Welcome back to Barcelona! The sun is still shining, and we still have so much left to do! Because there is only so much you can accomplish in 12hrs, we made you a second guide to the Catalonian capital. If you have more days here, just combine this guide with our first one. And if you only have 12hrs, just pick the one that suits you best.
This time, we have a local Barcelonian showing us around. Meet Nuria! The first time we saw her, she looked at us from a giant billboard in London. A big airline was advertising city trips, and Nuria was just the face they needed for their campaign. She’s a model, loves analog photography, and has one of the coolest Instagram feeds that we know of. Nuria also travels a lot, enjoys surfing and skating, and is vegan and generally just a really cool gal. She loves to hang out on the beach and to explore cities, and today, she is taking us with her. Here are 12hrs in Barcelona with Nuria.
Let’s get this day started! This time, we are staying at the Hotel Praktik Rambla. There are several hotels of this Barcelonian mini-chain all around the city, but the location of Praktik Rambla is just perfect for our day today. And it has everything we are looking for in a city hotel: A great location (in this case: right in the middle of the Eixample district of Barcelona), beautifully designed common spaces and rooms, free Wi-Fi and a price tag that won’t brake the bank.
Put on your trunks or your bikini, put some lotion on and grab your towel and skateboard. We’re heading to the beach!
Hotel Praktik Rambla // Rambla de Cataluña 27 // website
Nuria loves to spend time on the many beaches of Barcelona, so that is where we start our day, too. If you can manage, wait an hour or so until our breakfast place of choice opens. Relax a bit in the sand instead.
One of the great things about Barcelona is its proximity to the ocean. There is just something special about big, cosmopolitan cities with access to the sea. We are at Barceloneta now, one of the most beautiful areas by the sea that lies just off the Ciutat Vella, the old town. Located in the traditional fishing district, this is one of Nuria’s (and the city’s!) best-loved beaches. It is thought to have inspired Miguel de Cervantes as the setting for the fight between Don Quixote and the Knight of the White Moon in his book 2 of Don Quixote. In the distance, you can spot the fancy W Hotel at the shore.
Breakfast, finally! Surf House Barcelona just opened its doors, time to head over there and order some fresh juices and some snacks. Nuria loves to come here to grab a bite after a long day in the sun.
We just love the surfboard tables and the relaxed vibe in here, the healthy fast food and laid-back atmosphere. If you have time to spend a day at the beach, Surf House Barcelona organizes tons of fun outdoor activities such as paddle surfing, runs on the boardwalk and game nights. Have a look on their website to see the upcoming events.
After a hearty breakfast, take some more time at the beach until the midday sun gets too hot. Then, around 12.30h, let’s pack up our bags and take a stroll down the boardwalk. Passing the beautiful harbor, we make our way up to Montjuïc.
Yes, it’s a little walk, but really not a steep one. Plus, there is shade! And Montjuïc is definitely worth a wander. In summer, it is a few degrees cooler here than in the bustling city below, and its many parks and gardens are great places to soak up the view of the city.
There are also plenty of museums: the Fundació Joan Miró, for example, is as famous for its Corbusier-influenced building as its collection. You’ll find Barcelona’s botanical garden here, a castle, as well as lots of other amazing parks that are really worth the little hike. Don’t miss the Mies van der Rohe pavilion at the bottom of the hill. It was built for the world exhibition in 1929 and boasts some of the architects’ most famous trademarks. In it, you’ll see the now famous “Barcelona chairs” that van der Rohe built especially for the Spanish king and queen during the event.
Time to head back into the city to continue with Nuria’s tour of Barcelona. Take a metro, a rented bike, a bus or your skateboard, we meet back at La Rambla!
Right next to Barcelona’s famous shopping mile La Rambla is La Virreina, one of Nuria’s favorite museums in the city. The changing exhibitions focus on photography and video art, and the contrast between these modern pieces and the old, baroque architecture of this city palace is really exciting to look at. Take your time to explore the museum and cool down a little. If you want to know what to expect, check La Virreina’s website in advance to see what their current exhibitions are. A nice bonus: admission is free!
