To celebrate our friend Alex’s 30th birthday, half-a-plane-load of us went to Barcelona.

Ok, it was more like a dozen of us, but that’s still a testament to 1) Alex’s popularity and 2) Barcelona’s popularity. This seaside city is full of great architecture, beautiful views, and endless tapas bars, making it a world-class destination for merry-making.

But Barcelona doesn’t need any endorsements. In fact, the residents of Barcelona probably want people like me to stop raving about how amazing their city is. Barcelona is attempting to tamp down its tourist arrivals. Approximately 32 million visitors came to Barcelona last year, which is home to a mere 1.6 million.

Tourism is driving up the rent, and stag and hen parties are driving the locals mad. Understandably so – I mutter under my breath a thousand times while trying to zig-zag between slow-walkers on Oxford Street.

There are some things visitors to Barcelona should be aware of:
– Barcelona is putting the breaks on any new hotels from opening in the centre of the city.
– There is a huge anti-Airbnb movement in the city centre as locals struggle to find affordable housing.
– Limited visitors are allowed in attractions like Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia, so book online before coming to town.

But a good time in Barcelona doesn’t need to involve pissing off locals. In fact, seek them out because they know the best spots to eat, drink and party.

Here are some of my recommendations from our long weekend –

Cafe Federal – multi-storeyed brunch hotspot with an extensive menu. We scored a table on the rooftop.

El Dinamic de Barcelona – cheap-as-chips glasses of Vermouth

Chok – This chocolate joint specialising in cronuts is what instagram dreams are made of.

La Boqueria – everything you lay your eyes on in this bustling market is going to be delicious, but we particularly loved the tapas we had at Ramblero.

Restaurant Elche – you can’t come to Barcelona and not eat a paella. Grab a few friends and come to this restaurant for an exceptional paella.

Caravelle – Two words: huevos rancheros

La Esquina – another top-notch brunch spot, with great coffee and brilliant baked eggs.

Tapas 24 – great atmosphere and attentive staff at the end of a long line.

Restaurant La Pepita – Creative tapas in the Gracia neighbourhood. This trendy spot is quite popular so book ahead, or prepare to wait.

Carrer de Joaquin Costa bars – this is the street we were staying on, so we got to sample a lot of the bars here. Casa Almirall, Beirut 37, Bar Olimpic, Bar 33/45 and Coplas bar are the ones you should bookmark. Head to the Dog is Hot for post-drinking snack.

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