Bling Bling, Gaudi, Paella Negra: An Insider's Guide to Barcelona

Indulge all your senses in this lively city.

Barcelonathe utterly striking Spanish city gives off a certain audacity asserting its soulful vibe. It is a city famous for great weather, located in a latitude that doesn’t get too cold during winter (a chic, warm coat would be enough). Every day, the Mediterranean sun lights up the entire city’s façade so well that it brings out the lush colors and designs of Barcelona’s most renowned architectural landmarks.

You can drive from the mountains to the sea and back for the day, whatever is your pleasure. Barcelona is also surrounded by a lineup of beautiful towns and beaches along the region of Cataluña.

How do you curate perfect days and beyond in such a perfect place?

Beyond the typical travel guide to-dos, wander about its distinct neighborhoods and fall in love. Choose a district to explore and make your way around town. Here are among our favorite spots.

This part of town probably owned the term “hipster” way before it was coined. Every corner gives you something unexpected, be it a chic shop or a cozy café. This area gives you a different impression when you walk around during the day and at night, so make sure you do both.

Visit the breathtaking Palau de la Música Catalana to watch a local show or simply see the intricate interiors of the palace. It’s worth dressing up for.


Drop into the Museo Picasso to see a massive collection of the maestros’ masterpieces.

Where to Eat or Drink (and What to Order)
Indulge in a cozy Spanish meal after Palau de la Música at a nearby restaurant called Casa Lolea. This place is a must-try for its very own blend of sangria and risotto with black truffle.


For drinks, have a good copa of vermouth at Bormuth or cervezas y tapas at El 300 del Born, a modern beer hall nestled beside an archeological excavation uncovering structures of early 18th Century.

After several jamon places, have a meal of very fresh seafood at La Paredeta. Don’t miss its well-cooked razor clams and seared tuna. The long line may look intimidating, but it’s worth the wait.

In Barcelona, the typical breakfast of locals is a croissant, pan con tomate, café con leche and orange juice. Have breakfast like a local at La Xocolateria by Oriol Balaguer for the most impeccable croissants in town.

Continue your trek from El Born to this nearby neighborhood, where Picasso and Joan Miró lived in their youth. Visit the most beautiful gothic architectural structure, Barcelona Cathedral, in the heart of an always festive plaza, Placa de la Seu.


Afterward, take a walk down the famous La Rambla—the street that encapsulates the vibrant Barcelona spirit. From there, explore two prominent plazas: first, Plaça Reial, for an ambiance of royal elegance accentuated by elements of the grand fountain, palm trees, and street lamps designed by Gaudi himself; next, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, a lesser-known plaza but surely a romantic, charming space in front of the baroque church of Sant Felip Neri which was destroyed during the Civil War.


Where to Eat or Drink (and What to Order)
For a good paella negra, dine at Les Quinze Nits for a good fusion of Spanish-Filipino food overlooking the majestic Plaça Reial. Continue your food adventure with a dessert of local crema catalana or a glass of cava (their version of bubbly) at Restaurant La Cassola just beside Placa de Sant Felip Neri.

As you walk along La Rambla, drop by Chök the Chocolate Kitchen, the best place for dessert and coffee.  

Barcelona is extremely fortunate to be very near the sea. Take a walk, rent a bike, or skateboard along Barceloneta. If you’d like to experience a more peaceful area, continue to make your way to Villa Olimpica where you will find beaches like Bogatell and father down, Nova Mar Bella for a wider coastline.

Almost all year round, activities can range from high energy activities such as paddle boarding, surfing, jet skiing, and flyboarding to calming yoga by the beach or just chilling at a chiringuito (a small bar for tapas and drinks).


Where to Eat or Drink (and What to Order)
Paella gets better as you move closer to the sea. Worthy places to have paella are Restaurant Salamanca by Barceloneta or El Chiringuito Las Sardinitas by Moncho's near Bogatell Beach.

The neighborhood that’s home to Gaudi’s magna opera, Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, along the street Passeig de Gràcia. Most importantly, it's also the home of the work-in-progress masterpiece, the Sagrada Família.


Where to Eat or Drink (and What to Order)
Unknown to many visitors, Eixample also has some of the best bars and restaurants in Barcelona.

Have a special evening dinner at Disfrutar, a Michelin-starred restaurant with chefs who trained at the famed el Bulli. Make sure you call ahead for a reservation.

Paco Meralgo and Barcelona Milano, for very good, well-priced Catalan food and wine. At Paco Mercalgo, you must order the croquetas de Obama and its famous crema catalana dessert. Barcelona Milano is another good restaurant that is only a few blocks away. Try the risotto negro, tartar atun con aguacate, pulpo, salpicao, and its patatas bravas. Some wonderful Spanish wines are also available at this shop: Vega Sicilla, Mauro, Marques de Riscal and Marques de Murrieta, ask for a good recommendation that would go well with your order.

Parking Pizza is another small, cozy neighborhood restaurant. Make a slight detour to try its signature trufa negra pizza with artisanal beer.

