I’m back! My husband and I just got back from a week in Spain with 4 days in Barcelona and 3 days In Madrid. We ate a lot of tapas, drank a lot of cava, and took a lot of photos. There’s so much I could blab on about so I decided to show you Barcelona and Madrid separately. Let me introduce you to Barcelona.
Where we stayed
We stayed at this airbnb in the L’Eixample district. Raimundo, our host was very helpful, friendly, and accommodating. We arrived in the morning and got to check in about two hours early. He gave us recommendations for food and helped us get settled by walking us through the map. The location of the apartment was perfect with restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets within walking distance. It was also in the center of everything so we never had to go out of our way to visit tourist spots. Check out the link to see for yourself.
Ciutat Comtal aka Ciudad Condal
This place is full of tourists and locals, is Trip Advisor recommended, and is 100% worth the visit.
Left to right: Tortilla de Patata (Spanish omelette with potatoes shown with a side of sweet potatoes) and Pimientos Padron aka Padron Peppers. It was my first time eating both dishes. They get two thumbs up.
Sepionas Blancha aka cuttlefish. So freaking delicious. Sorry for this close up pic if you’re not into seafood.
Champiñones aka mushrooms. The best mushrooms I’ve ever had in my entire life. No exaggeration here.
Patatas Bravas aka potatoes covered in a delicious garlic sauce. You will find this tapa item in practically every restaurant you go to. This was so good my husband ordered and finished a second plate of this all by himself.
Cava aka Spanish sparkling wine. A glass of this usually costs no more than 3 euros wherever you go. Here we ordered a bottle to share between the two of us. Drank this every day either for lunch, dinner, or both. So good and refreshing.
Look at how much we ordered and what our bill ended up being. We were beyond full at the end of this meal and we definitely did not need a whole bottle of cava for the two of us or the second order of patatas bravas. We managed to get two seats by the window which was perfect for people watching. It does get packed very quick but it is definitely worth the wait.
This was right by our apartment. The salmorejo (gazpacho, here with octopus) was the most memorable dish out of everything we ordered. Tasted so perfectly fresh and delicious (warning: I’m going to be using the word “delicious” a lot in this post).
We didn’t need all the food that we ordered but our bill once again ended up being way less than how much we usually spend on dinner in Brooklyn.
Come here for the breakfast/brunch. Their pancakes and egg dishes make it worth the visit. They even accept reservations for breakfast/brunch…which is pretty common in Barcelona and Madrid. This was food for three people including my cousin, Carmen who was also visiting Barcelona at the time.
This place is tucked away at the end of an alley between two restaurants. When you walk inside, you will find that there are a number of “restaurants” within this open space. We went to the tapas section and ordered a number of things. The razor clams stood out the most out of everything we ordered. So fresh and delicious. Definitely stop in to see which restaurant strikes your fancy.
Saving the best for last. We got super lucky and snagged two seats at the bar. This local spot gets packed quick to the point where a couple who came in around 8:20 pm were told that they only have 40 minutes to sit at the bar before dinner reservations for 9 pm come in.
The restaurant is small and eating there is an intimate experience. Pilar, the owner of the restaurant will come by and check in with you and even thank you for coming to the restaurant. I had to explain to her in Spanish that my husband still wanted the steak after the two tapas and the combination platter we ordered because he eats a lot. This sparked a wonderful conversation that made our meal that much more special. She walked us out once we were done and we finished off our last meal in Barcelona beyond satisfied and happy. FYI, this was also the only restaurant we went to that offered a complimentary tapa with a drink. This is apparently a dying tradition.
Complimentary tapa # 1: I don’t usually eat pork and especially not pork belly but this was delicious and full of flavor.
Complimentary tapa #2: You can’t go wrong with egg and bread.
This combination platter was perfect for two. Sundried tomatoes, eggplant, olives, zucchini, manchego cheese, and a Russian salad with potatoes, carrots, and a bunch of other good stuff that I can’t remember. It was (no surprise here) delicious!
My husband ate the steak while I ate the mashed potato goodness. I will probably reminisce about this meal forever. Thank you, Pilar.
My suggestion: stop by and take a look from the outside. We decided to not go inside on the day we took this picture but went back on a different day to go inside. We regretted paying the 23.50 euros each for our tickets. Buy tickets in advance if you’re curious and want to go inside to see Gaudi’s work.
Arc de Triomf & Parc de la Ciutadella
My suggestion: bring food and a blanket with you. Stop by for this iconic photo first then keep walking until you hit the Parc de la Ciutadella. This is where people come to relax in the sun.
Stop by this trendy and charming neighborhood if you want to find picturesque corners and alleys. They also have a bunch of local boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Don’t forget to look up while you’re here.
Port Vell aka Old Port
This wasn’t worth visiting for us. Sure, there’s water and boats but it’s not the same as strolling through neighborhoods. If you want to go to a mall, aquarium, or eat by the water then it is the place for you. There was nothing “old” about the Old Port.
If you like Picasso or art, this is definitely worth the visit. Buy tickets beforehand. Stop by the courtyard for the quintessential “I went to the Picasso Museum” picture.
Buy tickets in advance so you can show up for your time slot and get into the Monument Zone immediately. This is where everyone takes the quintessential shot that shows that they were here. I wish we had known that the bus takes you directly to the entrance of the Monument Zone because we took the train and hiked a bunch inside the park before we realized we went too far. We showed up for our time slot with three minutes to spare. You don’t have to pay if you want to go/hike in the park. You’re paying to visit this area shown below. If you make it to the top of the park (it’s free), you will find the best view of the city.
Because we stayed in the center of the city, every place we wanted to visit was within walking distance. We also bought a T-10 ticket, 10 rides on the metro or bus for 9.90 euros. The metro was super easy to use and was always on time. And if you’re taking the Renfe train to another city, the metro takes you straight to the station. I would definitely recommend picking up a T-10 ticket for when walking isn’t the best option.
Catalan is the main language spoken in Barcelona. It sounds and reads like a mix between French and the Spanish you learned in school. Names of places and menus will be in Catalan but most places may also include Spanish in their menus in addition to English. Google translate is super helpful and of course it never hurts to ask.
1. This may be obvious but buy tickets in advance for places you want to visit. We got lucky and most lines we waited on weren’t super long but it paid the most to buy tickets for Park Guëll in advance.
2. Wear comfortable shoes/sneakers. You will be walking and waiting in line for things so don’t let uncomfortable shoes get in the way of you enjoying all that the city has to offer.
3. Avoid eating at restaurants right next to tourist areas. The food will likely be more expensive and less authentic and delicious.
4. If you’re eating outside or just outside in general (especially in a tourist location), keep an eye on your phone/valuables. Almost every restaurant I went to, a waiter would tell someone to keep an eye on their things.
My final thoughts: I love Barcelona. It’s a city that immediately makes you fall in love. You will stop and stare at the beautiful architecture, the bread through bakery windows, and endless flowers and trees that decorate the city. I can’t wait to go back because I certainly didn’t see and experience everything the city has to offer.
Keep an eye out for my Madrid post.
Thanks for stopping by!