15 Things to Know about Visiting Barcelona in Summer

July 08, 2016

¡Hola from the other side! 🙋🏻  You may have seen from last week's Spanish shenanigans on Snapchat that Barcelona was the straw that broke this camel's back. Yep, this photography snob (you know, the one who bought a wifi-enabled DSLR because she refuses to Instagram any pictures taken on a smartphone) finally shook off her prejudice - "Isn't that the web-a-ma-thingy for sending noodz?" - and got down with the kids, probably by way of pre-30th birthday existential crisis. Anyway, apparently I took to the app like a duck to water because all my Canon 6D has to show from five days in Barcelona is 19 publishable photos, yet my Snapchat feed was a constant flow of comical voiceovers and regrettable singing, questionable use of the dog filter, and highly inappropriate skin shots punctuated by the occasional 🌞💃🏻🍷🇪🇸 .
Snapchat: @poshbrokebored
It wasn't all tapas and twattery. Despite the crushing temperature and the ever-present distraction of a certain set of abs you could slice chorizo on, I did manage to visit most of the attractions and restaurants I sought out to see in Barcelona. Somehow, in spite of heat exhaustion, I managed to retain 15 facts to know about visiting Barcelona in the summer, which I'll share at the end of this post after I treat you to a charcuterie-style board of actual photography accompanied by my usual useful spiel. Because shiny new filters aside, no amount of Face Swap hilarity is substitute for good ol' fashion travel content... 


Seek refuge from the ramblings of La Rambla. When the boulevard thick with street artists and tourist-pandering paella places gets too much, duck into slightly-less busy but somehow much more serene Plaça Reial. With its Gaudi-designed lanterns (left) and palms swaying in the summer breeze; the square is an oasis of canary-yellow calm. A 5 minute walk away is the only restaurant you should eat at La Rambla: the oldest-surviving restaurant in Catalonia, Can Culleretes. Expect a small queue to form before the restaurant opens at 9pm. Order the seafood platter (a house special) of shellfish, prawns, and fish for €30.


Barceloneta and Sant Sebastià beaches are best enjoyed from the comfortable distance and
vantage point of WET® pool terrace, only stepping down occasionally to feel the sand between your toes. 
Non-guests can appreciate the stunning vistas of the city coastline and Mediterranean from the hotel restaurants: 
SALT for the ultimate burger by the beach experience, and BRAVO24 for traditional tapas and modern interpretations.

FREE SUNDAYS: Some of Barcelona's museums are free on the first Sunday of every month
The MNAC - Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is free every Saturday after 3pm, and puts on gorgeous light shows on Summer evenings.

...and just around the verdant corner...

Local legend Quimet Y Quimet is a hole-in-the-wall, standing room-only tapas joint. For over 100 years, Barcelona's busiest tapas bar has served punters from the counter to the queues that spill out onto the street of del Poeta Cabanyes. Expect brisk service and some confusion over the menu (I ordered what I thought to be scallops and was perplexed when I got cockles in a tin of brine) - play it safe by ordering from the 'sandwich menu' - everything seems less daunting when it comes on a slice of toasted bread.  

"Trippier than a drunken game of skip rope"
Want to experience the closest thing to a LSD trip? See the world through Antonio Gaudi's eyes at La Sagrada Familia. The UNESCO heritage church is most certainly the icon of Barcelona, and is as famous for Gaudi's unique style as it is for being incomplete: construction began in 1882, and only recently has a completion date been announced - 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death. If you ever felt bad about missing a deadline...

Park Guell, a place where Gaudi doesn't look gaudy. The organic shapes, mosaic tiles, natural materials and undulating curves are in context at the gardens that surround the late architect's former home (now a museum).

"Everything the light touches is ours, Simba". The view from the entrance of MNAC at the top of Montjuïc hill.

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly



It seemed like everyone was in Barcelona: friends from London, friends from Malaysia, a friend of an ex who I ran into at The W (lolwhut), and a special someone who joined me from Berlin at the last minute - arriving 3 hours before I did with this greeting.

Sometimes you should judge a book by its cover. I chose this apartment on AirBnB because I loved its clean minimalist lines and grey colour scheme (basically, I'm shallow). I couldn't have been happier with my choice - the apartment was a mere three blocks from La Sagrada Familia, the host was so incredibly friendly, helpful, and made us feel so at home, and a bargain at £45 a night

The classical elegance of Palau Nacional is a breath of fresh air from the surreal higgledy-piggledy madness of the Gaudi architecture that Barcelona is known for. Inside the sumptuous Spanish-Renaissance inspired building is the astonishing Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC for short) where Picasso coexists with revolutionary art, plus a Gothic collection guaranteed to awe you into silence especially when observed while listening to the haunting strains of live classical music.

