If you are planning your first visit to Barcelona, deciding on where to eat can be a challenge. The city is bursting with literally thousands of bars, restaurants and cafes, all potentially offering the best food money can buy. Or not. I found a saviour in The Barcelona Taste Tour.
The choice of where to eat in Barcelona is overwhelming, and as a tourist in an unfamiliar city there is a tendency to either follow your Lonely Planet Guide to the letter, probably ensuring a pleasant trip, alongside your fellow panicked tourists who followed exactly the same recommendations. Or the bolder, yet riskier approach, is to wander around aimlessly hoping to stumble on a hidden treasure, which, if successful can reap rich culinary rewards – but is fraught with dangers like ending up paying over the odds for frozen calamares and inedible paella. Somewhere in between these two extremes you will find the happy medium of The Barcelona Taste Tour.
Not a ‘usual’ tour, this isn’t about following around a guide who lectures you for several hours on the history of the Boqueria Market while vigorously waving their umbrella to make sure the 30 tourists trailing behind don’t get lost. Instead, the Barcelona Taste Tour offers intimate tours for 6 people, which showcase the very best of Spanish & Catalan cuisine just like the Girona Tapas Tour in nearby beautiful Girona. More like dining with friends than joining a tour, the food is clearly their focus, and the guide explained each dish with humour and enthusiasm, without shoving it down your throat. They allow time for you to taste each mouthful, and if you show interest, they will happily regale you with more stories and histories of food, Barcelona, and Catalan culture.
We visited four spots in the Gothic Quarter – three of which I had never been into before, so it was an eye opener for even a seasoned ‘local’ like me. I loved everything I tasted – all the food was delicious, and the accompanying drinks equally so. The variety of dishes was also impressive, so even if you weren’t keen on one thing, there was plenty more to choose from.
I won’t spoil the surprise and let on where we went on the Barcelona Taste Tour, but suffice to say I was impressed by every stop and ended the tour feeling thoroughly satisfied, and full to the brim of cheese, tapas and heavenly desserts. I drank red wine, vermouth, white wine, and cava – although all in moderation so thankfully avoided a hangover – and it was wonderful to sample all the options available.
I also learned more about the history of Barcelona & its food – although not a historical tour, the snippets of trivia were mostly new to me, and so I imagine thoroughly enlightening for my fellow tour members. The tours are conducted in English, and their key market seems to be primarily Americans, Australians & Canadians, although presumably they will get some of my countryfolk as well.
This isn’t the cheapest food tour you can go on, however the small group size, well-selected venues and delicious food do make it worthwhile; especially for first time visitors to Barcelona who want to sample a the best variety of what the city has to offer. I’d also suggest doing this tour early in your visit, even on the first night, as the guides provide you with personalised recommendations of where else to try during the rest of your stay. They also give you a map with the locations of the places you visited, so you won’t need to wander the streets of the Gotico for hours searching for them!
Overall, highly recommended, and delicious! You can also try the Barcelona Taste tour in Gracia too, although I have yet to try that, if it is anything like the Gothic Quarter tour you’re in for a treat! The tours do book up pretty quickly so plan as early as you can to ensure a place on your preferred date.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Although some people prefer to stay in a quieter area of the city, I love being right in the centre of Barcelona so I can walk everywhere. Areas in the Gothic Quarter and around La Rambla do get noisy at night, so bring some earplugs with you.
If you are travelling to Barcelona on your own, be careful walking around quieter streets alone at night, especially in Raval. Barcelona is a safe city, but still be aware of what’s going on around you.
Hostels in Barcelona
I stayed at Fabrizzio’s Petit Hostel and loved it, and they even had free paella nights if you are backpacking on a budget and want to try some delicious Spanish food. There are private rooms and dorms available, and I really enjoyed my stay here. Read my full review of what I think is the best hostel in Barcelona, or book it on Hostelworld.
If Fabrizzio’s isn’t available then there are plenty of other hostels and budget hotels in Barcelona, including plenty of options for private rooms in hostels. You could also try Hostel One Las Ramblas which is great for solo travellers or Fabrizzio’s Terrace which also gets excellent reviews and has private rooms or dorms to choose from. Take a look at all the hostels in Barcelona on Hostelworld to check prices, read reviews and book your hostel online.
Hotels in Barcelona
There are hundreds of hotels in Barcelona to choose from, and you can find something for every budget. Staying outside of the city centre is cheaper, but as you only have 2 days in Barcelona these options are all in or around the Gothic Quarter so you can easily reach the attractions in Barcelona on foot or with the metro.
Luxury: The 5* Mercer Hotel has a rooftop pool, chic décor with original beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls. Guests love the helpful staff, comfortable beds and the location.
Mid-Range: The H10 Madison hotel has lovely views of the Gothic Cathedral from the roof terrace and gets rave reviews for the friendly staff and excellent location.
Budget: Chic & Basic Born Hotel is in the popular Born neighbourhood. It has a restaurant and bar onsite, and guests loved the boutique style and the location.
Airbnb in Barcelona
There have been problems with Airbnb in Barcelona, with large companies buying up apartments to rent to tourists and pushing out local residents. If you do decide to book an Airbnb in Barcelona I would recommend staying in a private room in an apartment, so you are helping someone who lives here to pay their rent, which is now at record levels in the city.
Something like this room in the gorgeous apartment hosted by the Soler family or this room in Barceloneta are central places to stay and close to everything you might need.
If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $52 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Barcelona, get a quote now from World Nomads.
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