Despite being born and raised in Barcelona, it was not until I started travelling after college that my city had a wonderful combination of elements (sea and hills, old and new, good food and fun shopping, museums and sport…) that was difficult to beat.
To me, any season of the year is a perfect time to be in Barcelona, but since now we are leaving the summer behind, let me share with you how to take the most out of the fall.
I’m privileged to live near the top of the famous Park Güell by Gaudí, and this time of the year the sun rises around 8am, so there is no excuse to miss it! I love to climb the Turó de les Tres Creus when the crowds of tourists haven’t arrived yet and there are only a few neighbours around jogging and exercising before work. If that’s too far from your location, head to the beach instead, but you won’t get the same breathtaking views over the city!
Time for breakfast! Tourists haven’t started arriving to Maigot (c/ Mare de Déu del Coll, 71), my favourite neighbourhood café, yet, and their chocolate croissants are huge! But if I need an extra dose of sugar I’ll take the subway to Liceu and treat myself to a hot chocolate with churros in Granja La Pallaresa (c/ Petritxol, 11).
I love shopping in the Old Town. Actually, the cute little shops in Carrer de Petritxol are a good place to start, and then I’ll head to Carrer del Banys Nous (thinking that it’s too bad I’m too full of hot chocolate, otherwise I’d have stopped at Caelum for some of their cakes made by monks and nuns… Sometimes I wished I had 4 stomachs like cows do!).
One of my favourite shops there is called Oliver, and offers an interesting mix of romantic clothes, gorgeous decoration items and… the ruins of what probably was the medieval mikvah (Jewish baths) in town!
The funky designs at nearby La Basílica Galería jewellery shop (c/ Sant Sever, 7) are also lots of fun to watch, although you might not want to wear those toilet paper earrings, or the cockroaches necklace! (but I do love their metal-cast flowers and leaves, though).
Next I’ll head to the Parc de la Ciutadella and sit on a bench near the green-houses, to check my email and Facebook updates: there is a free wi-fi hot-spot! And I’ll enjoy being outdoors until I get hungry.
I like healthy but trendy food (salad and sandwich with a unique touch?, yes please!), but I also love to treat myself to some chocolate. So if I stay in the Born district I’ll have lunch at Sagàs (Pla del Palau, 13) and then have a cake at Bubó (best world chocolate cake in 2005!), and if I go to the Eixample, I’ll go to FastVínic (c/ Diputació, 251) for lunch, then have a glass of liquid saffron and orange chocolate at Cacao Sampaka (c/ Orellana, 4).
If I have friends visiting from out-of-town, it’ll be now time to meet them to show them the Sagrada Família church. In the afternoon the lines are shorter, plus on sunny autumn days the afternoon is the best time to see the colours of the stained-glass windows reflected in the columns. Gorgeous and magical! (if you are visiting in Spring, go in the morning, instead!)
The day is long and now you might want to take a break back home (or have a drink sitting in the terrace of the Museu d’Història de Catalunya overlooking the port), until dinner time.
I love the tapas at Bar del Pla (c/ Montcada, 2) (delicious croquettes, fried egg-plant and patatas bravas!) – but make sure to arrive early or make a reservation, or you won’t get a table!
If you didn’t make it, it’s ok: just grab a quick sausage sandwich at Conesa (c/ Llibreteria, 1) in Plaça de Sant Jaume, as on Friday nights by 10pm you want to be in Plaça del Rei to participate in an event that has been going on for over 25 years every Autumn and Spring: local musicians play traditional music and people of all ages gather there to dance to folk routines. They are easy to learn: don’t be shy and join them up! Or just watch while enjoying a beer in l’Antiquari (c/ Veguer, 13) bar on the corner.
The music and the dancing lasts until midnight, and you might be ready for bed by then. But if you still have some energy left, change the medieval folk scene for a more glamorous setting and head to the nearby Hotel Neri (c/ Sant Sever, 5), to drink a fancy cocktail in a rooftop terrace covered in lush vegetation and surrounded by the city lights.
Hasn’t it been a great autumn day?
Marta is a private tour guide, founder of Foreverbarcelona.com and author of a travel blog where she suggests 5 great weekly tips for your stay in Barcelona. Subscribe to get her top 25 recommendations for free.
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