INSPIRATION • June 2023
Are you making the most of your Avios? Our Reward Flight Saver could have you winging your way to a new destination for just 23,500 Avios plus as little as £1.* In this new series, we suggest the places to go and the perfect weekend itineraries….
Balmy weather, barmy architecture and buckets of beach secure Barcelona’s status as the ultimate summer city – where you’re always near a terrace serving frothy, ice-chilled cava. The Obamas started the trend with a whirlwind visit in April. Now, as more streets are pedestrianised under Barcelona’s Superblock rewilding project, there’s an increasingly cosmopolitan air. A favourite spot is where Consell de Cent crosses the shopping boulevard, Passeig de Gràcia – find benches aplenty under dappled leafy shade, Gaudí’s Casa Batlló within eyeshot, and a smart retail scene that includes Loewe, Aesop, Zimmermann and Sessùn.
Albé’s wild boar over brioche, with seven spices royale sauce and pickled mustard seeds
Calle Aribau, four blocks from Passeig de Gràcia, is the restaurant destination of the moment. For joyful Catalan classics – pan con tomate (bread drenched in tomato), gooey croquetas, patatas bravas – Soma nails tapas cravings via cheerful staff, including an in-house dog. Seafood is rarely done better, or more seasonally, than at Besta. Lebanese-Catalan isn’t your typical fusion, and Albé makes the case for being different – expect a fork-fight to scrape the last of the pomegranate-sticky aubergine or maitake mushroom nestled in cashew cream (one tip: the chocolate cake is essential). If you’re tapas-ed out, Mikan pairs funky natural wines with Asian flavours, such as wasabi-mayo prawns, black sesame ice cream, and marinated tomatoes that ace the sweet-spicy-sour spectrum. Its €13.50 multi-course lunch menu is a steal.
Colmado Múrria in Eixample
Window-seat fans, make a beeline for the handful of people-watching perches inside Colmado Múrria in Eixample. This charm-packed deli first opened in 1898, as the Modernist exterior reflects, but a 2023 interior refurb added a vermouth-sipping space to the shelves heaving with local wines, oils, cheeses and cured meats. When you’re in El Born, PetNat – a snug den of irreverently labelled craft beers and break-the-mould wines – is a well-earned pitstop after sightseeing (it’s near the Santa María del Mar church). If you need caffeine and you need it done well, Barcelona’s coffee scene exploded over the last few years. You can reliably count on News & Coffee, Syra, Lot Roasters, Three Marks Coffee and The Coffee.
MOCO Museum (Adrià Goula)
A fun artsy double act is found on Calle de Montcada. First up is the Picasso Museum. This legend of Barcelona’s cultural identity presents more than 4,000 of Picasso’s works, including lesser-spotted pieces such as ceramics, across a series of palaces that are a visual spectacle in their own right. Book ahead: the traffic-light-coloured ticketing system online shows how busy each timeslot is. Then, next door, MOCO Museum – a hip portmanteau of modern and contemporary – presents a 180° mood flip from the serious to the hot pink. Banksy, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Yayoi Kusama are pioneers in an art display that is Instagrammable and often interactive. Save €3 by booking tickets for the start or end of the day, then try to resist blowing the saving in the concept store.
Marea Verde on Calle Bruc
On the stroll to Ciutadella, Barcelona’s lively central park, detour via Marea Verde on Calle Bruc. Once a pharmacy, this mosaic-covered building is now the city’s prettiest flower shop. Inside Ciutadella Park, keep to the right (if Arc de Triomf is behind you). Next month, the Hivernacle (winter garden) – a vast glass-walled structure once filled with palms – is set to reopen after restoration. Just ahead, the Umbracle building looks unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s bursting with giant monsteras and elephant ear plants. If you still have the energy, continue down towards Barceloneta beach. Here, the LA-esque boardwalk, streaming with skaters and joggers, was extended beyond the futuristic W hotel in 2022. At the end, the viewing deck offers a panoramic view across the sea and the city.
The bar area at Nobu
Where to stay
Speaking of great lookouts, few rival the 23rd floor of Nobu Hotel Barcelona, where the iconic Japanese restaurant offers a spectacular, all-directions view that will make you gasp as you exit the lift. When the new 25th-floor bar and plunge pool opens this month, it will be Barcelona’s highest rooftop, presenting glimpses of all the city’s celebrity landmarks – La Sagrada Família, Tibidabo, Montjüic. If you’re a multi-time Barcelona visitor, Nobu’s proximity to Sants rail station is a plus – in a two-minute walk you can catch the hour-long train to Figueres, with its bonkers Salvador Dalí museum, or take a 40-minute hop south to the fun beach town of Sitges. For a stay that’s a little easier on the wallet, you can’t go wrong with the trendy Hoxton, Poblenou – its ‘roomy rooms’ let in all the light.
*Reward Flight Savers are British Airways’ best value reward flights. Reward Flight Saver offers customers great value flights with a low, flat fee to cover taxes, fees and carrier charges and a fixed Avios amount. To be eligible for Reward Flight Saver, you need to have collected at least one Avios in the past 12 months. To find out more about Reward Flight Saver, click here
Reward flights are subject to availability. The price referenced here is for a Reward Flight Saver fare and based on an off-peak, return fare for one passenger travelling in Euro Traveller (Economy), from London. All prices and Avios amounts quoted are correct as of June 2023.