Worth getting out of bed for
At the weekends, follow the locals to Ciutadella Parc, where drummers play. Look out for street entertainers (and pickpockets) in Las Ramblas. Antoni Gaudí left an incredible mark on Barcelona, from his undulating apartment block La Pedrera to his swan song, the Sagrada Família, still under construction – go out and admire his legacy. The city pays tribute to other great artists with the Museu Picasso (+34 (93) 319 63 10) and Fundació Joan Miró (+34 (93) 443 94 70). The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona focuses on 20th-century Catalan artists (+34 (93) 412 12 70). The Gran Teatro de Liceu is up there with Europe’s great opera houses (+34 (93) 485 99 00). Stroll down the Passeig de Gràcia – it has some of the city’s most expensive boutiques so may be best for window-shopping. You’ll find boutiques and more unusual shops in the El Born area. The best place to stock-up on foodie souvenirs is Colmado Quílez Avinyó on Rambla de Catalunya. Explore the dramatic Gothic quarter or take in some sea air on one of the beaches. Barceloneta’s stretch of sand is a short metro ride from the city centre, or just a 20-minute walk. Rent a boat on the lake in Parc de la Ciutadella and eat on the water or in the park itself. The hotel can arrange gourmet outings to La Boqueria market and beyond after-dark tours of the Old Town too, when it's at its most romantic.
7 Portes on Passeig d’Isabel II (+34 933 193 033) is the oldest restaurant in Barcelona and serves authentic Catalan fare in a formal setting with a pianist from 10.30pm. For an avant-garde take on tapas, head to Comerç 24 on Carrer Comerç (+34 933 192 102), a modern restaurant decked out in bold shades of aubergine and mustard yellow. Models, footballers and discerning tourists head to Monk Bar (+34 933 184 252) on Pau Claris for its elegant Japanese, Mediterranean and French cuisine. Agua (+34 932 251 272) on the beachfront is fab for seafood. Grab a shady spot on the outside terrace if the sun’s beating down. Rouged-up hilltop restaurant Martinez (+34 931 066 052) will attract you like a bull to a toreador's cape, with gasp-worthy views and allegedly the best ham croquettes in the world. Suquet de L'Almirall serves fabulous fishy dishes alongside Sant Sebastià Beach.
Charm your way into Mutis, a candlelit, velvet-clad speakeasy in a residential apartment building next to Bar Mut, between Diagonal and Pau Claris avenues. Bookings are essential so ask the concierge to organise (+34 934 158 515).Bar Mut itself is worth trying – people eat late here and it’s on the expensive side but the fish-focused tapas are delicious. Try the scallops or the carpacio huevos fritos. Dimly-lit, atmospheric Andu on Correu Vell is a real local’s haunt and well off the tourist trail. If you're eager to try a few judicious shots of the local Vermouth, Quimet y Quimet (+34 934 423 142) on Poeta Cabanyes is the place to go.
The small, cute Creps a Barcelona café (+34 933 015 401) serves – unsurprisingly – crepes and gallettes in sweet and savoury combos, with a range of teas and infusions. Look out for heavenly Caelum in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Stylish café and shop combined, it’s the perfect place to stock up on yummy Spanish goodies (marzipan, nougat, brownies…)