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Park Güell
Photograph: Maria Dias

Your essential guide to where to stay in Barcelona

Don’t know where to stay in Barcelona? This is our guide to the coolest areas in the Catalan capital right now

By Hannah Pennell and Jan Fleischer
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Wondering where to stay in Barcelona? We know one of the first things to consider when planning a trip is location – first which city you’ll go to, and then which neighbourhood. In Barcelona you might have certain important criteria. Will you be able to find tasty tapas nearby? Are the best bars within walking distance? Are there galleries, museums and attractions aplenty to satisfy everyone from kids to grown-ups? Barcelona has both a bustling city centre and an array of more residential neighbourhoods where you’ll still find plenty of things to do but with that little bit more space to relax. Whatever your geographic preferences, you’re guaranteed a fab time with our pick of the best places to stay in Barcelona.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best hotels in Barcelona

Where to stay in Barcelona

Santa Maria del Mar
Santa Maria del Mar
Photo: Elan Fleisher / Time Out

The Born

What most locals and visitors to Barcelona call the Born is really a neighbourhood with the long-winded name of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera. It's also sometimes referred to as La Ribera (the Waterfront), a name that recalls the time before permanent quays were built, when the shoreline reached much further inland and the area was contained within the 13th-century wall. The most uptown area of downtown, the Born is a curious blend of the ecclesiastical, the elegant and the edgy, and now commands some of the highest property prices in the city. Label-happy coolhunters throng the primped pedestrian streets, where museums, restored 13th-century mansions and churches alternate with cafés, galleries and boutiques. It's also home to the spectacularly reinvented Santa Caterina market, a great alternative to the oft-overcrowded Boqueria on La Rambla.

EAT

Agut

Not only is Agut our favourite restaurant in the Born, but it tops our list of best restaurants in Barcelona as well. If you’re looking for real Catalan cuisine in authentic surroundings, look no further. Agut has been serving up just that for over a century. You won’t have to worry about sitting at a long wooden table with a bunch of strangers; instead you’re escorted to a civilised, tableclothed dining area and shown a menu that makes quality its top priority. The daring will want to try hearty traditional dishes such as the tripe stew with lamb ‘capipota’, sautéed frog’s legs or boneless pigs’ trotters stuffed with two types of Catalan ‘botifarra’ sausage and served with truffle sauce. They do excel at their fish dishes as well, if you’d rather, with cod, hake, monkfish, squid and octopus on the menu. Don’t miss the home-made desserts, imaginative wine list, and a glance around at the artworks by great Catalan painters of the 20th century.

DRINK

Paradiso/Pastrami Bar

Head into Pastrami Bar if you're in the mood for a mean pastrami, the likes of which you won't find anywhere else in Barcelona. But if what you're really after is one of the finest cocktails in town, open the 'secret' wooden fridge door (which takes up half a wall and gives itself away a bit thanks to its hinges) and be transported into the speakeasy that is Paradiso. In this elegant cave lined with wooden slats you'll find outrageous items like a re-distilled whiskey, where they separate the old part of the whiskey that has a woody taste and use it to make a tea sorbet. You drink it, and as it melts with the alcohol, the whiskey ages! Each of their imaginative and potent house creations is served in its own signature drinking vessel, which are so fun you'll want to try one of each. Plus, most cost a lot less than at a highbrow cocktail bar.

DO

Picasso Museum

Barcelona’s collection of the works of its favourite adopted son mostly features pieces from Pablo Picasso’s formative years, including sketches he did while in art school. It’s fascinating to see these early examples, and to witness, as you move along through the permanent exhibition, the artist’s growth and evolution, from surprisingly advanced portraits done as a child to time spent with Catalonia’s avant-garde at the end of the 19th century to his innovative Blue Period. Mind that you won’t be able to see certain masterpieces (‘Guernica’ is in Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum, ‘Les Demoiselles d'Avignon’ lives in New York’s MoMA) or much collage and sculpture since the museum was founded by donations from Picasso’s friend Jaume Sabartés’s own collection. You will, however, get to lay eyes on the amazing and complete series of 58 canvases based on Velázquez’s ‘Las Meninas’, which Picasso donated himself after Sabartés died. Finish your visit marvelling at the collection of ceramics donated by Picasso’s widow, along with linocuts and engravings. Do yourself a favour and get your tickets online to avoid often painfully long queues.

