The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is a hip, chic and modern city, known for quirky architecture, amazing tapas, famous streets and beach-side fun. Not only is it a fun holiday destination for a city break, Barcelona is forward-thinking when it comes to veganism, and other less traditional ways of eating. Rachida Brocklehurst shows us around…
Published on 3 May 2017
Where to eat
We all know that the Spanish are particularly fond of ham (jamón), and it’s true that in some more rural parts of the country you might get a few strange looks by saying you’re vegetarian, and a few confused looks when you say you’re a vegan! But bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona are waking up to the fact that meat-free and plant-based eating is not only growing, but exploding in popularity across the globe. In fact, the city of Barcelona actively encourages meat-free eating one day each week, which only makes it easier for those who avoid eating animal products.
100% Vegan places
There are lots of vegan and vegetarian places in Barcelona, here are some of the best. Apps like Happy Cow, or my online directory at www.thegreenv.com can help you find somewhere new to try out or recommend a great place you’ve already been to.
Cat Bar – 17, Boria
One of the most popular vegan hotspots in the city and a real favourite for new and returning tourists alike, there are craft beers, fantastic burgers and of course a cat-theme running throughout. Note, there aren’t actually any cats here, it’s simply cat themed.
Veggie Garden – Dels Angels – 3, Carrrer Dels Angels
Asian-inspired eatery with lots of Indian and Nepalese style dishes. All ingredients are organic.
For a quick bite
There are plenty of places catering for vegans where you can stop off and grab a quick bite to eat…
Gopal Vegan Deli – 42, Carrer Escudellers
Grab a snack in the form of tortillas, cake, vegan cheese and seasonal fresh juices.
La Trocadero – 269, Calle Marina
It’s vegan, it’s fast food – it’s naughty, but oh so nice! Balance out your hot dog or burger with a freshly squeezed juice!
Petit Brot – 10, Carrer Doctor Dou
Totally raw and eco-friendly cafe where you can grab cakes, juices and plenty of savoury meals and snacks.
Eating out at non-vegan places
You would be forgiven for believing that traditional Spanish food doesn’t lend itself too well to plant-based eating, however there are several accidentally vegan options that can be found on pretty much all tapas menus!
- Patatas bravas without mayo: This is potatoes fried in a spicy tomato and paprika sauce. Occasionally this can be served with mayonnaise, so just be sure to check when ordering.
- Pan con tomate: Ideal for breakfast or a mid-morning snack, this involves toast with garlic, olive oil and lots of fresh tomato!
- Pimientos de padrón: These are fried green peppers that are deliciously crispy on the outside, and soft and tender on the inside. The added salt makes them very moorish!
- Salteada de verduras: We all love a veggie stir fry, and this is a great option if you find yourself in a restaurant with no dedicated vegan menu.
As we know, it’s always wise to be familiar with the basics when it comes to making sure you get what you order. Naturally, the Spanish are used to English tourists and especially in the cities and more touristic areas you’ll find that pretty much everywhere you go will be English-friendly.
- Hello – Hola
- Goodbye – Adios
- Thank you – Gracias
- I am vegan – soy vegano/vegana
- I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy – no como carne, pescado, heuvos, lactose
- With soya milk please – con leche de soya por favor
- Without milk – sin leche
- Without cheese – sin queso
Top five sites to visit
There’s no shortage of highlights to see, these five will get you started…
1 Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
Possibly the most famous landmark in the city, this huge historical building will transport you back in time. A top tip is to book ahead, and order an audio guide so you can fully appreciate this architectural wonder.
2 Casa Batllo
Another of Gaudi’s masterpieces, this is particularly stunning with an almost dream-like quality. The audio guide is included in the ticket price. It isn’t the cheapest price, but well worth a visit!
3 Gothic Quarter and La Ramblas
This area is the old town, and is full of quaint streets, local markets, musicians and more. La Ramblas is the famous street with artists and lots going on, but if you’re wanting food or something to drink, try heading to more of the quieter side streets, which will be much cheaper than the touristic area of La Ramblas. Best visited in the day.
4 Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catala
This stunning music hall is the perfect place to explore, relax and soak up the atmosphere at a show, concert or performance. You can book a guided tour of the venue, see a show – or both!
5 Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
This beautiful cathedral offers a chance for peaceful reflection in an otherwise busy city. You can pop in for a visit, or join a tour and see the full area, along with the gallery and rooftop. Be sure to stick around and enjoy a drink in the square afterwards.
Make sure you make the most of your trip by booking tours in advance to avoid disappointment when you’re there. Isango! offers walking tours, food tours, fast track entrance to Sagrada Familia, and much more.
How to get there
Flights to Barcelona are frequent and cheap, especially when booked in advance. Flight time from the UK is around 2-2.5 hours, depending on your location. Look on Skyscanner.net or Google Flights for the best deals. To get to your hotel in the city centre from the airport, you can either arrange a private transfer with your hotel, get a taxi from the rank (which will cost around €25-30), or take the train from Terminal 2 to Barcelona-Passeig de Gràcia station and then onto the metro to your specific hotel.
Where to stay
Although there isn’t a vegan or vegetarian hotel in Barcelona yet, typically vegan visitors to the city opt for self-catering apartments, with the Gracia neighbourhood being a popular area, with its multitude of vegan-friendly places, vegan shops and trendy eateries. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, I recommend the Hotel Well and Come. It’s a luxurious boutique hotel, complete with rooftop views and a swimming pool where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city. The hotel prides itself on looking after its guests, and if you contact them before your visit and let them know you are vegan you can request your favourite plant milk for your coffee and so on. The central location also makes it ideal for city breaks. Check it out online at booking.com.
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