A Saturday in Barcelona

A Saturday in Barcelona

Easy living in Spain's culture capital

The leisurely vibes that are the very essence of Saturday are matched by Barcelona’s relaxed personality. A Saturday in Barcelona is one where time is irrelevant, where your wristwatch should be replaced by your newly acquired Bagues-Masriera bracelet.

Today, rising early isn’t a priority. Stroll out from your chic Presidential Suite at Hotel Arts whenever the mood takes you. Start your day off in the Gràcia district, where the sweet smell of baking fills the air as you start to think about breakfast. What place in the Plaça de la Virreina charms you most? Is it La Cafetera? Step inside, and clutch your first of many delicious drinks of the day, cafe con leche–steamed milk jolted with espresso–and a bocadillo. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Post-coffee, explore the boutiques and mini galleries in the streets of Gràcia. Wander along the calle d’Astúries and discover Modart boutique, full of unique fashion. Live among centuries past in Plaça del Diamant–one of the few city squares that remained unscathed during the Spanish Civil War; is it any wonder that Mercè Rodoreda’s The Time of the Doves was inspired by this special place? The longer you wander, the more you begin to understand how this city–these streets–acted as muse for Gaudi, Picasso and Salvador Dali.

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After a leisurely morning, it’s time for the main event–the reason why people come to Barcelona in the first place, and seem to leave with a new, artistic sense of self they hadn’t known existed. True, there might be a line at La Sagrada Familia. But time doesn’t exist here, remember? As long as you’re ready for the upcoming feast for the senses, everything is well and good. Allow the intricate details of the architecture transport you to another dimension. Sunlight pours in and illuminates the twisty-turvy tree-like columns. The effect of stained glass on each curve makes you wonder: how could one brain conjure up this vision?

Take a deep breath and come back to reality. Hop on the metro and get off a few quick stops away at Bogatell Beach. Hunger has officially set in, but you’re in luck. On the beach there lies Xiringuito Escriba, paella-lover’s heaven. The open air kitchen and bar teases you with incredible platters of seafood fresh off the grill, waiting to be ferried to the tables of hungry beach diners, staring right at you. Pick your chair, feel the Barcelona breezes around you and make your most pressing decision of the day: Cava or wine?

After lunch, step onto the beach. The daunting task of choosing a chair strikes again. For a few coins, you can call a chair and umbrella your official siesta zone. Lotion up, lay back, take a nap. Everyone is doing it.

Sun-kissed, satisfied and officially in love with a city, hop on the metro and get off at Jaume 1. Stroll around the El Born district and enjoy the artsy vibe. Next up, it’s the Picasso Museum; there’s a line but luckily you reserved your ticket online for a nifty 14€. As the sun starts to sink into the sea, it’s time to retreat back to Hotel Arts to freshen up and ready yourself for the evening. Against all odds, Barcelona comes alive even more when the night falls.

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A cocktail on the rooftop at Hotel Arts is the best way to launch tonight’s festivities. It helps ready the appetite for the vast array of tapas coming your way. There’s no rush; remember everything happens later in Spain, and that includes dinner. El Born will be booming by 10:30pm, ready for the droves of locals and tourists alike looking for a taste of Catalonia. Stop into El Xampanyet and try the jamón ibérico, christorra with potatoes, house-cured anchovies, white asparagus and of course, pan con tomate–sliced baguette generously rubbed with garlic, tomato and olive oil.

Steps away is Rubí, a softly-lit bar with a speakeasy vibe, complete with a heavy wooden door opening onto the street that only the lucky ones discover. If you’re looking to cool the heat of a Barcelona summer night, a glass of Rubí’s wide selection of house-made gins with ice cold tonic might just find its way to you. And if you follow the unwritten rules of Barcelona: don’t look at the clock, and go with the flow, you might just find your way through Barcelona’s varied streets — old and winding like Rome, big and bustling like London, palm tree-lined like California, all the way home. But we can’t promise you’ll want to.

See all vacation rentals in Barcelona 

Colleen McNamara