STAY

Hotel Colonial Barcelona

This four-star hotel stands on the border of the Born and the Barri Gòtic, so you've got the entire centre of Barcelona at your feet. The 81 soundproof rooms feature gorgeous wood floors, cosy furniture and plenty of natural light. The Colonial is pet-friendly, and close enough to local city beaches and the Ciutadella park to take your pup for a good walk. Since you're at the lower end of the busy Via Laietana, you'll never be at a loss for modes of transport, as you're near two metro stops, taxis speed along at all hours of the day and night, and the location is so central that you can walk to many of Barcelona's top sights and attractions. The hotel also offers tourist services, including information and ticket sales.

If you do just one thing…

If you're starting to feel the need for a nature break in Barcelona, get yourself immediately to the Ciutadella park. Over 17 hectares of green space, museums, the Barcelona Zoo, a lake with rowboats for rent, and a rather majestic waterfall designed by Josep Fontseré and his apprentice, a young Antoni Gaudí. Climb the steps on either side of the fall for a bird's-eye view of the park.

The Gothic Quarter

Combined with a wander down La Rambla, a stroll through the medieval alleyways and lovely squares of the Gothic Quarter is the best possible introduction to Barcelona and the starting point for most visitors upon arrival in Barcelona. For a taste of the town's more grandiose architecture, Plaça Sant Jaume is flanked by two government buildings, the Renaissance palace of the Generalitat and neo-classical façade of the Ajuntament. And just around the corner you have the Gothic architecture of the Placa del Rei, the Cathedral, and the magnificent Placa Reial. The Barri Gòtic is busy by day with local business and shops buzzing, and at night it’s slightly quieter than its sister neighbourhood across Via Laietana, the Born, but there are still plenty of lively restaurants, cafés and bars keeping visitors in the area more than happy.

EAT

Informal

The name doesn’t mean show up in your tracksuit to sit in plastic chairs and fight over cheap chips; rather, it hints at the idea of an informal way of dining – sharing small dishes and tapas that in this case have plenty of substance and are meant to be savoured. Chef Marc Gascons and his team put local and seasonal raw ingredients in the spotlight here, where you’ll find fantastic anchovies from L’Escala to nibble, or gorgeous Palamós prawns served charcoal-grilled as a main. And talking about that grill, Gascons just happens to be an expert at cooking with Basque, Argentine and Japanese grills, so you’ll be wowed with anything on the menu with the word ‘grilled’ in it, and that includes fish, veal, rib eye, and Chateaubriand. If you stop by Informal in autum, don’t pass up any offer of seasonal wild mushrooms.

DRINK

Bar del Sidecar

Sidecar Factory Club one of Barcelona’s best clubs, and the red room that is the bar above the club has its own identity. It’s not just one of our favourites because it’s in the same square as the Time Out offices, either. It’s been close to our hearts since before we moved in. While the club hosts regular concerts and special events, the bar also welcomes its own share of gigs, exhibitions and DJ sessions with music that spans nearly all genres, including indie, pop, punk reggae, noise, vintage rock, breakbeat, disco-funk, plus special vinyl sessions. And all the while they serve up cold beers and mix up good cocktails at prices that are hard to beat for the location.

DO

Barcelona Cathedral

What luck that this Gothic cathedral happens to be right in the Gothic Quarter! Don’t dismiss Barcelona’s Cathedral just because it’s not the Sagrada Família or because you think if you’ve seen one European cathedral, you’ve seen them all. The foundations were first laid here in the 11th century, and it took so long to build that you’ll also see a façade from the 15th century, and reconstructed bits from the 2000s – but bear in mind that these made use of the same Montserrat stone as the original. Once you’ve fully explored the cavernous interior, including the carved central choir from the 1930s, don’t miss the crypt and the cloister, where you’ll see, respectively, the remains of the 13-year-old martyr Eulàlia, to whom the cathedral is dedicated, and 13 geese who look happy enough, one for each year of Eulàlia's short life. It’s also worth paying the small fee to take the lift to the roof for lovely views over the Old City.

