God, I LOVE Barcelona! I have been quite a number of times and each time have fallen in love with it a bit more. It’s a city that you can walk around for hours and days and still feel there’s more to see. But can you enjoy the food there if you are a Coeliac? YES YOU CAN!
So here is my 3 day guide to Barcelona: Coeliac style. I have detailed places to eat whilst still hitting great sightseeing spots. I do suggest walking everywhere so you can see as much of the city as possible and it also gives you a chance to go off-piste and explore.
Day 1: Park Guell & Gaudi
You cannot visit Barcelona without a trip to Park Guell (above) and a visit to see just how much more of the Sagrada Familia has got to go before it’s completed (hint: it’s still a lot!) The two iconic Gaudi feats are what most people visit Barcelona to see, and whether you are a tourist or not, they’re worth a visit.
Start your day off with a walk or metro ride from your accommodation to Jansana Gluten Free Bakery. This bakery is 100% gluten free and offers everything you would want from Catalan and Spanish patisserie. My absolute favourite are the ensaïmada which are light as air with a beautiful sugary, powdery coating! Make sure that you go hungry and have space to carry extra snacks around with you.
After this, you’ll need to walk a bit (trust me) so walk to Casa Mila a few streets away. This is a house designed by Guadi and built in the first two decades of the 1900’s. Then, on to Park Guell. It’s about a 45 minute walk and it’s through beautiful neighbourhoods. Watch out for the steep bit towards the park though.
After the park you’ll be hungry, so try either Rabipelao Gràcia or Gut for lunch.
Rabipelao Gràcia is an Argentinian Arepa restaurant just a few streets away from Park Guell. They offer a fully gluten free menu and their arepas are to die for. Alternatively Gut is a little bit further away but is also great. It is a restaurant designed for dietary restrictions with items clearly marked on their menu for gluten free, organic, vegetarian, egg free and dairy free. The menu is clean, innovative and exciting.
From lunch, walk to the crowning sight in Barcelona: the Sagrada Familia. You could walk around this cathedral for hours and still not have seen everything. It’s just stunning.
Nearby is a great chicken restaurant called Els Pollos if you fancy an early dinner.
If not, head back to your accommodation and have a nap before going to one of my favourite restaurants in the world: Passadis del Pep by the waterfront. You will need to book ahead as they are always fully booked and let them know you are gluten free at the time of booking. It’s worth also reminding your waiter when you are seated too. This restaurant has no menu. Instead you are served course after course of fish, seafood, meats and delicacies until you say “stop”. The food is so fresh an perfectly seasoned and, because it is mostly fresh fish, there is very little gluten here. It is a little expensive so whenever I go to Barcelona, this is my treat. (Top tip: wear stretchy trousers!)
Day 2: Football & Markets
Start your day by picking up picnics. Around Las Ramblas there is a bakery called Forn Boix which has gluten free options in a designated gluten free section. Then pop to Mercado de La Boqueria to pick up meats, cheeses, fruit, vegetables etc. This market is stunning and I can walk around it for hours and still find something else exciting, so maybe stop in for breakfast too!
Travel west and have an amazing gluten free brunch/lunch at Copasetic. There are gluten free pancakes, waffles and burgers which can all be washed down with a gluten free beer.
After that, an afternoon at the Nou Camp calls. Doing the tour of the whole of Barcelona FC’s ground is interesting even if football isn’t your thing. If it IS your thing (you can see that it IS mine!) then it’s phenomenal! You get to go round a museum and have access to areas like the dugout and the press box!
You’ll need your picnic as a snackette as the gluten free options at the Camp Nou aren’t great; unless you like gluten free certified chips as a meal?
I would also definitely recommend booking to see a match too if there’s one on while you are in Barcelona. The European football is just stunning.
Day 3: Shopping and Ramblas-ing
I always like to set aside a day of my trip to ramble around the city that I am in. So for day 3 I have a collection of restaurants around the main shopping area of the gothic quarter (more independent crafty shops), Las Ramblas (market traders), Passeig de Gracia (high street stores) and El Corte Ingles (department store).
Restaurant La Lluna is in the gothic quarter down a cobbled side road and offers a full gluten free menu with great options. It’s good prices considering the area and great quality.
For incredible, authentic Catalan gluten free options, La Fonda is a great option. They have a special menu that highlights all the dishes suitable for coeliacs, dairy free requirements, vegetarians, and people with other dietary needs. There’s such a great selection though even with the dietary menu.
And finally, towards the zoo there's a fab restaurant called El Café Blueproject which is an incredibly colourful, fresh, seasonal restaurant serving raw and 100% organic food. Everything is tasty and well balanced with great creativity. Even my meat-eating fiancé loved it!
The wonderful thing is that a lot of Catalan food lends itself to coeliacs such as paella, Spanish omelette, patats bravas and crema catalana *drool* but it’s still worth noting the useful phrases and bringing your Coeliac Restaurant Card with you. The magic phrase is “soy celíaco/celiaca” (male/female for “I am a coeliac”) and “no puedo comer gluten/harina de trigo” (“I can’t eat gluten/wheat flour”). Then, flash them your restaurant card and most waiters will be more than willing to help (they’re pretty nice over there!)
We found a great website called Allergy Chef which is a searchable database of restaurants that cater to specific food allergies. It was founded in association with the Catalan Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology which is promising. The site allows you to search by neighbourhood and food restriction, and then you can make reservations at any other restaurants that pop up directly through the site. There are also restaurant reviews, and viewable menus. Such a great option, and you can access the information in English.
When all else fails, McDonalds in Spain has gluten free options. Go crazy!
For more articles on travelling with allergies and intolerances see here.
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