There are many others in this area but if you only have a few days to indulge in the city, eat at El Nacional–good quality food, wines and good ambience, with different areas for tapas, seafood, and steaks, depending on what you feel like eating that day.


For popular restaurants, make reservations call before you go. If you don't have any, go an hour earlier than the typical Spanish meal times of 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. 



For the best view of the whole of Barcelona, visit Tibidabo—a mountain overlooking the whole city which has a monumental church and an amusement park.

A must-visit if you’re in Barcelona for the first time. This area has among the most popular places such as the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village), Magic Fountain which has evening light and music shows, Palau Nacional (National Palace), and Castell de Montjuic (Montjuic Castle) which has outdoor movie screenings or live bands if you visit in the summertime.


Barcelona is known to have as many bars as its population (or at least it seems like it.)  Here are a few of the best places depending on the kind of night you’d like to have are:

Drinks / Cocktails
For stylish cocktails before an ‘haute cuisine’ dinner: La Dama

For speakeasy conversations over smooth gintonicas, the most common drink in Barcelona: El Ciclista.

For a round or two over a romantique rooftop overlooking Gaudi’s: La Pedrera along Passeig de Gracia, Hotel Omm Rooftop Bar.

For long, interesting cocktail conversations in elegant, chic, classic ambiance: Boca Chica. Make sure to visit the restrooms, the interiors are quite remarkable.

Live Music
For upbeat, live music and a surely good night out with artistic local groups: Heliogábal.

For soul, funk, and Latin sounds that are surely tasteful: Marula Café.

Barcelona is probably one of the best party cities in the world. It is soulful, vibrant, and filled with energy. Of course it doesn’t start till late. The energy begins at around 2 a.m. and doesn’t end till you’re ready for brunch.

Among the best bars with good music and a good crowd are Bling Bling, Sutton, and Opium. If you’re not satisfied with one, make your way to each one of them. You have more than enough time in one night.


Barcelona has everything. Tailor your trip to the kind of person you are or the kind of people you’d like to meet and experiences you’d like to engage in. This city will always feel different, whether it is your first time or tenth, and quite surely it will be nothing short of extraordinary.

If you’ll be in Barcelona for up to 5 days, purchase the T-10 and not an unlimited day pass since generally, Barcelona is a very small city and you can walk almost anywhere. Renting a moto is also feasible and fun. Cab rides are pretty reasonable.

Aside from the Placa Catalunya area, walk along Passeig de Gracia, Rambla Catalunya, or L’illa Diagonal Mall.

Day Trips
Should you have more days to spare, you must visit Monserrat, Penedes Region for Cava, and the Costa Brava area, the beaches of Cadaques and Calella and the beautiful towns of Girona and Figueres.

Who to follow for Barcelona food finds
@BarcelonaFoodExperience on Instagram



Palau de la Música Catalana - Carrer del Palau de la Música

Museo Picasso - Carrer Montcada, 15-23, 08003 Barcelona

Casa Lolea - Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 49, 08003 Barcelona

Bormuth - Plaça Comercial, 1, 08003 Barcelona

El 300 del Born - El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, Mercat del Born, Plaça Comercial, 12, 08003 Barcelona

La Paredeta - Carrer Comercial, 7, 08003 Barcelona

La Xocolateria by Oriol Balaguer - Carrer de la Fusina, 5, 08003 Barcelona

Cathedral of Barcelona - Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona




Les Quinze Nits - Plaça Reial, 6, 08002 Barcelona

Restaurant La Cassola - Carrer de Sant Sever, 3, 08002 Barcelona

Chök the Chocolate Kitchen - Carrer del Carme, 3, 08001 Barcelona



Restaurant Salamanca - Calle Almirall Cervera, 34, 08003 Barcelona

El Chiringuito Las Sardinitas by Moncho's - Av. del Litoral, 36, 08005 Barcelona



Disfrutar - c/Villarroel, 163 Barcelona 08036

Paco Meralgo - Carrer de Muntaner, 171, 08036 Barcelona

Barcelona Milano - Carrer de Villarroel, 190, 08036 Barcelona

Parking Pizza - Carrer de Londres, 98, 08036 Barcelona, Spain

El Nacional -  Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona, Spain


For Drinks / Cocktails

  • El Ciclista - Carrer de Mozart, 18, 08012 Barcelona
  • La Dama - Avinguda Diagonal, 423, 08008 Barcelona
  • Hotel Omm - Carrer del Rosselló, 265, 08008 Barcelona
  • Boca Chica - Passatge de la Concepció, 12, 08008 Barcelona


Live Music

  • Heliogábal - Carrer de Ramón y Cajal, 80, 08012 Barcelona
  • Marula Café - Carrer dels Escudellers, 49, 08002 Barcelona


Dance / Party 

  • Bling Bling - Carrer de Tuset, 8, 08006 Barcelona
  • Sutton - Carrer de Tuset, 13, 08006 Barcelona
  • Opium - Passeig Marítim, 34, 08003 Barcelona

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Karen Crisostomo
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