One hundred and thirty years on, Gaudí’s Sagrada Família is still under construction, but a delight to visit. A few minutes’ walk away is another, often overlooked, moderniste monument: the Hospital Sant Pau (167 Calle St Antoni Maria Claret), designed by Gaudí´s contemporary Domènech i Montaner.
An extravaganza of stained glass, colourful ceramic tiling and ornate brickwork, the Palau de la Música concert hall was built in 1908. It is best appreciated by attending a performance – and two of the best gigs this month will be legendary octogenarian saxophonist Sonny Rollins (20 November) and jazz pianist Chick Corea (30 November), both in town for the International Jazz Festival.
This area is dotted with art galleries. On Consell de Cent, drop into Galería Senda, Sala Dalmau (no. 349) or Carles Taché (no. 290).
Treat yourself to one of the city’s top culinary experiences at Alkimia. Michelinstarred Jordi Vilà puts his own spin on traditional Catalan cuisine, creating the likes of ostra escabetxada, careta i espinacs (pickled oysters with pork cheek and spinach); at €38, the set menu is great value. For a more lowkey sandwich try Bracafé (45 Avenue Gaudí), a well-established coffee shop with tables on the central boulevard and a loyal local clientele.
Serves excellent, marketfresh food at reasonable prices.
The 19th-century Mercat de la Concepció is the place to buy olives, boquerones (marinated anchovies), Iberian ham and fresh fruit. The streets around the market are full of restaurants serving fresh grilled fish.
November is low season, and so a good time to visit the Sagrada Família. Still, it’s worth buying tickets online to avoid the queues.
Beat the crowds at the Sagrada Família by visiting early. Booking one of the seven en-suite rooms at nearby B&B Casa Dover (rooms from €50) will give you a head start.
The slick and stylish Grand Hotel Central (rooms from €200) is a vision of understated elegance. By contrast, Pensió 2000 (6 Calle Sant Pere Més Alt, 93 310 7466, pensio2000.com, rooms from €90) is a colourful, homely pension, with views of the Palau de la Música.
Its classic Eixample façade, striking modern interiors and daring colour schemes make Hotel 987 Barcelona (rooms from €99) a typical Barcelona design fusion. Recently refurbished Hostal Felipe II (329 Calle Mallorca, 934 587 758, hotelfelipe2.com, rooms from €65) is a great option for budget travellers.
The locally-made ‘alternative’ souvenirs sold at Barceloning, running from cookery books to jewellery, are far more authentic than the flamenco dresses and fans you’ll find elsewhere – which aren’t, in fact, indigenous to Catalonia.
A walk up Passeig de Gràcia takes you past several fashion stores, from chains such as H&M and Zara to Spanish designers like Adolfo Dominguez, Caramelo (no. 13) and Catalan Armand Basi (no. 49).