Sun, food and culture: a summer in Barcelona

Most people will agree that European cities are charming, but Barcelona has a special something: its modernist buildings, the culture, the night life and its beautiful surroundings, that allow you to be in a completely different place in no time. Considering this, a summer in the city doesn't sound that bad, especially knowing that Barcelona also has beach. If you are planning on visiting the Catalan capital during your summer holidays, we invite you to take a look at this short guide by El Avenida Palace to make the most of your stay in Barcelona.

Gastronomy in Barcelona

Eating is a necessity, but it can also be a pleasure and a new experience when traveling abroad. Barcelona is a popular culinary destination, the city is practically swimming in Michelin stars, but there are plenty of affordable options for those eating on a budget. There is something for everyone here when it comes to cuisine. Pull up a chair, order your drink of choice, and enjoy!

If you are looking for traditional Catalan cuisine, you will find many options in the city. If you are in the Gothic Quarter, you can go to Restaurant Agut, a former tavern that offers traditional cooking with touches of seasonal cuisine. For proper Catalan home cooking you can have a meal at Can Vilaró, in the Sant Antoni district, it is a classic, authentic restaurant that's earned its place in Barcelona's culinary history.

You will also find many restaurants for signature cuisine in Barcelona, but make sure to make a reservation in advance if you want to go to any of them. A very popular restaurant is Dos Palillos. For them, the tapa is a way of understanding gastronomy and they do it with a very spacial Asian touch. If you think of Catalan haute-cuisine you immediately think about Ferran Adrià, with El Bulli closed, what its former chefs offer in Disfrutar is pure techno-emotional cooking that's a reminder of the mothership.

If you are staying at El Avenida Palace during your holidays in Barcelona, you can also go to Casa Llibre. This historic building that opened in 1925 was a meeting point and it still is. A charming place with a delicious offer of meals.

Museums in Barcelona

This city is full of great museums, so everyone will find an exhibition that suits their interests. We made a selection of some of the best museums in Barcelona.

Fundació Joan Miró: Located in Parc de Montjuïc, this museum is in an amazing building designed by Josep Lluís Sert. If you visit Fundació Joan Miró, you will find Joan Miró’s work coexisting with cutting-edge contemporary art. MNAC: National Museum of Art of Catalonia, also in Montjuïc. As its slogan says, it is “one museum, a thousand years of art”. In MNAC you will be able to see a selection of Catalan art from the 12th to the 20th century.

Museu Picasso: This museum is defined as one of the keys to understand the formative years of Pablo Picasso. It is located in El Gòtic and it occupies five town palaces that date from the 13th-15th centuries.

MACBA: Museum of Contemporary Art. Inside the building designed by Richard Meier you won't find what you would see in most museums. Here, the edge is at a different level and some describe the permanent collection as “inaccessible to the uninitiated”. 

Fundació Antoni Tàpies: Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies set up this space dedicated to the study and appreciation of contemporary art in 1984. Nowadays it's a cultural centre and museum dedicated to Tàpies's work and life. We recommend you to go and admire the building's tangled crown of aluminium piping and metal netting outside; and inside, works by Tàpies.

MOCO Museum is an independent museum with a wide range of inspiring modern, contemporary, and street art. Moco exhibits Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy, Icy & Sot, JR, KAWS, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Yayoi Kusama, THE KID, Andy Warhol, Studio Irma, and so many more! 

Day trips out of Barcelona

You could spend weeks in Barcelona and never run out of neighborhoods to explore, things to do, food to try and bars to hop. But for a taste of Catalan life beyond the metropolis – or simply for a change of pace – take a day trip from Barcelona to experience the mountains, beaches and pretty little towns that are just a short ride away.

The mountain of Montserrat is home to Catalonia's holiest site, the monastery of the same name. The views are spectacular and season permitting, you might be able to catch a choir performance inside the basilica. Afterward, ride the funicular or take a walk down to the Santa Cova, the spot where La Moreneta – a holy effigy of the virgin – was found, or up to the Sant Jeroni peak for a splendid view of the valley below.

The pretty, whitewashed town of Sitges is perfect for seafront promenading and sun-worshiping, so in warmer weather, you’ll find the most central beaches quite crowded. Luckily, there are quite a few to choose from, so pick your spot for a morning of sunbathing before choosing a seafood restaurant nearby. It’s not all about the sea in Sitges. If you have an interest in contemporary art and in the Modernisme movement, the classy old center’s array of elegant buildings – many housing museums – is well worth some of your time. One of Spain's best Carnaval celebrations is held here (dates change annually), and October brings the Sitges International Film Festival to town.

You’ve likely already seen photos of Girona, even if you don’t realise it. The colourful houses that line each side of the Onyar River adorn postcards and photo albums in every corner of the world. The charm of Girona extends beyond this idyllic scene though.The old town centre is rustic and enchanting, with new discoveries at every turn. Be sure to wander the Jewish Quarter, which has been lovingly preserved. Walk the medieval city walls for a fresh perspective, and pay a visit to the Arab baths. Consider visiting the city in May when the annual flower festival (Temps de Flors) takes place. The week-long festival has been running since 1954 and continues to get bigger and better every year. It’s a unique and fun way to get to know the city’s attractions as you walk from one installation to another, stopping to take in the incredible displays of floral art.

If you don't want to leave the city but you still want to get away from the buzz, you have a great option: if you are staying at El Avenida Palace, you can go to the terrace and enjoy the swimming pool with views over the city.