STAY

Petit Palace Boqueria Garden

As you may have deduced from the name of the hotel, here you're staying in a small palace very near the famous Boqueria market on La Rambla, and it boasts not just any garden, but one that's a century old and surrounds an outdoor patio where you can have your breakfast or just relax for a while. Located on a quiet street just off La Rambla, you're close to the metro, the Liceu opera house, Plaça Reial, and loads of bars and restaurants. The rooms are spacious and minimalist, with white as a primary colour, and splashes of bold colours here and there. Whether you're on your own, with your partner, friends or family, the rooms accommodate all sizes of groups, and even some pets. If you've got kids, they'll love the bunk beds in the family-size rooms. Contrasting yet complementing the modern look of the rooms are the stone walls, arches and staircase throughout the hotel. You can also rent bikes from the Petit Palace upon availability.

If you do just one thing…

Wander around El Call. Just a minute or two walking from the Cathedral and you’re in the Jewish Quarter. Much less obvious than the Cathedral, the tucked-away Synagogue is a good place to start; branch out from there, noticing the shops that specialise in Jewish religious objects.

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The Raval

The Raval is Barcelona's most multicultural neighbourhood. You can see it as soon as you get there, with Indian- and Pakistani-run markets living alongside shops that have been around since the Roman Empire, and restaurants, bars and other venues that are much more modern and doing a hopping business. Once a no-go area for tourists, the Raval has been and is still being transformed. Some of its gems have been around for years – Gaudí's medievalist Palau Güell was an early attempt at gentrification. But others are newer: the revival began in 1995 with Richard Meier's monumental MACBA, housing the city's main collection of modern art as well as serving as a mecca for skateboarders from around the world, and carried on in 2008 with the futuristic Barceló hotel on the Rambla del Raval. From the hotel, by the way, you have easy access to other nearby neighbourhoods, such as Sant Antoni and the Gothic Quarter, and it's a nice walk to the city beaches.

EAT

Suculent

There's quite the variety (in flavour, price and quality) of food on offer along the Rambla del Raval, so it's good to know that this eatery under the cover of a modest tapas bar is noteworthy. It's inside an old Raval bodega, and still has practically the same look and feel about it, maintaining its olden-days charm. You'll enjoy traditional Catalan and Spanish dishes, prepared with new techniques that bring them up to date. Though the menu changes with the seasons, some of the temptations you might find include Iberian pork ribs, rice with duck and eel, grilled octopus with chickpeas, and oxtail croquettes with horn of plenty mushrooms.

DRINK

Club Caribbean

Among the ultra-modern contrivances you're likely to find around town, it's comforting to head in to this bar with a classic look and feel, and a touch of old-timey glamour. This creation by Juanjo González, who happens to be one of Barcelona's most charismatic bartenders, is where you can get classic cocktails with an updated twist, like the 'Luxury version penicillin' that'll cure what ails you with its tasty recipe of Scotch blend whisky, ginger, mead, slightly smoked Islay whiskey and citrus.

DO

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Being in the Raval and not going to the Liceu is like being in Rome and not stopping by Trevi Fountain. Though you can do a tour of the Liceu, the best way to see and experience the popular opera house is to see a show there, whether it's opera, ballet, a concert or a theatre play. The elegant 2,292-seat red plush auditorium with gold leaf and ornate carvings includes seat-back subtitles in various languages, so you won't miss a thing. Don't let the elitist look scare you off, as this is a venue that welcomes all.

STAY

Barceló Raval

Strolling along the Rambla del Raval, you'll see this hotel right away, and it might even remind you a bit of the Torre Glòries. On the rooftop terrace you can grab a snack and a drink while taking in 360-degree panoramic views of the city – a great way to watch the sun set. Dotted around the terrace are binoculars you can use to pick out Barcelona landmarks: the Mediterranean on one side with the Mapfre Towers; a bit more to the right, the Torre Glòries, lit up in colours; then there's the Sagrada Família; and beyond, the imposing Torre de Calatrava, aka the Montjuïc Communications Tower.

