We were overwhelmed by the positive response that our post on the importance of travel received. Reaching over 800 of you, it was our most popular feature ever! And as we’re big believers in giving the people what they want, we sat down to think about how we could continue with the theme. 30 years of corporate trips, family holidays and month-long travels have meant that we have been fortunate enough to visit some incredible corners of the world.
However, there is nothing quite like living abroad, for it allows you to eat, drink and explore like the locals. With the Add Then Multiply family having lived all across the globe, we decided we’d like to bring a series of bespoke city guides to you, to take away the hassle and planning from your next trip and encourage you to take the plunge and book your flight! This week we bring you Barcelona, a beautiful, architectural city where David’s daughter Madsie lived for a year. Over to you Mads!
With Gaudi, Gracia and great food, Barcelona is an incredible city. Stray away from the Rambla and you’ll find cosy bars, 2 Euro dinners and magnificent architecture. With cheap flights from the UK, and AirBnBs aplenty, there really is no reason not to visit. For me, 5 days is the perfect amount of time to explore the city, so I’ve compiled a day by day plan below. Pick and choose, follow some or all of it, but most of all, enjoy!
Stay: An AirBnB in Gracia. Gracia is a gorgeous district, just north of the centre but still very much buzzing with life and locals!
Day 1: Gracia and Beyond.
Depending on when you arrive, head to La Singular for lunch. They do a three-course meal, plus wine and bread for a mere 10 euros! The menu comes in Catalan, so bring a guide-book or ask your waiter to translate. If you are feeling adventurous, take the metro up to Alfons X to visit Parc Güell and the old military bunkers. It is a bit of a climb to reach the bunkers, but it is off the beaten track and has unparalleled views of the city. After you’ve worked off your lunch, take a leisurely stroll to Parc Güell to admire Gaudi’s mosaic wonders. Afterwards, take the metro back to Gracia. Head to Placa Del Sol for a pre-dinner drink with the locals and walk down to La Pepita for a modern approach to Catalan cuisine. With a charming owner, La Pepita is a gem of a restaurant, but it gets incredibly busy, so have a drink while you wait in La Cava, owned by the same people, it is just down the road.
Day 2: Gaudi and the Gothic Quarter:
Book online to avoid queuing, would be the best piece of advice for today! Start off with La Pedrera on Passeig de Gracia, one of Gaudi’s biggest architectural triumphs. Admire Barcelona from its incredible roof, and marvel at the nature-inspired designs while wondering around this iconic building. Stop for lunch at Ciudad Condal for traditional tapas, and head over to Casa Batlló when you’re done. I’d recommend getting the audio guide, for it will help you to understand the level of detail that Gaudi put into planning this modernist home. Later, walk down to the Gothic Quarter, through Placa Catalunya, to see Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral. Later, have a drink in Placa Reial (Ocaña is my favourite) and wander through the old town to try incredible Vietnamese food at Mosquito. If two Gaudi buildings in a day is a bit too much, I’d head to Parc De La Ciutadella in the afternoon, and have drinks in El Born before dinner at Mosquito.
Day 3: Beach, Burgers and El Born
There are three main parts of the beach you can go to in Barcelona, and on balance I’d say that the section by Ciutadella Villa Olimpica is my favourite. You can get off at Barceloneta, but this is the narrowest part of the beach, and the most crowded, so I would generally avoid it. Contrastingly, Llacuna has a better beach and a quieter location, but there isn’t much around in the way of food and drink. At Ciutadella, you’ll find the beach clubs, they are low key during the day, and offer spots in the shade to grab a beer if you need. Wander down the boardwalk towards Barceloneta for lunch, and you’ll find the best burgers in town. Maka Maka does a delicious chorizo starter, amazing cocktails and boasts an incredible burger menu. They also do a quiz on Thursday nights, so shuffle around your day if you fancy a bit of a challenge. Questions are read out in English and Spanish. Spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach and wander towards La Xampanyeria for dinner. Guaranteed, it will be packed- the locals love this place with its 1 Euro Cava and 2 Euro chorizo burgers. Although busy, it’s a lively and cheap destination so is well worth the queuing. Afterwards, stroll down to Passeig Del Born. There are tonnes of bars along here and on the little side streets. Carrer del Rec boats Bormuth, a delicious vermouth bar and Bar No.9 is nestled just off Passeig Del Born and has fabulous cocktails. If you want to continue the evening, head to Marula Café. Mainly featuring Jazz, this eclectic club is a fun way to end the night.
Day 4: A Day Trip!
Barcelona is perfectly located between Girona, Sitges and Tarragona, all fabulous destinations to spend the day. Catch a train from Barcelona Sants. There is no need to book in advance, just buy a ticket when you get to the station. If you want a beach day, with lovely cafes and a lively vibe, Sitges is the place for you. If you want a historic town, go to Girona. Wander along the beautiful streets, enjoying a cheap Menu Del Día when you stop. Similarly, Tarragona features a great deal of history with its beautiful ancient ruins, but I prefer Girona. It is a beautiful town, with winding cobbled streets, and feels a million miles away from bustling Barcelona. Head back to the city for the evening and go for drinks at the rooftop bar at Hotel Grand Central. Make sure to get there after 8.30pm when the hotel opens its doors to the public. Finally, wander back into El Born for dinner. Casa Delfin features classic European Cuisine and a great wine menu. On your way back to the metro, go to Bar El Born for a last night drink, before catching the metro back to Gracia.
Day 5: La Sagrada Familia
On your final day, get up early if your flight allows, and see the Sagrada Familia. Interestingly, after a year living in Barcelona, I never went inside, despite living less than 500m away. Instead, I walked past the incredible cathedral every day and it was an honour seeing it develop and change. With plans to finish the church in 2026, construction continues. It is constantly changing and is a marvellous way to finish your trip. The cathedral is modern, impressive and original; an ode to this magnificent city!
Finally, head back to Placa Catalunya to catch a bus to the airport. A tip- don’t bother with a taxi, the Aerobus comes every 10 minutes and costs 10 euros for a return.
So, what are you waiting for? Get booking now and explore Barcelona like a local!
See you next week!
I will need to get my liver into a training regime. “Bombay Saphire and beyond!” – my new rallying cry