Travel and lifestyle writer Jessica Benavides Canepa has been living in Barcelona for two years, but is going to be spending the next year of her life traveling around China and writing about her experiences. To bid adéu siau to the city she’s come to love, she sent Intelligent Travel her top picks for sight seeing, eating out, getting lost in Barcelona’s late-night frenzy, and more. Check out her favorites, then add your own in the comments section below.
Barcelona is My City
The first place I take a visitor from out of town
is the animated El Born District
where plenty of trendy shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars abound.
When I crave
a local meal, I always go to Cerveceria Catalana
for inventive tapas, montaditos
(small sandwiches filled with an assortment of local goodies), and a wide selection of imported beers.
Sagrada Familia sand castle. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)
To escape the heat during the summertime months
, I head to
the beautiful beaches of Platja de Aro
along the Costa Brava coast.
For complete quiet
, I can hide away
for a few hours at Plaça de St. Felip Neri
, a remarkably serene square right in the middle of the old town. This tranquil location hides a rather sinister past
If you come to my city
and want to capture a unique shot, get your picture taken with
a lion at the base of the Columbus Monument
Don't miss the caesar salad at Fastvinic. (Photo: Eugeni Pons)
If you have to order one thing off the menu from
the eco-friendly Fastvinic
restaurant, it has to be
the fresh and tasty caesar salad.
is my one-stop shop for all things candy-related
to skip La Rambla
during tourist season and check out Rambla de Catalunya
with its tree-lined passageways and outdoor eateries instead
When I’m feeling cash-strapped
pack a light picnic and head to
the Passeig Maritim
for a day of rollerblading, sunbathing, or people-watching.
When I feel like really splurging
, I go to
Michelin-starred ABaC Restaurant
for a fantastic gourmet meal.
Inside ABaC restaurant. (Photo: Marco Pastori)
The best photo ops in my city include posing in front of the iconic Sagrada Familia basilica or the frenzied colorful beauty of La Boqueria Market. The best vantage points for panoramic photos are from the hills of the Montjuic Mountains near the whimsical Poble Espanyol village – a wondrous open-air architectural representation of the most famous monuments around Spain.
If my city were a celebrity
, it’d be Lionel Messi
. Barcelona boasts one of the finest football teams
in the world – and views its valuable players as the very best the city has to offer.
The most random thing about my city is the streets and squares themselves. Everywhere you turn, you’ll come across vibrant pieces of original artwork on the lampposts, benches, and even the ground — all reminders of Barcelona’s Modernist architectural past.
My city has the most fashionable eyewear collections for men.
My city has the most outspoken and independent women.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves running, swimming, sailing, biking — in short any sport that can be enjoyed in the usually pleasant Mediterranean weather.
My city’s best museum is
(National Art Museum of Catalonia) which features impressive classical and modern artwork as well as a palatial façade built for the 1929 World’s Fair. Another great thing to do in this area is witness the delightful Magic Fountain
and its charming “aquatic” concert.
My favorite jogging/walking route is
the hilly paths around Antoni Gaudi
’s magnificent Park Güell
The W Hotel, home of Eclipse. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)
For a night of dancing
, go to CDLC
for the best house DJs in town. During the summer months, many of the ocean front clubs are also great for party hopping such as Shoko
and Opium Mar
In the spring
, you should
experience a traditional Catalan calçotada
which consists of getting together and eating large quantities of local green onions known as calçots
along with romenesco
sauce, regional wine, and good company.
In the summer, you should
attend the Sonar Music Festival
– an amazing gathering of the best musical acts from the world of advanced music and media art.
In the fall
, you should
visit the award-winning wine regions of Penèdes
for some memorable harvest-time wine tastings.
In the winter
, you should
go skiing in the tiny principality of Andorra
just a few hours away.
A wine cellar in Penedes. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)
A hidden gem in my city is the cool, bohemian feel of the Gracia District.
For a great breakfast joint, try Milk
, a funky eatery that also serves a delicious brunch on Sundays.
Don’t miss the Sant Joan Festival
in June for its uproarious celebrations and fireworks displays.
Just outside my city, you can visit
the breathtaking Montserrat Mountains
featuring its world famous boys’ choir.
The best way to see my city is
on foot. Get lost in the mysterious side streets of the Barri Gotic
(Gothic Quarter), shop and discover the monuments on the fashionable Passeig de Gracia
, or take a casual stroll through the old fisherman’s area, Port Vell
If my city were a pet
, it would be a
salamander like the one made famous by celebrated architect Antoni Gaudi
Port Vell. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)
If I didn’t live in the city
, I’d live in
the scenic port town of Sitges
, which is
only 30 minutes away from the city by train.
The best book about my city
is Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind
, a thrilling mystery novel set in post-Civil War Barcelona.
Sitges, Spain. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Barcelona” from the late great Freddie Mercury and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballe.
You won’t want to miss
a football game at Camp Nou
. Even if you are not a big fan of the sport, the level of excitement and sheer size of the stadium is a sight to behold.
My city should be featured on your cover or website because it is arguably the most cosmopolitan city in Spain in terms of culture, cuisine, and activities.