If you do just one thing…

Wander along from one end to the other of C/Joaquín Costa and discover all this busy street has to offer, from a scrumptious cocktail in Negroni to a special gift in Fusta'm or Fantastik to a one-of-a-kind perfume in Les Topettes.

Plaça de la Virreina
Plaça de la Virreina
Photo: Maria Dias

Gràcia

Beyond the Eixample lies the low-rise barrio of Gràcia. Like workaday Sants and well-heeled Sarrià, it was an independent town that was swallowed up as the city spread, but it retains its own identity and is one of the most popular and vibrant districts in the city. You can't think of Gràcia without thinking of its 'Festa Major', a district-wide weeklong street fair and party that takes over the area every August, complete with neighbourhood decorating competitions that are taken very seriously, and activities all day and into the wee hours. Architecturally, Gràcia can hold its own with the likes of the clock tower in Plaça de la Vila, the modernist Casa Fuster, Gaudí's Casa Vicens and, stretching the boundaries a bit, Park Güell.

EAT

L’Eggs

Stop thinking about those American pantyhose that come in a plastic egg. This is the name of a restaurant, backed by chef Paco Pérez, that offers quality dishes where the egg reigns. With the 2019 relaunch of L'Eggs, Pérez and his team went in search of combinations that are coherent and versatile. Try the duck’s egg, corn, and ‘huitlacoche’. There are also meat and fish dishes, and whatever you do, don't miss the amazing ‘truita mandrosa’ (‘lazy omelette’) with two types of ‘botifarra’ sausage cooked in and served atop a base of slow-cooked veal, the sweetness contrasted with a very spicy piparra pepper.

DRINK

La Vermuteria de Tano

At Tano's you won't find fancy decor, a different glass for every drink or unrecognizable snacks. You will find a bar that's been around for more than half a century, some truly excellent varieties of vermouth, and Tano himself, always with a smile on his face, serving up locals from the neighbourhood. If you're not feeling in the vermouth mood, you can order something else to drink, but don't forget the 'conservas' – tins of tasty seafood and veg, among them anchovies, cockles, mussels, cuttlefish and artichokes.

DO

Park Güell

Whichever entrance you use to cross into the magical world of Gaudí's Park Güell will welcome you with surprises. There are the two gatehouses at the main entrance, known as 'Hänsel and Gretel' that lead you to a spectacular staircase and past the iconic mosaic dragon sculpture to a space featuring 86 pillars holding up a roof you'll happily undo your chiropractor's work gazing at. Up above that is the esplanade with the serpentine benches decorated with broken tiles. These features all constitute the Monumental Zone that you pay a fee to enter. But the park itself is magical as well, with twisted stone columns supporting curving colonnades or merging with the natural structure of the hillside.

STAY

Hotel Casa Fuster G.L. Monumento

This five-star Grand Luxury hotel is a monument in itself, housed in an iconic modernista building that was built in 1908 by Catalan architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner. His work, including the hotel, is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so even if you decide your pockets aren’t deep enough to stay here, you’ll definitely want to go by and have a peek, and even enjoy a cocktail from a velvety sofa in the Café Vienés. With Passeig de Gràcia right outside the door, you’ve got all the top shops as well as high street stores within walking distance, as well as modernista buildings by Gaudí. Don’t miss a visit to the hotel's rooftop terrace, try a meal in the Galaxó restaurant or catch live music every week in the Jazz Club.

If you do just one thing…

Take a break on a bar or restaurant terrace in one of Gràcia’s many spacious, tree-lined squares: Plaça del Sol, Plaça de la Virreina, Plaça de la Vila...

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Sagrada Familia Passion Tower
Sagrada Familia Passion Tower
Photo: Connie Ma

Sagrada Família

As you may have already guessed, Sagrada Família is named after Gaudí's most well-known structure. The magnificent Roman Catholic basilica sits to the west of the neighbourhood and is flanked by the beautifully landscaped Plaça de Gaudí, which makes for a pleasant spot to sit. Given the church's notoriety (it's the most-visited attraction in Catalonia and Spain), it's often very busy around here, but there's plenty more to explore in the area, which forms part of the wider Eixample district. It's easy to navigate, too, as the streets are laid out in a grid. Immediately around the basilica you'll find a lot of chain restaurants, but cheaper, traditional cuisine can be had as you venture further out. There are also plenty of bars, shops and other things to do, a lot of which can be found along Avinguda de Gaudí. Also worth checking out is the modernist architecture of Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site.

