The breathtaking city of Barcelona is the ideal European vacation: The city is steeped in history, the vibe is cosmopolitan yet relaxed, the climate is mild and the food is to die for. One gets the romantic notion that you could wander the streets of the city for years and always come across something new. But since you likely don’t have time for eternal strolls, let us help you decide what you should do with your time here. (Getting lost in the labyrinthine streets of the Barrio Gótico, dining on paella by the ocean and, of course, drinking all the sangria your euros can buy is a good start.) Here, our full list of what to eat, see and do in Barcelona.
What To Pack
Style in this beach city veers toward neutral palettes and classic options, with smart styling that is simultaneously laid back and put together. In the colder months, go for leather and stylish knits; in warmer months you won't be out of place in a jumpsuit or denim shorts paired with a lacy camisole.
Where To Stay
Mercer Hotel Barcelona: If you're looking for luxury, try this immaculate hotel in the heart of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. The contemporary decor, seemingly at odds with the historical space the hotel occupies, actually creates an atmosphere that is at once chic and entrenched in history. Restored historical features are just as prominent as the contemporary artwork that adorns the hallways. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the rooms are spacious and gorgeous.
Casa Bonay: For something more whimsical, check out Casa Bonay, located in the Eixample neighborhood. The hotel, which resides in a neoclassical building, boasts impressive views from its rooftop, where you can sip handcrafted cocktails while watching the sun set. It also shares space with a bookstore, coffee shop, restaurant and cozy, impeccably decorated bar called Libertine (where this author may have ended many a night/early morning).
Where To Eat
Tickets: This eccentric tapas bar is perfect for your fancy night out. You can order from the menu, or simply tell your server your dislikes or allergies and he or she will choose what to serve you (we recommend the latter). The dinner cuisine is adventurous, but wait until you get to the dessert course. You'll visit a separate room that's something out of a Willy Wonka fever dream, but in a great way.
Nomad Coffee: Drip coffee is hard to come by in Europe, but specialty shops like this one are making pour-over increasingly popular. But, of course, they also make a mean cortado.
Bar La Plata: This cozy, authentic, no-frills restaurant has been serving the same four dishes since 1945. The tables fill up quickly, but you'll find people eating at the standing bar or even out on the street.
Sensi Tapas: This place has several outposts around Barcelona, each with slightly different menus. Be sure to make a reservation, and order the sangria (be warned: It's delicious, but strong).
What To Do
Take a cooking class: Learning how to make the cuisine of another country is a fantastic (and tasty!) way to immerse yourself in the culture. Check out Barcelona Cooking, which offers you the option of going to the Boqueria Market (more on that in a second) to shop for your ingredients before preparing them. Of course, classes are offered with flowing red and white vino.
Visit the Boqueria Market: This famous open market is located in the center of the city and sells an array of fresh ingredients. Restaurants serving classic, authentic dishes are also nestled within the market.
Take in the architecture: Famed architect Antoni Gaudí is responsible for some of the most breathtaking sites in the city, like the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.
See some Picassos: Barcelona is home to the Picasso Museum, which boasts the most extensive collection of the artist's work.