Perched between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean sea, Barcelona is a place you will never want to leave. Thankfully, the freedom of remote working makes it possible to keep coming back! Staying and working in this beautiful city enables you to experience it in a slower and more immersive way. Change your daily grind at home for the relaxing Catalonian pace of life, work from stunning hotels and coworking spaces, and in your leisure time explore the city’s incredible history, creative culture, traditional cuisine, and surrounding countryside. In this guide we help you to plan your perfect workation in Barcelona.
This site contains links to travel services we recommend, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you. We were hosted in Barcelona with assistance from Barcelona Turisme, who arranged complementary accommodation, experiences and workspace visits. Our opinions are our own, and we always give honest travel recommendations.
Why Barcelona is the perfect place for a workation
The first time I visited Barcelona I became instantly enamoured with the city. It is a truly unique place that has so many dimensions to it; so many different qualities that appeal to different types of explorer.
How many cities have you visited that have both beaches and mountains on their doorstep, and dozens of green parks in between? In Barcelona you are never far from nature. This alone makes it a fabulous place to work remotely and enjoy the restorative qualities of natural surroundings.
Creativity is part of the city’s DNA
Barcelona has a creative spirit that you cannot help but be inspired by. There is a good reason why legends of art like Pablo Picasso and architect Antoni Gaudí were so compelled by the city. Art runs like a colourful thread through Barcelona’s veins, and you will encounter it everywhere you look.
As a UNESCO City of Literature, Barcelona has deep-rooted traditions for writing, and has produced many famous novelists and poets over the years. You can get to know this scene by exploring some of the 300+ book shops that are dotted throughout the city.
The love of books is celebrated every year as an intrinsic aspect of the vibrant annual Sant Jordi Festival, which I was lucky enough to experience on my recent workation in Barcelona.
Wandering around the city you will encounter street art everywhere you turn. Music is ever-present in the city too, on cobbled alleyways and in lively bars.
Street performers serenade you on charming passageways in the Gothic Quarter, and live music is never difficult to find at night when you want to wind down with some entertainment at the end of the working day.
A city at the forefront of innovation
Ten years ago, a friend of mine – who is a scientist and data specialist – moved from Manchester in the UK to live in Barcelona. He was drawn to the city because of its forward-thinking reputation as a centre for research and innovation in Europe. A decade later, he still has no plans to leave.
The city has been at the forefront of scientific and technological advancement for centuries, which is evident in its array of science museums. And this spirit of innovation is still very much alive today, visible its emerging landscape of modern, sustainable buildings.
When I met with my friend in Barcelona after several years, he explained that it was the scientific career opportunity that brought him to the city – but it was the culture and pace of life that made him stay. Few cities have such an ideal environment for a healthy work–life balance.
Barcelona has adapted quickly to the remote working surge. It has become a thriving modern city with a great infrastructure for working remotely. You will now find an abundance of friendly coworking spaces in almost every neighbourhood, and hotels are increasingly catering towards the needs of remote workers.
Quaint old cafés and coffee shops around the city now have plug-in points and strong wifi installed. You will always be able to find somewhere to recharge and catch up on emails over a delicious coffee between sightseeing stops.
It’s also incredibly easy to get around Barcelona via its advanced public transport system. With a Hola Barcelona travel card you have unlimited use of the metro, buses on trams.
Beyond the city, the regional train network gives you quick access to nearby charming seaside villages, glorious countryside riddled with vineyards, and the Pyrenees mountains.
Read more about transport in the city and surrounding area in our complete guide to getting around Barcelona.
Basking in the Mediterranean climate
Barcelona always seems to be sunny, and it is never too cold. The hot summers and mild winters mean it is a lovely place to visit at any time of year for a workation. Thinking of an off-season trip? Our guide to Barcelona in winter will get you started.
Visiting in April I frequently took the opportunity to take my laptop outside and work in the sunshine. Many spaces around the city cater for this, whether it’s a hotel with a terrace, a coworking space with outdoor work areas, or a café with al fresco dining.