Stop to catch your breath with a fresh breeze and a coffee at the cafe by the entrance of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. The view as you descend Montjuïc Hill is something else, too: I nearly gave myself whiplash turning around every other second to take in the looming Palau Nacional and the 'magic fountain' of Montjuïc, all the way down to Plaza de Espana.

Whether or not you plan to visit the Gaudi House-Museum, you simply can't miss Park Guell (or as I like to call it, Gaudi's backyard). Entrance to the garden is free, and there was plenty to see and do: from long walks around/under Flintstone-esque stone structures, to terrorising a bird-hating someone by plopping pigeons on them. God, I'm evil.

Lawd knows how I was in Barcelona for four days yet didn't gain any weight because this city has a serious eat, nap, eat late, sleep, repeat culture. Seafood lovers on a budget would love La Paradeta - the most affordable seafood joint in town where the grub is priced by weight, and Els Pescadors for some of the Mediterranean's finest seafood - the restaurant’s cod is said to be one of the best in the world. For an authentic tapas experience, it doesn't get more real than artichoke and tuna belly with sea-urchin at Quimet Y Quimet. Speaking of authentic, Can Culleretes is that rare 'real deal' in the heart of tourist destination La Rambla - hearty cooking unchanged over hundreds of years. For the swish, two Michelin-starred ABaC is sure to impress.

If you haven't already gleaned from my previous reviews of W Amsterdam and W Saint Petersburg, the W Hotels are the place to be for international globe trotters who love all things stylish and happening. The W Barcelona is no exception: between a seriously sleek pool terrace with an unbeatable view of the Mediterranean and their stylish, innovative restaurants and bars, this is the place to stay when in town. I've been told that the W Barcelona is one of, if not the best W Hotel in the world, so I intend to return and report back to you on this...

Skip Le Corte Ingles and Placa de Catalunya: the serious shoppers hit up Passeig de Gracia. From Prada to Zara, everyone's shopping needs are sorted on Barcelona's answer to Bond Street. Add two major Gaudi-designed buildings and museums to the mix - Casa Batllo and Casa Milla and you've got both cultural and sartorial urges covered. And one other thing...the Zara sale. You're welcome.

9. FEELING THE HEAT This could swing either way, depending on how you feel about hot weather. Are you: Team Asian Persuasion or Team Mad Dogs & Englishmen? If, like me, you belong to the latter camp then sightseeing in Barcelona in summer is borderline unbearable. 27c my butt - more like 32... 
10. FROM EURO TO ZERO "Would you like to pay in Euros or Pound Sterling, senora?" "How much is that in Euros?" "€118." "What about Pounds?" "€108" ARGHHH F U BREXIT *#@!!! 
11. DISPLAY AND PAY I forget how spoilt the Brits are until I remember that most of the world's museums are not, in fact, free (in Barcelona, the exception is Free Sundays).
12. LA SAGRADA FAMILIA Which brings me to this point: personally, if you've been to La Sagrada Familia before, like I have, then an unfinished church is completely overrated. Especially when you have to pay €30 for the pleasure. Seen it once, over it. Bye!
13. BETWEEN A ROCKSTUD AND A HARD PLACE Do not wear brand new Valentino heels to climb hills. Blisters the size of croquetas: that is all I have to say.
14. FLIGHTS OF FANCY 'Tis the season for airlines to overbook their flights, as I learnt the hard way when EasyJet brought forward my flight back to London to 5 hours earlier...without my consent or knowledge. I only happened to find out two hours before my changed flight was due to takeoff because I checked my EasyJet app. My trip cut short and a mad dash to the airport later, and I'm still waiting to hear if I'll get the compensation I'm entitled to. Watch this space.
15. THE AIRBNB 'SCAM' Wow, I don't even know where the heck to begin...long story short, a group of my friends fell prey to a 'scam' that apparently is not uncommon in Barcelona. Their AirBnb was robbed of €7000 of goods, and the circumstances are extremely suspicious to say the least. Theirs is a cautionary tale that needs its own post, so I'll blog about it in the coming days. It's a story every traveller must read. ❒

Barcelona was, for lack of a better word, colourful - and I'm not talking about just the architecture.
Have you been? Was your trip as dramatic as mine?

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