Barcelona: Where to Stay, Eat and Play

Our guide to Barcelona will have you eating, sight-seeing and sleeping in luxury in the Spanish beach city.

Granvia-Barcelona

STAY: Hotel Granvia

Perfectly situated in the heart of Barcelona, this chic boutique hotel is steps away from the city’s main thoroughfares, Passeig de Gràcia, La Rambla, Plaça Catalunya and Via Laietana. The Hotel Granvia is peaceful, quiet, and incredibly well maintained (the rooms and common areas look like they were plucked straight from a Restoration Hardware catalogue). An added bonus? The rooms come with one of our favourite amenities — free Wi-Fi. Take a mid-day break by lounging in the library, sinking into oversized plush leather couches, flipping through the coffee table books on art and fashion while sipping on a coffee. The showstopper is the outdoor terrace on the second floor with water features, large cabana-style seating areas and day beds for catching rays (also another great way to unwind post Gaudi-spotting). But also make sure to mosey back come nightfall. The terrace is lit up with oversized lanterns, making it the perfect setting to enjoy some quiet time and a cocktail or two on a warm evening.

Where to Find:
Hotel Granvia
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 642, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 318 19 00, hotelgranvia.com

CrepsAlBorn-Barcelona

EAT: Creps al Born
If an amazing little hole in the wall is your thing, then a visit to Creps al Born in the district of El Born is a must. The district comes with all the beauty and charm of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, but far enough from the beaten path making it a little quieter. Right on the Passeig del Born, Creps al Born is a small, buzzy bar/resto that is packed to the brim at night with a young crowd sampling drinks and nibbling on great food. You don’t get a run-of-the-mill drink at Creps — each is artfully made by the bartenders, who put their own spin on classics. And, of course, when you’re at a hotspot with “crepes” in the name, you have to bet that the menu is filled with delicious combinations wrapped in the savoury or sweet pancake. Hint: Try the goat cheese, Emmental, spinach, tomato and egg crepe. You won’t be disappointed.

Where to Find:
Creps al Born
Passeig del Born 12, 08003, Barcelona, Spain
+34 932 69 03 25, facebook.com/CrepsalBorn

LaLola

EAT: laLola
Located in Las Arenas, a former bullring in Plaça Espanya, laLola is great spot for authentic, local food, good Spanish wine and a beautiful rooftop view of the MNAC Museum, all at a reasonable price. But this is not just another tapas restaurant. You can veer off the main menu and up your portion sizes (because some things, like their paella, definitely call for seconds). Sit yourself on the terrace to dig in and get the stunning views — then swing by the pantry area to pick up a few of the restaurant’s own products to go.

Where to Find:
laLola
Centro Comercial Arenas de Barcelona, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 373-385
+34 934 255 714, laloladelasarenas.com

ParcGuell-Barcelona

PLAY: Parc Güell
For a first-time visit to Barcelona, a trip to Gaudi’s Parc Güell needs to be on your must-see checklist. In fact, you should cross all of the Antoni Gaudí attractions (Barcelona’s and arguably, Spain’s most famous architect who has given the city its distinct, Gothic feel) off your list, and the best way to see them all is to pick up a day pass for the hop-on/hop-off Barcelona Bus Turistic. The bus has a blue route and a red route and is a great way to see the city in one shot. Test out both routes and hop off at Parc Güell on the blue route. For 8 euros you can purchase a ticket to enter the park and wander around, taking in the beautiful work of Gaudi. Have a Vicky Cristina Barcelona moment and walk down the front steps as you exit the park.

Where to Find:
Parc Güell
Carrer d’Olot, s/n, 08024 Barcelona, Spain
+34 902 20 03 02, parkguell.cat

Dali_Cadaques

PLAY: Surreal Cadaqués & All Things Dalí Day Trip
If you are an art lover, in particular a fan of Spanish surrealist master Salvador Dalí then this day trip into the life of Dalí could be your Spanish highlight. Even if you aren’t a die-hard fan, the opportunity to venture outside Barcelona and visit the Costa Brava coastline (sixteen miles from the French border) is a great excursion. Organized through Spanish Trails, this day trip begins at 8am departing downtown Barcelona in a small group with a Dalí-loving guide. The first stop on the tour is the beachfront village of Cadaqués where Dalí spent much of his childhood. You will walk around, grab a coffee, take some photos and then make your way to Port Lligat to visit the Dalí House Museum, a guided tour through Dalí’s home, which remains in its original decoration from when he and his wife Gala resided there. After the house tour, you will venture back into Cadaqués and enjoy a deliciously fresh three-course meal at the charming Casa Nun, run by owners Paco and Susanne, who just so happen to have been close friends with Dalí. Don’t pass on the homemade lemon cream dessert (it’s to die for). From there you will head to Figueres, Dalí’s birthplace and the site of his Teatro Museo Dalí Museum, where you will have two hours to wander around the museum and gift shops before meeting up with your guide to head back to Barcelona listening to some of Dalí’s favourite opera music.

Where to Find:
Spanish Trails
C/Ronda Sant Pere 23, Principal 3 / Plaza Urquinaona, 08010 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 500 1616, spanish-trails.com

Packing-List

What To Pack

1. Crumpled City Map of Barcelona by Palomar. Sure you will find plenty of maps at your disposal throughout the city, but they rip and tear and fold awkwardly into your bag or purse. This one however you can crumple it up and stick it in your back pocket without a worry, plus its fun to collect one from all the major cities. $24, amazon.ca

2. Chimes Ginger Chews. Airplane turbulence or winding European streets can sometimes take their toll on stomachs, so having something gingery on hand is always helpful. $4, Whole Foods Market

3. F. Miller Skincare Face Oil. An amazingly pure face oil made with a concentrated blend of 15 botanical oils and herbal extracts. It smells great and packs really well. It can double as a night time cuticle treatment with a tiny drop rubbed into each nail. $74, thecureapothecary.com

4. Nike Free Flyknit Shoes. These are the ultimate travel shoes! Blending a sock-like fit with the foot-strengthening benefits of barefoot running. You may look at these and think you’ll have blisters in no time, but they are incredibly comfortable. From $80, amazon.com

5. BABY-G by G-Shock Watch. Everyone needs a reliable watch when they travel, especially when navigating time zones. This durable BABY-G watch is both digital and analog, making it great for keeping tabs on what time it is back home. From US$99, baby-g.com

6. Ray-Ban Original Aviator. Sun protection is a must when travelling and that includes your eyes. These you can wear all day comfortably without pinching your ears or the bridge of your nose. From $199.95, sunglasshut.com