Barcelona is one of those cities that’s just so easy to return to. On the Mediterranean coast, a hotspot for great food, beautiful beaches and an unrivaled culture, it’s a city full of life—and, often, love. As that song by Rufus Wainwright says: nothing really does compare to Barcelona. You have to be there to experience all the beauty of the architecture, not only the magnificent works of Gaudí but the winding alleyways of the Gothic Quarter and the beaches and seductive beauty of Barceloneta.
Whether it’s funky ice cream on the beach or a night out at Barcelona’s trendiest bars, there’s something for everyone in Europe’s most beautiful city.
Top 10 Hipster Things To Do in Barcelona
1. Make your own ice cream sundae
At Eyescream and Friends, ordering one of their shaved gelatos is fun and kind of silly. You start by picking a tray, selecting your favorite flavor (like mango or cheesecake), and finish off with your choice of two toppings. The ice creams all have cute names like Sad Tom, Wild Willy and Miss Fancy, and the finished product looks like a goofy face!
2. Taste the sweets of Happy Pills
No, Happy Pills isn’t some codename for something more nefarious. Actually, this is one of the most addictive candy shops ever. Happy Pills doles out jelly beans and other sweets, much like a pharmacy hands out pills. You can buy different sized bottles of “pills” and even, a little mini-case to showcase your candy purchase.
3. Sample Barcelona’s local craft beer
Home to the local brew Moritz, the microbrewery and restaurant Fàbrica Moritz Barcelona serves excellent tapas (great for groups!) alongside their selection of Moritz beers. The beer is strictly “Catalan” and is based on recipes from over 150 years ago, plus the restaurant’s menu includes local Catalan and Andalusian food specialties. If you’re looking for a Catalan tapas experience, walk straight there.
4. Get lost in Citadel Park
One of the greenest spaces in Barcelona, the large 70-acre park has its own lake accentuated by a grand fountain and a waterfall known as Cascada. For fun, you can even rent a rowboat and spend your time leisurely paddling around the lake. Dotted throughout the park are a bunch of playful statues like a giant wooly mammoth (One of Barcelona’s many selfies spots). The park is ideal for long walks, sleeps under the sun and having a picnic with friends.
5. Explore the artwork of Miró
While many people come to Barcelona for the artwork of Picasso or Gaudi, the Miró Museum is a fantastic home to the artwork this great artist. Joan Miró’s works – spanning from his early career sketches, to tapestries, bronzes and the paintings he completed during his last years – are a great collection of both complex and minimalistic pieces of art. One of the rooms has photographs of the artist himself and the library is full of books from Miró’s personal collection. Outside the museum is a garden, filled with sculptures, making it a great rest stop.
6. Have a Gin & Tonic at Barcelona’s Trendiest Bar
Situated in Vila de Gracia, El Ciclista is an intimate, mood-lit, minimalist space, designed with cycling fanatics in mind (or maybe it is all about the drinking experience). Decorated with a plethora of reused cycling materials, you’ll find bikes hanging on the walls, spoked wheels converted into tables, and door knobs made from handlebars. Popular with locals, people flock to this bar for their cocktails, local craft beer (they have Moritz Epidor on tap), and most of all, their €5 gin and tonic selections. El Ciclista also frequently hosts live music events and various readings. Remember, don’t drink and drive.
7. Burgers on the beach
Makamaka Beach Burger Café has a 70’s-inspired theme, making it a chill place to hang out in Barceloneta for a burger. Popular with both locals and travelers, indoors they’ve got a cozy bar and a large outdoor patio (heated in colder months). For a vegetarian option, try the Greenzilla with a mushroom patty, baked tomato, avocado, red chard, wasabi sauce and a sesame cereal bun. Complement this with one of their innovative cocktails like the Sunset Boulevard with dill infused vodka, mandarin syrup, egg white and lime. The atmosphere here really does feel like a beach bar—understandably so, because the beach is right around the corner!
8. Explore Barcelona’s Gay Nightlife
With a warm climate, Spanish tapas, clothing-optional beaches, a plethora of cultural offerings, and a well established, friendly LGBT community, Barcelona is a year-round gay destination. A lot of the gay nightlife in Barcelona takes place in the Xiample neighborhood (sometimes called Gaixample). The Arena Nightclubs (a series of three) are popular every night of the week, while big gay parties like Circuit Festival, Pride and Bear Week bring in LGBT crowds to the city at other times of the year. For more gay Barcelona tips, check out my gay travel tips to Barcelona here.
9. Have a cocktail on the beach
The beautiful thing about Barcelona is the laid-back atmosphere. At the beach, you’ll come across vendors who are all too happy to sell you drinks, both bottled beers or even cocktails (go for the mojito!). They’re usually €5 but if you want to save money, you can also bring your own: head to one of the nearby convenience stores where you can buy your own beer for just €1. Having a picnic on the beach is a great idea, and take into consideration that jumping into one of the restaurants along the beach is a difficult, overwhelming experience of fighting dozens of hungry tourists. Yikes!
10. Get a bike!
Barcelona has a popular city bike scheme, making it easy to use a bike to get around, except – well – for the frequent hills. There are also tour operators who run bike tours, usually taking in the major tourist sites, the beach and sometimes even with food stops. It’s a fun way to explore Barcelona—especially because the city is quite large and it can be challenging at times to get around. The bike is a great way to burn all that extra calories ingested in the popular xurros and Catalan cream.
Where to Stay
The Hotel Claris is a stunning five-star property located in a former 19th century palace in the heart of Barcelona. Just a few blocks from the iconic La Sagrada Familia, this art hotel features one-of-a-kind artwork, plus a rooftop swimming pool and terrace. Room prices from 200€ per night.
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For more Barcelona travel tips, check out my full Hipster Guide to Barcelona—with recommendations on the best things to see, do and eat.