EAT

Bardeni

Dani Lechuga’s Bardeni is a bar dedicated to meat. The menu is set up so that you share all the dishes, though by no means are you obliged to. You might want that melt-in-your-mouth ravioli stuffed with apple, foie and black ‘botifarra’ sausage all to yourself. At Bardeni it’s all about freshness and the best kind of vice, along with plenty of technique and talent. There's an incredible picanha (you might know it as rump cap) with foie, and a touch of chili that doesn’t overpower the veal; and we can highly recommend the amazingly juicy oxtail cannelloni, the pasta also cooked to perfection.

DRINK

Aigua del Carmen

Aigua del Carmen is an old school remedy that Catalans once used to ail aches, pains and, erm, boils. Comprising lemon, rosemary, mint, clove and cinnamon, this concoction now inspires the name of a trendy cocktail bar just west of Sagrada Família. The staff have even rustled up their own version of the old medicine, with a twist: lemon juice, sugar, apple liqueur, gin and a few drops of blue curacao. Gin is a favourite at this bar, with a large selection to choose from, if that's your thing. But they also make all the classic cocktails, with a few other innovative inventions on the menu.

DO

Sagrada Família

As we mentioned before, the Basílica de la Sagrada Família is easily Antoni Gaudí's most famous work, with an estimated five million people visiting it every year. This was Gaudí's final labour of love, having spent 40 years of his life working on it (right up until his death in 1926), and he is in fact buried beneath the building. It's a large and winding church that you probably won't be able to explore in its entirety in one trip. We'd recommend beelining for the basement, where you'll see models, plans, drawings and the workshop where sculptors continue crafting on casts. Take the time to climb one of the towers, which are narrow – and terrifyingly high at points – and provide spectacular views of Barcelona. They also offer the opportunity to get up close to the intricate stonework. And don't forget to look up! Gaudí was a sucker for detail and you'll find intricate wonders in every inch of the church, especially in the ceiling on the nave, where you first enter.

STAY

Ayre Hotel Rosellón

This four-star design hotel on Rosselló faces the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, so if you stay here you can get good ganders at it away from the throng of tourists. Ayre Hotel is contemporary, with cityscapes on the walls of the bedrooms and geometric patterns in the public areas, plus lots of clean lines and glass. Sagrada Família metro station is a few minutes' walk away, plus you can walk to the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site and the neighbourhood of Gràcia. If it's fun in the sun you're after, and you prefer to stroll through the city, it's a straight shot down C/Marina to the Barcelona city beaches and Port Olímpic.

If you do just one thing…

Stop by the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, a former hospital (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) made up of 20 pavilions, abundantly adorned with the colourful Byzantine, Gothic and Moorish flourishes and set in peaceful gardens. Plus, from here you can get another fab view of the Sagrada Família.

Mercat de Sant Antoni
Mercat de Sant Antoni
Photo: Maria Dias

Eixample Esquerre & Sant Antoni

The city plan that Ildefons Cerdà came up with ended up with the Eixample being so expanisve that it was divided into two, the Dreta (Right) and the Esquerra (Left), with the latter being segmented yet again into the Nova (New) and the Antiga (Old), though they all work together as one district. The Esquerra is not as bustling as the Dreta – with its modernista buildings – but it's no less interesting: the Esquerra is where you'll find the Joan Miró park, the Novecentista Mercat del Ninot, the University of Barcelona gardens (host to concerts and markets throughout the year), and the prison La Modelo, which stopped serving as a penitentiary and opened its doors to free tours in 2017 until the city starts the works to make it into a blooming green space. We also focus on the Eixample Esquerra neighbourhood of Sant Antoni here, which has become a thriving and hip area with a bar or restaurant every few feet.

