate details while imagining a bygone era where folks actually went to listen to live music and see performances. It’s spectacular.