With out-of-control mass tourism in Barcelona making the headlines last summer, the city is slowly beginning to turn towards more sustainable ways of attracting tourists. From a brand new eco-friendly B&B to innovative restaurants using home-grown products, everyone is trying to do their bit to reduce our ecological footprint and make Barcelona a smarter destination.
Where to stay
(C/ Trafalgar 39, 8º2º, 08010 Barcelona, +34 640 625 313 )This central, eco-friendly Bed & Breakfast is one of the reasons why we love Barcelona. Located just 10 minutes away from Plaza Catalunya, it has created a new form of tourism where sustainability and culture come hand in hand and where guests are more than just guests. The hosts do go out of their way to ensure that everyone staying here leaves with happy memories of their time in Barcelona; they even go as far as to organise cultural and social events in the rooftop terrace of the B&B!
What to do
(18, Carrer de Balmes 08007 Barcelona, +34 649 60 99 41)
If you truly want to experience Barcelona like a local, then you need to lace up your shoes and join one of the free tours organised by the friendly staff at Discover Walks. Conducted by natives, they take you to all those places you’ve marked on the travel guide but show you things that you won’t be able to find on print. The best part: they run every day and you don’t need to book in advance.
Private and paid tours are also available.
(C/ de la Marina 13, Vila Olímpica, 08008 Barcelona, +34 671 307 325)
Bikes are also a great way to explore Barcelona and since you can rent one for as a little as 9€ a day, it really seems like a no-brainer. However, if this is your first time in the city, you might want to pedal along with someone else so you don’t miss on anything. The friendly bike tours by Barcelona by Bike are perfect for this; from sightseeing, to tapas and the city’s nightlife, they cover it all!
Where to eat
(Passatge de la Pau 11, 08002 Barcelona, +34 93 280 81 71)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there a few better ways to start off the morning than by having one at this trendy café in the Gothic Quarter. Its cosmopolitan atmosphere and their coffee leave no one indifferent. We highly recommend ordering a flat white; after all is owned by Aussies.
Price: 18 – 25€
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 9am to 12pm / Friday and Saturday from 9am to 1am / Sunday from 9am to 5:30pm
For other places to have great breakfasts in Barcelona check: Best cafés for brunch and breakfast in Barcelona
(Palau 5, 08001 Barcelona, +34 93 318 69 26)
Located in Gothic Quarter, this vegetarian bistro is one of the most exciting gastronomic venues for organic food lovers and Slow Food followers. Their innovative recipes are prepared with fresh produce, most handpicked from the restaurant’s own garden in Sant Feliu de Llobregat. The artisanal beers and wines are also worth a try.
Price: 20 – 35€
Opening hours: Tuesday from 7pm to 11pm / Wednesday – Sunday from 1pm to 11pm
Where to shop
If you wish to buy something for an eco-minded friend back home, there are several artisanal shops in the city.
(C/Avinyó 7, 08002 Barcelona, +34 93 301 01 72)
This quaint shop in the Gothic Quarter makes adults look like children as they stare at the hundreds of traditional, handmade espadrilles – in almost all sizes and colours – shelved on the walls. If you are looking for a classic yet classy souvenir, you should pay them a visit; they have been making these comfortable shoes since 1943 so you are literally taking a piece of history back home with you. Hollywood stars such as Jack Nicholson, Julianne Moore, Michael Douglas or Penélope Cruz are known to own a pair or two.
Opening hours: From 9:30am to 1:30pm and from 4:30pm to 8pm
(C/Avinyó 29, 08002 Barcelona, +34 93 186 41 29)
If you are looking for something a bit more modern or if – known on wood – your suitcases get lost, you can go to this sustainable fashion store located just down the street from La Manual Alpargatera. You can find international eco designs by international clothing brands such as L’Herbe Rouge or the local Thinking Mu, known for using only 100% organic cotton and biodegradable pigments on their range of clothes.
Opening hours: From 11:15am to 2pm and from 4pm to 8:30pm