America’s only LGBTQ syndicated value travel columnist
Barcelona – great food, nightlife, and a vibrant gay village
Barcelona, Spain (and specifically the Eixample gay neighborhood) are perfect for a vacation. Restaurants, bars, transit, and more are within steps of each other and you can even walk to some of the main attractions. Stay at the Axel Hotel and enjoy the nightly events at the Sky Bar, make new friends at breakfast, work out at the huge gym, and more. Axel is a LGBTQ hotel chain with hotels all over Europe and in Miami Beach. However, everyone (gay or straight) is welcome there. Their motto is “we are hetero friendly”. Staff is very helpful with travel tips and things to do.
Barcelona is a tropical city LGBTQ+ paradise at bargain prices. Its architecture is stunning. The people are well dressed with interesting hair cuts (very short on the side). With the euro at par with the U.S. dollar, drinks at a bar are just 5 euros. Enjoy a fancy meal with wine for under $25. Get the special five day transit pass for just $20 (including from the airport). Barcelona reminded me of a big city version of Puerto Vallarta, or LA with better transit.
The people are friendly but you will have to adjust to their odd hours. Nothing is open before 9 am on weekends – even for coffee. Take a nap between 2 and 5pm. Enjoy dinner at 8 or later. The food is great and of all types. Lots of empandas. And the bars don’t close until 3 a.m. or later. They are indeed night owls.
WHAT TO DO
- Enjoy the historic but still unfinished church, La Sagrada Família. You can walk from the hotel and stop at the Gaudi house (Casa Batallo Gaudi). along the way.
- Grab lunch at the St. Joseph’s marketplace also known as La Boqueria. It has 300 food stands and is located in the historic Las Ramblas The market dates to 1840 and its origins date back to the 13th century. Try the fresh fruit juices.
- Head up to the city mountain park (Parc Montjuic) for city views and enjoy the botanical garden which features Mediterranean plants from around the world. Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate similar to California, Chile, and Australia.
- Walk around the Arc de Triomphe and nearby park, Parc de la Citudella.
- Go to the clothing optional (and very gay) beach, Playa de la Mar Bella.
There are lots of clubs and bars in L’Eixample just steps from the hotel. Try the nearby Dmen’s, Gin Bar, the Boxer Café, and more. Dance the night away at the Safari. The bar on the 7th floor of the Axel Hotel (Sky Bar) has a rooftop balcony and events almost every night. Try the cava for just 5 euros (Champagne). They also have a bar next to the roof top pool on the 8th floor during the day. Both are a lot of fun.
WHAT TO EAT
I enjoyed the empanadas which are seemingly everywhere. The Cava (champagne) is very refreshing not to mention the sangria. And of course, Barcelona is famous for its tapas. The Spanish Omelet at La Cova de La Mari (across the street from the hotel) is very good. Ask for a café colletta (coffee with milk) or have a Café Americano or a double espresso. There is no such thing as a 12 ounce cup of coffee in Spain.
Take the Metro (line 9 Sud (South) from the airport and buy a 5 day pass for just $20 (including from airport). Then take a short bus ride to the hotel. They also have street cars and buses. The pass is good on all of them.
Pick up a copy of the LGBTQ+ Barcelona official gay map published by the city at the airport metro station or read it on line at visitbarcelona.com. It even includes listings “bars fetish” and “cruising/dark rooms”. This is one LGBTQ+ friendly city.
Pick up some Gazpacho soup or snacks at the nearby Jespac Market. They also have an Aldi close by the hotel. You can great local food to go (cheeses, yogurt, fruit, and more) for a quick and affordable bite.
Buy a converter for your cell phone charger as Europe is on a different electric voltage. Just 5 Euros.
Get Euros out of an ATM. Banks don’t convert U.S. dollars. Or use your credit card for everything.
You will want to return to Barcelona and this is only a sampling of the many things to do in this great city. It’s arguably the most gay friendly city in the world and it’s very walkable. And affordable for all.
About the Author
Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only LGBTQ+ syndicated value travel columnist. Residing in Indianapolis, he travels with a focus on the local and value orientation.