EAT

Sant Antoni Gloriós

The neighbourhood needed a place like Sant Antoni Gloriós, where you can eat well and not have to pay a small fortune. When he closed his beloved gastrobar, Bohèmic in 2015, Fran G. Manduley had time to come up with something to fit the bill. He came back with this updated gourmet bar, which he refers to as a modern-day bodega. Choose your reasonably priced wine or excellently poured draught beer, and settle in for some tinned delights typical of bodegas, as well as some hot options. The menu isn't long, but everything is so well done, you'll be happy with the selection, like the Russian salad, the meatballs made with Iberian pork, and the cod fritters.

DRINK

Bar Calders

Here you'll find one of the most popular terraces in Sant Antoni, and if you can find a spot to sit for a while, you'll understand why. It's tucked away in a little square that the bar livens up any day of the year; the owners and wait staff are lovely; and their menu, while not extensive, is full of tapas and small dishes that are perfect for sharing. If you're there for the midday vermouth hour, hang around for lunch, then have a drink before dinner, which you also eat there, and finish the night with a cocktail, so you never have to leave your new favourite bar.

DO

Mercat de Sant Antoni

It took nearly ten years, but the renovations were finally completed on the Sant Antoni market in 2018, and vendors and shoppers happily returned to business as usual inside the impressive representation of iron architecture by Rovira i Trias. Under the landmark octagonal dome are 52 busy stalls selling fresh produce to locals and visitors. If you go on a Sunday, you get the bonus of coming across the weekly second-hand book fair held outside the market so you can go home with a rare volume or unique object.

STAY

TOC Hostel Barcelona

Free your mind of the prejudice against hostels as run-down accommodations for backpacking dreadlocked university dropouts. Many hostels have been given an upgrade, like the TOC Hostel, which you'll find right in the centre of Barcelona, with two types of offerings. First there's the hostel, with rooms shared between up to eight guests in bunk beds with a Nordic design, bathroom, and storage space, or rooms for four, which are the preferred choice for smaller groups or families. The other option is their hotel, with private two-person rooms.

If you do just one thing…

In Sant Antoni there's a bodega where locals come together, whether they're achingly modern hipsters or groups of grandads who have lived in the area for 50 years. They share marble tables and drink beers at the bar, surrounded by barrels of wine, and all under the affable watch of the owner, Rafel, who looks after all his customers with extreme dedication. Try the enormous omelettes, ham that Rafael cuts himself, the variety of croquettes, and the cold cuts from his home town.

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Dreta de l'Eixample

Though they're part of the same district, the two Eixamples, Dreta (Right) and Esquerra (Left), don't have that much in common, whether you're talking about the amount of cultural venues, things to do, or income level of their residents (hint: the Dreta is sometimes referred to as the 'Quadrat d'or', or 'Golden Grid'). The Eixample Dreta is so called not only because it's located in the eastern part of Cerdà's grid but because it was on that side of the railroad that once ran down from Sarrià to Barcelona along C/Balmes. Nowadays this is where you'll find great shopping along Passeig de Gràcia, bars lining the walking-friendly Passeig de Sant Joan, and the central Plaça de Catalunya as well as quite a few of the buildings that make up the city's Ruta del Modernisme.

EAT

Manairó

Manairó is not just a great place to eat well and experience high-quality gastronomy – this is a place where magic is made. Part-chef part-inventor eccentric Jordi Herrera is in charge of the creative cuisine here, and he also invents special equipment to get the best out of the incredible recipes on his menu and his 14-dish tasting menu. There's his grill with spikes to cook the food on the inside, and a device which uses centrifugal force to reduce the loss of moisture in cooking. This is science in the service of art.

DRINK

Libertine

Get to the cocktail bar in the Casay Bonay hotel for a cocktail done right. They use high-precision, inspired recipes, and serve up the results in suitable glasses, with nothing extra hanging around you need to fish out in order to enjoy it. A couple of our favourites are the sherry- and vermouth-based Bottled Aged Bamboo, and the Pub Chem made with Spanish brandy. If you like your drinks served with a good helping of vinyl tracks, stop by on a Thursday for Friday night starting at 9pm.