The Barcelona Workation Card
Always ahead of the curve, Barcelona has introduced a special Barcelona Workation Card. This combines free entry to attractions and museums all over the city with discounts on things like gyms, sport facilities and shopping.
The card is valid for six months once you activate it, so it’s handy to have for a workation of any length.
Flying to Barcelona with Vueling
Vueling is a Spanish airline that connects Barcelona with destinations all over Europe. When looking for Vueling flights from London airports I was spoilt for choice, with flights leaving every half hour! It’s the same with dozens of other cities, and the prices are very affordable compared with other options.
I flew from London Gatwick with Vueling for my workation in Barcelona, and I can honestly say it was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had with an airline for a long time. Boarding was smooth and the journey was comfortable.
Best of all, the flight took off on time and arrived early. The same was true on my return journey. This is a rarity on my travels these days! It wasn’t a coincidence, either – Vueling is the most punctual of all European airlines according to recent data.
You can look up routes and prices on the Vueling website.
Where to stay for a workation in Barcelona
There are a few vital criteria to consider when choosing accommodation for a workation. To make the most of somewhere like Barcelona, it’s best to be in a well connected, central location.
You also need to have a good space for working, even if you plan to use coworking spaces and cafés too. It’s likely there will be times when just want to stay and work in your hotel for a while.
I stayed in Sonder Casa Luz, which provided all of the above and much more. Its top-floor restaurant overlooks the lively square of Plaça Universitat, with incredible views from two outdoor terrace areas. This is also where breakfast is served, so you can start your day with an amazing city panorama and delicious food, and later in the day maybe bring your laptop outside to work.
To find out more and the hotel and its facilities, check out our Sonder Casa Luz review. For more insights into the different neighbourhoods around central Barcelona, read our guide to the best areas to stay in Barcelona.
The metro station is right outside the hotel, so it’s very convenient for getting around. It’s also a short walk away from the central Plaça de Catalunya, Las Ramblas, plus many other attractions and good places to eat.
My room had a desk space where I could work in comfort whenever I needed, as well as a balcony to take a break and enjoy the city view. And of course, the wifi performance is top notch.
Self-catered apartments in Barcelona
If you would prefer to have your own space for a workation, there are literally hundreds of apartments across the city you can rent. To help cut through the options, we’ve picked out 25 stunning Vrbo apartments in Barcelona with work spaces.
Some of the apartments we picked out have a dedicated work desk, while others have areas and facilities that double up well for a working environment.
Coliving in Barcelona
If you are planning a longer workation, coliving is an interesting accommodation option. Aticco Coliving has a growing coliving community, and you can find places to live flexibly and meet people for a few weeks or months.
Coworking in Barcelona
In Barcelona you will find dozens of coworking spaces to choose from, many of which offer flexible short-term rates that are ideal for workationers. I visited some of Barcelona’s best coworking spaces during my trip to see the facilities and get a feel for the community.
Aticco: a stylish community coworking
Aticco has five coworking spaces located around Barcelona. For digital nomads and people on workation, it offers various flexible options in addition to long-term membership.
A great option for a workation is the 5/30 pass for €125, which allows you to use the space for any five days in a 30-day period. Similarly there is a 10/30 pass for €179, or you can buy a single day pass for €35.
I was welcomed by the team at Aticco Med, a creative coworking space in Poblenou, on the doorstep of the 22@ technology and innovation district. This Aticco has a stunning location, right on the seafront.
Its standout feature is a terrace area that overlooks the Mediterranean, with an outdoor swimming pool and an assortment of tables for working with a view. Imagine working here!
The facilities are set over three floors, and the whole building feels bright and roomy, with high ceilings and lots of natural light pouring in. The working area is peaceful but still characterful, with stylish furnishings and plants integrated into the space.
What I really liked about Aticco is the community vibe that it has. Towards the end of the day, some coworkers gather on the terrace for exercise sessions. Talks are sometimes held on the beach for startups, and there are various group activities held regularly.