Step outside and walk around the building for the next stop on our tour. Like many Mediterranean countries, Spain is famous for its colorful food markets. Barcelona boasts many of them, each one of them worthy of a visit. If you just have time to visit one of them, take Nuria’s advice and make it La Boqueria. It was voted one of the world’s top ten markets, and you can easily see why.
Take your time to wander around the stalls and soak up all the sights and smells. There are fresh fruit on display, fish and seafood fresh out of the ocean, meats and dried goods. If it’s a hot day, have a little pre-lunch treat. The homemade fruit popsicles here are a favorite of Nuria, and after trying them, of us, as well. They come in every color of the rainbow – and they’re healthy, too!
After all that food we looked at, you’re probably hungry. Nuria recommends Juicy Jones for a quick, vegetarian (and even vegan) lunch around the corner. They have two restaurants in the city, head to the one on Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, it’s really close to the market.
The little restaurant offers different dishes everyday, check their Facebook page to see what’s on offer when you are there. As the name suggests, Juicy Jones is also big on juices and fruit smoothies, something that comes in handy when exploring a city in the Mediterranean sunshine.
Our next stop is the famous modern museum of Barcelona, known as the MACBA, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. Since its opening in 1995, the MACBA has become a power player in Barcelona’s art scene. Some of their exhibitions might not look too approachable at first, but definitely give it a try. The permanent exhibition showcases art of the second half of the 20th century, with a big emphasis on media art, sound performances and the works of experimentalists of the 1960s and 1970s, including Bruce Nauman, Joan Jonas and John Cage. Spanish and Catalan artists such as Antoni Muntadas, Antoni Tàpies and the Dau al Set group are well represented as well. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a free concert in the vast auditorium.
The square in front of the MACBA is where all the Barcelonian skaters hang out. So even if you decide not to go in, you’ll have plenty of tricks to look at.
Across the square you’ll find La Capella, a former medieval convent that now showcases works especially commissioned for the MACBA. Admission there is free.
A short, four-minute walk brings you to our next destination. Since we just left the museum, let’s finish our art excursion with some shopping. Loring Art is just the place for that. The shop might not look too big to you, but it is a giant in the world of art books.
You’ll find volumes on every creative topic you can image here, from architecture to graphic design, and the extremely friendly staff lets you browse the stacks as long as you want to. They stock some rare editions here that are hard to find elsewhere, so take your time!
Before we finish our day with Nuria, let’s take a last stroll through the Barri Gòtic. The Gothic Quarter is one of Nuria’s favorite areas of town, and once you get there, you’ll agree with her. It’s the oldest part of Barcelona, many buildings here date back to medieval times. There is a lot to discover. Small alleys, hidden courtyards full of palm trees, and little bars full of locals. Explore the Barri Gòtic as long as you want to and until you have worked up an appetite. Our last stop of the day is coming up. Dinner!
Nuria recommends En Ville Restaurant, and we can only agree. En Ville is one of Barcelona’s most beautiful eateries. Housed in a historic building with an exposed brick ceiling, big mirrors on one side of the room and a glass front at the other. In the summer months, these glass doors open up and make way for two cozy terraces full of plants and trees. Luckily, it’s not only the interior design that makes us love this place so much. The food is just as stunning! On the menu you’ll find a selection of dishes prepared with ingredients fresh from the markets, a few (really good!) Tapas, and fresh meats and fish. En Ville also has a big part of its menu devoted to vegetarian meals.
Sit back, order a glass of Cava and some great, local wine, and enjoy the dinner. If you want to go out later, visit one of the many bars in the streets around En Ville before you head back to the hotel. After all, you have a reason to celebrate! You just spent 12hrs in Barcelona with Nuria and us. Cheers!