The ultimate stag weekend in this thrilling Spanish city of sport, sunshine and nightlife
Undoubtedly one of most popular city break destinations thanks to the appealing combination of beaches alongside modern city chic, you can enjoy sand, sunshine and bars. Barcelona is also a city that’s steeped in culture and boasts beautiful architecture. It’s the capital of Catalonia and while Catalonians are typically very laid back, they certainly know a thing or two about partying and packing in activities too.
Barcelona at a glance:
- Soak up some rays, join in some volleyball or just admire the locals on Barcelona beach
- Explore the millionaires; playground marina, admiring the yachts as you enjoy a beer beside the sea
- Party the night away in one of the city’s clubs – they get started late and carry on until dawn
- Visit the iconic Nou Camp stadium, home to the mighty Barcelona, one of the world’s biggest football clubs
Barceloneta Barrio – the beach and bar zone
There’s plenty to do beachside in Barceloneta, from lazing on the beach and enjoying drinks in the scattered chiringuitos to meandering through the markets on the marina. Enjoy the sights at the aquarium and Imax or drink and dance all night at one of the trendy bars.
Barri Gotic – hipster haunt
With its cobbled streets, towering buildings, tapas bars and cocktail spots, the Gothic Quarter is often thought to be a little cooler than the La Rambla. The streets can be a little hard to navigate but this is a great place to stay – with the rest of the city within walking distance or reachable by Metro.
La Rambla - the buzzing boulevard
The main tourist throng, La Rambla has lots of bars and restaurants in and around it along with a few museums nearby. Be warned, things tend to be more expensive here and you’ll need to be very wary of pickpockets. But this is a must-see to sample the unique hustle and bustle of this tree-lined boulevard.
Best pubs in Barcelona:
Flaherty’s Irish Bar
A typical Irish bar nestled in a Spanish hub, Flaherty’s offers authentic pub grub and a variety of ales served by friendly and hardworking staff. They also have a small terrace and pool table. Let the games begin.
This colonial themed bar is situated at the corner of Gran Via-Rambla de Catalunya, so it is extremely central and easy to find but also a great place to enjoy a few beers and live music.
Another Irish spot, this time with live music and sports thrown in. Located opposite La Sagrada Familia, Michael Collins’ deep chambers are worth a visit for the real ale they pull and the view you’ll receive once you step back outside.
Located in Plaça Urquinaona there is an abundance of Irish beers and whiskeys in what claims to be ‘the biggest’ Irish bar in Barcelona. For those craving a pint and a burger combo, this is a very good option.
If one wasn’t enough, Ryan’s bars are now dotted about all over the city, adding a little Irish hospitality to a Spanish night out. Usually there is an in house DJ and a busy but extremely casual dancefloor that attracts students, tourists and even some locals.
Best bars in Barcelona:
Located just off El Raval, Marmalade is beautifully decorated and boasts and outdoor seating area too. The cocktail selection is vast, there’s Estrella on tap and decent brunch menu too.
Aigua del Carmen
This bar takes its name from a remedy the Catalonians used to cure all ailments and here you’re sure to find a cocktail that fits your mood and pleases your palate.
A little understated gem in the Gothic Quarter, Milk gets busy for brunch and late drinks. Don’t worry if you can’t get a seat inside this colourful joint, you’ll soon want to be back at the bar ordering another cocktail.
This bar is situated on a spot where the Olimpia circus was once held. It is also a space where rock bands used to rehearse and now Bar Olimpia is making its name as one of the city’s best cocktail bars.
Just off the Placa de Sant Juame is El Paraigua, it looks a little so-so on the outside but down below there’s a buzzing venue with sofas and space for live music. The bar serves plenty of classic cocktails along with a few signature choices that require a warning label they are so strong.
