Barcelona: Exploring the Heart of Spain's Mediterranean Gem

Advisor - Laura Vaughn
Curated By

Laura Vaughn

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  • Barcelona

  • Spain

  • Arts & Culture

  • Boutique Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • History

  • Architecture

  • Coastal

  • Sightseeing

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Curator’s statement

Welcome to Barcelona, Spain—a captivating blend of history, art, and contemporary energy. Along the Mediterranean coast, this city showcases Gothic wonders and Gaudí's imagination. From vibrant markets to sun-soaked beaches, Barcelona's essence is best discovered by wandering its lively neighborhoods. From the iconic Sagrada Família to the bustling La Rambla, this guide is your key to unraveling the heart of this dynamic destination.

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Where to stay in Barcelona, Spain

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Kimpton Vividora Barcelona

In the heart of the bustling Gothic Quarter, a stylish sanctuary with splurge-worthy, balconied-suites and a lively rooftop pool scene.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Wittmore Hotel

Adults-only hotel located in the Gothic Quarter with polished rooms and suites.

Fora Perks
  • $50-100 activity credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hotel Neri Relais & Châteaux‎

A vibrant, stylish escape, housed in two meticulously restored buildings in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

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Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona: Exploring the Heart of Spain's Mediterranean Gem - Things to do

Exploring the Gothic Quarter

Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets of the Gothic Quarter, where medieval alleys lead to charming squares, hidden courtyards, and architectural gems like the Barcelona Cathedral. It's a journey through time and a reminder of the city's rich history.

Architectural Marvels

Explore the city's architectural wonders, from Antoni Gaudí's spellbinding creations like the Sagrada Família and Park Güell to the intricate facades of the Gothic Quarter. Barcelona's diverse architectural heritage is a testament to its rich history and artistic innovation.

Passeig de Gràcia

Passeig de Gràcia is a must-visit avenue that perfectly encapsulates Barcelona's charm and elegance. Lined with stunning modernist architecture, including Gaudí's Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, it's a paradise for architecture enthusiasts. In addition to world-class shopping at upscale boutiques, this boulevard offers a delightful blend of cafes, restaurants, and cultural landmarks, making it an essential part of any Barcelona itinerary.

Thriving Art Scene

Immerse yourself in Barcelona's thriving art scene, home to museums like the Picasso Museum and the contemporary delights of MACBA. Wander through the Raval neighborhood to discover dynamic street art that adds a modern layer to the city's artistic tapestry.

Beach Bliss

Embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle at Barceloneta Beach, where sun, sand, and relaxation beckon. Enjoy beachside strolls, take part in water sports, or simply unwind at chiringuitos (beachside bars) as you soak in the stunning views of the sea.

Bunkers del Carmel

Seek stunning panoramic views from Bunkers del Carmel, a hidden gem that offers an unrivaled vista of Barcelona's skyline. As the sun sets, the city's lights begin to twinkle, creating a magical atmosphere that's perfect for capturing unforgettable moments.

Culinary Delights

Indulge in the culinary wonders of Barcelona, from savoring tapas in local bars to enjoying seafood paella along the coast. Immerse yourself in the local market culture, whether it's the bustling La Boqueria or the authentic Mercat de Sant Antoni.

Barcelona's tapestry of experiences is a blend of history, art, beachside bliss, and vibrant traditions. Each adventure you embark upon adds a new layer to your understanding of this captivating city, making every visit a unique and unforgettable one.

Day trips


Just a short train ride away from Barcelona, Montserrat is a stunning mountain range that houses the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The dramatic rock formations and breathtaking views make it a favorite day trip destination. You can take a funicular or hike to the monastery, explore the Black Madonna statue, and enjoy the serene surroundings. The Montserrat Boys' Choir also performs at specific times, adding a musical touch to your visit.

Girona and Costa Brava

Girona, a charming medieval city, and the nearby Costa Brava coastline are perfect for a day of exploration. Wander through Girona's cobbled streets, visit the cathedral with its famous Gothic nave, and take in the colorful houses along the Onyar River. Afterward, head to Costa Brava to enjoy the picturesque beaches, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters. The town of Tossa de Mar, with its historic castle overlooking the sea, is a popular spot along this coastline.

Both Montserrat and Girona/Costa Brava offer a taste of different aspects of Catalonia, from its spiritual heritage to its natural beauty, making them fantastic day trips to complement your Barcelona experience.

Places to eat & drink in Barcelona, Spain

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An innovative culinary venture, Pakta fuses Japanese and Peruvian influences in its dishes. Part of the Adrià brothers' culinary empire, this Michelin-starred restaurant provides an exceptional tasting experience that showcases the intersection of flavors and cultures in a uniquely Barcelona setting.


This Michelin-starred restaurant, led by Chef Jordi Cruz, offers an elegant and refined dining experience. ABaC's modern approach to Catalan cuisine, coupled with its dedication to seasonal ingredients and impeccable service, makes it a must-visit for food enthusiasts seeking a blend of creativity and sophistication.


With a Michelin star, Disfrutar is a culinary gem created by three former El Bulli chefs. The restaurant offers an avant-garde approach to Catalan cuisine, transforming traditional flavors into artistic presentations that tantalize the senses and offer a truly unique dining experience.

El Celler de Can Roca

Although located just outside of Barcelona in Girona, El Celler de Can Roca is often considered one of the world's best restaurants. With three Michelin stars, it's a culinary masterpiece created by the Roca brothers, offering an unforgettable gastronomic journey that blends creativity and innovation.


Offers a culinary experience that beautifully blends traditional Catalan flavors with a modern twist. With a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, Berbena delights diners with creative dishes that showcase the region's gastronomic heritage while embracing contemporary culinary techniques. The charming ambiance and impeccable service make it an excellent choice for those seeking a memorable dining adventure in the heart of the city.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Lisbon: Where Past and Present Embrace.

Advisor - Laura Vaughn

Travel Advisor

Laura Vaughn

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Barcelona.