The Catalan city of Barcelona, Spain, is a feast for the eyes — from its whimsical Gaudí architecture to its charming neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality. And its wide variety of restaurants and food markets present a feast for the taste buds as well, making Barcelona a prime spot for a gastronomic tour.
Great days start with brunch. New to the foodie scene here is the Nobu Hotel Barcelona. Its world-famous Nobu restaurant, created by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, sits on the 23rd floor, taking in commanding views of the city. Sunday brunch is soundtracked by a lively band and singer who swans around the restaurant while you tackle the buffet’s mix of fresh sushi and breakfast favorites.
If it’s your first time in Barcelona, it’s worth making time for well-known tourist destinations. Wander through the maze-like Gothic Quarter or take in the buildings created by famed architect Antoni Gaudí, whose work was highly influenced by nature.
There’s much to see and do beyond the tourist track. See the city by hopping on a bicycle — Adelante Bike Tours take you to the main spots and hidden gems. Or head farther out, making your way up to hillside of Montjuic, where you can explore a castle, visit the Olympic park, or wander through botanical, cactus, and Greek gardens.
The neighborhood of Raval is perfect for seeking out wares at smaller boutiques and shops, which are full of cute gift shops, vintage stores, and homewares. Visit Fantastik on Joaquin Costa or Grey Street gift shops on Carrer del Peu de la Creu. The Gràcia neighborhood is chock-full of beautiful, independent boutiques for clothing and jewelry — start with the streets of Asturais and Verdi. If you’re in town the first weekend of the month, head to the Palo Alto Market, featuring loads of independent designers and the best food trucks in town.
If you crave beach time, Barcelona has plenty. Barceloneta Beach, not far from Port Vell Marina, has more of a party vibe, but it’s also a great spot to hire paddleboards.
Yacht chefs will be spoiled with Barcelona’s food markets. Mercat de la Barceloneta is a good stop off after working up an appetite. You can find everything here from fresh seafood to beautifully fried fritto misto to some of the best cured meats in the world. Bar del Pla, in the Born neighborhood, is a local favorite for tapas. The Old World is a buzzy spot that serves up traditional Catalan food. For a modern take on tapas, head over to Nobu Hotel Barcelona, where its restaurant Kozara serves up Japanese-style tapas with a Catalan twist.
Dance the night way at Sala Apolo or Razzmatazz, and hang at the cozy Freedonia bar, a cool hangout with cheap beer and interesting cocktails. Then, make a beeline for Milk Bar & Bistro for a midnight snack. The owners turned this former absinthe bar into a quirky and colorfully designed eatery that has a line out the door for brunch and also serves its locally sourced fare and beguiling cocktails late into the night. No matter what you get up to in this vibrant city, it is sure to be tantalizing and tasty.
This article originally ran in the August 2020 issue of Dockwalk.