Conor’s Guide to Barcelona

“What should I do?, where should I eat?, where should I stay?… in Barcelona.” I wrote this post after answering this question hundreds of times…

There are 8 sections to this article:

Barcelona from Tibidabo mountain
  1. Conor’s very short history of Barcelona
  2. Barcelona in Videos
  3. Stuff to do in Barcelona with kids
  4. My favourite Barcelona sights
  5. The Big Barcelona Classics
  6. Hotels
  7. Great food spots
  8. Outside of Barcelona

Conor’s short History of Barcelona

Barcelona was founded in the 3rd century BC by Hamilcar Barca, the father of the famous general Hannibal.  It came under Roman control in 15 BC.  In the 5th century AD, it became the Visigoth capital of all of Hispania.  In the 7th century, it was held by the Arabs.  Charlemagne took the city in 801.  Charlemagne established the Dukes of Barcelona.  They held the city until 1137, with the uniting of the Barcelona and Aragon kingdoms, and then in 1469 with the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, Barcelona became part of the Spanish nation.

What is it about Barcelona?

Barcelona in Videos

If you live in Barcelona and need a dose of inspiration, watch these videos.  If you are travelling to Barcelona and need to get a feel for your trip, watch these videos.  If you don’t know what you are doing, watch these videos.

Barcelona in achievements…

Barcelona in Hyperlapse…

Barcelona by drone…

Stop and look… there is something special in Barcelona…

Barcelona measures time in a different way…

Barcelona Web Resources

Stuff to do in Barcelona with kids

I often answer this question for visitors, so put the information here as a general resource (I welcome further great ideas in the comments).  Today, I have a 16 year old and a 7 year old… here are some of our favourite things:

  • walking down the Ramblas, the Boqueria market (also Santa Caterina market, and have lunch there)
  • Walking around the Barri Gotic (feed the geese in the Barcelona Cathedral, find the 3 turtle statues around the cathedral), then cross the Via Laietana and head towards Born and the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral; we’ll often be reading with coffee on the terrace of Cafe del Born.
  • The Sagrada Familia basilica (buy tickets before you go, and print them!)
  • Parque Ciutadella (climb the mammoth) and the Barcelona Zoo (check out the dolphin show, the sea lion feeding time)
  • Lunch in Barceloneta (go to Salamanca restaurant)
  • Aquarium is awesome (but expensive)
  • Portaventura is a full day but very worth it (definitely buy the fast pass with entry tickets)
  • Cosmo Caixa science museum (has an indoor rain forest)
  • feeding the pigeons on Plaza Catalunya
  • Parque de la Oreneta (on Sunday/holidays) – ride on the miniature train, the ponies and then lunch at the hidden restaurant with views over Barcelona
  • Walk/Run/Cycle along Carretera de Les Aigües
  • Coffee/Lunch/Cocktails on the beaches – lots of options!
  • Walk through the roman origins of the city at the Barcelona history museum
  • Costa Brava – paella in Calella Palaflugell, hiking the Cami de Ronda that passes through all the little fishing villages.
  • Pyrennees – hike (Aigües Tortes)
  • Ski (Masella (90 minutes away), Les Angles, Baquiera, Andorra)

My Favorite Barcelona Sights

The Palau de la Musica
  • Coffee on Rambla Catalunya
  • A stop for a drink in Plaza Sant Felip Neri, outdoor tables of the A Restaurant
  • The human statues on the Ramblas
  • Buying fruit and vegetables in the Boqueria
  • Walking in the Barri Gotic (my favourite square is Plaza Sant Felip Neri)
  • Running on Tibidabo, the Carretera de las Aigues… or along the beach
  • Looking at the sailing boats in Port Vell
  • The Fira Santa Lucia coming up to Christmas
  • Mojitos in Passatge de Born
  • Classical music in Palau de la Musica, opera in the Liceu.
  • Football at Camp Nou
  • Hanging with kids at CosmoCaixa
  • Looking over Barcelona from IESE Business School’s roof

Barcelona Big Tourist Classics

Get tickets ahead of time… often there is a 2-3 hour line if you show up without tickets…

Cool Hotels

Good Food Spots

Barcelona city blocks… Photo by Nick Wehrli on
  • Lunch at the Mercat Santa Caterina
  • Churros and Chocolate on calle Petrixol
  • Great Tapas at Cerveceria Catalana, or my new favourite Tapeo
  • Quick stop for hamburgers at Pim Pam burger
  • Dinner at Pla, romantic and intimate – on a hidden narrow street
  • Teatro, used to be Tickets, Ferran Adria’s brother
  • Boca Grande – best restroom in the world (with DJ)
  • Tapas 24 – go for lunch
  • Bestial – restaurant right on the beach – the first in a line of many restaurants – all located just below Hotel Arts (the Ritz Carlton in Barcelona).
  • El Nacional – Family, big market with lots of tapas options under one roof, near Passeig de Gracia
  • Ca L’isidre – C/ Les Flors 12,Tel: 93 441 11 39
  • Ca’l Pep – Plaza de les Ollas 8,Tel: 93 310 79 61
  • Comerç 24 – C/Comerç 24,Tel:  93 319 21 02
  • Dos Palillos – C/Elisabets, 9,Tel: 933 040 513,
  • El Suquet De L’almirall – Passeig Joan De Borbo, 65,Tel:  93 221 62 33
  • Espai Sucre – C/Princesa 53,  Tel: 93 268 16 30,
  • Koy Shunka – C/ Copons, 7 08002 Barcelona Tel:  934 127 939
  • Los Caracoles – C/ de los Escudellers 14 El Gotic—  Killer Roast Chicken! Tel:  933 02 31 85 
  • El Quim de la Boqueria – Inside Boqueria market, quick food- Ramblas 91, Barcelona
  • Dos Cielos – C/ Pere IV, 272-286 08005 Barcelona Tel:  933 672 070
  • Bar Pinotxo – La Rambla, 91 Boqueria market, Tel:  93 317 17 31
  • Quimet & Quimet – Poeta Cabanyes, 25 Tel: (+011 34) 93 442 31 42
  • Sant Pau – Half an hour outside of Barcelona, you’ll find this gem that features the best female chef working in Europe today. 2 Michelin stars.
  • Tapaç 24 – C/Diputacio, 269,Tel: (+011 34)93 488 09 77, Carles Abellan’s new tapas restaurant. Open 8 am-midnight
  • Gresca

Outside of Barcelona

  • Sitges (40 minutes train/road) lunch at Picnic on the beach
  • Costa Brava (90 minutes road) Begur, Aigua Blava, Llafranc
  • Montserrat (60 minutes)
  • Port Aventura theme park (75 minutes road)

What have I missed?

Your Videos

If you have other videos that share an inspiring view of Barcelona, I’d love if you would share them in the comments section below.

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