Barcelona is by far one of the most coveted destinations in Spain. With endless activities, so many magical streets to explore, next-to-perfect accommodations, and some of the most highly-awarded food and drink in the country (dare we say the world?), it’s no wonder that thousands flock to this northeastern region at exceptional rates.

This year we made a couple trips to the city to dial in on some of our favorite spots and get the scoop on new openings and activities. These research and development trips help ensure we have a wide variety of recommendations for all of clients.

If you’ve never been to Barcelona, this is a great starting off point. And it will surely get you excited to add it to your itinerary!

How to Get to Barcelona

Barcelona skyline
The expansive Barcelona skyline

Flying into the Barcelona El Prat airport is fairly easy from any destination in the world. Being a major international airport, it has a number of direct flights from the U.S., which makes the long journey far more accessible. If you’re already in country and heading up from Madrid, we usually recommend taking the high-speed train into town, as it’s extremely comfortable and drops you right in the center. From other areas of Spain like Seville, we usually recommend a quick flight with Vueling or RyanAir.

Once you’re at the airport, there are train and bus options to the center (dependent on where you’re staying), but we usually prefer to set our clients up with private transfers. Who wants to read city maps and haul luggage through the street after a long flight?

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Almanac penthouse suite
Perfectly styled rooms at The Almanac

The accommodations are seemingly endless in Barcelona. We have a number of trusted partners in the city, but these are some of our most recent favorites and discoveries:

The Almanac

A sleek boutique spot at the corner of Passeig de Gracia and Gran Via is exactly where you want to be staying in Barcelona. Incredible accessible to practically all of the city’s best monuments is the only thing keeping you from leaving their luxurious beds, enjoying breathtaking views, and digging into the spectacular veggie-forward dining experiences.

Casa Mimosa

Despite the buzz of the city, the Casa Mimosa somehow maintains its serenity. Intimate, cozy and elegant, it feels like being home away from home. We especially love their rooms with a private terrace that offer views of the Guadí Casa Milá. The H10 group also does a fantastic breakfast, which you can even enjoy on their tranquil back patio at this property.

Arai Aparthotel

Right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, the Arai Aparthotel is a fantastic boutique hotel in a restored 18th-century palace. Not only are you a quick walk from all the major monuments, but you have the privilege of calling the Gothic Quarter home during your stay. The apartment-style setup makes it an especially great spot for families.

What to Do in Barcelona

Parque Guell Barcelona
Antonio Gaudí’s Parque Guëll

Be prepared to walk in Barcelona! Not only is it the best way to get to know the city, but must-see neighborhoods like the Gothic Quarter or the famous Las Ramblas street can only be authentically experienced on foot. Make your way down the grand Las Ramblas to the waterfront and walk along the pier, or even head to the beach. Explore the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter, stopping for bites and snacks at the many tapas bars and restaurants.

Of course, you quite literally can’t leave Barcelona without feasting your eyes on the works of Antonio Gaudí. His unique artistry is an incredibly important part of the city’s architecture and unlike anything you’ll ever see in the world. From the towering Sagrada Familia cathedral that is still under construction, to the labyrinths of tiles and mystical designs in Parque Guëll, and funky houses like Casa Batlló, each offers something magnificent for every visitor.

For more art, we especially love sending clients to the Picasso Museum. Pablo Picasso was from Spain, and the museum’s collection is truly outstanding.

If you want a nice day trip out of the city, Montserrat is definitely worth your while. Visit the sanctuary and hear the impressive boys choir, and later hike up (or take the cable car) to see some spectacular views of the Pyrenees mountains. Or, we also highly recommend a day trip to the town of Girona and Costa Brava, one of the most exceptional seaside areas in the country.

Where to Eat in Barcelona

Fruit at La Boquería
La Boquería Market’s bounty

The restaurant scene is practically endless in Barcelona, but it can be easy to get stuck in tourist trap. Which is why we always recommend starting off your visit with a food tour with one of our amazing partners. Local guides will take you through town and into restaurants you likely wouldn’t have discovered on your own. It’s a great way to get the lay of the land, try some authentic bites, and learn about the culinary landscape of the city.

We also highly recommend paying a visit to La Boquería, the central fresh food market teeming with fresh produce, seafood, and loads of jamón ibérico. If your guide doesn’t take you, it’s worth a stop to see how locals eat and shop.

Once you’re on your own, we love a pre-dinner vermouth and house-made snacks at Morro-Fi. Or start off the night with some charcuterie and a glass of cava (cava is produced in this region) at El Xampanyet. For modern and lively dining atmosphere with creative dishes and natural wines, check out Proper or Bar Brutal. Or for a more traditional meal, Cal Pep cooks up excellent local seafood dishes. If you’re looking for superb craft cocktails, cozy up to the bar at 14 de la Rosa. Craving something something not-so-Spanish? Arigato Barcelona does a surprisingly fantastic mix of Mexican and Japanese cuisine, with some of the best ice creams in the city.

While you’re here, we always recommend you splurge on one of the many Michelin-star restaurants in the city. Disfrutar is probably the most coveted reservation in town, but if you can’t snag a table, ABac or Cocina Hermanos Torres are spectacular culinary experiences unlike any other.

Barcelona Can’t Be Missed

You can’t travel to Spain and not visit this magical city! Whether it’s just a few jam-packed days or a leisurely week in town, it’s worth experiencing the charm.

Of course, these are just a few our most recent favorites and must-see spots. Once we start building out your Barcelona itinerary, we’ll be able to design the routes and reservations that work best for your needs and tastes. Despite it’s history, Barcelona a city that never stops evolving, meaning there is always something new to taste and see.

Ready to book your trip to Barcelona? Send us a message!