As the cold weather is coming to Sweden, I get restless. Too much work, too much exhaustion – a nice trip to the sun was in order! I decided to go to Barcelona. Booked a flight, booked a week with my friend Maddy and landed on a lovely sunny day in this beautiful, colourful city! So what are the top 10 things to do in Barcelona? Here they are, according to me:
- Stay at an AirBnB with a local
I stayed with a Moroccan lady and her chihuahua dog in El Poble-Sec, in a very basic apartment on the top floor of a bit of a run down building. And I loved it! I had my breakfast of sandwich with manchego cheese and llomo iberico on the balcony in the mornings or beer at sunset in the evenings. I was sitting there surrounded by hanging laundry, the occasional buzz of conversations in Spanish/ Catalan, and wafting smell of pot. Like a one big family on the rooftops of Barcelona!
- Go see the Juan Miró Foundation
It is not only the Juan Miró foundation in itself that is great, it is the journey there as well! I climbed the stairs to Montjuïc and the Museum of National Art, strolled around the rose gardens and Teatro Grec, enjoyed the view over the city with swaying palm trees and blue skies. Yes, and Juan Miró’s work was super crazy and super inspiring! Do grab a coffee at the café there after your tour, you will be exhausted by all the impressions anyways! I chatted with some elderly American ladies. They were kind enough to offer me a place at their table since there were none available. We talked about opera, Catalan politics, life and relationships. Did I mention that Catalonia had just had demonstrations and a referendum to leave Spain? Nothing scares me though!
Yes, yes, do go out and eat some tapas at lunch or in the evening, with a glass of cava or serveza! Just choose carefully and do not go to the tourist traps! My favourite places? Lateral onConsell de Cent to try bull’s tails; Iposa in El Raval for the set lunch menu; Bormuth in El Born for tortilla. If you get tired of tapas, do go to the best Japanese restaurant in Barcelona located in Barrio Gotico – Shunka
- Gaudi – Yes, you have to see Antonio Gaudi’s work since he shaped Barcelona and made her what it is. All his creations are unfortunately super touristy but pick a few to see and make your way through the masses! I saw Casa Batllo, simply because this amazing skeleton house opened for visitors recently. I have seen Casa Milà before, both a lovely representation of his fanciful, under and above water creatures incorporated. La Sagrada Familia I saw for the first time in the evening on the back of the motorbike. Impressive sight! But do go inside as well. Park Güell should not be missed either with its fairy tale balconies and colorful cookie dough like houses.
- Crush a rooftop swimming pool at a fancy hotel
Yes, I did! Barcelona has plenty of fancy hotels with outdoor swimming pools. I just walked in looking as if I belong. Which I do of course! Took a sunbed, swam, read a book and then walked down to the beach. Loved it! You can always stay at the hotel of course. Best rooftop swimming pools? Plenty and Puro Beach at Hilton Diagonal del Mar is one of them.
Image: Hilton Hotels
- Barceloneta Beach
Image: Travel Channel
- Go sailing!
I had the privilege to join a private sailing boat from Meetup Barcelona with some sailing lessons as well from Enrique for a mere 25 euros! Met some German ladies, working for the AirBnB call center, got to drive the boat in and out of the harbour, sailed around the bay and enjoyed the Barcelona skyline. We had a lovely lunch together afterwards and I did go for a dip in the ocean! If you cannot book that, do go on the catamaran tour from the harbour. Quite nice if the catamaran has only 10 passengers as well. You can buy some cava on board for 3 euros per glass. Or why not a whole bottle?
- Drinks on a rooftop bar
I love Barcelona rooftops, the simple ones, the rundown ones with paint peeling or tiles falling out and the fancy, beautiful ones, in glass, chrome or green mosaic. I myself went to the rooftop bar Eclipse of the W Hotel Barcelona, ordered a nice cocktail and enjoyed the sunset over Barceloneta Beach. Another nice place is 1881 Per Sagradi with a view over the harbour, or smack in the middle of La Rambla – Hotel 1898.
Image: Gruppo Sagradi
Image: Eclipse Barcelona
- El Gotico bars
You do have to go out for drinks in Barcelona! I went out with a bunch of lovely Phd Philosophy students – Maddy’s American friend Trisha, Brazilian colleague Matheus and his Swedish roommate Chris. We started with some cavas and mojitos at George Orwell square and continued to Sor Rita, where many pairs of pumps were glued to the ceiling. Then we moved to a bodega and then the Venezuelan bar El Rabipelao Gotic, where in the end it was just me and Trisha having a girly talk.
Image: Barcelona Holiday Space
10. Picasso museum
Do visit the Picasso museum. It holds some of Picasso’s early works and you will be amazed at his mastery at the age of 13! And he has paintings of Barcelona rooftops as he saw them in 1903. Some 114 years before me!