DO

Illa de la Discòrdia

If you choose to stay in the Eixample Dreta, you’ll be neighbours with some of the great buildings in Barcelona that have contributed to the reputation the city enjoys today. In addition to Casa Milà (La Pedrera), we recommend you visit the five buildings on Passeig de Gràcia that make up what’s known as the Illa de la Discòrdia, and which shows the rivalry that existed among the architects: Casa Lleó Morera, a work by Domènech i Montaner; Casa Mulleras by Enric Sagnier; Casa Bonet from Marcel·lià Coquillat; Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller; and Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.

STAY

Hotel Jazz

The Jazz is a good home base for getting to know Barcelona, as it’s very central, right near Plaça de Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia, La Ramba and Portal de l’Àngel, a great street for shopping. On the rooftop you can enjoy a swimming pool and a terrace with city views that at night becomes a lounge-bar with a chill-out feel. The stylish and modern rooms have all the mod-cons and amenities you could ask for. Enquire about exterior rooms so you can bathe in natural light every day.

If you do just one thing…

Some say that a good way to immerse yourself in a city is to visit a market, blend in with locals, and buy what they do. A good place to do that is at the Mercat de la Concepció, located in a beautiful church-like iron building with three naves that's also home to the Flores Navarro market, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Palo Alto
Palo Alto

Poblenou

This is another of Barcelona's neighbourhoods that has made a name for itself in recent years as a place to live and work, what with all the musicians, painters, dancers, publishers and other creators who have chosen Poblenou to set up shop. Historically it's been a place for factories – at the end of the 19th century it was the most industrial area in all of Catalonia – which you can see in its architecture, such as at Palo Alto, for example, an old factory that was converted into a workspace for creative studios as well as the location for the eponymous monthly design and craft market that's one of the most popular in the city. Within the Sant Martí district, which Poblenou is a part of, you'll also find the 22@ tech neighbourhood. The Rambla del Poblenou is the area's backbone, full of life and traditional shops, restaurants and bars. Another plus Poblenou has got going for it is its proximity to the sea and some of the city's best beaches.

EAT

Els Pescadors

In the Poblenou landmark square Plaça Prim, where the old houses of fishermen still stand from when this was a fishing neighbourhood, you'll find Els Pescadors (even the name means 'The Fishermen'). What's on the menu is a mix of traditional Catalan, seafood, and market cuisine – all tied up with a dose of modernity. If you're not sure where to start, just jump in: any of their rice dishes – with Iberian pork, with lobster, with salted cod... – will make you want to come back and try another. But you also won't be able to get enough of the cod or anemone fritters, the 'suquet' fish soup, or the kid with honey and basil.

DRINK

Balius

It's worth getting to know Balius, a cocktail bar that specialises in top vermouth and cocktails made with it, and when you're feeling peckish you can order from a repertoire of cured foods, tapas and small dishes that have their origins mainly in Aragon and Castilla. For example, the 'lomo de orza' is finely cut pork loin marinated with spices, and the 'atascaburras' is a salted cod dish that has the fame of being mentioned in 'Don Quijote'. During its operating hours, the kitchen is open non-stop, and they use quality local products that are organic whenever possible.

DO

Parc Central del Poblenou

This park boasts more than five hectares of green, thematic areas and a cutting-edge design by French architect Jean Nouvel. It was designed with environmental criteria to store and treat water, ensuring irrigation at all points of the park through a groundwater drip. Poblenou's Central Park is an ideal spot for walks, bike rides, relaxing, playing with kids, and taking in the greenery, especially the species indigenous to the Mediterranean.

STAY

Hotel SB Icaria

Just 300 m from the Nova Icària beach and a 10-minute walk from the Parc de la Ciutadella, this hotel enjoys an enviable location in Poblenou. In addition to an outdoor swimming pool with a sun terrace and sauna, its rooms are comfortable and elegant, and well-equipped with amenities. When you're visiting a city, especially for the first time, ideally you'll want to get to know it through its restaurants and bars, but if you feel like staying in, the SB Icaria's restaurant offers Mediterranean market cuisine that will send you to bed with sweet dreams.

If you do just one thing…

Take a walk along the Rambla del Poblenou along with the locals, and stop at Tío Che to try one of the best horchatas in Barcelona in warmer weather, or if it's chilly out, snack on comfort food like churros with chocolate or artisan 'turrons'.

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