3 Days in Barcelona

Day 1

MORNING Take in a late breakfast at Bar Lobo then stroll down La Rambla and marvel at the crowds and abundant shopping. Crossing into the city’s oldest neighbourhoods the pace slows, which suits architecture buffs who will enjoy the views of medieval buildings en route to Picasso Museu. With an impressive collection and equally magnificent surroundings you’ll need a minimum of two hours for the experience. The adjoining gift shop is lovely as well.

12 NOON Return to La Rambla and wind your way to Mercat Bouqueria where bustling doesn’t quite describe the market scene; it’s more of a contact sport. Inside, grab a stool at Universal Kiosk and enjoy light tapas that is fresh, fast and reasonably priced.

EVENING It would hardly be a trip to Spain without a little Flamenco dancing, so ask your concierge to recommend a show before dinner.

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Day 2

MORNING Immerse yourself in Gaudí’s Barcelona today. Purchase a Hop On, Hop Off bus pass or hire a knowledgeable, private guide to lead you through the primary sites.

LATE AFTERNOON With a serious dose of culture under your belt, it’s time for some guilt-free shopping on Passeig de Gràcia. There are hundreds of shops to visit and nearly as many tapas and wine bars, so pace yourself.

EVENING No doubt exhausted from the day’s festivities, make time for a siesta so you’ll be awake for a late night dinner at one of our recommendations.

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Day 3

MORNING A light breakfast is all you’ll need this morning and a trip to Caelum’s for coffee and a pastry is sure to satisfy.

MID-MORNING Brush up on your Catalan cooking skills with Cook and Taste. Since you’re in the neighbourhood anyway, don’t forget to visit the nearby Roman ruins.

AFTERNOON There’s more shopping in the Born neighbourhood and no reason to hurry back since dinner is late tonight anyway. Save the rest of the day for aimless exploring.

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Barcelona’s Top 5 Travel Experiences

Armed with sunscreen and blister bandages, fashionista Christine DaCosta tackles Barcelona’s best travel moments while wearing her finest footwear.

“Always look your glamourous best in sexy Barcelona,” says Christine, “after all, you never know when you’ll be asked to tango.” In addition, well-dressed tourists are often treated more favourably than their more casual counterparts.

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1. Once you can get past the big lambs’ heads with their eyeballs intact (eww!), marvel at the order and peace at Market Santa Catarina. Unlike its larger, more well-known cousin, the Mercat de Sant Josep or La Boqueria, this one is easier to explore and more civilized. There are lovely restaurants inside too.

2. Housed in five adjoining medieval palaces, Museu Picasso focuses on the artist’s early years of formal training, exposing his classical skill and culminating in a collection from his well-documented Blue Period. Born in Andalusia, young Picasso moved to Barcelona when his father took a job teaching at the Escola de Belles Artes de la Llotja. The adult artist claimed he learned everything during his time in Barcelona.

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3. All that shopping does some damage to your mani pedi so stop in at Pink Peony for a little overhaul. It’s a North American style salon set on the second floor above the Passeig de Gràcia. The gracious living room setting features a balcony overlooking the busy street.

4. A warm welcome and second helpings await those who sign up for a cooking class at Cook and Taste. The Australians who were cooking on the day I visited were quite happy making paella having shopped at the market earlier in the day. Book in advance.

Dabble Savvy: The location is just steps from the Roman Ruins so ask for directions.

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5. Some people love Hop On, Hop Off bus tours and Barcelona has two main operators. A 24 hour ticket gets you a ride to all the city’s attractions, which are difficult to get to without a car.

 

Barcelona’s Top 5 Design Shops

“To make the most of a day exploring the design scene,” says Kimberley, “begin midmorning with a café con leche and canya (pastry with cream). There’s still plenty of time for lingering at famous sights and still more hours for shopping, since stores typically stay open until 8:00 pm.“

Shop attendants are not always immediately friendly upon your entry, but a smile and a Buenos Tardes usually wins them over.

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ABOVE: An impressive selection of industrial and rustic furnishings is stock in trade at Azul Tierra.

1. Just off Passeig de Gràcia is Kimberley’s favourite design shop, Azul Tierra. To be fair, Azul Tierra might be anywhere in the world—the large-scale industrial vibe is currently all the rage. She cautions, “The stunning jewelry and accessories may cause your wallet to leap from your bag.”

2. Be prepared to peruse the store’s crowded inventory at least twice to take in the variety at Little House and Cottage. It’s a jumble of goodies from vintage to modern.

3. Foosball games, cardboard stools, Pantone chairs and kitchen accessories are part of the eclectic selection of contemporary goods at Galerias Vinçon S.L. Look for a cooking class or gelato making session in the zona de demostracionas.

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ABOVE: The famous, Barcelona Chair, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

4. Catchy graphics adorn every kitchen accessory imaginable at Avet—from glasses to aprons to lunch boxes.

5. Enthusiastic antique shoppers will flock to the 73 shops inside Bulevard Rosa. Fine period furnishings, turn of the century collectibles and original artwork are abundant. Negotiating is allowed. It’s always a good policy to make friends with the owner by complimenting the selection before attempting a purchase. Save time to visit Mary’s Market, the gourmet food store on the main floor.