Altogether, it’s a laidback space where you can come and go freely, work at your own pace, and do as little or as much as you like. There are quiet spaces when you need to focus, and a social scene that will help you make connections with likeminded people.
Cahoot Coworking: flexible urban working
My favourite coworking spaces are often those that make imaginative use of an old space. Cahoot Coworking is one of the best examples of this in Barcelona.
It is set in an old industrial warehouse that has been transformed into a modern coworking environment. The roof is fitted with skylights, bringing in lots of natural light, which is accentuated by the whitewashed walls and minimalist design.
A few sparsely arranged plants bring a natural touch, all set out beneath high ceilings with an airy, spacious ambiance. The open space makes for a creative communal environment, but there are also private rooms and Skype booths should you need them.
Cahoot is located in the chilled-out Sant Antoni district, nestled midway between Plaça de Catalunya and Montjuïc. It’s a less touristy area, but there are still nice places nearby to eat and go for walks, so it’s a lovely spot to work for a while.
It’s easy to work flexibly at Cahoot with the various rates on offer. A day pass is €20, or a week pass is €80. Great for a workation!
Getting around Barcelona on your workation
In Barcelona you are never more than a few paces away from a bus, metro or tram stop. I used the Hola Barcelona Travel Card on my visit to access public transport, which made it completely hassle-free to get around, with no need to keep buying tickets. You can get a card for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours.
I mostly used the metro to navigate the city. The system has eight lines that run frequently and cover the vast majority of Central Barcelona, plus much of the surrounding suburbs.
A new fleet of electric buses was recently introduced to Barcelona as part of its pledge to only use clean vehicles. I saw a couple of these around the city, and they definitely look like a glimpse of the future!
It’s also very easy to get around Barcelona by bicycle. There are more than 200 kilometres of cycle lanes, as well as cycle parking spaces all over the city.
Things to do in your leisure time in Barcelona
On a Barcelona workation you are spoilt for choice when it comes to leisure activities for your days off. No matter how many times you come back to the city, there will always be more things to see and do!
If you are on a short workation, it’s a good idea to invest in a Barcelona Card. This gives you free entry to many visitor attractions around the city, as well as access to some great discounts.
Whatever you like to do when exploring a new place, whether it’s sightseeing, physical activities, discovering food and drink, walking or shopping, you will find it in abundance in Barcelona. Here are a few ideas for you to try. You can also see our itinerary for Barcelona in 3 days for inspiration on planning a short visit.
Go on a Barcelona street art cycle tour
The first thing Lisa and I like to do after arriving in any city is take a guided tour. It’s nice to be introduced to the place by someone who knows it and can tell you stories, and also to get some insider recommendations on things to see and do for the rest of your stay.
In Barcelona I took a tour with a difference: a street art cycle tour with Bamboo Bike Tours. Street art is a big part of Barcelona’s cultural identity, and it’s fascinating to learn how integral it has been to the city’s artistic development. Plus, on this tour, you get to ride sustainable ebikes made from bamboo, which is a lot of fun!
Florent was my tour guide, and he went out of his way to make the experience a memorable one. He took us to secret street art and graffiti spots away from the beaten track, and told stories about the different personalities and styles of the scene.
From hidden murals in the suburbs to restored industrial warehouses that have become community art hubs, the tour gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes look into the creative soul of Barcelona.
Discover the legacy of Antoni Gaudí
The legendary architect Antoni Gaudí has become synonymous with Barcelona, and no visit to the city is quite complete without witnessing his works.
Of course, the most famous of these is the magnificent yet incomplete cathedral of La Sagrada Familia. Pictures can never convey quite how impressive this building is. Come along early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and set aside at least a an hour or two to explore the interior.
Another of Gaudí’s flagship achievements is Parc Guell, a sprawling labyrinth of gardens and ornate features that overlooks the city from uphill. After taking a walk around here, head up to Mirador Joan Sales just above the park for a spectacular panoramic view from the sea to the mountains.
