Sights: For me the area around Sant Pere is charming and lest touristy than the Gothic Quarter and feels more like a ‘true’ Barcelona. It was lovely spending an afternoon watching children playing, students having an afternoon beer and old men sitting on a bench.
A walk around some of Gaudi’s buildings is worth the time both to get to know the city and see these pieces of architectural history. I particularly liked the apartment blocks at Casa Amatller and Casa Batlló plus the spectacular Sagrada Familia. An afternoon in from Park Guell is lovely but I don’t think it is worth the extra to stand on the terrace – the views are spectacular everywhere.
We spent time outside Barcelona on the Costa del Azahar, staying in Alcossebre. A pretty area for a couple of days, from where we made day trips to Valencia (including the old town, the central market & the City of Arts & Sciences) and to the spectacular hilltop village of Morella.
Travel: We travelled via Barcelona Airport which is connected to the city centre via regular buses. The city is hilly but much of it can be walked but the metro system helps.
Accommodation: We rented a flat for a couple of days and stayed on Ronda de Sant Pere – a more ‘real’ area with fewer tourists but still easily walkable to the main sights. Similar accommodation can be found here: http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?city=-372490&nflt=ht_id%253D201&aid=1222377&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&room1=A%2CA
If venturing down the coast, we stayed in Las arenas in Alcosssebre which is a small holiday complex (pool etc.) so not my usual holiday style but nicely it was placed for day trips with a well equipped apartment a few minutes walk from the sea front to come back to afterwards. http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/arenas-altamar-apartments.html?aid=1222377&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&room1=A%2CA
Food & Drink:
We enjoyed drinks in the bars in around Plaça de Sant Pere, Plaça de l’Acadèmia and Carrer de l’Allada-Vermell – all a little less touristy than some of the central squates. For an authentic experience, check out the ‘passage way bar’ – Bar Pasajes (Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 31, 08003). We had great Tapas (worth the wait!) at Bar Mundial (Plaza Sant Agusti Vell, 1, 08003).
Further Reading & Listening: