International, Travel

The best of Barcelona

The skyline of Barcelona at sunset.

It's easy to see why Barcelona has so much appeal. Whether you're admiring works of art and design, swimming in the warm Mediterranean or tasting delectable flavours on a tapas walk, this seaside city pulses both day and night, and gets under your skin in the best way imaginable. In the December 2017 issue of House and Leisure (in stores and online now) Lisa van Aswegen shares a two-day guide to making the most of this metro beach destination. Pair that with these handy tips, and your next vacation is just about sorted.

where to stay

It’s the eternal problem when looking for a hotel: fabulous location, cool design, decent amenities and, above all, affordability. The group of Praktik hotels in Barcelona and Madrid may have just found the perfect balance. Their four Barcelona hotels are all located in the historic centre, an easy walk to vibey spots and cool sights. Each is themed (Garden, Vinoteca, Bakery and Rambla) and the interiors are quirky and achingly hip without the pretension. Staying at Praktik Garden, I was delighted with the price (city centre affordability? Yes, please!), as well as the indoor plants dotted everywhere. Walls lined with shelves containing stacked books and retro matador wallpaper added to the appeal, while my room, though small, was perfectly formed with crisp sheets, good air-con, a decent shower and enough hanging space. The best bit was the first-floor lounge area and outdoor terrace. Guests would bring their goodies from a local bakery and start the morning with a complimentary coffee while sitting at the communal table, chilling on a lounger or chatting on a sofa. Add to that friendly and helpful staff, free use of beach towels and great Wi-Fi, and you’ve got the perfect combination.

getting around

The bus and metro systems are really easy to use, and wonderfully air-conditioned for sweltering days. You can buy a T10 set of 10 tickets, which you simply validate every time you get on a bus or metro train. Buses are frequent and are a good way to get to and from the beach, as the metro doesn’t stop near there.
  • If you’re planning on seeing a lot of sights, the Barcelona Card is a good idea: it includes public transport, entrance to sights and discounts and comes in a 3-, 4- or 5-day option.
  • The Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus is also a great way to get around when you’re on a sightseeing mission and don’t have much time.

stay safe

Barcelona is notorious as a petty theft and pickpocket hotspot. Take all the necessary precautions and keep your common sense about you. Make sure you never leave your belongings unattended on the beach – if you’re travelling alone, simply take your bus ticket and five euros along for a drink, along with your towel... your cellphone can stay at the hotel.