Back in downtown Barcelona, Palau Guell located just off Las Ramblas is a unique building that Gaudí designed for the Guell family. You can climb up through the many floors of this urban palace and see the remarkable intricate features of its design.
Casa Batllo is an iconic building with the unmistakeable hand of Gaudí in its design. Inside the building you can learn its secrets at your own pace with an audio guide, exploring the hidden garden to the rear, the rooftops with city views, and its many unique features such as the ‘ribcage room’.
Explore the city’s fantastic museums and galleries
Across Barcelona you will find dozens of museums and galleries where you can become immersed in the city’s cultural heritage. By slowly exploring these during your leisure time on a workation, you can learn the stories that have made Barcelona what it is today. And it means there is plenty to do if you get unlucky with a rainy day in Barcelona!
The Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) in the Gothic Quarter is a good place to start. In the foundations of the building are the 2,000-year-old ruins of the ancient Roman city of Barcino.
Pablo Picasso has a close affinity with Barcelona, having spent his formative years an artist here. Before Picasso died, he bequeathed hundreds of his early works to the city, and you can see many of them at the Picasso Museum, widely considered to be one of the best museums in Europe.
To learn more about Picasso’s footprint on Barcelona you can take a Picasso walking tour, which follows his legacy around the city, including a glimpse of his only open-air work and the art school where he studied.
Continuing the artistic theme, just around the corner from the Picasso Museum is the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM). Here you can find regularly refreshed exhibitions of contemporary art. On my visit I was captivated by the incredible works of Jordi Díaz Alamà, a leading local artist who has worked closely with the museum over the years and often has his work displayed there.
All of these experiences and many more are included on the Barcelona Card.
Discover the city’s chocolate heritage
For something a little more lighthearted, you can pay a visit to Museu de la Xocolata – the Chocolate Museum. Every little touch here links back to chocolate. Even the ticket to enter is a chocolate bar!
Inside you can learn all about Barcelona’s role in developing chocolate-making techniques. It was right here in Barcelona that the world’s first mechanical chocolate production was begun in 1777.
There are some magnificent chocolate sculptures, and on some days you can try chocolate-making workshops. Best of all for workationers, there is a café where you can plug in and recharge while enjoying a hot chocolate and some delicious sweet treats!
Casa Amatller, next door to Casa Batllo, is another place where you can glimpse some of Barcelona’s chocolate-making heritage. Amatller is the city’s most famous chocolate brand, and its roots are tied to the family that once lived in this incredible building, which is one of the best examples of Catalan modernism.
You can enter and explore the building’s interior, which has been beautifully preserved, and then try some classic Amatller chocolates downstairs in the café and shop. I couldn’t resist buying some cava-flavoured truffle chocolates to take home!
Enjoy a Barcelona sailing experience
Barcelona’s perch on the Mediterranean opens you up to a whole world of water activities on your a workation. This setting is one of the main reasons I love the city for working remotely; being next to the ocean has an inherently relaxing quality.
I went on a Barcelona sailing experience with vermut and snacks. It’s awesome to see the city from a completely different persective – from the water! And it’s a lovely way to switch off and relax for a while after a morning’s work, and maybe meet some new people.
From our boat we could see a group of people on a paddle-surfing experience. This also looked like a lot of fun! And it’s something else to try if you want to do something more active on the water.
Relax on the beach (or go for a run!)
Workations give you the chance to completely relax and switch off when you have finished work, and where better to do that than the beach? Barcelona sits on 4.5 kilometres of sandy beaches, and the wider region covers some 100 kilimetres more coastline to explore.
Barceloneta is the city’s most famous beach, and also the most popular and crowded. If you want a bit more peace and quiet you could head a little up the coastline to the calm beach of Llevant, stopping at other spots along the way.
The entire seafront at Barcelona is spanned by a scenic promenade, which is lovely to walk along. Rise early before work and head along here for a run, and you can enjoy a stunning Mediterranean sunrise.
See the light and colour shows at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The hill of Montjuïc looms 173 metres over Barcelona and the sea from the western side of the city. It is spread with a spacious wooded park, which is another excellent spot for walks and runs before work.
But it is at night when the magic really happens at Montjuïc. Its ‘Magic Fountain’ is brought to life in a mesmerising display of light, colour and music as crowds gather around. What’s more, it’s completely open to the public! Seeing the show is definitely one of the best free things to do in Barcelona.
The timing of the show varies around the year, and you can check the schedule here.
Taste the delights of Catalonian cuisine
Food is an integral part of the culture and pace of life in Barcelona. If you are a foodie, the city is guaranteed to win you over! Think relaxed tapas on a hot afternoon, or delicious seafood straight from the ocean.
After arriving at the Sonder hotel I tried some local tapas delicacies at its in-house restaurant, Casa Luz, overlooking the Plaça de la Universitat. The combination of Catalonian meats, cheeses, olive oils, breads and fish, complemented with a regional wine, is just irresistible.
Around the city there are hundreds upon hundreds of tapas restaurants where you can stop for an al fresco experience in the sunshine. I enjoyed a charcuterie platter and a fried aubergine dish with a glass of Catalonian craft beer at a cosy little place called Tallers 76.
If you head away from the busiest areas you can find some wonderful hidden gems. Florent, my guide on the street art cycle tour, recommended a little-known restaurant called La Viena Blanca, run by a Filipino family but serving Catalan specialities. It’s the ideal kind of place for a leisurely lunch, with good-value menu deals.
You can also visit Barcelona’s famous food markets. Mercado de La Boqueria is one of the most popular, situated along Las Ramblas. You can have a lot of fun here getting lost inside Barcelona’s largest food market and exploring the various fresh food and street food stalls.
It does get busy at La Boqueria, so if you would prefer somewhere a little off the beaten path, try Mercat de Sant Antoni. Set in a 19th century building, it has dozens of food stalls and is at the heart of a neighbourhood that is rife with coworking spaces and cafés.
Experience a festival or event
Barcelona buzzes with a constant energy all year round, fuelled by a calendar of festivals and special events. The city loves a celebration! I saw this first-hand when I was fortunate enough to be there for one of the biggest events of the year: the Sant Jordi Festival.
Sant Jordi (Saint George) Day takes place on 23 April every year in Barcelona, and combines a celebration of two things: books and roses. Streets and plazas across the city are taken over by a big open-air gathering, and clusters of stalls selling all kinds of literature and flowers.
It’s a special day for couples. You will see many walking around arm-in-arm, and partaking in the tradition of gift-giving – buying each other books and roses. The rose-giving tradition dates back to the 15th century, while books were introduced as part of the festival custom in 1930.
There’s a warm feeling of positivity in the air, and everybody seems to get involved! The facade of Casa Batllo is draped in red roses for the occasion, a fabulous sight to see.
Here are some other important festivals in Barcelona that you could incorporate into your workation:
- Epiphany (5–6 January): a flamboyant street parade to celebrate the arrival of the three kings
- Carnival (February/March): as famed in Rio de Janeiro, street celebrations with fancy dress and fireworks
- Sonar Festival (June): an internationally acclaimed electronic music festival
- Barcelona Pride (June): the city’s biggest celebration of diversity and LGBTQ rights
- San Joan Festival (23–24 June): a huge summer celebration with fireworks and beach parties
- Barcelona Beach Festival (July): a major electronic music festival held on Platja del Fòrum
- Cruilla Festival (July): a wide-ranging music festival held annually in Parc del Fòrum
- Sala Montjuïc (July/August): an open-air summer cinema held by Castle Montjuïc
- Festes de la Mercè (September): varied celebrations across the city honouring the Patron Saint of Barcelona
- L’Alternativa (November/December): an independent film festival with various screenings and activities
Get immersed in Barcelona’s shopping scene
If shopping is your favourite pastime, you will not be disappointed in Barcelona. Weekends are made for shopping here, and you will be amazed by the variety! Whether you are looking for high-end retail, characterful street markets or anything in between, you will find it here.
