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Barcelona suggestions

We're off to Barcelona for 5 nights, starting this coming Wednesday, and staying in an apartment in El Born. Philippa is running the marathon on Sunday, but before that, we'd welcome some suggestions for this, our first visit.

Art & architecture. Sagrada Familia of course: we'll book tickets. We don't want to get over-Gaudi'd, so if we chose just one other building, would it be Casa Batlló, or Casa Milá, or something else? Given our interests, the Palau de la Música looks well worth it. How about earlier architecture, and art?

Food & drink. We're just round the corner from Cal Pep, and not far from Bormuth, both of which have been recommended by friends/family. Any other suggestions gratefully received!

And yes, I am leaving the planning really rather late...


100+ Posts
I hope you can find a concert at the Palau de la Musica. http://www.palaumusica.cat/en/programme_314?subset=upcoming

The concert hall is breathtaking, especially when they lower the lights. I've never seen anything like it.

Besides, it's just a short stroll to El Born. Are you staying in Nancy's apartment building (not hers, but the one she recommends)?

Nick Lloyd's Spanish Civil War walking tour is the other thing I would recommend.

Hello Jonathon.
My vote also is for the Palau and Casa Mila. If the weather is pleasant I would consider Parc Guell for a stroll and views of the city. If you go, be careful where you sit under the trees where the parrots surprise people with their droppings. One can get a bus directly from Placa Catalunya to the upper entrance to the park. It is usually less crowded than the main entrance. Ask at the tourist centre which bus to take.

Some other architectural sites to consider are the Maritime Museum, the city's medieval shipyard (their el menu was good value) and the Barcelona City Museum. The City Museum has Roman ruins in its basement. Of the churches, I prefer Sta Maria del Pi (Catalan Gothic) over the cathedral. You may even grab a free concert there. Also, little visited, is Barcelona's oldest church, St Pau del Camp (Romanesque elements) in the El Ravel section of the city.

A word of caution at Cal Pep's: rather than let the waiter decide "what looks good and the quantity" choose dishes for yourself. Friends of ours were unpleasantly surprised with their bill when they left the choice to him. We were not that impressed with the place but it may have been an off night.

I suggest that you will have little luck with finding a decent meal anywhere on the Ramblas. Near you, The Bar Cela Puperia on Princesa specializes in Galician fare. The pulpo gallego is good and they serve my favourite tapa, pimentos de Padron, there. We were not disappointed with anything we had there. However, with all thing foodie, quality can change over time.

With Philippa running in the marathon she may not wish to experiment too much with new foods. Close by, you can frequent the Santa Caterina market for foodstuffs for preparation in your apartment.

Wishing you well in the race and with your stay in Barcelona
Hard to choose between the Gaudis, but I would go for the Casa Batllo. It's stupendous and has more of the feel of a family home than the Casa Mila, while still being a work of art from top to bottom. Though I do admit that the roof of the Casa Mila is brilliant. If you can, make time to visit the Mies van der Rohe cube at the bottom of Montjuic. It won't take long; it's small but perfectly formed. The national museum on Montjuic has a fantastic collection of Romanesque murals from rural Catalan churches. Yes to the Palau de la Musica; go to a concert if you can.

Have you seen the recent Guardian article on market restaurants? Beats the over-touristed Boqueria and Cal Peps! We had lunch at the bustling Santa Caterina market and enjoyed it. Sit at the bar and watch the amazing coordination of the many chefs. Don't eat anywhere on the Ramblas.


100+ Posts
My favorite restaurant in Barcelona is Mont Bar. I try to go every time I am in Barcelona. They are open sundays, that could be a fab post marathon lunch.

I agree to be careful at Cal Pep. you might check out El Nacional for a drink, it's a big food hall and kind of pricey but the design is stunning.

If there are Castellers (human towers) on Saturday you should try to check that out. Later today I will look at the schedule and see if there will be any exhibitions.
Jonathan, We are just wrapping us six weeks in Barcelona.
My favorite Gaudi building is Casa Batllo. I love art, so we have spent time at MACBA, MNAC, and Miro, among others.
I agree with Shannon about Mont Bar. Very creative food.
For tapas you could perhaps try Paco Meralgo, near the Hospital Clinic stop in the Eixample. Either reserve or go when they open the doors and get a seat at the bar. Open seven days, both lunch and dinner hours.
We have had many goods meals here, some of our favorites include Santa Gula (Gracia), Rebelot (a funky place in Barceloneta near the market that has very good food and a nice vibe), Teoric (creative tapas in the Eixample on Bailen). We have also enjoyed La Singular and Goliard in Gracia. Embat and Semproniana the Eixample is also good. I find the Spotted by Locals app for the phone to be helpful. For gelato, we like Cremeria Toscana (across from Paco Meralgo) and Gocce di latte (Born). If you have a chance, get calcots, which are like large green onions. They are in season and you will be lucky if you find them grilled and on the menu.
Lots of wonderful info - thanks, all! (And, on a different tack, isn't it lovely to see Pauline's Slow Europe taking off like this?!)

Thanks for the push, Chris & Veronica: I've booked, and printed off the tickets, for a concert at the Palau de Música, Sun eve (Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar orch playing Beethoven 3 & 4: part of a complete cycle. The language nerd in me now rejoices from having printed out, from the on-site programme, a Catalan translation of Schiller's Ode to Joy!)

Shannon, Mont Bar is definitely on the list! And Nick & Philly (who visited Barcelona on their honeymoon last year) also recommended Naçional, so we'll go for that, too. And probably give Cal Pep a miss...

Veronica, thanks for the reminder about that Guardian link - I was rather in the middle of TMA-marking when it first came out! And yes, Santa Caterina is nicely close to our El Born apartment. Which isn't Nancy's one, I don't think: it's from another review on ST: https://www.insidebarcelona.com/apartments/building/_esparteria/1-bedroom/4

Jan, thanks for all those suggestions. With 5 days, rather than 6 weeks, we might just be scratching the surface... But I certainly intend this to be our first, rather than our last, visit.
Yes, Shannon, that's around the time Philippa's likely to be finishing, so I'll have to give it a miss! But we'll keep our eyes open. And thanks, Judy - that Catalan History museum looks great (as does Black Lab Brewhouse just next door!): that and MNAC look like must-sees.
Wel, it's the end of our second full day in Barcelona, so I thought I'd check in here! Barcelta Pulperia was last night's meal (after a vermouth and plate of Manchego at Bormuth), a nice, buzzy tapas bar, with no pretentious. Which couldn't be said of Cal Pep - at least that was the impression we got, passing it a couple of times. Is it in Rick Steves or Fodor? At a quick, prejudiced glance, it did seem rather full of tourists...

Similarly unpretentious, and full of locals, was tonight's Jai-Ca, in Barceloneta, recommended in spottedbylocals, where we got to eat some lovely tempura de calçots (and several other tapas); this was after some really excellent American-style IPA at Black Lab Brewhouse. And yes, the café on the roof of the Museum of Catalan History (really excellent museum) has great views!

We're really enjoying being based in El Born. Less busily touristed than Gotic, and less traffic than Eixample (we've walked several times through all these areas now): definitely the right choice for our tastes.

And the sun is shining all through the day; evenings are quite cool. It should be a bit cooler in the day by Sunday: no bad thing for Philippa's race.


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