Hi! I’m Laura-Lee, 28 years old, vegan and in love with the world. I quit my job in April 2016 to travel the world and work full-time location independent on my travel blog thetravellette.com. After seeing tons of beautiful places including South Africa and some South American countries my heart still beats for Barcelona. This is where i lived for 5 years straight from 2012. Today it’s one of my homebases and I love coming back as much as I can.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. With its incredible beaches and mountains, unique architecture, wild nightlife and metropolitan flair it attracts over 11k visitors each year.
Too many people for you? You prefer spots off the beaten track, away from Las Ramblas and Barceloneta Beach? Then you should continue reading. In this post I’ll share my insider tips with you after living in beautiful Barcelona for more than 5 years.
Barcelona’s best beaches
Barceloneta Beach is by far the most well known beach in Barcelona. Here you find tons of great restaurants to enjoy seafood and basically anything you can wish for. The beach itself is not so nice due to many visitors who even party here. I recommend you to go a little further along the coast to Platja de Bogatell or Platja de la Mar Bella in Barcelona.
If you want to enjoy a calm beach day at a lovely beach with crystal clear water, head over to Castelldefels (30 min), also famous for Kite Surfing, or even Sant Pol de Mar (60min). Both beaches are easy to reach by train from Plaça Catalunya and other stops within the city center. My favorite beach is in Sant Pol de Mar when you get out of the train and go left following Avinguda Doctor Furest around the corner. Behind Restaurant Banys Lluís. This is where you’ll find me during summer.
Other than that you can always rent a car and go to the amazing Costa Brava. You’ll reach breathtaking beaches within one hour by car.
Fiesta in Barcelona
Barcelona is probably the best city in Europe to dance your heart out and celebrate life. There is a club for every taste of music and so many good bars, that it’s impossible to try them all.
Some of my favorite bars are Marmalade (awesome ambiente and terrace) in Raval and Rabipelao (best Mojitos in town) in the gothic quarter. Also really nice for a cold cerveza in the evening is Café Babel, which is located at a small square in the old town.
After some drinks you might want to get moving. If you’re into latin music like Franzi and me, there is one club in Barcelona you can’t miss, Mojito Club. Here they play everything from Salsa over Reggaeton to chart music. Check out their Facebook Page for some free Salsa classes.
If you’re more into charts and alternative music I definitely recommend you Les Enfants in Raval. It’s a bit smaller club with two floors (mixed music & latin music) and not many tourists know about it.
Shopping and snacking in Barcelona
Shopping is amazing in Barcelona! Apart from the famous shopping streets Passeig de Gràcia and Portal de l’Àngel there is so much more to explore in the city. I definitely recommend you the weekly Flea Market in Sant Antoni and for some extra cheap stuff Les Encants market.
Other than that I love walking through Gràcia, which is a district not so many tourists reach. Here you’ll find some handcraft shops and unique clothing. Or check out Carrer de la Bòria in El Born also known as La Ribera for some nice souvenirs.
When it comes to food, there is no better way than to head over to one of the many markets. Each district has at least one. My favorite is Mercat de Santa Caterina, because it’s not crowded at all and I love the colorful roof. The restaurant within the market, Cuines Santa Caterina, is really good for some tapas.
Barcelona Must-See’s – Buy your entrance tickets in advance
Must-See’s are definitely Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló, but Barcelona has so much more to offer. If you’re interested in architecture check out Casa de les Punxes from Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Casa Vincens, Gaudí’s first masterpiece. Both recently opened their doors to the public and are definitely worth the visit, if you take an audio guide. You won’t only learn something about the building but also about the history and legends of Barcelona.
The best view points over Barcelona
My all-time favorite are the Bunkers del Carmel. Grab a bottle of delicious catalan wine and some snacks and take a bus (45 min) from Plaça Urquinaona up the hill. Enjoy the sunset over the city and take amazing pictures. There is almost always someone playing the guitar and the atmosphere is magical.
Another great spot is the terrace of the MNAC museum. From here you have a great view of Plaça Espanya, the magic Fountain (visit the lights show of Font Màgica for free every weekend) and Tibidabo mountain.
If you’re in search for something more fancy, maybe for your last night in Barcelona, have an (expensive but nice) drink on the 360 panorama terrace of the Barceló Hotel in Raval. The view over the city is breathtaking and very often they have artists and DJ’s performing.
Delicious and affordable Tapas
La Luna was one of the very first restaurants I discovered at the beginning of my stay in Barcelona and it has only gotten better. The tapas have a slightly mexican style, the place itself is gorgeous and the prices are ridiculously low for the quality and amount of food you get. Definitely reserve a table in advance.
For typical Spanish style Tapas head over to one of the La Flauta restaurants in the city and enjoy everything from seafood, over paella to tortilla de patata. Reservations are not possible, but you always find a table.
Super secret tip alert! 😉 Want to experience where the locals go to enjoy some cañas (beers) and pinchos (tapas)? Take the metro to Poble Sec stop (green line) and walk to Carrer de Blai. This is a street full of small bars with terraces and only very few people know about this tapas heaven. My favorites are Taberna Blai Tonight and La Tasqueta de Blai, because their pinchos are quite artsy and cost only 1€ per portion.
Parc de la Ciutadella – Where the locals hang out
Especially during the weekend and during holidays Parc de la Ciutadella (and Barceloneta beach) is the place to be. This is where you’ll meet the locals practicing Yoga, slacklining and making music together. It’s a kind of hippie atmosphere. Besides that the park has a beautiful fountain and a small lake that you should definitely visit as well.
Want to join the fun? Download the meetup app and become part of one of the many meetup groups in Barcelona. It’s the best way to get in touch with people here.
Where to stay in Barcelona?
One of my favorite hostels is the Casa Kessler in the heart of the Eixample district. When it opened a few years ago I went to check it out. You won’t believe that you’re in a hostel when you see the beautiful terrace, where they offer Yoga classes and breakfast. Also the design of the entire place is extremely tasteful and modern.
Another great place to stay is the TOC Hostel. It’s separated in a hotel and a hostel part, but it doesn’t matter on which floor you stay, you always have access to the pool on the sundeck.
Looking for something more vintage? Then Pars Teatro Hostel should definitely be your choice. The hostel is located just a few minutes walk from the center and close to the port of Barcelona.
I’m wishing you a wonderful stay in Barcelona. If you still have any type of question, just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you asap.