El Corte Inglés is Spain’s largest department store chain, and its most iconic outlet stands on the corner of Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona. This is where you will find top-end fashion, clothing jewellery, cosmetics and the like.
Perusing street markets and flea markets in Barcelona may give you a more authentic shopping experience. Walking around the Gothic Quarter one evening I came across the Gòtic Antiques Market, which takes place every Thursday under the shadow of the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral.
Barcelona is home to one of Europe’s oldest flea markets: Els Encants. With origins stretching back to the 14th century, it is still held several times weekly, on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays. In 2008 a new modernistic mirrored roof was built to cover the market, which is another example of the city’s contemporary architecture.
For an in-depth look into the unique shopping scene in Barcelona, check out this guide to Barcelona’s best shops.
Places to visit near Barcelona
The beauty of taking a workation in Barcelona is not just being in the city itself, but also the access you have to a world of adventure and exploration nearby.
Whether it’s discovering independent wineries, relaxing in seaside villages or refreshing yourself with a hike in the Pyrenees, there are so many ways you can unwind. All of this is within close reach of the city in the province landscapes surrounding Barcelona.
Below are some insights from my exploration of the region during my workation in Barcelona. You can also find many more different types of experiences near the city using Barcelona Much More.
Discover the wine region of Penedès
The village of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is less than one hour’s train ride from Barcelona. This picturesque village, home to over 100 wineries, is at the heart of the Penedès wine region.
Penedès is renowned worldwide for its production of sparkling wines. In particular, the region is the world’s largest producer of cava. A whole range of wines are produced here amid the stunning beauty of the Catalan countryside.
I was welcomed for a visit at Recaredo, one of the region’s most prestigious makers of sparkling wine. Named after its founder, Recaredo will celebrate its centenary in 2024.
Today, Recaredo is still very much a family winery, with an ethos of togetherness and a dedication to organic processes. It is clear that everyone who works here is considered a part of the family.
Everything in the wine-making process from start to finish is done manually. It is one of the world’s only wineries that riddles and degorges every bottle by hand, which is an amazing process to see. Check out the video below:
After being shown around the cellars and learning all about the techniques, it was time to try some of the wine, accompanied with some regional delicacies. This is the fun part! And the tastes did not disappoint.
An exploration of Penedès, such as with a tour at Recaredo, is a wonderful way to disconnect for a while when taking a step back from work.
Explore the quaint seaside town of Sitges
The coastline of the Barcelona region is dotted with scenic towns and villages where you can relax, explore, and immerse in Mediterranean culture. One of these is Sitges, nestled in a bay among glorious beaches, and built on the foundations of a long and fascinating history. And you can reach it in just a 35-minute train ride from Barcelona.
Our guide to visiting Sitges covers everything you need to know before planning a trip. Here we will take a look at a few highlights of our time there.
Sitges makes a great option to base yourself for a workation outside of the city. It has close links with the airport and into Barcelona. There are some compelling accommodation options around the town. For example, you could take a workation with family or a group of friends in luxurious surroundings at Utopia Villas.
In Sitges you will find some of the most incredible seafood in the vicinity of Barcelona. I had a meal at Fragata, a restaurant just by the seafront, and was blown away by the ceviche and the tuna carpaccio.
The old town in Sitges is a riddle of winding cobbled streets and steep passageways. It has a relaxed feel, but it springs to life in February and March, when the town is the heart of the party for Carnival.
The legendary Spanish painter and poet Santiago Rusiñol spent much of his life in Sitges. He established the museum of Museu Cau Ferrat, where you can peruse his works and learn about his leading role in the Catalan Modernist Movement.
At sundown in Sitges, at the end of a fulfilling day, you can take a reinvigorating walk along Passeig Maritim, the seafront promenade. Finally, finish off with a glass of wine in a characterful bar around the old town.
For more inspiration on how to take a workation in Barcelona, keep on our blog for workation itinerary ideas, and in-depth articles on things to see and do around the city.
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