Best clubs in Barcelona:
Sala Apolo/La, Carrer Nou de la Rambla 113
While most music tastes are catered for at some point throughout the week, this twin venue puts its eggs very much in the electronica basket come weekends, when long-running club night Nitsa takes over Fridays and Saturday nights. A former theatre, it’s well set up for superstar DJs and there have been plenty during the past 20+ years, including the likes of Aphex Twin, Todd Terry and DJ Shadow.
La Macarena, Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc 5
Despite the name, don’t expect to be doing dance routines to cheesy mid-90s pop, this intimate underground venue is all about the sizzling atmosphere and pounding bass. As far from commercial as you can get, this is one for the electronic music aficionados.
BeCool, Plaça Joan Llongueras 5
A favourite with Barca’s hipster set, BeCool will have you in a spin in more ways than one, thanks to its revolving dancefloor. Hidden away from the main drag, this is another nightspot that takes its electronic music seriously in the main room, but the upstairs space offers a good smattering of trendy indie and rock too.
Marula Cafe, Carrer Escudellers 49
Super-stylish interiors and a super-smooth soundtrack of funk, soul, jazz and hip hop makes for a stunning nightclub that is laid back even by Barcelona’s standards. A must-visit for those who like to get their groove on.
Food: eat like a local:
La Boqueria market, situated just off La Rambla, is a must-visit and offers the best of Catalonian cuisine. Here you will find an abundance of tapas on offer including seafood and freshly baked bread and cakes. Arrive early and head to the stalls at the back to breakfast with the locals or pull up a chair at one of the many tapas spots over lunch.
Norte is a bar offering classic Basque and Galician dishes with a twist. It’s best known for its Saturday morning brunch menu, which incorporates Mediterranean breakfast options and the owner’s homemade jam.
Cervceria Catalana, on Carrer de Mallorca, is arguably one of the best restaurants in the city. While you cannot book and there is almost always a queue of up to two hours, it is worth the wait. The sophisticated decor and extensive wine list are an added bonus, alongside the delectable tapas. It’s a little pricey but worth every penny and it’s popular with the locals, so you know it’s good.
For a more budget-friendly buffet, 100 Montaditos (http://spain.100montaditos.com/
) offers mini bocadiilos for just €1. You can buy as many or as little as you want and if you find yourself hooked don’t worry – this chain has branches across the city, so you can get your sandwich fix in no time.
Offering a unique treat for the senses, guests at Dans le Noir (http://www.museocerabcn.com/en/bosc.html
) are blindfolded and led to a dark room so that they can experience each meal without minor details such as the power of sight to distract them.
The best view of the city:
The view from Montjuic castle is the best view of Barcelona. Once you have taken the cable car up and are sat atop the castle walls the vast expanse of Barcelona city lies below with impressive views that reach far out to the ocean.
When to visit:
Barcelona is a real year-round venue as there’s plenty of culture to keep you entertained when weather is a little milder. However, to really enjoy all the city has to offer (and of course what makes the destination unique) early or late summer offers a compromise of slightly cooler temperatures with everything in full swing.
Music-lovers may want to combine their trip with one of the famous festivals, including Primavera Sound, which kicks off the summer season in May, with live music until the early hours, Sonar explores art and experimental music every June, while Carnival takes place every February/March in the run up to lent, with fancy dress, parades and fireworks bringing the city to life.
Staying in a central barrio means most attractions are in walking distances with taxis available for those a bit further. But, for tourists staying a distance away, the metro provides reliable means of getting from place to place.
In Barcelona there is a high level of petty crime including pickpocketing, especially around La Rambla or on the beaches at night. Be on your guard at all times and keep valuables stashed away out of sight.
Hello - Hola
How are you? - Como estas? Que tal?
What time is it? - A que hora es?
Where is? - Donde es?
Una cerveza por favor - A beer please
In Barcelona the locals also speak Catalan so don’t be surprised if you don’t recognise the what they’re saying compared to the typical Castellano form of Spanish. If you can speak Castellano reply in this and the locals will soon understand that you wish to speak in this dialect and not Catalan.