Get your flip flops ready and be ready to walk around one of the most colorful and vibrant cities of Europe, Barcelona.
In the south east of Spain is located the most popular city of Spain: Barcelona. The capital of Catalonia is full of colors and offers a vibrant nightlife and delicious food. It’s difficult not to fall in love with the city. It has the modern characteristics of a metropolis with a great littoral. You will breathe culture and entertainment. You will drink and eat and you will walk a lot, because this is the best way to know the city, mainly the historical downtown. You will need a few days there to get to know the city and enjoy some of its pleasures.
The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) is the best place to walk around and to know the history of Barcelona. It’s the old centre and many of its buildings are from the medieval era. If you are into visiting churches, the Cathedral (Plaça Nova) is there and also the Santa Maria del Mar, both amazing examples of the gothic architecture. A few steps from the Cathedral, there is an ice cream shop, Gelaaati!, which offers soy and rice delicious options. After refreshing yourself, walk to the City Hall (Casa de la Ciutat) and go to Plaça del Rei for more site seeing of the medieval past.
If you fancy a plant-based version of a Catalan dish, your place to have lunch will be Vegetalia. The small restaurant offers a vegetarian menu, full of vegan options, including paella. And it is 100% worth it to eat paella in Spain. But if you are more of a fast food kind of person, a few steps from Vegetalia there is a vegan fast food heaven: Gopal. It’s not an overstatement to say it is the most popular place in town, attended by locals and tourists. Gopal offers around twenty options of burgers – be ready to get back there more times if you’re sticking around for more days – a small buffet for lunch meals, donuts and cakes from Lujuria Vegana, a must of vegan treats in Barcelona.
Still in the surroundings of the old downtown you’ll find Juicy Jones. From the street it looks like a small juice bar and in fact it is. At least the first part of the place. In the entrance you’ll find a great juice menu and you can refresh yourself again – if you’re in Spain during Spring or Summer you will need a lot of liquids because it’s very warm there! But the place is also a vegetarian restaurant, serving food all day. They have a daily special, which includes starter, main and dessert but you can also choose from the menu. There you will have the chance of trying a few vegan options of the famous Spanish tapas too.
After walking through the tiny streets of the Gothic Quarter it’s time to know the most famous street of Barcelona: La Rambla. Going to Barcelona and not walking along it it’s like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope (you’ll never actually see the Pope in Rome, but that’s what it’s said). Dated from 1766, La Rambla is full of sounds, colors, music, art, life – and tourists. It’s a meeting place for everyone and it’s worth to walk its 1.2 kilometers, until getting to the point where the street meets the sea.
Walking through La Rambla you’ll find a historic market, Boqueria Market, where you can enjoy a great sort of fresh fruits and vegetables and much more. From the famous street you’ll also see the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Palau de la Virreina, breathing a little bit more of art and national culture.
On the opposite side of the La Rambla from the Gothic Quarter, you will find Barcelona’s newest vegan restaurant addition: Veggie Garden. It’s a spacious place, serving meals made with organic ingredients. They offer a three course option and many juice options, plus beer and wine. If you’re lucky and the place is not packed, you’ll have the chance to enjoy great food on their terrace.
La Rambla shines day and night, being a place where you’ll see yourself walking by more than once when in Barcelona.
The master of arts
Another must see in Barcelona is Antoni Gaudí’s pieces of art. You may fall in love with his art or you may think he was completely nuts, but you have to know his work! In the area of Poblet you’ll find his most famous work, the Sagrada Família church. The gothic building, still under construction, became a city icon and it’s worth to spend a couple of hours trying to unscramble Gaudí’s ideas for this unique huge piece of art – or best said, pieces of art, cause you’ll find different demonstrations of his style around the church. From there you can go to Passeig de Gràcia, where you’ll find the Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.
If you want to make one of your days in Barcelona a time dedicated to the artist, take the subway and go to Park Güell, Gaudí’s real masterpiece. The park was never finished but it has the artist’s mark everywhere. It’s a huge green area, full of color, shapes and fantasy.
And if you still want to breathe more art, you will also find in Barcelona great works of Picasso (Museu Picasso) and Miró (Parc de Joan Miró and Fundació Miró).
The green and the blue
After diving in a sea of culture and arts, it’s time to enjoy Barcelona’s parks and beaches. There are more than ten green areas in the city and they are all worth a visit. But if your time is short, make sure to visit Parc de la Ciutadella, the urban park of Barcelona, Parc del Laberint, a great fun, and Parc de Montjuïc, located in a hill – so you can have a great view of the city – and home of some of Barcelona’s finest museums.
The catalan capital is also home of 4.5 kilometers of beaches. The warm weather will make you want to enjoy its beautiful sand and sea no matter when you’re there. The beaches are all a few minutes from the city and the Barceloneta is the most popular and traditional one, located in the neighborhood with the same name.
If after a great day at the beach, you prefer to cook or to just enjoy some snacks in the hotel, go to Veganoteca (subway stop Universitat), which is very close to Veggie Garden, or to Ecocentre, located close to the Sagrada Familia (Verdaguer stop). Or if you miss pizza, Paco Pizza offers 100% vegetarian options, even with vegan cheese and it’s very close to La Barceloneta, so you can go straight from the beach there!
Barcelona has a lot to offer and its weather will make you feel ready to enjoy everything the city has, even during the winter. You will meet nice people, enjoy delicious plant-based meals and always find a festival or event to go.
Gelaaati! – Plaça de Catalunya
Vegetalia – Carrer dels Escudellers, 54
Gopal – Carrer dels Escudellers, 42
Juicy Jones – Carrer de l’Hospital, 74
Veggie Garden – Carrer Dels Angels, 3
Veganoteca – Carrer de Valdonzella, 60
Ecocentre – Carrer de Mallorca, 330
Paco Pizza – Carrer d’Allada Vermell, 11
(Featured pic by Flavia Massara)